Whitsunday Region Community News

Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Hi Everyone,The housing crisis is something we have been covering fairly regularly for the past few years and a subject I feel passionate about including in the paper.It seems like we have all either directly experienced or know someone who has been directly impacted by the issue.This week I met a young 17-year-old couple who have a seven-month-old baby daughter.

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Fishing For Free

Fishing For Free

When a grandmother took to social media to ask the local community if there was someone willing to teach her grandson to fish while they were on holiday, she was overwhelmed by the kind response from people willing to help.

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ADF To Take Over Bowen Aerodrome Runway

ADF To Take Over Bowen Aerodrome Runway

The upcoming Australian Defence Force (ADF) visit has become more exciting, with the Bowen Aerodrome being taken over for training exercises. The main runway of the aerodrome with remain open for pilots, except for when a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) alert bulletin has been released to pilots.

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Upgrades To Proserpine Golf Course Meets Open Standard

Upgrades To Proserpine Golf Course Meets Open Standard

Over two years ago, the Proserpine Golf Club was granted $145,000 from the federal government to construct an irrigation circuit, keeping the green perfect and lush all year round for locals and visitors alike.

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Reef Reports Good Health

June 8, 2023

A recent report by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) has found that “coral bleaching was mild last summer”, a positive outcome for our region that has been plagued by several bleaching events in the past few years.

Last year saw a mass coral bleaching event occur, largely due to above average water temperatures, but this year there were none.

In addition, there were no cyclones during the summer months, leaving the reef time to replenish and rejuvenate.

The report detailed, however, that this summer is expected to be an El Nino year, with hotter than usual temperatures and the possibility of a bleaching event.

The GBRF Summer Snapshot report was released by GBRF last month and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox MP took to social media to vent his frustration that the findings were not publicised by the government.

“Very interesting we haven’t heard anything from the Government celebrating this incredible news?” he said.

“It’s time they stop demonising our miners and farmers, or does this not suit their agenda?”

His post on social media garnered hundreds of responses largely supporting his statement.

“They are trying to scare everyone, and we all have to go Green and go broke doing it - that’s why they don’t say anything about how well the Great Barrier Reef’s going,” read one post.

“We live in the area and the Reef hasn’t changed its natural cycle at all. The regeneration naturally happens as old coral is promptly replaced by new. What do the greenies do, take a picture of one of the old pieces probably way older than they are and state that the whole reef is dying, which is rubbish,” read another.

A recent Summer Snapshot of the Great Barrier Reef says “coral bleaching was mild last summer”

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Crushing Season Begins Next Week

June 8, 2023

The 2023 sugar crushing season at the Proserpine Mill is expected to begin on Tuesday with high optimism around this year’s sugar production due to the strong global sugar prices.

While the crop size is similar to last year, at an estimated 1.8 million tonnes, the sugar prices are currently around $800 a tonne.

The 2022 season finished much later than usual largely due to weather conditions, but El Nino is forecast this year which is set to make harvesting smoother.

The late finish to last year’s season meant that $25 million in capital and maintenance at Proserpine Mill was conducted over the last few months.

“Our people have worked closely with external contractors to deliver a large capital and maintenance program in a compressed timeframe due to the late finish to the 2022 season,” said Proserpine Operations Manager Sebastian Foti.

“I’d like to acknowledge the hard work and commitment of everybody involved in this maintenance program. It’s been a huge effort by all.”

The biggest capital project for 2023 is a new Pan 3 and condenser to replace a vessel that had reached end of life.

The project is valued at $6.6 million and incorporates three new vacuum pumps aimed at improving sugar production rates.

Other major capital projects include the construction of 50 new cane bins, a major upgrade to the motor control centres (MCCs) for the pan and fugal stations, a new high-grade fugal and new shredder rotor.

The public are warned that cane trains are now active across the cane rail network and to approach all level crossings with caution.

Counting down to the start of the 2023 season at Wilmar’s Proserpine Mill are, from left, Acting Assistant Production Superintendent Tom Badger, Acting Production Superintendent Jamie Bell and Cane Supply Manager Jed Page. Photo supplied

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4,427 Food Donation To Community Pantry

June 8, 2023
By Bronte Hodge

Students at Whitsunday Christian College have gone above and beyond, collection over 4,400 pieces of food and grocery items for the Whitsunday Impact Church Community Food Pantry.

This student-led initiative, primarily run and organised by the Senior student leaders, encouraged all students to bring in non-perishable food and grocery items, with all the gathered food to be donated to the Whitsunday Community Food Pantry, operated through the Whitsunday Impact Church.

The Pantry started in 2022 when a parishioner noticed a woman upset at a grocery store and offered to purchase groceries for her.

Since then, between 15 and 20 families access the pantry every week, and approximately 600 bags of groceries were given out last year.

Student leaders ran the drive throughout May and donated the goods to the Whitsunday Community Food Pantry at a special chapel service last Friday.

College Principal Kylie Langshore informed the Pantry that the school had approximately 2,500 pieces of food and grocery items, however, in the last week of May, students were able to almost double the count.

The items, which included canned goods, cereal, toilet paper and sanitary pads and tampons, were taken to the Pantry and will be on offer for families to take.

The Whitsunday Impact Church Community Food Pantry is open every Tuesday, from 9am to 12pm, and open for any member of the community, no questions asked.

There is also complimentary tea, coffee, and cake available, with members of the church always happy for a chat.

The Community Pantry is operated through Global Care, and accepts donations of non-perishable food and grocery items, as well as financial donations, with any donations over $2 tax deductible.

Whitsunday Christian Church student leaders, Misaki Palmer, Lachlan Whincop and Rowan Kangru with massive donation for Community Food Pantry.

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Crime Spree In Cannonvale

June 8, 2023

Criminals were operating in the Cannonvale area over the weekend with multiple break-ins reported to police and one case of vandalism witnessed at a local shopping centre.

On Sunday, June 4, Whitsunday police were informed that nine locations had been targeted by burglars at Carlo Drive in Cannonvale.

Damage was caused to enable entry in almost every instance, with cash and tools the most common items sought.

Police are now appealing for community assistance, anyone who might have information about any of these matters is encouraged to contact the Whitsunday police (4948 8888) as soon as possible.

“If you witness any suspicious activity, at any time of the day, please report the matter as soon as possible,” said a spokesperson.

In a separate instance, the tiles surrounding garden beds at Whitsunday Shopping Centre in Cannonvale were allegedly ripped off by vandals.

Local resident, Richard Evans, discovered the damage on Sunday morning and said it was a shame to think people have nothing better to do with their time than cause damage at the community’s expense.

“It’s useless morons destroying the amenity of others,” he said.

“There’s no reason for blatant vandalism – whoever did this needs to really think about how they get their enjoyment in life.”

Police remind the public that if you witness any suspicious activity, at any time of the day, please report the matter as soon as possible.

Nine properties were broken into and garden beds at a local shopping centre was damaged over the weekend. Photo supplied

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Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre Opening Soon

June 8, 2023

The doors to the $2.5 million Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre are expected to open within the next month, offering Airlie Beach the facilities to complement its already thriving marine industry.

Located at the Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC), the new centre will include five training rooms that can each accommodate up to 30 students.

There will also be a large lecture theatre that can seat 100 and an ocean view function space for up to 60 people.

Previously, the WSC’s training arm was outgrowing its facilities and General Manager, Robin Ross, said he is excited to bring it all together.

“Training has been getting bigger and bigger and there has been more demand than ever before,” he explains.

“Now we’ll have more space, and we’ll have the rooms laid out for specific classes such as radar equipment for plotting and charting, and a dedicated engine room.”

Construction of the new facility began in December 2021 and the new building will become an impressive new landmark.

The main entrance to the WSC will also become the reception to the Whitsunday Maritime Training Centre, high vaulted ceilings and an expansive window looking out to sea, are the key features of the welcoming reception lobby.

Mr Ross says the construction of the centre is a tribute to local trades who have all completed the job to excellent standards.

“Thank you to all the local tradies, they’ve all been awesome!”

The impressive floor to ceiling windows greet guests as they arrive at the new centre. Photo supplied

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Young Faces Of The Housing Crisis

June 8, 2023

Over 100,000 people in Queensland are currently waiting for social housing and 80 per cent of people in the state identify housing availability as a key issue in their community.

Here in the Whitsundays, rental stock has consistently dipped below two per cent for the past two years and real estate agents are reporting long waiting lists for any rental property that comes to market.

Meanwhile Whitsunday Housing has over 180 people waiting for social housing on their books.

There is no doubt that the housing crisis is impacting many people in our community, whether that be through increased rental prices, unrenewed leases due to investment properties being sold or unavailability of suitable rentals.

It seems that in this current climate everybody knows somebody affected by the housing crisis, the regular social posts of people without a place to live are testament to this.

The latest victims are 17-year-old couple Jade and Kayla who have a seven-month-old baby daughter called Riley.

Last week they found themselves homeless and were about to spend the night in their car.

Prior to this, the couple had been desperately looking for a rental while staying with Kayla’s family, but tension had been building.

“There’s just no availability,” said Kayla.

“There are no rentals, there’s nothing, not even [social] housing can find any, we’ve been applying back and forth for over a year.”

Despite best effort, their lack of rental history and huge competition with other applicants for each rental, meant that they had been unsuccessful time and time again.

When the situation reached breaking point with Kayla’s family one night, the couple suddenly found themselves with nowhere to go.

Fortunately, Jade’s employer at Mantra Club Croc in Cannonvale gave them accommodation for that night.

The following day they went to Whitsunday Housing Company and received the “last bit of funding” available for emergency housing.

“This was the last funding we have left for the Immediate Housing Response for Families,” explains Chief Executive Officer of Whitsunday Housing Joanne Moynihan.

“It would be nice to have more funding available for others in this situation.”

The emergency housing offered the couple a small reprieve, a place they could comfortably stay with their baby while they looked for somewhere else.

Jade is currently in Year 12 at Proserpine State High School, and in between his studies, he still manages to work over 20 hours a week in the kitchen at Mantra Club Croc.

Kayla left school in Year 11 because she was expecting their baby, but she is about to embark on a bridging certificate that will allow her to complete her schooling and undertake a double degree in Nursing and Paramedicine.

They are both motivated and ambitious individuals who are planning a life together, having a baby at such a young age has only motivated them further.

It is perhaps for this reason that fate is on their side and, just a few days after they went into emergency housing, another guardian angel stepped in to help.

A school friend’s mum heard of their predicament and, by chance, had just completed the renovation of a dual occupancy house in the area.

Local property manager, Natalie Stuchbree who works at Taylors Property Specialists, said her family were honoured to help these resilient young people.

“A lot of young people don’t get any opportunities as they have no rental history so it can be really tough,” said Ms Stuchbree.

“This couple are really hardworking, motivated, and proud – they are not looking for a handout, they want to do it themselves.

“We’ve been really lucky with our investments and timing, so we were really happy to help them out and give them this opportunity.”

Over the weekend, Kayla and Jade signed a 12-month lease for their new home and say they have just enough savings to set themselves up.

Ms Stuchbree hopes this will mark the beginning of a new life for the couple and that her small gesture will give them the rental history they need for future applications.

By Rachael Smith

17-year-old couple Jade and Kayla, have a seven-month-old baby daughter and found themselves homeless last week. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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$5.5 Million Social Housing Relief Coming Soon!

June 8, 2023

Construction on a $5.5 million social housing project in Cannonvale began in March and by this time next year 12 new social housing apartments will be complete and ready to house those in need in our community.

The complex consists of two, two-storey buildings, delivering 10 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom units.

Fergus Builders are currently working on the site, which is located at 185 Shute Harbour Road Cannonvale, next to the Cannonvale Swim Centre.

Six of the dwellings are accessible with four of the units featuring level thresholds, wider doorways and hallways, and provision for grab rails, making them suitable for people with varying levels of mobility.

Two of the units include additional features and clearance spaces, making them particularly suitable for people who mobilise in wheelchairs.

There are currently 183 applications on the social housing register for the Whitsunday Local Government Area and the Department of Housing says this is just one of several ways it is helping with the current housing crisis.

Over the past year Mackay Housing Service Centre, which also covers the Whitsunday region, has provided 367 bond loans and 147 rental grants to help people secure a rental home in the private rental market.

Housing Minister Meaghan Scanlon said with housing pressures being felt right across the country, councils, governments, industry, and organisations need to work together.

“While we’re investing more than ever in new social and affordable homes, we’re also providing more immediate supports like emergency accommodation, bond loans and rental grants, as well as looking at other opportunities that might exist,” she said.

“We’ve delivered on average more than 10 homes a week since coming to government and I’m keen to see more projects like this delivered as soon as possible.”

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Locals Investing In Locals

June 8, 2023

By Rachael Smith

At the centre of the local housing crisis there is a lack of affordable homes available for medium to low-income earners to purchase and rent.

The population of the Greater Airlie Beach Area has increased dramatically over the past few years, but the construction of new homes has not kept pace with this population growth.

As a result, there is huge, untapped demand for affordable homes in the region.

Local Cannonvale development, The Grove, has started to meet this demand with eight new townhouses expected to settle in the next four weeks.

The continuation of stage four of the development has already commenced with a further 16 houses underway and 103 additional townhouses already been approved for the site.

"The rental crisis is an issue that plagues our region daily, and we firmly believe that the solution lies in creating more rental properties," stated Steve Marks, Principal, Explore Property Whitsundays.

"With the capacity to introduce over 100 brand new, affordable townhouses to the market, we aim to tackle this problem head-on. However, to achieve this, we need to shift our focus to local investment, reducing reliance on southern investors."

Mr Marks says he is offering a savvy and safe investment opportunity for homeowners in the area to use the equity in their property to purchase a townhouse at The Grove.

Not only will this return a good rental yield and virtually no outlay, but it will also provide an affordable rental for someone in need in the community.

“Property owners in the Whitsundays have experienced remarkable price growth in recent years, with Cannonvale alone witnessing a median sale price increase of 30% since 2021 representing an average rise of over $100,000 in property value,” he said.

“This untapped equity presents a valuable opportunity to invest in the local region, providing homes for fellow locals and serving as an excellent investment opportunity.

“We are encouraging local property owners to seize this unique opportunity to contribute to the region's growth and address the pressing need for affordable housing.

“By harnessing local investment, the development aims to create a sustainable solution that benefits the entire community.”

Steve Marks, Principal, Explore Property Whitsundays, standing outside The Grove where townhouses to meet the affordable housing shortage are being built. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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Chamber Chat

June 8, 2023

As the 2023 Financial year races to a close, businesses need to act now to prepare for the implementation of increased award rates on 1st July. The recent decision made by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) regarding the annual wage review will significantly impact many businesses in the region with a substantial increase of 5.75% to Modern Award minimum wages for all classification levels. These new rates will come into effect from the first full pay period commencing on or after 1st July 2023.

The FWC's decision was influenced by various economic and social factors, including the rising cost of living, a strong labour market, high inflationary pressures and projected economic slowdown for the 2023-24 financial year. Taking proactive measures now is essential to navigate the upcoming changes and maintain compliance with the updated regulations. For more information, go to www.fairwork.go.au/newsroom

The Whitsunday business community will soon be invited to participate in the Greater Whitsundays Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) Business Community Attitudes Survey. This survey aims to understand the impact of immigration on your workforce, and more importantly, your interest in a DAMA for our region. A DAMA represents a significant opportunity for the Greater Whitsundays region. It is a formal multi-year agreement between the Australian Government and a regional authority that provides access to a larger pool of overseas workers than the standard skilled migration program. By participating in this survey, you will actively contribute to shaping the future of workforce development in our region.  

Our next meeting and business networking event will be held 7:00am-8:30am Thursday 13 July in Proserpine. Join us to have your say on priorities for the region and help build on the economic Vision for the Whitsundays, connect with like-minded businesses, and hear more about our new strategy, advocacy, and membership services.  Speaking of membership, don't forget to take advantage of our free end of financial year membership offer - valid to 30 June 2023. Jump onto our website and join up.

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F45 Gym Goer Celebrates 250 Session Milestone

June 8, 2023

Just under a year ago, Chris Webby made the decision to better his health and joined F45 Airlie Beach.

He is now the first member to hit 250 visits.

Since his first class, where he had to sit out early, Chris has improved not only in endurance but also in his overall strength and physique, with the added benefit of losing 20 kilograms.

“The first three to four months was a struggle,” Chris said.

“It was definitely intense going from doing nothing to working out almost every day.”

Since he joined in August last year, Chris has committed to going six days a week, every day except Sunday, when the gym is closed, and when he holidays away.

“Chris has always been dedicated,” said Studio Manager Monique Pattison.

“I feel like I started yesterday!” said Chris.

“The team at F45 give you everything, unlike a regular gym, where they’ll tell you something and you have to do it all by yourself.”

The team continue to push Chris.

“They’re friendly, non-judgemental, and encouraging and they know when to push you,” he explains.

“I’ll do a push up now and they’ll put a 15-kilogram plate on my back!”

“It feels really great,” Monique said, “To know that someone is trusting us with their fitness journey.

“And to come 250 times, it shows a level of commitment, and that what we’re doing is helping people.

“Chris has built muscle and strength, and has had aesthetic changes, and he always walks in here with a smile and welcomes everyone. He has really embraced the F45 community.”

Chris Webby has worked out with F45 Airlie Beach 250 times and is the first member to hit that milestone. Photo supplied

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How To Stay Active This Winter

June 8, 2023

Cold mornings and dark evenings can often create the perfect excuse to pull the doona up over your head or stay curled up on your sofa. While it’s nice to snuggle in the warmth, the winter weather should not deter you from maintaining your fitness goals.

Here are a few tips for staying active this winter:

• While the summer can often be too hot for long walks, the cool winter days and stunning sunsets make every walk enjoyable. Put your runners on and head outside, it won’t take you long to warm up and you’ll be glad you made the effort.

• Be accountable with a group fitness workout – sign-up to a gym that has a community vibe, a group of people who will notice if you are missing and motivate you to turn up each day. F45 is a local fitness club that offers this.

• Exercise during your lunch break – if cold mornings and evenings are sabotaging your routine, skip out of work on your lunch break and head to the gym or go for a long walk.

• Plan for success – avoid making excuses on your drive home by putting your exercise clothes on before you leave work. If you exercise in the morning – why not wear your fitness gear to bed?!

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Have You Had A Skin Cancer Check?

June 8, 2023

Over 150,000 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer each year and, on average 1,700 people pass away from the disease.

In Queensland we can be more susceptible to skin cancer due to high levels of sun exposure, so it is vital to get regular skin cancer check-ups.

Next week the Skin Cancer Doctor will be back in town and is available for checks and treatments.

Dr Amid Gayed will be hosting a pop-up clinic at the Whitsunday PCYC on Tuesday 13 and Wednesday 14 of June.

You can book an appointment directly and do not need a referral.

The cost is $140 and you’ll receive a $39.75 Medicare rebate.

Simply follow this link to make an appointment: bit.ly/3qkHvMu

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Steaming along …

June 8, 2023

As the 2023 crushing season gets underway, locomotives will become a prevalent sight in the district. But the technologically sophisticated machines of today are a far cry from the locos that chugged along the tracks in days gone by.

Before big expansions in the sugar industry necessitated inevitable changes, steam locomotives hauled the cane from farm to mill. The Proserpine Sugar Mill owned nine steam locomotives. Until the early 50s, the locos had coal (mostly from Collinsville) and wood fired steam engines and pulled a tender loaded with the fuel and water supplies essential for operations. These engines weighed up to 18 tons and could pull 152 full trucks of cane.

Most of the locos were affectionately given names apart from Numbers 1 and 8.

Number 1, built in South Australia in 1939, was the largest engine and it handled the big hauls from Up River, Lethebrook and Kelsey Creek.

One of the most famous was Number 2 – Digger. Built in Leeds, England in 1916, this locomotive was one of 155 ordered by the war department to serve in France in World War 1. After the war, it was taken back to Leeds, slightly modified, and in 1924 was one of several sold to Australia for use in the Queensland Sugar Industry. Despite some modifications throughout its life, it remained essentially a Hunslet War Department design – hence adding to its historic significance.

Number 3 – Fritz also served in France during the war. Numbers 2 and 3 had smaller engines and handled runs to Cannon Valley, Strathdickie and Waterson.

Number 4 – German Annie was built in Germany in 1908 and was used on Conway and Preston runs. It had a distinctive shrill whistle making it easily identifiable from a distance or at night.

Number 5 - Bonnie Jean, an 1899 Krauss, was named after a local lady, Jeannie Voss. It was the first one to service the Conway line, however, having a very small engine, it was seldom fired up and was used for emergency work around the mill yard.

Number 6 – Tilly, the mill’s original locomotive, was named after another Proserpine lady, Mrs Matilda Stoneham. Despite its small engine, it did mighty work and was mainly used on the Lethebrook line. On a clear night with a big load, most of the town would hear her coming, puffing like billyho from Goorganga Plains through Glen Isla to the mill. She whistled at every crossing and must have been cursed by many as she hit town areas and passed by the hospital - but locals did consider her whistle cheerful.  

Number 7 – There were 2 Number 7s.  The first, Mae West, built in England in 1915, was distinctive in that it had water tanks positioned on each side of the boiler, like 2 big floaties. The second, was a new Perry built in 1948.

Number 8 completed the steam fleet. Bought in 1953, it was a Bundaberg Fowler steam loco fitted with a distinct spark arrestor on its smoke stack. Used until the early 1970s, it had historical significance, being the last of its type in the world.

Gone now are the days of the steam locomotive. In 1954, the first diesel engines graced the tramlines. All engines were eventually changed to diesel burners in the early 50s and by 1965, the mill had 8 diesels.

Gone too are the days when communications were especially difficult - when, in order to establish the position of a loco that was running late, it involved ringing telephones along the route to establish where it had passed and where it was yet to reach. The exchange and farm ladies were always helpful and generally had a rough idea of where the loco would be. When a derailment occurred, a common occurrence, drivers blew the whistle 3 times. If a navvy gang was within earshot, they would come to assist, otherwise, the fireman could have a long walk to the nearest telephone for help.

And gone too are the days of all male crews steaming along the line …

Story and photos courtesy of the Proserpine Historical Museum and Proserpine Sugar Mill.

Number 5 – The Bonnie Jean L-R Martin Braby, Joey James, Roy Hansen, Tom Treacy  

Lady Drivers I McCormack - Mrs Frazer at the last lady driving contest c1930

Vicki Burnett - first lady crew person on the locos -1989

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Special Delivery For Meals On Wheels Proserpine

June 8, 2023

By Bronte Hodge

When Helen Maynard-Turner, Coordinator for Meals on Wheels Proserpine, set out to plan the Meals on Wheels Day celebrations, she didn’t think that all three local members of government would raise up their hand on the same day to take part in the cause.

Meals on Wheels Day is always held on the last Wednesday of August however, a special honorary day was planned to align with the schedules of the three special guests.

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox MP, Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP and Mayor for the Whitsundays, Julie Hall, all came along to lend a hand and celebrate Meals on Wheels.

Mayor Hall arrived first and was tasked with the Beach Run, encompassing the clients who live in Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, and Jubilee Pocket.

Mr Willcox and Ms Camm were on the local run, accompanied by an existing volunteer couple who showed them the ropes.

“It was incredible to join the team for a meal run and get a look behind the scenes of this operation,” said Mr Willcox.

“Seeing first-hand the dedication these volunteers have to our region; supporting residents in need right around the Whitsundays.”

Mrs Camm said the Meals on Wheels service is invaluable to our community as it supports so many.

“It doesn’t take a lot of time and has great positive impacts for the people you are delivering to and as a volunteer,” she said.

“I came away with a gratitude for the wonderful individuals I met. Get involved!”

Mayor Hall said Meals on Wheels has provided a vital lifeline for many individuals in our community, particularly our elderly and vulnerable residents.

“Their service extends far beyond the physical act of delivering meals; it brings comfort and a much-needed human connection to those who may otherwise feel isolated or alone,” she said.

“The Proserpine Meals on Wheels service embodies the true spirit of community, and the volunteers and staff are an inspiration to us all.”

Meals on Wheels Proserpine has been servicing locals for over 65 years, and can assist anyone needing meals, including elderly, disable, and impaired.

Mayor Julie Hall joins Meals on Wheels Proserpine and delivers meals. Photo supplied.

Andrew Willcox MP, and Amanda Camm MP, with Helen Maynard-Turner and volunteers with Meals on Wheels Proserpine. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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Local Student Joins Student Advisory Council

June 8, 2023

Born and bred local, Proserpine State High School student Reid Ogden did not expect to be welcomed back to the school year with an invitation to be a part of the Ministerial Student Advisory Council.

Reid is one of 16 students from across Queensland to represent youth opinions on matters that directly influence and impact on them with their school environment.

Established in 2018 by Minister for Education, the Honourable Grace Grace MP, the council gives Queensland students the opportunity and space to voice concerns, feedback, and advice on a range of educational matters.

With two meetings every year, the council discuss important matters, which Grace MP takes on board when creating changes in the education sector.

While not being able to discuss the agenda of his first meeting, Reid mentioned that previously the council discussed the e-cigarette and vape crisis occurring in schools, which helped inform the ban that was later put in place.

“I feel pretty privileged to be picked from this school and that I get to go down there and voice my opinion to someone of power,” Reid said.

“Voice my opinion formally and properly so they take it in and take it on board, yeah I feel very grateful that I get the opportunity to do that.”

Reid was put forward to the council by his school Proserpine State High School, based on his history of school commitment and outstanding effort.

Reid had been elected as a Junior School Executive leader in Year 9 and is currently in the Senior Leadership Team.

In 2022, when Reid was in Year 10, he was awarded the St Vincent de Paul Scholarship, for dedication to upholding school values, work ethic and leadership in the school community.

Don McDermid, Principal of Proserpine State High School, said “we have great confidence in Reid’s ability to be a valuable member of the Ministerial Student Advisory Council.”

Students come from all across Queensland, from Cairns, Longreach, and Tully, as well as Brisbane and Redcliff, as well as a range of year groups, with one student only being in Year 7.

Reid will remain in the council until he graduates at the end of 2024.

Until then, he continues to influence within his school, eyeing to become School Captain next year, as well as play Volleyball and AFL, as well as be a part of his House Committee.

Reid Ogden standing outside the William Street Queensland Government Building

Year 11 student Reid Ogden (back row, third from left) joins 15 other students to inform Queensland Government on youth and student opinion. Photo supplied

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Queensland Day Flavours Of Bowen Festival

June 8, 2023

View the photo gallery here

Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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June 1, 2023

There have been several reports of the infamous ‘Bitumen Bandits’ operating in the region, with local businesses and homeowners warned that the seemingly friendly tradies are in fact scam-artists.

One local business says they believe they were dealing with ‘Bitumen Bandits’ when they were deceived and left with a poorly laid carpark that will now need to be completely pulled up and replaced.

The business said they were also sent an invoice for twice the quoted price and then bombarded with a series of threatening phone calls and text messages when they did not send through immediate payment.

Approached by a friendly tradie with an English accent, Norina Kent from Whitpro Group, never suspected that this easy-going encounter was in fact the beginning of a nightmare for her and her business.

“They seemed like honest guys, very approachable and happy to take on additional works in town to off load some excess bitumen,” she said.

The tradie allegedly told Ms Kent that he had leftover product from a previous job and could lay the bitumen carpark at a discounted price.

“They advised that the normal rate was $65/m2 but to use up the excess product they would reduce the rate to $35/m2,” she explains.

The tradie then proceeded to give a verbal quote for a dedicated area but despite being asked to send the quote via email, it did not eventuate before they commenced work, with the tradies insisting that it had been sent.

“Oddly enough, the invoice came through immediately after the job was completed but it was for more than double the originally quoted price.”

Ms Kent alleges that she then received multiple phone calls asking for payment and can understand “why some people simply pay when the tradies become threatening, as it can be very intimidating to be told they are going to come after you if you don’t pay up immediately”.

Upon inspecting the job, Ms Kent and her husband, Tim Perkins, said they could see it was not done to standard, and the bitumen was patchy, with some areas only dry stoned (not sealed at all).

Ms Kent met with one of the tradies and within a half hour conversation, she reports she was offered a $10,000 discount with a promise to repair the areas of concern.

“It was then that I knew something was up,” said Ms Kent.

“No-one offers that kind of discount if they know they have done a good job and without having to speak with management, he said he would get in trouble, but he would wear it”.

Suspicious and concerned about numerous inconsistencies, the couple then asked an independent town planner to take a look.

The contractor confirmed their fears - the surface had not been swept prior to laying and the aggregate had not been pre coated which resulted in the bitumen not adhering to the surface, which is evident in the surface now lifting easily.

The entire carpark was allegedly going to fall apart with traffic use and would need to be replaced.

When Ms Kent stated she wanted an independent assessor to advise if the job had been completed to standard before paying, she alleges receiving 17 texts and abusive phone calls threatening property and personal damage if payment was not made immediately.

“At that point I went to the police, and it was then I received confirmation that we were not their only victims with many others scammed.” she said.

Ms Kent connected with two other locals who appeared to have had been approached by the same tradies. One lady had already paid $21,000 for a driveway they were quoted $14,000 for.

Within a short time, the lady said to Ms Kent that her driveway became patchy and, when the tradies came to look at the work, they offered $7000 money back.

Ms Kent says she believes the money has not been returned so far.

Police say that there are incidents similar to these occurring from Cairns to Mackay and that community members need to be on high alert.

The tradesman involved with the Whitsundays’ incidents was contacted but declined to comment.

Multiple Scams: Police Advise Caution

Queensland Police Service (QPS) said that while the bandits’ sales pitch tactics may vary, there are some things to be aware of:

• They proactively approach residents by going door to door.

• They may speak with a strong Irish accent.

• The quoted amount will literally be ‘too good to be true.’

• They may claim the reason they can perform the job cheaply is because they have leftover bitumen from a previous job.

• They may pressure residents to accept the deal, and even become aggressive or say the deal is only valid for that day.

• They may quote a reasonable price however, upon completion demand a higher payment.

• They may demand payment that day.

• If a deposit is made, they often vanish before commencement of the job.

QPS also offer tips for residents to avoid this scam and similar ones:

• Research the company through the internet and newspaper advertisements.

• Speak to family, friends and neighbours who may also have been approached.

• Obtain a written quote from the company.

• Do not provide payment before the job is complete and to a satisfactory level.

• Do not feel pressured to make a decision that day and feel comfortable to decline the offer.

• Reputable businesses should be happy to provide their contact details and perform the job at an appropriately agreed time and date.

• If you identify that the offer turns out to be legitimate, you can always say yes later.

• Trust your gut instinct.

A text allegedly received from the tradesman:

Pay your bill, you will regret knocking me, I will cost you triple the amount you owe over time. I will not stop tormenting you. You got a big delivery of sh*t coming very soon. Game is on.

Norina Kent and Tim Perkins from Whitpro Group are extremely disappointed with the tradies who they believe are con men just after a quick buck

Norina Kent from Whitpro said that the carpark surface will now need to be completely replaced

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Editor's note

June 1, 2023

Hi Everyone,

Last week we attended the Queensland Country Press Awards in Brisbane with high hopes and big dreams, and we are incredibly proud to announce that we returned home with four state awards for the newspaper, a huge achievement for our team and the broader region!

I’d like to say a special congratulations to our Whitsunday-based Sales and Advertising Manager, Mike McCann, who was instrumental in bringing the ‘Steve and Jenny’ campaign to life – we were all thrilled to watch him get up on the stage and collect the top gong for Marketing Campaign of the Year.

Congratulations also to our Mackay journalist, Sam Gillespie, who was awarded third place for the Best Editorial Campaign for his work in bringing the story of homelessness to life.

We also received 2nd place for Best Newspaper Feature for our coverage of The Great Barrier Reef Festival and 3rd for Best Locally Produced Advertisement for a stand-out design on a Mother’s Day ad.

Congratulations goes to our entire team; everyone contributes to every element of success, and we all share in this incredible achievement.

Special mention, of course also goes to Founder, Publisher and Owner Bec Douthwaite, whose vision, determination, and grit got us all to where we are today.

While we were at the Media Awards we enjoyed a full day conference, listening to some industry experts where we were enlightened by veterans in the trade.

One piece of information that I will always remember is when an Editor, who had been working in newspapers for over 40 years, said that a local community newspaper provides a vital public service.

When many people say, ‘print media is dead’, I see that in regional communities, local news delivered in print is very much alive.

Every week we attend events where excited parents wave us over to get a photo of their kid.

Every week we are helping Council get information out to the community.

Every week we are sharing important stories about local lives and issues that matter to our region.

We are honoured to deliver that public service to all of you.


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Looking To Volunteer? Meals On Wheels Is Here

June 1, 2023

For over 65 years, Meals on Wheels has been helping people in our community and now the Meals on Wheels Proserpine branch is asking for help.

Since coming out of COVID, the not-for-profit organisation’s volunteer numbers have dwindled, down to only 18 active volunteers.

“It’s a rock and a hard place,” said Helen Maynard-Turner, the coordinator of Meals on Wheels Proserpine.

With only 18 volunteers left, including cooks and drivers, it has been a struggle to ensure the service when someone is sick or unable to volunteer.

Helen sent out a plea on Facebook, asking for volunteers for the service.

“We’ve had a lot of positive response, and even two ladies have signed up.

“This now brings our 18 volunteers to 20.”

However, the perfect number for Helen is 30 volunteers.

“It’s a good working environment, and each volunteer is given training on policies and procedures that are in place.”

The driver volunteers would visit Proserpine clients five days a week, to Cannonvale, Jubilee Pocket and Airlie Beach clients three times a week, and out to Dingo Beach and Midge Point once a week.

The service, while delivering meals, also acts as a wellness and social support program, and services anyone of any age and capability.

To sign up to volunteer with Meals on Wheels Proserpine, contact Helen between 7am and 12pm, Monday to Friday on 07 4945 1733.

Meals on Wheels Proserpine is helping local residents and needs your help. Photo supplied

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Big Mango Goes Google

June 1, 2023

It was a pleasant surprise to open Google last Thursday and discover that the Google artwork – The Google Doodle – had become Bowen’s Big Mango, in honour of its 21st birthday.

Manger of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernathy was overjoyed that Google Australia had chosen Bowen’s iconic tourist attraction.

“To have such as influential company choose Bowen’s Big Mango is awesome news,” Ms Abernathy said.

“We really appreciate the publicity this will create, ensuring even more people know about our famous big thing which leads to more awareness about Bowen and the greater Whitsunday region.”

The Big Mango is estimated to attract 80,000 people to Bowen, and it is believed that 1.5 million photos have been taken with the structure.

Google Australia’s Search Communications Manager, Camilla Ibrahim, said Google was excited to be ‘Bowen Down’ to the Big Mango with Thursday’s Doodle.

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Flavours Of Bowen Festival This Weekend!

June 1, 2023

Everyone in the community is invited to the inaugural Queensland Day Flavours of Bowen Festival, hosted by Bowen Gumlu Growers Association.

The event will showcase local history and the diverse foods grown and produced in the region.

It is a fun family event which includes face painting, a jumping castle, “The little red train” ride and other kid’s activities.

Queensland Day Flavours of Bowen Festival is part of the 2023 Queensland Government’s Queensland Day celebrations.

WHAT: Queensland Day Flavours of Bowen Festival

WHERE: Bowen Soundshell and Foreshore

WHEN: Saturday, June 3

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Willcox’s Winning First Year

June 1, 2023

From Whitsunday Mayor to Federal Member, Andrew Willcox, has catapulted himself to Canberra and, over the past year, he has certainly made some waves in Parliament, spruiking the merits of our region, and demanding a fair share for his community.

By 6pm on election day, May 21, 2022, Willcox was clearly commanding a win, but it wasn’t until June 15 that he was officially declared as our new Federal Member For Dawson.

It was July 26 when he was officially sworn into his position, representing over 150,000 people in an electorate which runs from Townsville through to Mackay.

“I certainly hit the ground running,” said Willcox.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people and this job’s enabled me to do that on a bigger scale.”

From helping people with immigration and citizenship issues to NDIS assistance and Centrelink, Willcox reminds his constituents to always reach out and ask for help if needed.

And while he loves spending as much time as possible in the region, one of his biggest passions is heading down to Canberra, where he spends between 18 and 20 weeks per year.

Adjusting to the freezing temperatures, however, has been a challenge to this passionate North Queenslander, and so has the big workload.

“The temperatures are not normal!” he jokes.

“It doesn’t even warm up during the day! – but I am getting used to it.”

While in Canberra, Willcox uses his time to raise awareness for our region and draw attention to local issues.

“I’m in the business of taking issues and requests to Canberra and delivering an outcome,” he said.

“We all think that everyone knows where the Whitsundays is, but they don’t.”

“We are the biggest cane growing region in Australia and Bowen has a half billion-dollar horticultural industry - in parliament it’s my job to educate people about the wants of rural and regional Australia.

“I’m not a shrinking violet, I am a man of conviction and I stand up for my people.”

When it comes to local matters, Willcox says that he puts the people and the broader issues above politics and, being in opposition, this has certainly come in handy when navigating the political sphere.

“All levels of government need to work together and be above politics,” he said.

“We need to make good decisions, look after the people and the politics will look after themselves - I’ll work with anyone to deliver better results for the people.”

Spending as much time as possible within the constituency, Willcox says that he is “hardly ever home”, preferring to spend time out in the community and listening to the people.

He says that now his children are adults he is lucky to have wife Raylene by his side when he travels, especially on the long trips to the ACT.

“Canberra is a busy place, but it can also be a lonely place, so it is always good to see a friendly face,” he said.

When asked about the year ahead, Willcox said he is excited to continue lobbying for our region and reminds the community he is available and ready to help with local needs.

Willcox speaks in Canberra

Outside Parliament House

Willcox spends time with the local headspace team

A recent visit to the Agave Farm with Nationals Leader, David Littleproud

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Cultural Education During Reconciliation Week

June 1, 2023

The region’s National Reconciliation Week commemorations began last weekend in Proserpine.

With the theme of ‘be a voice for generations’, Whitsunday Regional Council have held three workshops across the region, to promote the importance of listening, taking action, and speaking up, in order to create a brighter future.

National Reconciliation Week takes place every year between May 27 and June 3, encompassing two significant dates in Australian history – the 1967 referendum, which changed the Constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as part of the population of Australia, and the 1992 Mabo Decision, which acknowledged Traditional Owner’s right and connection to land.

At the first of three council-run workshops, held at Proserpine Library, Councillor Clay Bauman presented the welcome speech, with Auntie Sue West giving the welcome to country and Uncle Harold completing a smoking ceremony.

A Traditional Knowledge Workshop, hosted by Robert Congoo from Yooribaya Cultural Experiences, followed.

Mr Congoo shared knowledge about the rich culture, traditions, and history of the Giya and Ngaro people.

The second workshop was held in Bowen Library on Tuesday and was dedicated to Artifact Display, and the third was in Cannonvale Library on Thursday about Plant Identification and Storytelling.

Within each library, there is also a Sea of Hearts display, for families and children to decorate a heart and depict what reconciliation means to them.

A smoking ceremony marked the first National Reconciliation Week commemoration

The Sea of Hearts display for members of the community to display what reconciliation means to them

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First Whale Spot Of The Season!

June 1, 2023

Whale season has officially started, with Big Fury Whitsundays taking the first footage of the year; their video showing a whale breech to the delighted squeals of guests on board.

Operations Manager of Big Fury, Dianne Flood says the two humpback whales were floating around for about half an hour which excited all the guests on board.

“It’s always fantastic to see the migration every winter,” she said.

“It’s a spectacular experience for the tourists.

“In this case, most on board were European tourists and this ticked off a few bucket list items for them.”

“They were awestruck and so were my crew, who see the whales every year.

“They were big and beautiful and playful.”

Humpback whales migrate to the Whitsunday every winter, from June to about September, for the warmer water temperatures.

An estimated 20,000 whales make the migration and many more sightings are expected this season.

A still from a video released by Big Fury, showing the active humpback whales in our region

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Whales Welcomed At New Event

June 1, 2023

The Whitsundays is one step closer to becoming one of only two Whale Heritage Sites in Australia thanks to a team of passionate community members who are currently applying for the accreditation with the World Cetacean Alliance.

Local environmental consultancy firm, Whitsunday Environmental with Little Fish Tourism Development Consulting are working through the documentation and are organising two events to increase awareness of Whales visiting our region.

From June to October, the Great Barrier Reef comes alive with whale migration, particularly the humpback whale, as they visit warmer waters.

To become a Whale Heritage Site, it means that the area celebrates, respects and conserves whales and their inhabits.

There are currently six accredited sites around the world, and only one other in Australia, in Hervey Bay, which was the first ever certified Whale Heritage Site, in October 2019.

In January, the Whitsunday passed the first stage of the accreditation process and is now up for candidacy.

To receive accreditation, our region must show understanding, growth in education, and conservation.

The project, dubbed The Whales of Whitsunday project, will undertake a Welcome Whales event, to pursue this accreditation.

This event, scheduled for June 16, will include Traditional Owners, facilitating a smoking ceremony welcome, dance, and sing, as well as a traditional art show, and interactive art for kids.

“This is a community driven project,” said Olivia Brodhurst, Director of Whitsunday Environmental.

“We have a lot of other cool events planned, in order for us to receive this accreditation.”

According to Ms Brodhurst, the accreditation process is big, with the World Cetacean Alliance strict in applying accreditation to locations.

“This event is part of that process, but it also lets the community know that the whales are here,” she explains.

“It’s important to the Traditional Owners as well.”

The event has been sponsored by Ark Energy and North Queensland Bulk Ports and has been supported by the Whitsunday Regional Council.

The Whales of Whitsunday Project will also be holding a pre-whale season information session for local water tourism and boat operators on regulations for operation around whales, and how to report to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on whale movement and activity.

This information night is being held on Wednesday June 7, 5.30pm to 7.30pm at the Lookout Lounge, Coral Sea Marina. Visit the Whitsunday Environmental facebook page for more information.

WHAT: Pre-Whale Season Information Session

WHERE: The Lookout Lounge, Coral Sea Marina

WHEN: Wednesday, June 7, 5.30pm to 7.30pm

Welcome to the Whales

Marking the start of the Great Barrier Reef whale season, join us in welcoming the thousands of whales expected to journey to the area.

Traditional owners will host a ceremony to celebrate the whales, with a smoking ceremony and an ancient whale chant.

Children are encouraged to be painted in traditional markings and add their hand prints to a traditional painting of a mother and her calf humpback painting

Attendees to the ceremony are encouraged to wear blue.

There will also be talks on traditional owners’ connection to whales and to the region, before Master Reef Guides will show a film about local marine life, before a screening of The Snail and the Whale film at 6pm.

WHAT: Welcome Whales

WHERE: Airlie Beach Foreshore Fairytree Park

WHEN: Friday June 16, from 5pm

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Does Your Kid Want To Be A Weather Reporter?

June 1, 2023

Calling all young aspiring entertainers, reporters, and TV hosts – this is your opportunity to be become the next local weather forecaster.

In the lead up to the Whitsunday Disaster Coordination Centre Open Day, Whitsunday Regional Council are inviting children under 10 years old to get creative and make a submission to the kids’ weather report video competition.

The winner will be announced at the Open Day and will win a family pass for the Proserpine Entertainment Centre and a $50 gift card.

The winner will also professionally record their weather forecast and the video will be used across social media and in promotional material for the council.

Conditions of entry include:

- Children aged 10-years and under

- Create a video of your child presenting the weather, in the council media centre. The video should not be longer than one minute.

- Upload to yoursay.whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au or email to info@whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au

- Make sure to include entry form along with the video.

Closing at 11.50pm on Thursday June 8, entrants should be quick to enter and not miss the chance to win!

Whitsunday Disaster Coordination Centre hosts new child weather reporter competition. Photo Supplied

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Peacock Picked For Cowboys

June 1, 2023

When a young Lily Peacock proclaimed to her dad at aged nine that she “wanted to play footy”, she never dreamt that eight years on she would be selected for the Cowboys Representative team.

In a few short weeks since the announcement, Lily’s life has changed dramatically – she moved to Townsville and at just 17 is living independently with other players, getting paid to play the sport she loves.

A total of 28 girls from all around the country, and two from Fiji, have been signed to play for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboy’s inaugural National Women’s Rugby League Team.

“I was pretty rapt!” said Lily.

“It was pretty awesome to hear that it was official!”

This week was the first training session for the new team and their initiation test was to work as a team to abseil down from the roof of the Cowboy’s stadium.

“The aim was to get over our fears and learn to work as a team,” explains Lily.

“Some of the girls were a bit scared but I absolutely loved it!”

From the age of six it was dancing and not football that Lily loved.

But when she was eight years old something changed, and she began playing team sports such as Touch Football.

At school, lunchtimes were all about playing footy with the boys and by nine, this self-proclaimed tomboy announced to her dad that she wanted to play for a team.

Lily made her debut with the Proserpine Brahman’s Under 11 team and played for the side for three years.

In her early teenage years, however, she took some time away from the sport and went travelling around the country with her family.

When she arrived in Darwin, she started playing for a team again and immediately knew her passion had been renewed.

“This made me realise what I really wanted to do,” said Lily.

“Watching older girls play on the TV – I knew this was where I wanted to be going!”

When Lily and her family returned to her home base in Cannonvale, she began playing again and at just 15 years old she joined the Walkerston Wanderers Under 17 team.

Then, last year she was picked to play for the Mackay Cutters Under 19 team and on ANZAC Day she made her debut for the Women’s team.

“It was awesome playing for the Women’s team and being picked for the Cowboys was the cherry on top!” she said.

“I love how football brings everyone together – no matter your background or even whether you like footy! – it’s a great conversation starter and brings everyone together.”

Lily Peacock and a team mate outside the Cowboys stadium. Photo supplied

The inaugural NRLW Cowboys squad abseiled down from the roof of the stadium earlier this week. Photo supplied

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Big Success At Regional Architecture Awards

June 1, 2023

Two local community complexes have won big at the 2023 Australian Institute of Architects’ North Queensland Regional Architecture Awards.

Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC) was awarded three accolades in the Regional Architecture Awards, coming away with the Walter and Oliver Tunbridge Award for Building of the Year, a commendation for Public Architecture, and was named the People’s Choice Award for North Queensland.

Designed by CA Architects and Cox Architecture, judges said the PEC is an “excellent example of architecture that offers community impact, well beyond the building alone”.

“Sitting comfortably in the urban streetscape, the building extends seamlessly from the sidewalk into a grand community space that elicits a sense of excitement.

“The building gives back to the Proserpine community some of what was taken from them during Cyclone Debbie.”

John Hoyes, architect with CA Architects said, the story of the project is one of community and collaboration.

“The design is characterised by its engagement with community and context, and its recognition it gratifying as it confirms what an outstanding outcome the Proserpine Entertainment Centre is for the people of Proserpine and the Whitsunday region.”

The second Whitsunday community hub nominated was the Shute Harbour Marine Terminal, which came away with a regional commendation in Public Architecture.

Designed by AECOM Australia, the terminal sets “a new standard for Airlie Beach tourism as a gateway to the Whitsundays”.

“The use of robust materials and detailing was particularly sensitive to the harsh marine environment and the innovative reuse of wharf timbers left destroyed by recent cyclones provides a sustainable screening solution that cools the interior, cuts glare, frames the view, and connects the terminal to its history and place,” the jury explained.

Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall said it was exciting that two major Council assets had been recognised.

“The PEC was a key community project as it was the heart and soul of the town,” she said.

“To pick up gongs in three different categories shows what an amazing facility the PEC is for our region.”

“The Shute Harbour Marine Terminal restoration was a massive project which has reactivated the port.”

The buildings have now been shortlisted for the Australian Institute of Architects’ Queensland Architecture Award, which will be awarded June 22.

Proserpine Entertainment Centre recognised for community atmosphere

Shute Harbour Marine Terminal awarded for its impact to local tourism. Photos supplied

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Councillor Column with Councillor Michelle Wright

June 1, 2023

Councillors have had a busy few months with budget discussions and we are united in delivering a balanced Budget that continues to deliver key services and projects that enhance the liveability of our region.

An example of these projects that we are currently undertaking or have completed from the previous budget are the completion of the Richmond Road culvert upgrade and the Scottville Road widening and reseal plus a new footpath and pedestrian bridge.

These projects will improve safety for our residents and improve connectivity by filling another gap in the road network.

The community consultation for the Mullers Lagoon Parkland Masterplan has finished and all the feedback is currently being collated and a summary done of all ideas which will be communicated back to all residents who gave input and left contact details.

It was exciting to also work collaboratively with Bowen State High School recently and give the whole school an update at assembly of Council activities and gain face-to-face feedback from the students on the Mullers lagoon and other community projects.

It is important we also include the youth of today to gain their opinions on future projects.

At the most recent Community Catch-up in Mt Coolon, one of the questions was about the Telstra upgrade on the Mt Coolon communication tower.

Telstra have advised that the upgrade will take place before the end of this financial year. I would like to thank the Mt Coolon residents who attended and raised some valid points and concerns.

The next community consultation is at the Collinsville Community Centre, on Wednesday 21st June 10am to 12pm.

Council is also working hard behind the scenes to deliver an outcome on the Ted Cunningham Bridge issue and have it reopened as soon as possible before the next wet season.

In the meantime, the lower-level bridge is operational, and Council will supply additional staff to ensure that access for traffic to the popular Bowen River Rodeo will not be an issue.

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Disaster Coordination Centre Open Day

June 1, 2023

The community are invited to experience a rare glimpse of our local Disaster Coordination Centre in a unique open day experience that shows the inner workings of the central command centre when a natural disaster strikes.

This open day will offer the public an insight into how disasters are managed in our region by offering tours of the centre and a series of 30-minute talks by the Disaster Management Coordinator and centre staff.

“The coordination centre will be open as if it were activated for a real event,” said Disaster Management Coordinator Sandra Black.

“The community will be able to visually see how the room is set-up, and checkout what roles the different Council staff have during an event.”

‘The Disaster Coordination Centre can be activated when an extreme weather event such as a flood, cyclone, bushfire or storm reaches a certain level.’

When the centre is activated Council staff also slip into action and step-up to oversee the successful operation of the centre alongside emergency services personnel.

“The centre is made up of three big meeting rooms which are made into smaller hubs and sub-cells for planning and intel,” said Sandra.

“There are also loggers and taskers who man the phones and then relay information to the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG).”

During the open day, guests can enjoy a tour, listen to one of the talks and understand how disaster teams respond to a situation.

Children will enjoy activities and dress-ups and everyone receives brochures and pamphlets detailing how to prepare for a disaster.

Anyone who completes a Community Resilience Survey on the day goes in the draw to win a generator!

“This is the only opportunity to see the set-up first-hand and understand our functions” explains Sandra.

“The centre is never usually open to the public and we are excited to invite everyone along – we are also hoping representatives from the emergency service fields will be there.”

WHAT: Disaster Coordination Centre Open Day

WHERE: 83-85 Main Street, Proserpine

WHEN: Sunday, June 11 from 10am – 1pm

TICKETS: Free community event

Where Is Your Nearest Shelter?

Bowen Cyclone Shelter

(Bowen State High School)

54-86 Richmond Road, Bowen

Proserpine Cyclone Shelter

(Proserpine State Primary School)

Sterry Street, Proserpine

The Disaster Coordination Centre is ready for action. Photo supplied

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Boardwalk Blues – E-Scooters VS Pedestrians

May 25, 2023

Three weeks into the Airlie Beach boardwalk expansion and tensions are rising among regular users of the piece of infrastructure who say that insufficient signage has caused confusion and that they can foresee dangerous incidents arising between high-speed electric scooters and pedestrians when it re-opens.

In April, the boardwalk between Sorrento’s Restaurant and Bar and Coral Sea Marina Resort was closed for expansion works for six weeks to widen the pathway by one metre.

At this time many considered the signage to be “confusing and insufficient” in redirecting foot traffic around to Shute Harbour Road, the only other access point to Coral Sea Marina.

Dozens of tourists use this route each day to embark on various cruises and local resident, Sharon Smallwood, who is also a regular boardwalk user, said from her observations the situation “could have been better managed”.

She also states that, when it re-opens, it will “only be a matter of time before there is an accident” on the boardwalk involving motorised traffic and pedestrians.

“Council have good intent, but I don’t think it’s going to have the desired outcome unless they have better traffic management,” she said.

“This was already a place where motorised, wheeled devices could converge into heavy pedestrian traffic, and if it is not managed properly, I fear the expansion of the boardwalk will only make that situation worse.

“There are other areas in Australia where [motorised vehicles] are banned for this reason yet here I’ve seen near collisions on our boardwalk, some involving young children.  

“What’s particularly frightening is how silent some of these scooters can be – so you don’t hear them coming – and the significant speeds they can reach.”

Coral Sea Marina say that while the new boardwalk will be a positive addition to the community, it is imperative appropriate shared usage is addressed and speed deterrents are implanted in advance of its re-opening.

“Our concerns are related to the shared usage of the boardwalk between pedestrians, cyclists and users of motorised devices - not just in this particular area but throughout the entire span of the boardwalk,” said Kate Purdie, Chief Executive Officer, Coral Sea Marina.

“The former timber boardwalk between Coral Sea Resort and Sorrento’s was a speed deterrent due to the nature of the timber and the fact that it was narrow.

“When it is re-opened, the increased width and improved material will enable users to travel at higher speeds just as they enter the high pedestrian traffic area of the north marina village.

“The biggest bottleneck will be where the boardwalk at Sorrento’s leads into the north marina village which is full of tourists preparing for daytrips, charter boat guests provisioning vessels and a large number of pedestrians.

“It is imperative that the local community, and visiting tourists, are made acutely aware that this widened boardwalk ends abruptly in an area of high foot traffic.”

Last year Coral Sea Marina introduced a Pedestrian Only campaign throughout the marina precinct, asking users to “Get off your wheels and on your heels” so they can transit these high use areas safely.

“We hope all users of this shared pathway will recognise the importance of this for their own safety and the safety of others,” said Kate.

Whitsunday Regional Council’s Director Infrastructure Services Adam Hagy said the boardwalk upgrade and widening was built to allow safer traffic flow in a shared area.

“The expectation is that, as with any public shared walkway or footpath, users would be courteous to others.”

“The boardwalk is no different to any other shared public walkway or footpath, the issue is not the boardwalk but the safe use of the electric scooters.

“Council has ordered signage that will encourage users to slow down however local contractors are experiencing delays so these will be installed as soon as possible.”

The boardwalk between Sorrento’s and Coral Sea Resort is under construction and when it re-opens there are fears its broader width will become dangerous due to speedy scooters. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

The new signage that Whitsunday Regional Council will soon place at the entrance to the expanded boardwalk. Photo provided

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New Citizens Welcomed

May 25, 2023

Over 500 people attended the third bi-annual Multicultural Festival at the Whitsunday PCYC over the weekend and the inclusion of a Citizenship Ceremony proved a welcome addition to this years’ itinerary.

Mayor Julie Hall officiated the ceremony which welcomed 38 new citizens to the community.

Deputy Mayor Gary Simpson and Councillor Clay Bauman were also in attendance.

During the ceremony each person received their official certificates and were gifted with a jar of traditional Aussie Vegemite.

Afterwards everyone chanted “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” to seal the deal.

Mayor Hall said it was exciting to officially swear in the new Australian citizens and then celebrate the vibrant tapestry of cultures that make our community so rich and diverse with the Multicultural Festival.

“Our Whitsunday community is made up of over 83 different ancestries with more than 6000 residents born overseas,” she said.

“The citizenship ceremony and Multicultural Festival are a testament to our community's inclusivity and the deep respect we have for the diverse traditions, customs, and beliefs of our residents.”

Sergeant Billy Li from Whitsunday PCYC said he was thrilled to see so many people attend the Multicultural Festival and that it had been expanded to accommodate more stalls and activities.

“It was a really good turnout, and we used a lot more space this time, outside onto the footy field” he said.

“It was amazing to see people coming through and enjoying the space.”

By coincidence, the first Multicultural Festival Citizenship Ceremony held a special place in Sgt Li’s heart as his wife Sunny Hsu was awarded her citizenship on the day.

Mrs Hsu, who is originally from Taiwan, has been in the country for 10 years and the couple have a seven-year-old daughter.

“It means a lot to us,” said Sgt Li.

“We’ve been in the country a long time and it’s good to become a true Aussie!

“She’s totally adapted to the culture and is really enjoying living in the Whitsundays and being part of the small community.”

Mayor Julie Hall (centre) welcomes new citizens at a special ceremony held as part of the Multicultural Festival over the weekend. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Sergeant Billy Li from Whitsunday PCYC with his wife Sunny Hsu, who was awarded citizenship on Sunday, and their seven-year-old daughter. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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Editor's Note

May 25, 2023

Hi Everyone,

I do love receiving letters from readers!

The good, the bad, the entertaining and the hilarious are all welcome!

I especially love receiving letters in response to an Editor’s note I have written – I guess this is because it’s proof that I am doing my job well – something I wrote resonated with someone else.

And that is all I aspire to achieve – to connect – for connecting with the community is at the core of everything we do.

This week a gift from 86-year-old resident, Jo Kane, was waiting for me in my inbox on Monday morning.

Inside was her latest poetry submission; the style and flavour of all her poems always makes me smile.

At the end of the email, Jo responded to the question that I asked you all last week – what can we do more to provide a better service to you?

Her feedback: how about asking your readers to submit their favourite humorous or philosophical sayings?

As a lover and collector of quotes for many years, I loved this suggestion.

Sayings and quotes make you think, they open your mind up to new ideas, they change your perspective, they make you laugh.

Jo included a quote of her own, selected and inspired by her own life as a teacher.

It read: “Fifty years from now it won't matter what kind of house

you lived in, what sort of car you drove, or how much money you had in

the bank.  What will matter is the difference you made in the life of a


I couldn’t agree more!

Do you have a favourite quote or philosophical sentiment you’d like to share? Please send it in and we’ll publish it for all the community to enjoy.


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Paying It Forward One Grocery Shop At A Time

May 25, 2023

It is not every day a stranger offers to pay for your groceries.

Definitely not for local mum of two and Social Worker, Tash Frew.

Coming from the hospital with her three-year-old and her two-year-old, one of which had just had their dislocated elbow from a trampoline accident relocated, the last thing she needed was for her phone to have no service, and not be able to pay for her groceries.

“I was just so overwhelmed,” Tash said.

The children were struggling and were messing around and not sitting still which was making the situation even more challenging.  

That was until another local lady, Nicole Polley stepped into the checkout line behind Tash and began making silly faces at the kids, distracting them for Tash so she could focus on the groceries.

“She was keeping them busy and happy,” said Tash.

It was a few minutes later, however, when Tash’s phone wouldn’t work to pay the supermarket bill, that Nicole did something truly amazing - she stepped forward and paid for the family shop.

“I offered to transfer her the money afterwards, but that timed out too!” said Tash.

“And then she said, ‘Nah, don’t worry about it’.”

In an already overwhelming week, Tash was blown away by the kindness.

“I cried all the way home.

“In my line of work, I am usually working to help people, not the one getting the help.

“It was so beautiful. I am super grateful. And I will pay it forward when the time comes.”

Kindness from one local to another local. Photo: Shutterstock

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Be Kinder This b kinder day

May 25, 2023

This June 22, celebrate empathy, connection, and kindness and with fifth annual b kinder day.

b kinder day is built on the foundations laid out by a driven 12-year-old girl, who tragically passed away in an accident in May 2016.

Inspired by the passions and dreams of 12-year-old Billie Kinder, b kinder day is a day dedicated to connection and reconnection, of inclusivity, of respect, and of kindness.

In our region, seven local schools have signed up to the initiative, commemorating Billie’s passions and spreading kindness locally.

b kinder day will have students pen cards of kindness and love to someone they care about, either writing or drawing how they feel.

Since 2016, 80,000 b kinder cards have been sent around the world, spreading kindness from the heart of Australian schools.

Schools are also encouraged to participate in other avenues to spread kindness, including visiting nursing homes, planting sunflowers, and passing toys of kindness.

The seven local schools that have signed up to the b kinder foundation will also establish a student leadership team that oversees the day, as well as creates a kindness space within the school.

Each school will foster a kindness recognition initiative to continuously feed kindness back into campus, and share the values of the b kinder foundation into the community.

Local businesses are also encouraged to sign up for the day, pen their own kindness cards with staff or customers and spread kindness in their own networks.

WHAT: b kinder day

WHEN: June 22

REGISTER: bkinderfoundation.org

b kinder day celebrates spreading kindness in communities and around the world. Photo supplied

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Have A Whale Of A Time! At This Years’ Great Barrier Reef Festival

May 25, 2023

Exciting new plans are on their way for the next instalment of the Cruise Whitsundays’ Great Barrier Reef Festival which is due to take place in August.

The mammoth four-day festival, from Thursday August 3 to Sunday August 6, has a jampacked program of events and experiences, sure to impress locals and visitors alike.

This years’ theme of Whales reinforces the festival’s ideals of creating both a fun and educational event that features environment-based learning workshops and interactive eco-education platforms, carnival-style attractions, art, food, live music, fireworks and more.

The theme is especially significant as The Whitsundays has been named a Candidate Whale Heritage Site by the World Cetacean Alliance.

Many of the Festival events will centre on Humpback Whales, as thousands of humpbacks make their annual migration to The Whitsundays.

Great Barrier Reef Festival Chair, Margie Murphy, said that she is excited to be bringing another action-packed Reef Festival to take over Airlie Beach again this year.

“This is a truly inclusive event, and we encourage the whole community to get involved,” she said.

A key component to the event this year will be an immersive, educational full-day cruise to Hardy Reef with Cruise Whitsundays which will be hosted by 10 Master Reef Guides on Saturday, August 5.  

Hosting this event allows event sponsors, Cruise Whitsundays, to promote education and eco-tourism.

Renee Branton-Brown, Sales and Marketing Manager of Cruise Whitsundays said that Cruise Whitsundays takes its role of reef custodians very seriously.

“We are ecstatic to host our award-winning Great Barrier Reef Experience alongside the largest cohort of Master Reef Guides for the festival this year,” she said.

“Reef education is imperative for everyone to understand the important role we all play in protecting this natural wonder.

Rick Hamilton, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays said, “The Whitsundays is the Heart of the Great Barrier Reef, and this event is when the whole community gets together to celebrate that.”

WHAT: Cruise Whitsundays Great Barrier Reef Festival

WHEN: August 3 - 6

WHERE: Across Airlie Beach

Popular festival celebrating the Great Barrier Reef has been scheduled for 2023. Photo supplied

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Local Creatives For Community Art Workshops

May 25, 2023

Learn the fundamentals of art, design, and community collaboration in these 101 workshops for all makers, DIY-ers, creatives, and artists.

Designed for members of the community who wish for growth in community connection and relationships, these workshops will provide creative ideas to foster connection through art and artistic projects.

In these one-day only workshops, attendees will begin with a session on planning and curating a community arts event.

In the afternoon, attendees will test their creatives skills with a hands-on lantern making workshop, hosted by Lalune Croker.

Attendees will also enjoy a digital animation workshop, with international exhibited Donna Maree Robinson.

WHAT: Animate a Space


WHEN: Saturday May 27

TIME: 10am – 5pm

REGISTER: Eventbrite.com.au

Cost: Free plus lunch provided

WHAT: Animate a Space

WHERE: Proserpine Community Markets

WHEN: Sunday May 28

TIME: 9.30am – 4.30pm

REGISTER: Eventbrite.com.au

Cost: Free plus lunch provided

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Local Landmarks Up For Awards

May 25, 2023

The upcoming Australian Institute of Architects National Architecture Awards for Regional Queensland have two local buildings in the running for awards.

The Hutchinson Builders construction, Proserpine Entertainment Centre (PEC), has been nominated into the Project Award Public Architecture, because of the complex’s impact on Proserpine’s community.

The PEC underwent a complete rebuild following Cyclone Debbie in 2017, when the building was damaged beyond repair.

The new complex includes a multipurpose auditorium and stage which has since showcased many travelling theatre performances, a new cinema screen, art installations, outdoor performance area, and an upgrade to the Cenotaph.

The second local attraction to be nominated is the Shute Harbour Marine Terminal.

Similar to the PEC, the previous Shute Harbour Marine Terminal was extensively damaged in Cyclone Debbie.

The construction of the new terminal utilised salvaged timber from the old site, and the cost of construction was $63.6 million in total.

The new complex includes a rebuilt seawall which is higher than the previous by one metre and more resilient against storm surges.

There is also a brand-new terminal, three finger pontoons and carparking, with a restaurant, function centre, retail space and a recreational fishing jetty.

The Shute Harbour Marine Terminal was nominated in the Public Architecture category due to the complex’s promotion of tourism and recreation.

Shute Harbour Marine Terminal boasts high numbers to local tourism and recreation

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Correction: Luke Gilbert Story Retraction

May 25, 2023

Last week this newspaper published a story on a memorial service that took place in Airlie Beach to mark what would have been Luke Gilbert’s 25th birthday.

Luke sadly passed away during a police shooting in October last year.

Since then, his devastated family have been campaigning for an independent inquiry into the incident which they believe to be the result of excessive police force.

Last week this paper stated that the inquiry was already going ahead, but this was inaccurate.

There is an inquest due to take place in August which the family hope will pave the way for an independent inquiry.

In last week’s article, this newspaper incorrectly stated that Luke drew a 4cm penknife from his pocket.

Please note, that the knife allegedly had a 7cm blade and he unclipped it from his belt when the police asked him what he had.

The family assert that he did not threaten police with the knife and that they were allegedly backing away when he was shot.

They also state that no CCTV footage has been released, it was phone recordings that documented the event.

This newspaper was told by one of the people attending the memorial that they had seen the CCTV footage, but that information was inaccurate.

The newspaper article also stated that the family acknowledge that Luke’s behaviour in saying “shoot me then, faggots” was ‘disgraceful’.

They did not say this.

“As a family we have never said Luke’s behaviour was disgraceful,” said mum, Nicola Gilbert.

“We do not agree that it was. He was highly intoxicated and it’s fair to say he should not have taken the knife off his belt but we do not believe that doing so warrants being killed.”

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Mobile Breast Screen Van Visiting The Area

May 25, 2023

The mobile Breast Screen van will be making the rounds in the area from June 8, starting with Proserpine Hospital.

The Breast Screen initiative began in 1991 and has since detected 25,000 breast cancers through five million breast screens.

The free program is encouraged for all women over 40 years old.

Please note that this service is for a check-up only and not for women who have a concern or can feel a lump.

If you are worried about either of these, you need to book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

The level of treatment required can be massively reduced if cancer is caught early, so do not delay in speaking with your GP immediately if you are concerned.

All women over 40, who do not have a concern or change in their breast, are recommended to have a breast scan every two years.

The procedure includes scans of the breast tissue, which can detect growths or cancer cells that can not be felt or seen.

Two photos of each breast will be analysed by doctors and results sent to the patient.

It is common for some women to be recalled for a second screen at the Mackay Breast Screen Centre.

This does not mean you have cancer; it simply means they wish to conduct a second screening, an ultrasound and possibly a biopsy.

In the majority of cases this still results in a cancer-free diagnosis.

The Breast Screen mobile van will be parking up in Proserpine and Cannonvale from June to August, to service local women.

The service is free and is minimally invasive, so be sure to make an appointment and get checked.

To make an appointment, ring 13 20 50 or visit breastscreen.qld.gov.au

The Breast Screen van will be at Prosperine Hospital on Herbert Street from Thursday June 8 to Saturday July 1.

The Breast Screen van will be at Whitsunday Plaza on Galbraith Park Road, Cannonvale from Monday July 3 to Thursday August 31.

A breast scan can detect growths and cancer cells that even doctors can’t see or feel. Photo supplied

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Havana Night With Tiny Homes Project

May 25, 2023

The recently announced Havana Party Night ‘Let’s do Latin’ fundraiser night for the Whitsunday Tiny Homes Project has another massive announcement for the event.

Kelly Ann Doll, Australian power burlesque dancer will be appearing as Carmen Miranda, the famous Brazilian singer, dancer, and actress who is renowned for her floral fruit headpieces and her signature outfits.

“Kelly is a swing dancing burlesque dynamo and you’re bound to be in for some exciting surprises in the final act,” said event organiser Sandy Clark.

“This will be something very different for Airlie Beach and we are thrilled that an artist of this calibre is flying in from Sydney and donating her time especially for this worthy cause of building four tiny homes for elderly homeless women in our community.”

Kelly is a formidable burlesque dancer and entertainer, having been voted in the Top 10 of the Most Influential Burlesque Artists in Australia by 21 Century Burlesque Magazine.

In conjunction with this fundraising event, Tiny Home Project volunteers have been visiting local businesses, asking for cash donations to fund the project.

The project was launched in October 2022 and is raising funds to construct four tiny homes for homeless women who are over 55-years old and live in the Whitsundays.

The tiny homes will be constructed on donated land from the Whitsunday Regional Council, on Gardenia Street in Proserpine.

The project has gained momentum, with the second fundraising event, held in February of this year, raising just over $17,000, and now Mayor Julie Hall has vowed to donate 50 per cent of proceeds gained from her Mayor’s Charity Ball, held in July.

WHAT: It’s Havana Party Night @ Let’s do Latin

WHERE: Whitsunday Sailing Club Bali Hut

WHEN: June 8, 5pm – 10pm

COST: $125 per person

TICKETS: airlieevents.com.au

National Sensation Kelly Ann Doll will be performing at the Havana party fundraiser. Photo supplied

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“I was doing everything” Running Fanatic Of Airlie Beach

May 25, 2023

The absolute passion and drive that fuels Wendy Downes OAM is clear, illuminating everything she does.

When Wendy and her husband John moved to Airlie Beach in 1998, she brought her passion for running, cycling, and competing with her.

However, Airlie Beach was sorely lacking in any runners or bikers.

“There was nothing here at all,” Wendy said.

“But once we started, it just started to build.”

Wendy was a “maniac runner”, competing in numerous Sydney City to Surfs, the Six Foot Track Marathons, the Royal Park Marathon, and the 1994 Duathlon World Championships, where she finished 4th.

“Running is a part of me,” she said.

“It feels like I’m floating.”

Wendy began the Whitsunday Running Club and championed the various running events of Airlie Beach, including the Airlie Beach Festival of Sport, the Whitsunday Trail Fest, Parkrun, and the Whitsunday Triathlon Club.

In more recent times, Wendy has moved onto being a Technical Official for various triathlons, including being involved in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final on the Gold Coast in 2018.

In 2015, she was honoured with an Order of Australia, for her involvement in the Whitsundays and to recreational running.

And in 2018, Wendy carried the Queens Baton Relay through Airlie Beach.

“It felt good. Absolutely amazing,” Wendy said.

“Those two honours are really special to me.”

“When I look back, I would go back and do every single one again.”

Wendy expects that the 2023 Airlie Beach Triathlon, scheduled for July 29 and 30, to be the biggest one yet.

Wendy Downes is a power marathon runner and avid community supporter. Photo supplied

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Chamber Chat

May 25, 2023

A hugely successful Vision for the Whitsundays launch event last week saw over 60 attendees from local businesses eager to hear the visionary perspectives from David Littleproud MP (federal leader of the National Party), Andrew Willcox MP (Federal Member for Dawson), Amanda Camm MP (Queensland Member for Whitsunday) and Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall, all centred around driving economic growth and prosperity in our region.

Read more about the details presented on the evening on our Vision for the Whitsundays page of our website, which will be regularly updated as this project progresses.

It was clear that to help our political representatives advocate more effectively, we need to be coordinated in our ask as a business community.

The Chamber’s next networking event in Proserpine on 15th June will focus on discussing the priorities for the region – we will be asking for input in the interim, so feel free to contact the chamber to discuss.

Now is the time to join the Chamber and be part of this initiative.

New memberships to end of FY23 are free – jump onto our website and join up.

Onto the budget, the Federal government announced some modest energy bill and tax relief for small business with key measures including increasing the instant asset write-off threshold to $20000 for 12 months, a rebate of up to $650 off electricity bill for eligible businesses and up to $20000 in bonus tax rebates per asset under the Small Business Energy Incentive scheme, to encourage businesses to install energy efficient appliances.

This week, representatives from the Chamber will meet with The Department of Employment, Small Business and Training (DESBT) with a view to establish a closer working relationship and getting the department to be more active in the region.

The department’s primary purpose is to support the workforce with learning opportunities and by helping small businesses establish and thrive and is an invaluable resource for our local enterprises.

Onwards and upwards for 2023.

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Councillor Column - Councillor John Collins

May 25, 2023

I am pleased to provide an update on the progress of the Wilson’s Beach Swimming Enclosure.

As I’m sure many of you are aware, the enclosure was damaged during Tropical Cyclone Debbie and Council has been unsuccessfully out to tender three times in an attempt to have the enclosure rebuilt.

As a result, we are now taking a new approach to the refurbishment. Instead of going out to tender for the entire project, we will now be splitting the rebuild into a three-stage approach and seeking quotes for each stage of the project individually.

The three stages are:

1. Dismantling the current enclosure.

2. Purchase of materials directly by Council.

3. Building of the new enclosure.

We have procured the services of a local contractor to complete stage one of the Wilson’s Beach Swimming Enclosure project.

Work is scheduled to commence in the next 4-6 weeks and residents can expect to see the vertical posts/poles remain as they are still in reasonable condition. The contractor will be using two entry points to dismantle the current enclosure and residents will be notified of these works once dates have been confirmed.

Council officers have already commenced seeking quotes for stage two and three of the project with stage two procurement process almost finalised and stage three not far behind!

I understand your frustrations with how long this process has taken, as I have been frustrated too. To the Wilsons Beach residents, thank you for your patience and support – we have fought together to get this far.

Since adopting a staged approach, I am thrilled to see significant progress and look forward to seeing the enclosure rebuilt soon. Keep an eye on my Facebook page for further updates!

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What is a Financial Planner?

May 25, 2023

There are two main things a Financial Planner does, ‘Strategy Advice’ and ‘Product Advice’.

Strategic Advice involves guiding people on how their financial future looks now and the options available to improve their financial position. It’s looking at the pros and cons of various options and weighing up the cost versus benefits to guide people to the best option for their financial situation and age.  

If you have large debts and a young family you want to protect, it’s guidance on the different types of insurances available and which ones suit your situation.  

If you’re looking to build wealth in the run up to retirement it’s unpacking whether negative gearing, super or paying off your home loan is the best option.

Questions like: Should I be using an offset account or a redraw to reduce my mortgage and what are the long-term tax ramifications? Should I be taking a pension from my super even if I’m not retired as I’ve heard there are tax benefits? Will I have enough to retire comfortably, and will I get any assistance form the government?  How do I protect my nest egg?

Throughout our lives most people will purchase financial products, these might be simple like bank accounts or credit cards or complex like home loans, superannuation, insurance or pensions.  

The key here is getting advice on what type of product suits you. i.e., Now I know what type of insurance package I want to purchase, which insurer offers the most competitive premium for my age and occupation?  

What type of superannuation products suits my situation, is it an industry super, a retail super or a Self-Managed Super Fund?  

Can my existing super pension product facilitate a protection strategy against a major market crash? Are the product fees I’m currently paying competitive?  

Another key issue to consider when getting product recommendations is what range of products the adviser can recommend. It doesn’t take Einstein to work out that if you talk to an adviser employed by a bank or insurance company generally, they are going to recommend their company’s super, investment, insurance and loan products even if other companies have products better suited to your situation.

In summary Financial Planners can guide people in all sorts of areas to make better decisions to help them achieve their financial goals. The key is in finding a Financial Planner you can relate to who is experienced and can recommend the right strategy and products from a range of different providers.  

If you think you could benefit from a discussion with a Financial Planner, give us a call.  There’s no obligation and all fees are spelled out clearly in advance.  If you’re not sure, try our Financial Fitness Survey on our website at www.eclipsefs.com as it’s a simple free tool to help assess your financial strength.

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Dare To Be Great

May 26, 2023

Similar to spring cleaning our homes, a shift in life’s seasons calls for a freshen up of our personal lives, by shedding what no longer serves us.

Every moment is an opportunity to step into our greatness.

The first step is to determine what a great life means to you and what needs to shift to make it happen.

Ask yourself:

What is the greatness I am ready embrace?

What do I need to release to fully step into this greatness?

What’s thriving?

Take a look at what’s going well in your life.

We can often be consumed by what isn’t thriving, particularly with negative news stories, the inadequacy we feel by consumerism and the comparison on social media, and the uncertainty of things outside ourselves.

Challenge yourself to focus on what is thriving in your life.

Through reframing, what seemed to you to be wrong may, in fact, be great when viewed through a different lens.

Turn your failures into opportunities for success

What does success mean to you?

Every choice we make and every action we take is an opportunity to step into our greatness and achieve success.

The human factor means that we make mistakes and can be derailed from our original vision.

What’s important is having compassion for ourselves in these moments, and seeing obstacles or mistakes as opportunities to grow.

Honour your mistakes as stepping stones on your journey to greatness.

Upgrade your environment

“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” – Dan Pena

Examine the people in your life. Do they cause you to go beyond your comfort zone, or are they holding you in a chapter of your life that has/is coming to an end?

Surround yourself with people who align with the vision you have for yourself.

We can all build our best life through our daily choices and the willingness to push ourselves into the unknown.

We show up for ourselves and others when we make a commitment to greatness.

Contributed with thanks to Shiift

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Nationals’ Leader Tours Bowen

May 25, 2023

Last week, a lively Bowen Chamber of Commerce meeting saw guest speaker, Leader of the Nationals David Littleproud MP, share his ideas for a strong and stable regional future.

Accompanied by the Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox MP, Mr Littleproud outlined his vision for the next federal Coalition government and addressed topics including the 2023 Federal budget, the housing crisis, northern Australian development, the renewables shift, and dams, among other topics.

Referring to the modest surplus in the Federal budget, Mr Littleproud was adamant that the first surplus in many years had come from the efforts of the hard-working rural sector.

"This budget is a welfare budget,” he said.

“It is not necessarily putting money back in the economy.”

Mr Littleproud believes it fails to address the skills and worker shortages bedevilling our economy.

Instead of $4-6 billion in welfare payments, he asserts that it should have been directed into a transition to work focus, "to give hardworking Australians the opportunity to get back into work," he said.

Mr Littleproud was also critical of the plan to bring 1.5 million migrant workers into the country, who he believes would put pressures on the economy.

Rather, the Government should give these workers a pathway to citizenship which would, in turn, would offer regional Australia access to the skilled workers it so badly needs.

"We need to put regional Australia on a competitive footing with urban areas," he said, adding that under Labor many of these workers would flow mainly to the major cities.

He also said that the LNP policy of establishing satellite learning campuses allowed workers to stay in towns and develop their skills where they were most needed.

Mr Littleproud said health was a critical factor in drawing new people to centres like Bowen and he was critical of Labor policy that he said drew in overseas doctors who were offered no incentive to go to regional centres.

He also vented his concerns about the costs involved in moving towards a renewable future.

"28 thousand kilometres of transmission lines are needed for the green transition," he said, while power costs for the food sector had tripled, "and that comes back to us.

"In the rural sector, we are going to get it in the neck again.”

Mr Littleproud was also critical of the rise of wind turbines and solar farms, saying while some producers had profited from the use of their land to host these facilities, he was against using prime agricultural land for these purposes.

Instead, he said modular nuclear reactors offered a cost-effective way to site energy-producing facilities closest to the most energy-hungry centres, and did not require new transmission infrastructure, as well as using new technologies such as carbon capture to enable the country to keep using coal and gas.

"We have plenty of time to solve this.

“This government has brought it forward; they have taken a reckless path," Mr Littleproud said.

"Our biggest asset is that we have complete resource security and sovereignty."

During his time in Bowen, Mr Littleproud and Mr Willcox toured the Gilmour Space Technologies’ Bowen Orbital Spaceport to see how plans are progressing for the first launch which is expected to take place within the next few months.

“These innovative guys plan to launch the Eris rocket into space later this year,” said Mr Willcox.

“If successful it will be Australia’s first homegrown orbital spacecraft!

“The Coalition know that investment into the Australian Space Industry will yield many benefits, and I was delighted to hear our hard work has paid off.

“I know I will certainly be watching this ‘Space’.”


Bowen Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Hedditch (from left) talks policy with Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Leader of the National Party David Littleproud. Photo credit: Paul Gellatly

Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox MP and Leader of The Nationals, David Littleproud MP tour the Gilmour Space Technologies’ Bowen Orbital Spaceport. Photo supplied

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Six Decades Of Dedicated Bowen History

May 25, 2023

Bowen as a township has long been titled the oldest town in North Queensland and its special microcosm of history and culture has been preserved by the Bowen Historical Society and Museum.

And, in a mammoth year for Bowen, the Bowen Historical Society and Museum is celebrating a 60 year milestone this year.

The curators of the Bowen Museum have been meticulous with preserving Bowen’s pioneer history, much of which is now on display, each catalogued with a detailed and accurate reporting and recording for the public to read and be educated.

With some of the largest and most thorough collections of Australian maritime and war memorabilia and artefacts, the Bowen Museum is often visited by Queensland historians and Queensland Museum Staff to aid in preservation, conservation, record keeping, and creating dynamic displays for visitors.

“Our visitors always say that this museum is the most interesting they have seen,” museum volunteer Helen Nicholas said.

“Our collection is very interesting.”

Julie Jurgens, Secretary of the Bowen Historical Society, added that the museum has enjoyed a vibrant history itself.

“It’s hard to think that the museum has been so long established in the community,” she said.

“The Museum started off in a man’s house – he started the museum in the first place – and then the museum outgrew the location.

“Then it was in the Transport building for a bit, and then 10 years later, our building was built, and in 1988, we had an expansion and added another room.”

The museum has primarily expanded due to donations from members of the community.

“We have had pieces from family collections donated,” said Ms Jurgens.

“We’ve even had a few wedding dresses donated, which solves a lot of family arguments about who gets the dress!”

Celebrations for the 60th year anniversary of the Bowen Historical Society and Museum have yet to be announced.

The Bowen Museum was established in 1963, from the founder’s home

The Bowen Museum is now located on Gordon Street in Bowen

The Bowen Museum and Historical Society has a dedicated history of Bowen and its residents. Photo supplied

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Big Mango Comes Of Age!

May 25, 2023

Bowen’s most bountiful child is turning 21 this week and the whole town is celebrating the huge milestone of an iconic structure that has featured in over 1.5 million selfies over the years.

At a height of 10-metres and weighing a whopping five tonnes, the Big Mango is believed to be the largest structure of its kind in the world.

It was the brainchild of a local doctor at the time, Geoff Ingham, who got the project underway by establishing the Big Mango Trust to help fund and build it.

It cost $90,000 to build and brings more than 80,000 people to the site each year, more than returning the value spent on its construction.

About half the Big Mango’s visitors call into the Bowen Visitor Information Centre next door to find out about the local tours, activities, and accommodation.

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy, said the Big Mango represents something truly special for Bowen locals.

“While it’s an object in reality, this icon is now an internationally renowned symbol of our town and our region.

“We’re a proud coastal town of many farming families who value the opportunity to share our pride with as many visitors as possible – and the Big Mango plays a huge role in attracting these visitors from all over the world.”

With a population of about 11,000 and known as ‘the food bowl’ of The Whitsundays, Bowen supplies 10 per cent of the entire Australian mango crop.

The Big Mango symbolises the Kensington Pride variety of mango, which is also known as the ‘Bowen Special’ and is lush in colour.  

Bowen is the birthplace of the Kensington Pride in Australia, after being introduced from India in 1871.

Celebrations will be taking place across the Whitsundays for the next week.

Yesterday morning Katie Brown from Channel 7’s Sunrise broadcast live from the Big Mango, delivering the morning’s weather report right across the country.

Last night the tourism industry celebrated the milestone with a huge and extended Tourism Whitsundays Networking Night at the Big Mango, with an after party at the Grand View Hotel.

By coincidence, the iconic 100 per cent mango sorbet which is sold at the Information Centre, also reached an incredible milestone by breaking its long-standing record.

Previously the record has been 18,500 sold per year and this week that figure was smashed, with more than 19,000 sold with five weeks still remaining before the cut-off at the end of the financial year.

“We would absolutely love to sell 21,000 this year to go with the Big Mango’s 21 years!” said Ms Abernethy.

“So please come down to the information centre and treat yourself!”

Bowen Tourism and Business Manager Leanne Abernethy prepares for filming earlier this month. Photo credit: Facebook

The Bowen Visitor Information Centre welcomes 40,000 visitors through its doors each year. Photo supplied

A record-breaking 19,000 mango sorbets have been sold from the centre so far this year. Photo supplied

Kenny the Big Mango mascot. Photo supplied

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A Warm Bowen Welcome

May 25, 2023

Open seven days a week, 360 days a year, Bowen Tourism and Business (BTB) is the beating heart of local tourism and, in addition to its sea of volunteers, it is the regular staff that create the warm welcome the mango town is famous for.

Three full-time staff and a workforce of four casuals provide the foundations of the experience at the information centre.

The team are responsible for a range of duties, from selling mango sorbets to keeping on top of social media posts, booking tours and accommodation, running promotional competitions and of course offering advice to the 40,000 tourists that come through the doors each year.

“I have a wonderful team who are all passionate about Bowen,” said BTB Manager Leanne Abernethy.

“A couple of them are young mums and they always fit us in between dropping their kids off at school – they are very flexible, and we appreciate everything they do – they are the reason we can stay open seven days a week and only close five days a year!

“All staff have contributed so much towards the celebrations, and I am very proud of each of them.”

Bowen Mango’s Team Top Picks

“I love snorkelling off the beach at Horseshoe Bay – it has the most beautiful fringing reefs, and it is one of the only places in Australia where you can snorkel straight off the beach.” (Glenn Womal)

“My favourite place in Bowen is the Edgecombe Trail – it is so scenic, and it only takes an hour to complete – it is so beautiful and well worth a visit.” (Melissa Beuzeville)

“The Bowen Jetty would have to be my top pick – I love going there for a morning walk on our historic jetty, it is 750 metres long and 150 years old.” (Leanne Abernethy)

“I love walking along the beach with my dog as the sun rises or enjoying a nibbles platter on the beach while the sunsets at Grays Bay.” (Ellie Palmero)

Bowen Tourism and Business’ valued staff: Melissa Beuzeville, Leanne Abernethy, Glenn Womal and Ellie Palmero. Photo credit: Rachael

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Mango-ifficent Volunteers!

May 25, 2023

The award-winning Big Mango has a reputation for not only being one of the most popular ‘big things’ in Australia, but also for being one of the friendliest tourist information centres in the country.

In 2022 the Big Mango was named the Top Tourist Attraction at the Whitsundays Tourism Awards and earlier this year the dedicated volunteers were nominated for an Australian Day Award.

With 16 volunteers on the books, all donating a minimum of three to four hours of their time per week, it is easy to see what lies at the heart of the centre.

Bowen Tourism and Business is guided by its Manager, Leanne Abernethy, two full-time staff and four casual staff.

But it is the sea of volunteers that make up the vital additional hours needed to enable the centre to open seven days a week and provide over 40,000 visitors a year with helpful advice about the local area.

“Our incredible volunteers greet our visitors seven days a week,” said Ms Abernethy.

“They are all very passionate and dedicated, and as we are a not-for-profit organisation this really helps save on staffing costs so that any profit we make is used to market Bowen as a destination.”

The Information Centre is also a booking agency which has a wealth of knowledge about local tours and activities, and it holds over 350 brochures on all regions across Queensland.

Inside the centre, you will also find an extensive range of mango inspired merchandise.

From soaps to chutneys, candles to sauces and even branded socks with Kenny the Mango emblazoned on them – the information centre really understands how to make the most of the local icon.

“Our Mango Daiquiri Mix has proved very popular too!” said Ms Abernethy.

Some of the BTB volunteers: Mark Steen, Margie Hurst, Trudy Starkey, Janice Germain, Marie Bailey, Anne Steen and Kev Clarke.Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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The Pride Of Kensington

May 25, 2023

A well-known face in the region sits quietly behind Bowen Tourism and Business as the Chair of the Committee, discreetly guiding the strategic vision of the non-for-profit organisation.

Jenn Honnery is originally from Brisbane but moved to the region in 1999 and fell in love with the local way of life.

“I moved here to work in a pub and have a break from uni and I didn’t make it home!” explains Jenn.

With a degree in Architecture, she was soon employed as a surveyor for a local gold mine.

She then went to help a friend on a nearby cattle station and it was here she met her husband, Jason.

The couple moved to Collinsville and later purchased an organic mango farm which is located between Bowen and Collinsville.

Jenn completed a Multi-Media Design Degree and a Masters in Communication.

When she is not running the mango farm with her husband, she is busy building websites and working as a graphic designer.

In 2017, Jenn decided it was time for a change and embarked on a role as Sales and Marketing Manager for Bowen Tourism and Business.

When the new role proved to be too demanding around her other work commitments, Jenn decided to step down but was still eager to contribute as a volunteer committee member.

She was later elected Chair.

“The role translated nicely as I had an interest in the local tourism industry but could bring in skills with marketing and design and an understanding of small business,” she said.

Since becoming Chair five years ago, Jenn has witnessed much change.

One of the highlights has been helping to increase the marketing budget so Bowen Tourism can “stand on its own two feet”.

She has also enjoyed forming a strong connection with Tourism Whitsundays.

“I am especially excited that Sunrise came to the Big Mango this week – that certainly pulled a lot of eyes onto Bowen,” she said.

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“Tourism Is Everybody’s Business”

May 25, 2023

At the helm of Bowen Tourism and Business is its dynamic leader, Leanne Abernethy, who over the past two years has become the daily driving force behind innovations and ideas.

By coincidence, Leanne started her role the day before the Big Mango turned 19 and, if it were not for this fact, the upcoming milestones could have been completely missed.

Fortunately, she flagged the date and Bowen Tourism and Business (BTB) hosted a small 20-year celebration last year while planning for the big festivities this year.

Speaking on ABC radio Brisbane earlier this week, appearing on Channel 7’s Sunrise breakfast show on Thursday and hosting 4MK and ABC Tropical North during the week as well – it is clear that Leanne shines in her role.

Originally from a small country town called Bogan Gate in Central New South Wales, Leanne moved to Canberra where she completed a degree in journalism.

She then took on a cadet journalist position in Eden before spending the next 21 years working for various newspapers across three states.

In 2007 she moved to the region to take on the Editor’s position for the Whitsunday Times and within seven years she became the Managing Editor of two local mastheads - the Proserpine Guardian and the Whitsunday Times.

She then became a Multi-Media Director for Newscorp, working on newspapers from Bowen in the north to Lismore in the south.

After six years in that role, a reshuffle of regional newspapers across Queensland saw Leanne become redundant, which presented an opportunity to become Sales and Marketing Manager of BTB and she has since been promoted to Manager.

Her current role allows Leanne to harness the vast wealth of knowledge from working within the media industry and combine it with her love of tourism.

During her time with the organisation, Leanne has witnessed many highlights.

“We’ve expanded our range of merchandise and local produce at the information centre, increased the number of members, promoted Bowen and the region heavily, produced the Bowen and Collinsville Visitor Guide and we have just hit a record number of mango sorbet sales for the second year in a row!” said Leanne.

“It’s been an honour to help boost the Bowen brand and I look forward to continuing to grow the organisation.

“I am lucky to have such a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who are so passionate about what we do.

“I would also like to thank each of our 222 members. We appreciate their support and we strive to ensure they are all promoted.

“We believe that ‘tourism is everybody’s business’, and you can see this is true by the diverse range of members we have.”

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A Passport to Bowen

May 25, 2023

Always looking for innovative ideas to connect the region and promote additional visitation, for the second year in a row Bowen Tourism and Business (BTB) have collaborated with two other information centres to run the Passport Competition.

With $2,100 worth of vouchers to be won, the Passport Competition encourages visitors to call in at three information centres (Bowen, Proserpine, and Sarina) with entrants required to get their ‘passport’ stamped at each location.

Once all three locations are stamped, they receive entry into the competition.

This year an incredible 267 people participated and it is hoped this successful marketing campaign will become part of the annual calendar.

“The staff at the three information centres in the Whitsundays and Mackay regions have worked together to encourage more people to visit both regions,” said BTB Manager Leanne Abernethy.

“It provides an incentive for travellers to visit all three information centres and also encourages locals to check out their own backyard.”

Tourism Whitsundays CEO, Rick Hamilton believes tying The Whitsundays region and Mackay region together in the competition was an excellent initiative for the drive segment and encouraged travellers to engage with all three information centres.

“There is so much on offer in The Whitsundays and Mackay, and we’ve got fantastic volunteers and staff waiting to help travellers with their plans,” he said.

“This competition gave people visiting one information centre the incentive to stop at the other two, giving each centre’s staff and volunteers the opportunity to showcase their region and help visitors get the most out of their experience.”

Kate Mackie of Bowen Tourism and Business with the passports. Photo supplied

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Don’t Say Cheese, Say Mango!

May 25, 2023

As part of the Big Mango’s 21st birthday celebrations a photo competition was launched to encourage tourists and locals alike to get creative with their cameras and smart phones, celebrating the iconic structure and Bowen’s beautiful surrounds.

Participants were given the opportunity to enter their photos into two categories.

The Beautiful Bowen competition tasked entrants to capture Bowen's beauty through her beaches, history, horticulture, or seafood industries.

The Creative Big Mango competition captured the Big Mango in a creative way or a Big Mango inspired selfie.

Launched at the beginning of March, the competition attracted an impressive 400 entries, all from people hoping to win prizes that included once in a lifetime experiences in Bowen and the Whitsundays.

For each category there were two prizes – the Judges Choice and the Popular Vote.

The competition closed on May 6 and was followed by a voting period for Popular Choice, with the winners of all categories announced yesterday morning.

“We were absolutely ecstatic to receive so many entries,” said Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy.

“So many people put so much effort in – it was fantastic to see their creations.”

1: Judges Choice by Kylie Thompson

2: Beautiful Bowen Photo by @bowen4805

3: popular Choice by Megan Weir

4: Beautiful Bowen Photo by Kathleen B

5: Encouragement Award by Putu Ariawan

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Two Show-Stopping Stunts, One Big Mango!

May 25, 2023

Over the past 21 years the Big Mango has been selected to participate in two media stunts that attracted national attention, not only promoting the ‘stunt’, but also shining a spotlight on Bowen.

In 2014, the international restaurant franchise, Nando’s, launched their new Mango and Lime range with a clever stunt that kept the whole country guessing.

This was the year that the Big Mango completely disappeared and for a few days it seemed like it had really been stolen.

That was before a smaller 6-metre replica of the Big Mango was revealed in Federation Square in Melbourne, and Nandos confessed to the ‘crime’.

The magnanimous restaurant company were thrilled with the response and donated the smaller replica to Bowen.

It now sits at the Bowen Tourism and Business’ Information Centre on Front Beach.

Earlier this year the Big Mango was removed in media stunt once again.

This time it was replaced with an inflatable Big Mango that had been cut in half.

The half remaining symbolised the 50 per cent of unpaid invoices small businesses have to face each year.

It was commissioned by cloud accounting platform, Xero, to bring awareness to the plight of millions of small business owners who lose money each year due to late payments.

While the stunt once again attracted the desired national media attention, it also gave Whitsunday Regional Council the opportunity to install new legs and an internal refurbishment to make the mango more durable.

A few weeks later it was also given a fresh paint job, so it looked perfect for its big 21st birthday.

Bowen Tourism and Business Manager, Leanne Abernethy, said that the stunts had proven very popular and a great way to promote the region.

“The first stunt took place almost nine years ago and yet we still get asked about it in the visitor information centre,” she said.

Kenny the Big Mango Mascot standing in front of the ‘half-mango’ earlier this year for the Xero publicity stunt. Photo supplied

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Growing Up on Grassy Island circa 1930

May 25, 2023

Shortly before his death, Reliance Lee popped into the Proserpine Museum and shared his memories of the idyllic lifestyle that his family enjoyed while living on Grassy Island during the 1930s. Reliance was named after the boat owned by his father, Boyd.

During those years, the family lived in several different houses, the first being a grass hut of substantial size but later a more conventional house was built. The Lee family kept cows for milk and butter, chooks, goats for meat and grew all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Separating the milk and making butter was one of Mrs Lee’s job.

Reliance and his three step-siblings Joan, Phillip and Gladys, had to attend to their studies which were supervised by their governess, Winnie Gotswell, however they still managed to enjoy numerous adventures.

Fishing adventures were many and varied - and true to his name, Reliance could always be relied upon to get himself into challenging predicaments. Surprisingly, he and his siblings avoided serious injury despite the potential danger of some of their escapades.  

One day, while out in the six-foot boat their father had built, the fish were not biting so Reliance wrapped the line around his big toe which was propped up on the side of the boat. A cod took off with his bait, tipped the boat and nearly tossed him out. Somehow, he managed to get his leg back into the boat and catch the fish. On another day, when his sister was casting her line, she managed to catch Reliance’s arm. After much trouble, the hook was eventually removed by his mother.

At night, they could see the fish coming with phosphorus shining - they’d stand perfectly still with spear in hand and catch fish. A blacksmith made a six-foot spear which his brother Phil used, but one day when Phil wasn’t around Reliance decided to have a go with it. He tied the spear to his wrist, was standing up to his waist in water when he speared a shovel-nosed shark. It took off flat stick across the reef with Reliance in tow. Luckily, the shark swam near a rock which jerked out the spear and saved Reliance. The boys sometimes made a makeshift sail out of a potato bag, opened out and stretched between two oars with a bar along the bottom. They steered using two ropes attached to the bottom corners and they sailed to what is now known as Earlando, but often had to row back.

Over the years some galvanised iron huts were built to house tourists and a dance hall was added. Past locals recalled the good times shared on Grassy Island. Ella Compton recorded in her diary that she had enjoyed a night of dancing at Grassy. Jim Wright used to recount going over there for weekends and staying in one of the huts, sometimes playing his accordion to provide music for dancing. Others such as Wally Tawse from Bowen went over to Grassy Island just for the fishing.    

The Lee family kept cows for milk and butter, chooks, goats for meat and grew all sorts of fruit and vegetables. Separating the milk and making butter was one of Mrs Lee’s job. The children relished racing up to the top of the hill and watching the steamers go by. This venture took a couple of hours so one can imagine their delight when one day they spotted a submarine.

Theirs was a simple yet idyllic life.  

Story and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum.

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Proserpine State School Under 8’s Day

May 25, 2023

In this fantastic community day, there was fun to be had for everyone.

Activities included face painting by senior students, cookie decorating, craft, badge making, doll making with the Proserpine Museum, and so much more.

There was even a special arrival of paramedics with an ambulance, police officers, firefighters with their truck, and the State Emergency Service (SES) with a buggy.

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May 18, 2023

The most influential political leaders in the region attended a lively Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce special event on Tuesday evening, the key item on the agenda: a new vision for the Whitsundays.

Special guest, David Littleproud, Leader of the National Party spoke alongside Andrew Willcox, Federal Member for Dawson, Amanda Camm, Member for Whitsunday, and Julie Hall, Mayor of the Whitsunday Regional Council.

Each leader delivered their message to a full-house and spoke on issues such as their perspectives on the climate of the region, their visions for the future, and directions they are pursuing.

1. David Littleproud, Leader of the National Party of Australia

Mr Littleproud’s vision for the Whitsundays encompasses housing and regional healthcare, particularly foreign doctors.

- The current government has proposed a risky scheme for housing.

o “It’s $10 billion, but it’s not $10 billion going into housing, it’s the government borrowing $10 billion and hoping they can invest that $10 billion at a greater return than what they’re paying interest rates on. And then if they actually make anything about that interest rate, they’ll put that into housing; that’s a big risk.”

- There have been changes to the designated priority areas, regarding foreign doctors.

o “The government is allowing foreign doctors to now work in capital cities, rather than regional-remote areas. They’ve extended that, which means the doctors are not working with us. We’ve lost foreign doctors, and for some of us, we don’t have any doctors at all now.”

2. Andrew Willcox MP, Federal Member for Dawson

Mr Willcox’s vision for the Whitsundays includes connectivity for the region, as well as insurance premiums.

- Mr Willcox is pleased with the increased use of the local airport; however, he believes the marine industry is critical to growth.

o “We’re looking at a super yacht service facility in Bowen. What we’re hoping from a federal point of view is funding of a super yachts service facility, because the super yachts won’t visit this area if we cannot maintain and look after them.”

- Mr Willcox is working on insurance premium costings for the region.

o “Another thing I have been working on is that we pay far too much for insurance. The reinsurance bill, that’s a $10 billion fund, and its not quite where I thought it was up to, because insurance companies have until the end of this year to opt in. We need to get our insurance premiums down in this area.”

3. Amanda Camm MP, Member for Whitsunday

Ms Camm’s vision for the area includes growth in infrastructure, but sustainable growth that supports the region.

o “We have a development underway at the moment in the Shute Harbour Marina, that I will absolutely go on record that I hope never sees the light of day. It’s not the right development for our community. “

o “I want to see the Tassal expansion occur in agriculture. They’re doing incredible things sustainably. And that’s a new industry that’s going to create some 600 jobs over the course of the decade and create new opportunities for our young people in science, technology, and innovation.”

o “Our region is an incredible destination and should always be renowned as that. Particularly with the lead up to the Olympic Games, I don’t want all of that infrastructure funding or visitation to just be into southeast Queensland.”

4. Julie Hall, Mayor of the Whitsunday Regional Council

Mayor Hall is adamant on job growth and economic and environmental sustainability within the region.

o “One of the key challenges we face is ensuring that our infrastructure keeps pace with demands of the growing population and economy, our road and public services must be able to accommodate the increasing needs and expectations of our residents and visitors alike.”

o “It is critical we protect and preserve our environment for future generations. We must play our role and adopt sustainable practices and ensure responsible development that respects the fragile ecosystem that makes our region so special.”

o “Another challenge with rapid growth is the issue of housing affordability and availability. It is essential that federal, state, and local government work collaboratively with stakeholders, developers, and the community to innovate solutions and strive for a balance between growth and affordable housing options.”

L-R: Andrew Willcox, Member for Dawson, Julie Hall, Mayor of Whitsunday Regional Council, Allan Milostic, President of the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce, Amanda Camm, Member for Whitsunday, David Littleproud, Leader of the National Party for Australia. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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Editor's Note

May 18, 2023

Hi Everyone,

Having lived with a ‘senior citizen’ for the past three months, I have come to notice that the world is often not built with ‘oldies’ in mind.

My mum is in her 70s and she is spritely, alert, and quick-thinking – a good intellectual match for anyone she meets – and she certainly gets a lot of laughs with her witty sense of humour.

She has been staying with me since March and every Tuesday, she goes for a walk with her friend and, over the course of several weeks, the pair have observed how older people are almost invisible on the boardwalk.

No-one moves to the side, bikes whizz past at top speed and some people even bump past without noticing.

It can often be the same at the shops with busy parents racing by impatient shopkeepers and lively conversations.

The world moves very fast when you are slowing up and I think it would be nice for us all to slow down to a more sedate pace.

One where we notice an older person rattled by our speed, or better still take the time to stop and chat.

I think it would also be nice if we thought how our businesses, services and facilities could better accommodate the older generation.

For we will all get there one day (if we are lucky!).

For example, wouldn’t it be nice if Cedar Creek Falls had a wooden handrail? Or the bus shelters had a bench on both sides so people could sit in the shade no matter where the sun sits in the sky.

Of course, we are always looking for ways we can improve our newspaper so, if you have some ideas (whatever your age!), please email rachael@mackayandwhitsundaylife.com.au with your suggestions.


Quote of the Week: “Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you” (John De Paola)

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Braking The Cycle With Driver Steve

May 18, 2023

For Steve Fraser, volunteering with the Whitsundays PCYC Braking the Cycle Program was a no brainer.

Braking the Cycle is a program that assists people with meeting the requirements for getting their license, through providing a registered car and a driver mentor to supervise.  

Over the past year, Steve has completed 150 hours of driving and seen six students get their provisional licenses.

“You get a good buzz from it,” he said.

Steve decided to start volunteering when he realised he was missing working with youth and thought the PCYC-run program would “keep the connection with young people” for him.

But as much as it is about driving, Steve said that he and the other three volunteers are also mentoring the students, lending an ear and advice when needed.

“You have to be very non-judgmental about it. You hear it all. You do a bit a life coaching, I suppose,” Steve said.

“When you’re driving around for an hour and a half, you have to talk about something!”

Steve also volunteers with the Get Set for Work Program with PCYC, often leading cooking classes during the 10-week program.

“It’s just so good to see the results, see the improvements, and them become more confident.”

The students Steve helps include Indigenous, women escaping domestic and family violence, and people from culturally diverse backgrounds, with about 50 per cent of students being local youth.

Steve, who also works as a marriage celebrant, is often lending a hand in life’s milestones.

“I find it’s a two-way street with this stuff, and you get back as much as you give, I find.”

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Police Shooting Victim Remembered

May 18, 2023

Luke Gilbert’s 25th birthday was marked by a group of compassionate community members earlier this week, red and white flowers laid at the location of the police shooting on Airlie Beach main street where he was tragically killed in October last year.

Investigations are still ongoing, and an enquiry has been launched into his death following allegations that excessive force was used when the police fired five shots, three of which hit Luke, who was threatening them with a four-centimetre penknife.

A group of locals who are worried about their own children growing up in an era of excessive police force have reached out to support Luke Gilbert’s family, empathising about his tragic lost and hoping to raise awareness for the issues surrounding his death.

Luke Gilbert was shot and killed in a police shooting in Airlie Beach last October.

In an 18-second altercation with police, Luke pulled out a penknife with a four-centimetre blade and threatened them saying “shoot me then, faggots”.

While his family admit this behaviour is disgraceful, they maintain it did not warrant the reaction from the police.

Five shots were fired, two ricocheted into nearby cars and three hit Luke directly.

Two local residents who attended the vigil to mark what would have been Luke’s 25th birthday earlier this week say they have seen CCTV footage of the moment Luke was shot and that he was “over 20 feet away” at the time.

“We’ve all seen the video and there was no lunging with the knife,” said Jeudi Thursday.

“But the way it was portrayed by the media served the police agenda so that it wouldn’t look like an execution style shooting.”

Another local, Chris Pannan, said that he has two teenage sons and that the news really “jolted” him.

“Five shots is just excessive,” he said.

“If they had used another method such as rubber bullets, Luke could have been disarmed and probably put in hospital but lived to tell the tale.”

“We really don’t need a GI Joe style police force.”

Jeudi agreed saying that with better police training the situation could have been very different.

“Non-lethal force training is something we need to respond to better as a society given growing mental health concerns,” she explained.

“I believe the police need to take a look in their own backyard and the mental health of the first responders.

“They shouldn’t still be operating as police officers and this information shouldn’t be hidden and swept under covers.”

Last month, Luke’s family who live in Western Australia, released a petition with over 20,000 signatures from supporters and subsequently an independent enquiry was launched.

His mother, Nicola Gilbert, had her birthday the day before Luke’s, but it will now be forever remembered with despair and anguish, with only the thought of his justice a small compensation for the family’s loss.

Red and white flowers were laid at the site of Luke’s death. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

Jeudi Thursday, Chris Pannan and Heidi Ward attended the vigil to mark what would have been Luke’s Gilbert’s 25th birthday. Photo credit: Rachael Smith.

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Massive Cuts To Regional Pharmacies

May 18, 2023

Regional pharmacies are feeling the brunt of budget cuts with the new 60-day prescription policy set to halve their annual dispensing fee, with one local pharmacist saying this will cost his business $250,000 per year.

Previously the dispensing fee of $7.82 was paid to a pharmacy per month per patient.

The new 60-day dispensing will mean this fee is paid every two months resulting in a saving of $46.92 per year, per patient.

This saving, however, comes directly out of the pockets of pharmacies and many fear this will result in a reduction of services, opening hours and even potentially leading to the closure of some stores.

Lee McLennan from Live Life Pharmacy in Cannonvale said the fees had previously helped keep his store open seven days a week and covered staff overheads.

He is worried he will now have to reduce both.

“It’s been very stressful, especially as it’s just been announced overnight with no warning,” he said.

“The policy is all about taking money away from pharmacy.”

Leader of the National Party David Littleproud MP and Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox, met with Mr McLennan to discuss the impacts.

“What I’m concerned about is people’s jobs and also places like Calen where the pharmacy is the only place for people to get primary healthcare,” said Mr Willcox.

“If you are going to impact someone’s business then you have to take a look at some sort of offset so they can continue to provide good health care services.”

Both politicians voiced concerns that regional areas will be the ones to suffer the most.

“Unfortunately, this policy will have unintended consequences for those people who live outside capital cities,” said Mr Littleproud.

“It’s about supply and lack of supply - if you’re at the end of the supply chain, the further you are away.”

Mr McLennan says that he fears some patients will go without medications as they are “already dealing with a lot of medicine shortages”.

“Rather than having enough to supply three patients we will have enough to supply one,” he said.

The bulk-buying of meds could also lead to surplus and waste in some households where individuals regularly swap and change medicines.

“You can’t take the other tablets back, so you’re actually getting more waste,” said Mr Willcox.

Other issues with the policy include patients with chronic illnesses having to purchase double the amount of medication in order to reach the ‘safety net’ of 36 scripts per year.

Once they have reached this threshold, they receive free prescriptions.

“I think the government needs to rethink this policy and have a conversation with the Pharmacy Guild and look at other ways of providing cheaper medicines and better services for people,” said Mr Willcox.

Lee McLennan from Live Life Pharmacy, Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox and Leader of the National Party David Littleproud MP. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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Whitsunday Airport Hitting New Highs

May 18, 2023

A record numbers of travellers have passed through the Whitsunday Coast Airport this past April.

The new record of 49,000 travellers smashed the previous record, of 47,000, from April 2022.

“The record-breaking numbers of passengers not only reflect the increasingly popularity of our Whitsunday region, but also signify the huge potential and opportunities that lie ahead,” said Whitsunday Regional Council Mayor Julie Hall.

“The unprecedented growth in passenger numbers speaks volumes about the collaborative efforts of our residents, businesses, and tourism industry in showcasing the unique experiences and warm hospitality that our region has to offer.”

“Working together, we have firmly positioned ourselves as one of Australia’s premium tourism destinations,” Major Hall said.

Whitsunday Coast Airport Chief Operating Officer Aviation and Tourism Craig Turner said, “It’s exciting that the airport has never been busier in its 70-year history and has become more than just a gateway to the Whitsundays.

It is now a vibrant hub that connects our community to a record number of destinations and is a key economic driver for our region.”

“Stay tuned for some more positive news in the next few months, as we have been actively exploring new destinations and are close to making several exciting announcements,” Mr Turner said.

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Medical Bus Sets Sights On Open Road

May 18, 2023

A medical bus that will ensure the safe transport of patients from the Whitsundays to Mackay for hospital appointments is one step closer to operating the service following a successful volunteer driver course.

This represents one of the last hurdles to overcome getting the bus on the road.

A total of six volunteer drivers were given a driver safety presentation and first aid course at the Proserpine Community Centre last week.

The new bus will be based in Cannonvale and will operate three days a week, transporting up to eight patients to and from Mackay from late June.

Main pick-up points include Whitsunday Community Health, Proserpine Hospital and Bloomsbury.

Mayor Julie Hall said that she is thrilled to see the service so close to operating.

“The Whitsunday Community Medical Bus Service will bridge the gap in healthcare accessibility, providing a lifeline for those who may face challenges in reaching medical facilities,” she said.

“This project represents a collaborative effort to ensure that no one is left behind when it comes to receiving the medical care they require.

“No one should have to choose between their health and their ability to access medical care.”

She thanked Kristi Algate and the rest of the team at Mackay Hospital Foundation for all their help, as well as Member for Whitsunday, Amanda Camm for her advocacy.

Mayor Hall added that she is very aware that there is a massive need for a similar service to operate and service Bowen and Collinsville.

“Our Economic Development team are working to explore potential funding opportunities for a community minibus for Bowen and Collinsville and surrounds to transport patients to Townsville for regular medical appointments,” she said.

“Access to this service for regional communities is so important, but it will be no quick fix as there are multiple funding, legal and operational logistics to be negotiated.”

Mayor Hall says she welcomes the announcement that a private operator has started up a regular daily service between Bowen and Mackay return as an option for medical patients.

"Mackay Whitsunday Buses will provide a transport option for Bowen patients needing treatments in Mackay which is great,” Mayor Hall said.

“However there remains a need for Bowen/Collinsville Patient transport Service as the new option would only be suitable for reasonably active patients and does not cater for those patients with appointments in Townsville.”

"The service also does not solve the issue of those with serious medical needs or patients with mobility issues and needing medical support during the journey.”

Volunteers doing drivers safety and first aid training

Mayor Hall with Mackay Hospital Foundation General Manager Kristi Algate

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New Bowen Jetty Proposal Makes Waves

May 18, 2023

Bowen residents worried about the future of the town's dilapidated jetty have received a "don't panic" assurance from some key players involved with the facility.

At the Bowen Chamber of Commerce meeting last Wednesday night, guest speaker John Martin, a former manager of the North Queensland Bulk Ports (NQBP) tug facility on the jetty, spoke about the history of the facility and how it would be no easy task to demolish it after the NQBP lease on the facility lapses later this year, and if a new leaseholder cannot be found.

Mr Martin, who became manager of the facility in 1985 with responsibility for seven ports throughout Queensland, recalled how fire had damaged part of the wharf, which had to be knocked down.

"Nearly 18 months later they were still trying to demolish the piles," he said. "The cost of demolition is staggering.

"This wharf was built to carry trains ... the timber (Tasmanian hardwood beams) is just staggering and this is why it is still here now.

With loads of up to six tonnes per axle, Mr Martin said that once heavy traffic was no longer used on the jetty, it would last for "a very long time".

"I wouldn't be panicking right now about its demolition," he said.

Mr Martin said the Bowen community needed to consult with all levels of government about developing a long-term plan for the jetty.

He said the facility still had a role to play in developing tourism in the town.

NQBP community and stakeholder advisory director Lorelei van Dalen told the meeting that while the preferred base for the tug fleet was Abbott Point,"this will take time".

"We know how important the jetty is to the community. I'm sure we can find another partner to take on the lease," she said.

Bowen businessman Neil Holloway also was at the meeting to air his proposal for redeveloping the facility that potentially has spin-offs for the town as well.

Under the proposal, which is as yet to be costed and without timeframes, a rock groyne would almost encircle the jetty, which Mr Holloway said would eliminate the tidal surge that frequently backs up the town's drainage channels. It would also allow a range of ventures to go ahead on the jetty.

These included drawing a marine research facility to set up on the jetty; an observatory and a 'coral garden' being established between the jetty's arms; restaurants and a delicatessen to take advantage of Bowen's reputation as a food bowl; and possibly even attracting cruise ships.

The proposal would benefit the existing foreshore water park and skate park facilities and there were even plans for fishing platforms to be built on the proposed rock groyne.

Mr Holloway said that Bowen needed to develop as a tourism destination. "Only six per cent of traffic (on the Bruce Highway) comes to Bowen," he said.

The proposed Bowen Harbour and sea wall jetty development

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New Book Gives Farmers Hope

May 18, 2023

A new book entitled ‘Mental Health on the Land’ is offering local farmers guidance and support for coping with mental strain they may experience due to the uncertainties within their industry.

The book, which was created by Royal Flying Doctors Service and funded by Thankful4Farmers, is an invaluable guide written specifically for growing areas of challenge for rural people.

It includes information on maintaining healthy relationships, reducing loneliness, stress management, strategies to cope in difficult times, seeking help for mental health conditions, suicide prevention and details for further mental health resources.

Earlier this month Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) hosted a special event which was held at Flagstaff Hill and attended by farmers, industry, and community representatives from in and outside of the region.

Carl Walker, President of BGGA said he’s seen first-hand the impact that mental health challenges have had on friends and many farmers who are struggling with the stress of farming today.

"Often, as farmers, we don't realise the impact that these challenges - we just get on with the job, but it can take a toll,” he explains.

“This book brings awareness, makes us feel like we're not alone, and provides us with the tools we need to help manage our mental health and wellbeing."

Mr Walker states that a high percentage of mental health issues stem from uncertainties within the industry.

“Just when we think we are in for a bumper season we are hit with bad weather and the whole season is a write-off,” he said.

“We invest time and money into the crop and just like that it’s gone and there is nothing we can do about it. It takes its toll on our health and we are told as farmers we are resilient and tough.

“But the industry needs to change the narrative and recognise that it is ok not to be ok so people can ask for help when they need it.”

There was a good turn-out at the book launch at Flagstaff Hill. Photo supplied

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Vote Now For Top Towns

May 18, 2023

Whitsunday residents are encouraged to support two local destinations that have been announced as finalists for the 2023 Queensland Top Tourism Town Awards.

Bowen was entered in the Top Tourism Town category and due to its size, Airlie Beach was eligible for the Top Small Tourism Town.

This means that both locations are in with a chance of winning and, if successful, the Whitsundays could take out the two top spots.

If Airlie Beach wins this will be its second consecutive year at the top.

Winning an award, or even becoming a finalist, allows our local townships to shine on a state-wide stage, raising awareness for tourism in our region.

Tourism Whitsundays CEO, Rick Hamilton is hopeful that Airlie Beach and Bowen will both take out the top spots.

“As a region, we’ve seen record-breaking visitation from the domestic market as people continue to discover and rediscover what is in their backyard,” said Mr Hamilton.

“Being able to say we’ve got two Top Tourism Towns within The Whitsundays would be a great achievement and one that Bowen and Airlie Beach deserve.

“The Whitsundays is the overseas holiday you can get to without a passport and usually within a few hours; what a special place to have in Queensland.”

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy, was very excited that Bowen had been named as a finalist in the QTIC Top Tourism Town awards again.

“Bowen, at the top of The Whitsundays, is the heart of secluded beaches and the home of the iconic Big Mango,” she said.

“We love welcoming tourists including the many southerners who come for the entire winter months to escape the cold.”

Voting is now open, but closes on Wednesday, May 24, so make sure you get your vote in quick and support our local towns as they bid to be the best.

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Big Mango Turns 21!

May 18, 2023

The Whitsundays’ Top Tourist Attraction of 2022 is celebrating its 21st birthday this month and everyone is invited to join the celebrations.

An iconic mascot of Bowen, the 10 metre tall Big Mango cost $90,000 to construct but has more than paid for itself with an estimated 1.5 million selfies taken in front of the giant structure over the last 21 years.

Over 80,000 people visit the Big Mango each year and Bowen Tourism and Business, which operates an Information Centre from the same location, has become a thriving mecca for visitors far and wide.

Bowen Tourism and Business have over 200 members, all of whom are invited to a special Tourism Whitsundays networking night at the Big Mango on Thursday, May 25.

The event will take place from 5.30pm until 8pm with an afterparty at the Grand View Hotel until 11pm.

Manager of Bowen Tourism and Business, Leanne Abernethy, said the Big Mango represents something truly special for Bowen locals.

“While it’s an object in reality, this icon is now an internationally renowned symbol of our town and our region,” she said.

“We’re a proud coastal town of many farming families who value the opportunity to share our pride with as many visitors as possible – and the Big Mango plays a huge role in attracting these visitors from all over the world.”

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Councillor Column With Councillor Clay Bauman

May 18, 2023

Firstly, I would like to thank all the people who attended our Council meetings and the community catch-ups that have been held so far. It was reassuring and reinvigorating to hear dozens of people applaud as Council voted to maintain “Maximum Building Heights” and what I call our Airlie Beach vision statement which calls for us to maintain our vital, small-town scale, blue views to the sea, green views to Airlie Hill, and heights.

For those interested in our local community discussions, the summary documents for the Cannonvale catch-up are now available on the WRC Your Say webpage.

The many different responsibilities I now cover as a Councillor have proven to be just as rewarding and sometimes challenging to me as my years of involvement in town planning, working for a prosperous and liveable future for our region. I was happy to see the passion I’ve held is shared by many locals who know its importance as to how we will develop and grow to accommodate the sudden boom we have experienced recently.

Our current housing crisis is having a detrimental effect on so many, including residents, business, and tourism. It is a problem shared far beyond the Whitsundays and I welcome that the Council is taking measures to reduce the impacts and facilitate more development that will help alleviate the problems.

Another difficult challenge in our community is being highlighted in May as Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month. I have been actively working with DFV groups to help where I can. The stories and strength of survivors is something that pains but motivates me.

‘Love does not equal Control’ is this year’s theme to show abuse is not always through physical violence. One way you can help is by taking the old or broken mobile phone out of your draw and dropping it into a Library and Council will send it on to the charity ‘DV Phone Safe’ who will repair and reset before giving it to a victim or survivor in need of communication for safety and support.

Please let your friends and colleagues know that an old phone can make real change for someone in need, and it may just start a discussion of other things we can do to help.

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Share The Mediterranean Dream

May 18, 2023

The well-known Yacht Share Mariner Group, which currently has two vessels operating in the Whitsundays, are expanding to offer a brand-new yacht share opportunity in the Mediterranean.

The Fountaine Pajot, Astrea 42 is scheduled to arrive this September and will spend its first season in Marmaris in Turkey, year two in Sibenik in Croatia, and year three Sardinia, Italy, returning to Marmaris each winter.

Interested parties will receive a share-entitlement of four weeks sailing in the high season between April and September inclusive and four weeks in the off-season.

Price per share is AUD $194,500.

The yacht is a four-cabin, four-bathroom vessel which has all the luxury extras including a light filled galley/saloon – and it is fully air-conditioned.

There are three generous lounge areas, a generator, solar power, upgraded 50 HP diesel engines, water maker, furling gennaker, and fully battened mainsail with power halyard winches.

Distinguished by the abundance of natural light, energetic lines, elegant living spaces and unparalleled comfort, the yacht delivers sheer pleasure and is a joy to share as a couple or with family and friends.

Live the dream with Yacht Share Mariner

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Meet The Man Behind Mandara

May 18, 2023

One of the Whitsunday’s most exciting property developments, Mandara Rise, boasts 40 residential land lots spread out over 80 beautiful acres of prime local real estate in Cannonvale.

With construction of the first stage finishing in June , and only the last few lots remaining for sale, the vision of developer Luke Harris has certainly become a reality with people quick to snap a lucrative land package.

Originally from Perth, Luke has been a property investor and developer since his early twenties, but his entrepreneurial spirit has always run deep.

Starting his own business when he was just 18, Luke saved every cent he could and was able to purchase his own property when he was 20.

It wasn’t long before Luke’s passion for property led him to Sydney where he saved enough money to buy his next property back in Western Australia.

He then purchased a third investment property in Melbourne.

Learning quickly how to turn a run-down house into a profitable investment was becoming a skill for Luke, but he soon realised he needed a strategy to ensure success.

“I realised I was aiming for things that were completely unrealistic – the superficial wants of a naïve 20-something-year-old with no life experience,” he explains.

“I was making big decisions without looking at the long-term and figuring out the big plan and the right strategy – the right property fit.”

Luke created a clear strategy for his vision and, with this in place, he managed to capitalise like never before.

Through his success he realised that he wanted to help people and wrote two successful property books entitled ‘Let’s Get Real’ and 'Property Fit’ – he also became a sought-after coach and educator in the field.

A chance holiday to the Whitsundays saw Luke stay at a local Airbnb and he realised then that he wanted to bring a new class of high-end yet affordable homes to the area, making it more accessible for those seeking to call Airlie Beach home.

Luke loves the community aspects of Airlie Beach and has tried to replicate that in his development of Mandara Rise.


Luke Harris, property developer from Mandara Rise. Photo supplied

The Mandara Rise development boasts 40 residential land lots. Photo supplied

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Kitchen Gardens With Norina Jane From Whitpro

May 18, 2023

I have been asked frequently of late:  “Is it too late to plant from seed?”, Absolutely not!

May and June are the perfect months of the year in the Whitsundays to start planting your vegetables and herbs. So, get planting this month!

If you are just getting started in the vegetable growing world, then easy to grow options are:

Beans, Peas, Beetroot, Lettuce, Radish, cucumbers and tomatoes.

A few fun things to grow now, to get the children in the garden:

Sunflowers for a BIG and fun pop of colour that brings out the child in all of us.

For food that is easy for them to pick and eat straight from the garden try Snow Peas, Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes. My son’s son (I’m too young to be a grandmother!) at age 2, will pick every tomato and snow pea he can find, it’s great!

Important side note:

Support your beans and peas with a stake pushed into the ground by at least 15cm, with at least 1.5m above the ground.  Seeds should be placed about 5cm on the inside of your stakes/frames. When your plants reach the top of the stake, snip off the growing tip, this will prevent them growing higher.

Herbs in my garden:

This year I have planted more herbs than in previous years and it is already paying off on a multitude of levels. The colour and fragrance it brings to the garden is benefit enough but they have also influenced my cooking with great health benefits.  

It’s easy to pick herbs straight from the patch, it saves money (a bunch of fresh herbs are costly, and you often only use ½ before throwing the wilted remanence out) and to add to all of that, they attract beneficial insects and are great companion plants.  

Most herbs need full sun to thrive, so that’s at least six hours of sunlight every day.

While your herb plants are young, restrict pickings to a maximum of 1/3 of the plant and no more than ½ the growth of a mature plant.  

But pick away! Herb plants benefit from regular picking, it will encourage further leaf growth and will hold back early flowering which results in the end of plant growth in many herbs.

Try these herbs in your garden today:

PARSLEY – Easy to grow and a great all rounder

I find the flat leaf variety does really well.

Pick from the outside to prolong longevity

High source of Iron & Vit C

Great for salads, stuffings, soups, pasta sauces and as a garnish

ROSEMARY – A woody shrub that keeps on giving and smells amazing when you brush past it

Try dwarf rosemary for a hedge or weeping rosemary to cascade over a garden edge

Contains over 15 antioxidants

A favourite with lamb and good in potato dishes

BASIL – With over 30 different varieties, offering a variety of colours, flowers, fragrances and health benefits, try a few!

I love purple basil just for its colour and lemon basil for its fragrance. I rub a few leaves between my hands as I water, its part of my morning wake up ritual.

Great in pasta sauces, soups and salads, basil is the perfect companion for tomatoes not only on your plate but also in the ground for its ability to repel pests.


A source of magnesium and vitamin A, dill aids digestion

A great accompaniment with fish, in salads, yoghurt dishes and with cucumbers.

Beneficial insects love the umbrella shaped flowers of the dill plant and so do I

Companion planting in the vegetable garden:

Here are a few ideas on what benefits from being planted together:

Basil with Tomatoes

Chives with carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and celery

Parsley with carrots

Rosemary with carrots, cabbage, kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts

Sage with carrots

Mint with brassicas

Nasturtiums with tomatoes, radish and squash

In most cases herbs make great companion plants but there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Don’t plant:

Chives with Peas

Dill with Carrots

Or Fennel with Tomatoes

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Bowen Students Become ‘Tradie For a Day’

May 18, 2023

Last week a group of 20 Bowen State High School students from the Year 10 cohort enjoyed a hands-on workshop that taught them what it would be like to be a ‘Tradie for a Day’.

The virtual welding was a clear favourite, with school principal Robert Harris saying that most high-school students don’t get the opportunity to try welding until their final years and only if they’ve selected an Industrial Technology and Design subject.

“This was such a fun and innovative way for them to try out a new skill thanks to the impressive advancement in virtual reality technology,” he said.

The workshop was supported by Abbot Point Operations (APO) and delivered by Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA).

APO General Manager Allan Brown said learning directly from industry professionals helped the students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the resources and energy sector, and more specifically the intricacies of port operations.

“The activities from today’s workshop were cleverly delivered with a resources industry focus, where students could take the skills they picked up and apply them to real-world scenarios,” Mr Brown said.

“This not only gave them a competitive advantage for their future career pathways, but it also demonstrated how important intangible skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork are.”

Queensland Resources Council Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Ms Katrina-Lee Jones said with the growing demand for trade-based professionals, these students are now armed with the skills and confidence to unearth a rewarding career in the resources and energy sector.

Abbot Point Operations Fourth Year Engineering (Fitting and Turning) Apprentice Bryce Doyle instructs Bowen State High School students at the QMEA's Tradie for a Day workshop. Photo Supplied

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New Course Launches For Bowen Health Hub

May 18, 2023

A new course to help close the gap in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Care has been announced by the TAFE Queensland Bowen Campus and eligible students may be able to study for free.

The Certificate lll in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Primary Care is being offered for the first time at the Bowen Health Hub.

It is predicted that the Indigenous health worker sector will grow strongly over the coming years and could increase by 17 per cent.

Community and Health Faculty Manager for TAFE Queensland in Far North and North Queensland, Melanie Clarke, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers are a vital link between individuals, communities, and health services.

“The course will teach students how to undertake basic health assessments, as well as how to identify community health issues and needs, and assist with health screening, promotion and education services,” she said.

The year-long course begins this month and will encompass seven week-long training blocks at the Bowen Health Hub.

“The facility is a simulated clinical training ward which replicates a real-life hospital environment, allowing students to gain vital hands-on skills using industry equipment and technology,” said Ms Clarke.

“To top it off, students will also complete 120 hours of vocational placement in a professional health workplace, meaning students will use their new skills straight away and gain industry exposure before they graduate.”

To apply now visit the TAFE Queensland Bowen campus, call 1300 308 233 or go to www.tafeqld.edu.au.

TAFE Queensland Indigenous Health Training course is available now at Bowen Health Hub. Photo supplied

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Experience Circa First Hand In New Show

May 16, 2023

Based in Brisbane, Circa, is a visionary contemporary acrobatic and circus show, that tests the limits of human movement and powerful performance.

On by Circa is the newest performance to the company’s repertoire, illuminating the haunting tale of a chance encounter, a single touch, an impossible connection, with eight strangers.

Set in the backdrop of an apartment block’s courtyard, the audience is swayed through the performance, following love, loss, and enchanting beauty.

Since 2004, Circa has established itself as a global leader in circus performing arts.

Circa performances have been hosted all over the globe, in over 40 different countries, to over 1.5 million people, with a many sell-out shows.

Productions offer a range of performances, including large scale opera, extreme choreographic sights, and intimate instrumentals.

A creation of Yaron Lifschitz, On by Circa speaks to natural circus artistry, with accompaniments from composition from Melbourne’s Jethro Woodward and lighting design from Paul Jackson.

In a bare performance, the extreme skill of acrobatics is put on full display, the performers becoming art themselves, establishing a striking intimacy that leave audiences feeling that they, alone, experienced the show.

“On by Circa explores the gift of weight that lies at the heart of acrobatics. The simple act of giving and accepting another’s mass is transformed into a profound mediation about beauty, loss, and trust,” Yaron Lifschitz said.

WHAT: On By Circa

WHERE: Proserpine Entertainment Centre

WHEN: Saturday, 20 May 6.30pm

TICKETS: proserpineentertainmentcentre.com.au

Experience the acrobatic show of the year

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Editor's Note

May 11, 2023

Hi Everyone,

I’m not going to lie . . . it’s been a pretty crazy week!

But it has also been very rewarding, and I just love the buzz of working with a team who are as dedicated and passionate as I am about making each issue of the newspaper the best it can possibly be.

This week we’ve had some huge features (check out the stunning nine-page Airlie Beach Hotel 55 Year Birthday feature on pages 14-22), we’ve also had the Federal Budget announcement (see page 6) and, just an hour before going to print, we witnessed some revelations from the morning’s Council meeting that were too juicy to omit! (see page 3).

Covering the best local news in the timeliest way possible puts a fair bit of pressure on the team and as I write this, I can hear our design squad clicking away at pages, working as efficiently as possible to meet the deadline.

Some weeks are easier than others, but this one has definitely challenged us!

It’s times like this I’m really glad we have a solid team and excited that our new journalist, Bronte, seems to be happy working in the thick of the action!

This huge newspaper week also comes off the back of Core Life Magazine, our sister publication, which went to print last Friday.

It will be hitting the stands on Monday so make sure you grab your copy.

This edition of Core is our first Health, Fitness and Beauty feature and it has been wonderful meeting so many local health professionals who share tips, tricks, motivations and inspiring life stories.

We hope you enjoy everything you read this week, and if you’ve only got time to read two things – make sure it’s this paper and Core Magazine!


Quote: “If you want something done, ask a busy person” (Benjamin Franklin)

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One Girl’s Bravery Makes Massive Change For Local Ladies

May 11, 2023

Almost two weeks ago now, Abbey Coquillon posted onto the Whitsunday Chat Facebook page, sharing how she has been in the area for nearly a year and a half and has yet to make a solid foundation of friendships and relationships outside of work.

Once posting this, she was inundated with comments from like-minded women who are eager to make friendships with locals and travellers in the area.

This encouraged Abbey to establish the Social Ladies Whitsundays Facebook group.

“So many of us are wanting to venture out and make new and long-lasting friendships,” Abbey’s introductory post says.

“This can be a page we can just ask if anyone is free and wants to catch up! A great way to find similar interest and like-minded individuals.”

Since the group’s inception on May 3, it has seen a growth of over 600 people joining.

Many members are singing the praises of Abbey’s bravery.

“Thank you, Abbey, for creating this page – love that you were brave enough to do so,” says one member in her introduction post.

“This is a fantastic idea. I have been in Airlie a long time, two adult children and partner but my circle is small,” says another.

Most of the posts in the group are invitations to other members for hikes, coffee afternoon, or drinks at a local pub or club.

There are also members connecting to go to the gym together, an open Pilates workshop, and an event set up to attend the Mayor’s Ball in July.

The group is visible on Facebook, so just search ‘Social Ladies Whitsundays’ to join.

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The High-Rise Debate Heats Up

May 11, 2023

Leaked Documents, Council Debates And Boardroom Applause

Building height regulations for proposed development in Airlie Beach were once again the source of boardroom debate on Wednesday with tensions flaring at the Whitsunday Regional Council Ordinary meeting.

Councillor John Collins made accusations that documents had been leaked to media before they were discussed within Council Chambers.

Mayor Julie Hall completely denied allegations stating that a photo used in an online article was from another event and not relevant to current discussions.

“I had nothing to do with that article,” she said.

A spokesperson from Save Our Foreshore (SOF), the action group that attended the Council meeting, said that they also knew nothing about leaked information and that the article was largely based on old information.

While the tension in the boardroom generated some distraction, it was soon down to business with the real reason for discussion brought to the table under the support of a large public gallery.

Mayor Julie Hall proposed the motion that the current wording, which included ‘maximum’ when referring to height restrictions, remain in the 2017 Whitsunday Planning Scheme.

This document, which contains the new Airlie Beach Local Plan, had been updated and, according to SOF, vital information that was controlling the height level of development in Airlie Beach was missing.

SOF believe that by reinstating the word ‘maximum’, it sets a precedent for those restrictions to remain.

It was also proposed that the character description relating to low rise buildings and a village feel remain included in the scheme.

The motion was carried 5:2 and the items remain included.

A lively public gallery applauded at the decision, many campaigners thrilled by the small but important win.

Although the details may seem minor, the action group believe their inclusion represents a vital piece of the puzzle for managing future developments and height restrictions.

“We are very pleased with the result at the Council meeting today,” said President of SOF Suzette Pelt.

“And really pleased with how the Councillors voted, it was also wonderful to see a full gallery and multiple applause.”

This event is timely, as the contentious Port of Airlie court case is scheduled to appear in the Planning and Environment Court later this month.

The case will see SOF take Whitsunday Regional Council to court over its decision to approve a high-rise development at Port of Airlie, a move that would see height restrictions increase from the recommended 18 metres to 47.7 metres for that development.

While the need for continued growth and development is a priority to all, so too is the way in which our region manages that growth and retains its “winning formular” which many tourists flock to the region for.

The one-day court hearing will take place in Brisbane’s Planning and Environment Court on May 15.

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THE BREAKDOWN - What The Federal Budget Means For You

May 11, 2023

The 2023/24 Federal Budget was released on Tuesday evening with the intention of easing the cost of living for all Australians high on the agenda and evident in the detail.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ Budget also delivers a $4 billion surplus with higher commodities, low unemployment and wage growth factors leading to this projection.

If achieved, it will be the first budget surplus in 15 years.

Here is how the budget will impact your hip pocket:

Cost Of Living

• You could be eligible to receive a $500 energy rebate

• Aged care workers will receive a 15% pay rise

• An extra $9 billion for additional childcare subsidies

• Sole parent payments extended until children turn 14

• $40 per fortnight increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, Austudy

• Rent assistance increased by 15% to an extra $31 per fortnight

• Family and friends can purchase homes together with 5% deposit

• From 2026 employers will need to pay Superannuation at the same time as the pay wages

Health And Education

• Cheaper prescriptions for people living with chronic illnesses

• Heart health assessments now on Medicare rebate

• $32 million to upgrade school infrastructure

Energy And Environment

• $1 billion to provide low-cost loans for solar panels and double-glazing windows

• $302 million to help farmers move towards low emission future

• $200 million for disaster prevention such as seawalls, drainage measures etc

• $2 billion for a new Hydrogen Headstart program and zero emissions future

What The Budget Means For Our Region

It’s still early days and there is much to dissect within the detail of the Federal Budget for 2023/24 and how it will impact our region.

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, says he is “pretty disappointed in the budget as a whole as” he believes that more should have been allocated to the Whitsundays given that our region is one of the biggest food producers in the country.

Willcox asserts that the $4.2 billion surplus “is largely on the back of an increase in commodity prices”.

“We’ve got cattle, our beef industry’s been performing well, there’s more export dollars coming in there, and of course coal,” he said.

“In our particular area, we’re the biggest sugar cane growing area, 80% of that’s exported, so there’s export dollars coming in there.

“We’ve produced a lot of this extra income that’s gone towards the surplus and yet all our infrastructure that’s been in the budget has been scrapped.”

The one element of the Budget that Willcox is happy for is the increase healthcare assistance where he says he is “pleased our most vulnerable are being looked after”.

However, he is disappointed that there is no funding for the Bruce Highway, the Whitsunday Volunteer Marine Building or various water projects like the Urannah Dam.

“The North Queensland Water Infrastructure Authority’s being scrapped, so that was $9.5 million and that was going to oversee projects like Urannah Dam, the Burdekin to Bowen pipeline, the raising of Burdekin Falls Dam,” he said.

“Australia’s a dry continent, we should be building dams, catching water and using our water for tourism opportunities, for urban use, for mining, for agriculture.”

• Truckies will soon have to pay an additional 6% tax to use the roads which could have significant impacts on our region with supplies for everything from farms to grocery stores relying on road transport. We can expect grocery prices to reflect this additional cost.

• No local hydro-electric projects have been included in the budget which means Urannah Dam, the Burdekin to Bowen pipeline and the raising of Burdekin Falls Dam will be put on the backburner.

• The Whitsunday VMR will not receive its $420,000 upgrade to their headquarters and operational centre

• There is no mention of any funding for the Bruce Highway

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Candle Lit Vigil For Domestic Violence Awareness Month

May 11, 2023

Groups from around the community commemorated Domestic Family Violence Awareness Month last week by holding candle lighting ceremonies in Bowen and Airlie Beach.

Currently in Australia, at least one woman is killed by her partner every week, and the annual Bowen DVAG holds a candle lighting vigil to commemorate those victims and their families, who have lost their lives in the past 12 months.

The Bowen Domestic Violence Action Group (DVAG) hosted the Bowen iteration and said that  the ceremony acts a reminder about the prevalence of domestic violence, and provides insight on what to look for, where to find help and ways to heal.

Usually an evening event, the 2023 Bowen ceremony took place mid-morning, illuminating healing and healthy relationships.

The DVAG is open for all members of the community. The group holds meetings fortnightly on Mondays, from 9am till 10.30am, at the Bowen Neighbourhood Centre.

The Airlie Beach event was held with Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP and Federal Member of Bonney Sam O’Connor in attendance.

The DVAG continues to fight domestic violence, promoting that everyone has a role to play to support local communities and have a responsibility for their own words and actions.

Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP, Broken Ballerina founder Jules Thompson and members of the community at the vigil.

Whitsunday Counselling and Support Ayla Wright with Mayor Julie Hall. Photos Supplied

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Register Now! Bushfire Resilience Training

May 11, 2023

Landowners are invited to educate themselves of the hazards and safe management of bush fires at the Whitsunday Regional Council Bush Fire Resilience Training which is happening across the region this month.

The bushfire resilience training encompasses assessing risk of bushfires, and tools to reduce and minimise the risk.

“The training provides an opportunity to learn how to assess bushfire risk, understand mitigation options, and support available to help mitigate bushfire risk,” said Whitsunday Major, Julie Hall.

“It provides landowners with the knowledge and skills they need to help protect their property and their community.”

The bushfire resilience training will take place at various locations across the Whitsundays region and includes observation of planned burns for practical understanding and modelling of assessing risk and how to act in the event of a bushfire.

In Proserpine, the training will take place at the SES Shed, on May 13, with an observed planned burn on May 14 at Silver Creek Road.

For Collinsville residents, the training will be held at Opal Ridge Hotel, on May 20, with the burn scheduled for May 21 at Collinsville Transfer Station.

In Bowen, the training will be at Queens Beach Hotel on May 27, with the observed burn on May 28 at Brisk Bay.

All landowners and residents in the region are encouraged to register and attend the training.

“It's a chance to learn from the experts, ask questions, and get hands-on experience," said Mayor Hall.

"By investing in bushfire resilience training and property bushfire plans, we are demonstrating our commitment to the safety and protection of our community. We urge all interested landowners to register their interest and attend the upcoming training."

The Bushfire Resilience Training is a part of the Whitsunday Bushfire Resilience Project, a scheme to prepare the communities in bushfire preparedness.

To register for the training, email Whitsunday Regional Council on info@whitsundayrc.qld.gov.au, visit a Customer Service Centre, or ring the Natural Resources Management Branch on 1300 972 753.

Bushfire Resilience Training to educate landowners on risk and mitigation.

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Councillor Column With Mayor Julie Hall

May 11, 2023

To recognise Domestic Family Awareness Month, Councillors and I attended the Candle Lighting Ceremony at Bowen Town Square last Wednesday as part of Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.

The ceremony was an opportunity to remember those who have been impacted by domestic violence and to shine a light on the issue that affects so many in our community.

I was honoured to deliver a short speech urging the community to stand united in the belief that everyone has a right to feel safe and secure.

I expressed my gratitude to the local organisations and individuals who work tirelessly to combat domestic violence and provide support for survivors.

We should all try to engage and educate each other to create a community that supports respectful relationship practices, positive attitudes, and behaviours, and promotes a culture of non-violence.

I urge everyone in our community to make a clear stance that domestic violence will not be tolerated, not now, not ever!

Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month provides the profile to promote a clear message of no tolerance in our community with the goal of ensuring that those who are facing domestic violence can find strength from those around them to come forward and know they are not alone.

As a community, we must continue to speak out against domestic violence, educate ourselves, and support those who have been impacted.

These actions will help honour the memory of those lost and help to shine a light on a dark subject.

Whitsunday Regional Council has recently partnered with DV Safe Phone, an organisation with a vision to get a safe phone into the hands of every victim of domestic violence in need.

If you have an old mobile phone, you can donate it to be repurposed for a victim of domestic violence by dropping it in a donation box located at your local library.

For further information on the program, visit, dvsafephone.org.

Mayor Julie

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Migration, A Pathway To Region Building

May 11, 2023

This week the federal government handed down its review into the role of permanent migration in nation building. After only a relatively brief review which commenced late last year, the government has identified some areas for policy change, and like most shifts associated with a change in government this appears to be flavoured with some obvious, much needed reforms to support the current economy as well as appeasement of interests from within the new government.

Migration has long been recognised as a critical contributor to regional development, and our region is no exception. Over the past hundred years or more, migrant workers from a range of heritage have moved here establishing families and businesses that are the backbone of key industries like Agriculture. Evidently, many well-known local families and prominent community names have originated from migrant decent. Migration has brought with it various benefits such as cultural diversity, social and economic growth, skills, entrepreneurship and workforce expansion.

With the right settings and support, migration has a critical role to play in realising the future, enormous untapped potential in our region and in our key industries. A purpose-built migration system that enables migrant workers to supplement the domestic workforce will allow us to access that potential. People across the globe are willing and eager to visit or live in Australia to work on farms. We need to have policy settings that allows them to do so, and ensure Australia is a competitive and desirable location for migrants.

Moving forward, our migration system must allow willing workers, skilled and unskilled to be able to come into our country to support our regional employers and businesses in an accessible and equitable way. Touching on the reports of widespread exploitation of low-skilled workers in the governments review, I can’t speak for every industry and region but from what I’ve seen in my time in Agriculture these reports are overblown and industrially motivated. This system should offer necessary protections and a way to obtain permanent residence in our country but also be flexible toward temporary needs of businesses in industries such as agriculture, considerate of cost and who bears that cost in supporting the migration process.

In July this year, BGGA will be hosting a forum in Bowen to advance the dialogue in ‘regional capacity building through migration’ bringing stakeholders together to learn about the current system, discuss challenges and further opportunities that migration can bring. I hope you’ll agree this is an important discussion to pursue for the future growth of our industry and of our region.

Contributed with thanks to Ry Collins, President of Bowen Gumlu Growers Association.

Workers at the Brisbane Markets. Photo supplied

Migration has a critical role to play in revitalising the future. Photo supplied

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“There is no instant cure” – One Local Mum’s Breast Cancer Battle

May 11, 2023

One day in November, Proserpine resident Jenn Johnson noticed a lump in her breast.

She thought nothing of it, and only noticed the lump whenever she was in the shower, finally making a doctor’s appointment later that month.

“I thought it was a swollen milk duct, or something, you can get those years after you’ve stopped breast feeding,” she said.

“I thought it was going to be nothing, and all of a sudden, it was something.”

From the date of the initial doctor’s appointment and ultrasound, it took Jenn two months of testing and scans to receive her diagnoses. Grade three breast cancer, in her breast and lymph nodes.

Since the very beginning, Jenn has kept her almost-four-year-old, Wyatt, informed.

“I told the little one that mummy’s gotta get a needle, to find out if it’s a good bump or a bad bump. Eventually, he asked ‘mummy, is it a good bump or a bad one?’ and I said, ‘it’s a bad one’, and he said, ‘but I want it to be a good one’.”

Jenn is about to finish up the first part of her treatment of four fortnightly rounds of chemo in Mackay, however, she had an extreme reaction to her most recent round, caused by an infection in her port.

After a stay in both Mackay and Proserpine Hospital and the removal of her port, Jenn is now back at home in Proserpine.

She will finish her final fortnightly chemo treatment, before going into 12 weeks of weekly chemo treatments, each one requiring her to be in Mackay for a day each week.

This is where Tarnia Patton, coordinator of Proserpine Community Markets, steps in.

She knew of Jenn in town, and her “bright and friendly character that makes her extremely hard to forget”.

“After finding out about Jenn’s diagnoses, I really was at a loss as to what I could do to help,” said Tarnia.

“Then I noticed a friend of hers started a GoFundMe campaign which I immediately contributed to and shared around my networks.”

Tarnia is founder and coordinator of the Proserpine Community Markets which have been operating since late 2020.

For each market, the team select a charity to support, and on this occasion they decided to put the money raised into supporting Jenn’s battle.  

The market also had a pink theme, to spread awareness about breast cancer, and start the conversation.

“We raised a total of $1,310 through the raffle and donations,” said Tarnia.

Many of the raffle prizes were donations from the staff holders.

“This way, 100 per cent of the funds went directly to Jenn.”

This massive donation has been combined with Jenn’s GoFundMe campaign, bringing the total to $5,225.

Jenn is extremely grateful for the donation and decided to share to raise awareness for breast cancer.

“It can happen to anyone, young and old; it can happen to men. And you don’t realise that until you’re in it,” she explained

“I figured, if this will get my story out there, and if another young woman hears, then it could help her too.”

Once Jenn has completed the 12 weeks weekly treatments, she will next undergo surgery to remove her breast, in order to drastically reduce the likelihood of the cancer returning.

Proserpine mum, Jenn Johnson, battles breast cancer at 30-years-old

The Proserpine Community Markets supporting Jenn Johnson’s breast cancer journey

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‘A Hand Up, Not A Handout’: New Foodbank Opens In Proserpine

May 11, 2023

Community owned and operated, Whitsunday Foodbank Proserpine, has officially opened its doors this week.

The foodbank offers household items and low-cost food, including fresh, refrigerated, pantry and frozen items, for members of the community in need.

The official opening was attended by Member for Whitsunday Amanda Camm MP on May 3.

“Cost of living pressures are very real right now and this foodbank will make all the difference for lots of individuals and families in this region,” said Ms Camm.

Members of the Proserpine community endorsed the foodbank, after Anglican North Queensland made the move to close the Mackay and Proserpine Low Cost Food Centres.

“The community has come together with a clear vision and generous donations to establish a not-for-profit food store that is already a huge help to many people in our community,” said Ms Camm.

In order to purchase from the store, a pension card, health card or a DVA card must be presented at the checkout.

The store continues to have ongoing needs, including donations and food, said Ms Camm.

“If you are in the position to help with a donation, please contact the store on 04 39 730 790.”

“This is a great community initiative that offers ‘a hand up, not a handout’ and it’s important we show our support.”

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The Local Hitter

May 11, 2023

Proserpine State High Year 11 student, Giselle Tronc has been busy, taking part in a National Development Program tour training camp, by Volleyball Australia.

This training camp took Giselle to Thailand in the autumn school holidays, where she trained with over 80 other teen volleyball players, training twice daily, competing against each other daily, and even playing against the Thai teams.

On Giselle’s team, there were eight other Queensland players, two from Victoria, two from New South Wales, and one from Western Australia.

“It was really good,” Giselle said.

Giselle was initially approached to participate in training programs such as this back in September 2022, after playing in the Australian Club Volleyball Championships in Bendigo.

“I’ve met all these coaches from all over Australia, they’ve seen me play and they said there’s other competitions I’ll probably be invited to trial for as well.”

While Giselle’s age group doesn’t compete in the Asian Volleyball Championship, she is hopeful to be a part of a proposed New Zealand volleyball tour.

Giselle’s passion for volleyball began at school, with passionate teachers pushing her to play the sport.

“And when I played, I just loved it.”

Despite still having Year 12 to go, Giselle is looking at her options for after high school, considering university volleyball, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) or the Australian Volleyball Academy (AVA).

“I want to play competitively and for Australia in the future,” Giselle said.

Giselle Tronc set for volleyball stardom, attending a volleyball training camp in Thailand in March. Photo credit: Bronte Hodge

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A Big Birthday Weekend At The Pub

May 11, 2023

The Airlie Beach Hotel is celebrating 55 years in business, and they are inviting everyone to join the festivities with an action-packed weekend of free live entertainment featuring a Comedy Cabaret that promises to take you back to the 70s and 80s.

Friday evening will be the main celebrations and there will be a birthday cake for everyone to enjoy.

Then, on both Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm until 10pm, it’s time to get your spandex out, slip your fluro leg warmers and don your big wigs for an interactive show that will take you back in time.

Performing for the first time in the Whitsundays, ‘Back To The 70s And 80s’ is a comedy cabaret like never seen before.

Featuring iconic looks of that time, over 20 costume changes, hilarious tongue in cheek humour and one hit wonders that are synonymous with that era – the show promises to enthral and illuminate.

“It’s on the glam side of the spectrum!” said event producer Alex Hell.

“And it’s all based on the F word – Fun! – The crowd can expect interaction – be ready to get involved and if you fancy dressing up – remember it’s a 70s and 80s theme not like you are in your 70s and 80s! Although all ages are welcome!”

The show itself is a parody of the era with some of the most iconic pop personalities of that time transformed into hilarious characters – Cyndi Lauper becomes Cindy Pauper, Tina Turner is Tina Turnover and Gary Glitter is Gary Glittoris.

In a hilarious sketch, Meat Loaf also becomes Meat Tray and is won in a raffle at the local RSL.

As you can see - the show has to be seen to be believed!

For those that want to “Whip it! Whip it real good” make sure you come along and watch the iconic moment Devo has a flower pot on his head.

“We even replicate the energy dome – it’s an iconic look!” said Alex.

“It’s a show of constant costume change – it moves and moves – and we sing all the songs but they each have a comedy element to it too!”

Back To The 70s and 80s are originally from Melbourne and have been performing the show around Australia since 2010.

The group of five eccentric stars understand how to draw a crowd, connect with the audience, and will have you laughing until you fall off your seats.

“It’s like a cocktail shaken not stirred with a touch sanity of course!” said Alex.

“We are extremely excited to be invited to perform at the birthday celebrations – it’s just above and beyond!

“They could have picked any number of great acts from around the country, but they chose us – it’s going to be amazing!

“They’ve really got to be applauded for what they do – they’re bringing big shows up here, it’s a big undertaking and their giving it all for free!”

“Happy birthday!”

WHAT: Back To The 70s and 80s

WHERE: Airlie Beach Hotel

WHEN: 19 and 20 May

TIME: 7pm – 10pm

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Always “Airlie’s Favourite Place To Be”

May 11, 2023

An integral part of the Airlie Beach landscape for the past 55 years, The Airlie Beach Hotel is an iconic location that has evolved alongside its namesake and transformed from a classic Aussie pub of the past to ‘The Pub’ of the present.

The original hotel was built in 1968 by local identity, Harry Muller and then sold to the O’Neil Industries Group in 1982, where it stayed under this banner for the next 38 years.

During this time, it received an extensive expansion, but in 2017 Cyclone Debbie ravished the building, causing significant damage which resulted in the business closing for two years.

While this symbolised the end of one era, it also heralded the start of a new one for this quintessentially Aussie pub.

When ABH Operations purchased the leasehold in 2018, they embarked on renovations which totalled more than $20 million.

The vision was to amalgamate the three on-site food and beverage venues into one premium, modern facility and this vision became a reality when the doors to the new “The Pub” opened in April 2019.

The concept was to provide Airlie Beach with a neutral yet sophisticated entertainment and dining precinct that was both approachable and classy, seamlessly connected, and able to offer a complete recreational experience for customers.

From its four dining sections, al fresco cocktail bar with elevated entertainment stage, Sports Bar with over 30 screens, large Pokie Room, seven day a week courtesy bus, over 80 accommodation rooms from high-end to budget and a large food servery – the complex allows fast, easy access to thousands of customers each week.

The set-up and layout soon proved extremely popular with a range of clientele packing the tables and enjoying lively entertainment.

Its all-encompassing business model means that families can sit together to eat and relax next to lively groups and celebrations who are sitting next to regulars enjoying a cold drink on a bar stool.

Everyone is invited and the party is always on!

This feeling is largely achieved by the cleverly created ambience.

The interior design brings a modern twist to the ‘beach meets plantation’ theme with tropical influences generating a warm yet sophisticated welcome.  

Strategically placed misting systems keep patrons cool, hanging garden chandeliers provide lush decoration, a series of speakers generate ultimate acoustics, and the open plan layout creates a smooth ocean to interior beach vibe.

Within six months of opening The Pub became one of the most popular leisure destinations in Airlie Beach.

But the experience did not stop there – the entire precinct offered much more – with the introduction of the Airlie Beach Hotel Liquor and Tobacco Merchants which opened in 2019.

Three buildings were removed and replaced with this 10-vehicle dual lane liquor superstore.

The following year, operations expanded again with the invitation to iconic local restaurant, Fish D’Vine, who joined the precinct as a tenant.

Airlie Beach Hotel understood the importance of bringing variety and diversity into the mix and a new partnership was formed between the two businesses.

As the Airlie Beach Hotel celebrates its fifth year under its current iteration, it also looks back through the years and into its history as one of the first pubs in the town back when bare chests and sandals were frequent attire.

Despite times (and dress codes!) changing, the Airlie Beach Hotel still speaks to the ‘everyday person’, inviting all people to come together and celebrate the quintessential Aussie Pub and this incredible town we live in.

This famous photo adorns the wall of The Pub and was taken in 1982 by renowned social observer Rennie Ellis

The Ruff as Guts (RAG) Social Club outside the old bottle shop in 1981

The entrance to the front bar and bottle shop in the 1980s

The Airlie Beach Hotel as it looks today

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Rock Powerhouse Calls Airlie A Second Home

May 11, 2023

Few people who see regular music at The Airlie Beach Hotel would say they have never heard of Dellacoma Rio, who makes frequent standout performances from the elevated bar top stage.

Renowned for his incredible ‘stage’manship, Dellacoma Rio has been known to race into the crowd, run down the street and also sing while hanging upside down in a tree!

His performances have created such an impact that he is a regular feature on The Pub’s event calendar, playing to several packed-out crowds every year.

Dellacoma has become a much-loved feature and is synonymous with the good times at The Pub, so much so that he has developed a huge fan base in Airlie Beach and considers the town a second home.

The crowds love his genuine passion and the fact that he regularly hangs out after the show and chats with anyone who wants to say hi.

“I’ve performed in towns all over the world and you can never tell where you’re going to take off,” said Dellacoma.

“But Airlie Beach is one of those places for me. This is the only hotel we ever perform at, the rest are convention centres and concert halls, but I love the crowd and the atmosphere which is why we keep coming back.”

Dellacoma was born in the US, but he grew up in Tasmania from the age of two before attending University in Los Angeles.

During his time in the States, he spent six years performing live theatre and also featured in some well-known TV shows before coming back to Australia and once again reuniting with his musical routes.

In 2014 he launched his solo rock band career, releasing his first album ‘Dead Will Rise’.

Earlier this year he released another album entitled ‘Blood’.

To most Whitsunday fans, however, Dellacoma Rio is best known as the front man of INXS Revived and the Bon Jovi tribute show.

“My passion is live music,” he said.

“I always give more energy than I have in every show – the crowd can expect high-energy, high-passion – I always say that you can capture moments in live music – during a show you can create something special that can never happen again, share an experience that only happens in that moment.”

In August, Dellacoma will be performing as INXS frontman Michael Hutchence in a ‘sing-off’ with an AC/DC tribute singer Adam Sprizzo to create a Versus Day.

He will also be a big part of the Rock Legends Theatre Show on August 5 and 6 over the Great Barrier Reef Festival Weekend and again on the Airlie Beach Festival of Music weekend, November 11 and 12.

The Rock Legends Show will recreate the primal, heart pumping tunes and theatrical antics of heavy rock classics from monsters of the genre like Guns n Roses, Aerosmith, Def Leppard, AC/DC, Kiss, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Ozzy Osbourne and more.

Dellacoma Rio will perform alongside other powerhouses like Tara Graham, and Shaleena Bain, to create an absolute killer live rock band.

WHAT: Rock Legends Theatre Show

WHERE: Airlie Beach Hotel

WHEN: August 5 and 6 and November 11 and 12


WHERE: Airlie Beach Hotel

WHEN: June 3 and 4 August 26 and 27

Photo credit: VAMPP Photography

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Freedom In The Air Tonight

May 11, 2023

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a cool beverage while witnessing your youth recreated through the biggest hits of some of the most iconic voices in the world – George Michael, Phil Collins and Bruce Springsteen.

Entertaining the crowd both Saturday and Sunday afternoons over the Big Birthday weekend, this incredible tribute band will bring your favourite hits to life.

From In the Air Tonight to Against All Odds, Easy Lover, Freedom, Faith, Knew You Were Waiting For Me, Dancing In The dark, Hungry Heart, Born To Run and many more – these guys seamlessly link the music of legends together in a show to be remembered.

The name of the band, Freedom In The Air Tonight, is a combination of and pays homage to George Michael’s famous song ‘Freedom’ and Phil Collins’s classic ‘Something In The Air Tonight’.

The band formed in Sydney 12 months ago and spent the year creating the concept before performing their first gig to a sell-out crowd last month.

These experienced musicians, who are uniting for a series of special performances, are thrilled to be coming to the Airlie Beach Hotel.

“We are really looking forward to it!” said Producer, Cherie Abdy.

“We’ve been here on holiday before, but this is the first time we’ll have performed in town, and we can’t wait!”

Lead vocalist Ric Herbert created the show alongside Justin Bianchi who is the musical director and bass player.

Ric Herbert is also a celebrated singer working regularly with premium guitarist Peter Northcote, he also fronts legendary 80’s band Matt Finish plus The Get Rich band.

Appearing in stage plays, musical theatre, T.V and film, Ric Herbert is perfectly suited to take you on an emotional voyage through the music of these amazing artists.

“You can expect a high energy, high vibe performance with a few ballads thrown in between,” said Justin.

“It’s a good time party where you can leave your troubles at the door!”

WHAT: Freedom In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins, George Michael, Bruce Springsteen Tribute

WHERE: Airlie Beach Hotel

WHEN: Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st May

TIME: 2pm-5.30pm

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Wine, Dine And Listen Live!

May 11, 2023

Bringing together the love of live music with a first-class drinking and dining experience is something that the Airlie Beach Hotel thrive at.

With a multitude of seating options, guests can enjoy a family or large group booking in the quiet, fully air-conditioned indoor restaurant or in the al fresco dining section overlooking the foreshore.

Others that prefer to be closer to the action can pull up a bar stool and a bar snack meal, socialising in the heart of the entertainment section.

With its elevated bar top stage, no one is left with a bad view of the live music, no matter where you sit.

Committed to quality yet able to feed thousands each week quickly and efficiently, The Pub’s bistro offers buffet style accompaniments to main meals seven nights a week.

The Bistro serves a wide selection of menu options, from their famous chicken wings to the extravagant seafood platters, succulent steaks to creamy pastas, loaded fries and specialty burgers – The Pub’s food offering has only one thing in common – they are all delicious!

Eight senior managers developed the menu, and they all stand behind its taste.

When it comes to bar service you cannot go past a cocktail at The Pub, simply select your flavour and watch in awe as the talented mixologists whip up an entertaining frenzy, spinning bottles and glasses until a colourful concoction is placed in front of you.

From frozen daquiris to elegant martinis, shared cocktails, and long drinks – the choice is yours!

One feature you will notice throughout any experience at The Airlie Beach Hotel is the exceptional customer service.

Quick and efficient bar staff and friendly wait staff, every encounter is positive, and it is evident that the staff love their jobs.

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Stay In The Heart Of Airlie

May 11, 2023

With over 80 hotel and motel rooms, the Airlie Beach Hotel offers premium accommodation right in the heart of the town centre where guests can be part of the action and enjoy just a short walk upstairs at the end of the night.

The motel rooms were completely renovated in 2020 and each of the hotel rooms receives a light renovation every year to ensure the facilities are kept fresh and modern.

From Ocean Side Rooms and Suites which offer stunning views over the Coral Sea to the Village View Rooms that provide a view of the hinterland, the hotel accommodation is premium quality with everything needed for a comfortable night’s stay.

A more budget friendly option is also available on-site with the Courtyard Rooms offering value priced accommodation in the form of 3-star motel style rooms which are well-appointed with all modern conveniences nearby.

All rooms feature a large flat screen TV, free guest WIFI, espresso machine with complimentary pods, tea and coffee, and daily servicing.

Airlie Beach Hotel is one of the only places in town where guests can book one night accommodation, with no maximum stay – this offers maximum flexibility to people who are driving into town for one night over the weekend.

They also offer a transfer bus service which takes guests directly to and from Whitsunday Coast Airport.

In addition, tours and activities can be booked from the Airlie Beach Hotel reception where guests are offered great deals and special discounts.

From trips to the Whitsundays Islands, Whitehaven Beach, scenic flights over Heart Reef, horse-riding through bushland and water sports like sea kayaking – there are variety of options available and the knowledgeable reception staff will be able to answer any questions and offer advice.

With a central location, which is just a short walk away from Port of Airlie and the rest of the town, the Airlie Beach Hotel is the perfect place to stay and play.

But you could also decide to spend your stay ensconced in the Airlie Beach Hotel and with free live entertainment, two restaurants, gaming lounge, swimming pool, sports bar and cocktail bar – why would you need to go anywhere else?

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We Can Take You There!

May 11, 2023

Every day of the week guests are transported to and from their favourite watering hole for free thanks to Airlie Beach Hotel’s dedicated courtesy bus that is hosted by the friendliest drivers.

Extending its exceptional level of service beyond its walls, The Pub wants to ensure all its patrons can get the establishment easily and then get home safely at the end of the night.

A brand-new 11-seater courtesy bus was delivered just six weeks ago and transports patrons from as far afield as the far reaches of Cannonvale on Kookaburra Drive all the way through to Shute Harbour.

This massive distance brings the community together and ensures no-one feels the need to drink and drive.

To receive a free transfer, guests simply need to become a member which involves a simple sign-up process that can be done through the online portal or manually by paper while in the bus.

Wayne Fairbrother drives the courtesy bus regularly and despite it being a free service he said that they regularly receive tips.

Instead of pocketing these kind donations, however, the drivers make their own kind donation and have given thousands of dollars over the years to various community groups.

In the last few months alone, they donated $2000 to the Shitbox Rally which supports Cancer research and $1400 to the PCYC Braking the Cycle Program which matches youth with volunteer drive instructors so they can attain the necessary hours to secure their P Plates.

Catch the bus:

Mon-Thurs: 4pm – 9.30pm

Friday: 4pm – 10pm

Saturday: 11am – 10pm

Catch the Bus - 0428 462 600

The courtesy bus runs from Shute Harbour to Cannonvale seven days a week

Become A Member Today

Becoming a member of the Airlie Beach Hotel ‘Local Rewards’ club is a quick and easy process that gives you so much in return.

Members receive a $50 voucher on their members card to spend in any department on their birthday, they can also win cash prizes through exclusive competitions and membership draws including auto entries with kiosk swipe.

In addition, members can enjoy daily discounts on selected meals and beverages, they can also earn points to redeem for cash or credit.

Members are also the first to know about special events through a text notification or email reminder.

(Please note, T&Cs apply)

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The Home Of Sports

May 11, 2023

With an impressive 29 big screens, Airlie Beach Hotel’s Sports Bar is the home of high-definition sports entertainment featuring back-to-back games, matches, races and fights.

The Bar also boasts the biggest screen in town which measures a whopping 9m by 2m, so large crowds can enjoy poignant sporting moments like the State of Origin and large national finals.

From Rugby League to Union, AFL, Aussie Soccer, motor racing, fights like MMA and boxing or replays of major events – the friendly team try to feature as many sports as possible and if there is something you would like to see, you are welcome to ask.

With almost 30 screens, there will likely be room to play even the most obscure sporting event which they can find on their numerous sporting channels.

Known for its creature comforts and attention to customer satisfaction, The Sports Bar creates its own little microcosm where guests can enjoy one of the only undercover smoking areas in town.

By providing adequate ventilation and airflow through the open plan layout, they are permitted to allow smoking within the venue.

In addition, the Sports Bar offers a dedicated TAB section, so guests do not need to leave the venue in order to place a bet.

With one of the largest ranges of spirits and longest bars in town, the Sports Bar is an ideal place to order limited edition liquors, specialist brands or sample something unique.

They also stock a large range of cigarettes and cigars which can be purchased over the bar.

Located within the Airlie Beach Hotel precinct, the Sports Bar is a short 30 second walk to The Pub and guests are permitted to wander freely between the venues.

This means you can easily check on the latest sporting results whilst listening to some free live music at The Pub.

You can also order your favourite cigar and brandy after dining with the family at the bistro just a short walk away.

There is no better place to watch live sports than at The Airlie Beach Hotel Sports Bar.

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Local Lady Raises Funds For Cancer Research

May 11, 2023

Two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70 which is a concerning statistic.

Fortunately, 90 per cent of these cancers will be survivable, but living in Queensland with the highest rates of skin cancer in the country means that we all need to be ultra-vigilant.

No-one understands this more than Jan Brown whose son Chad was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2014.

His diagnosis became terminal a few years later and he has been relying on maintenance drugs and ongoing research to keep him alive.

“We are lucky that the drugs are working for him,” said Jan.

“If it wasn’t for research, he wouldn’t be alive today.”

Not one to sit around doing nothing, Jan has been a constant fundraiser and supporter of the very cancer research department that is helping her son.

The Berghofer Institute directly funds ongoing research and money goes straight to the scientists who are creating real time breakthroughs that are helping millions of Australians each day.

For almost a decade Jan has been fundraising through monthly sausage sizzles and regular events such as Reggae Nights and Movie Premieres.

With a goal to raise $5000 every six months, Jan has miraculously raised over $100,000 over the years in total.

Her incredible efforts have been recognised with a mention in the recent Berghofer Institute magazine.

Under the banner ‘Buck Off Melanoma’, Jan combines the family’s love for bull riding and their unwavering determination to fund further cancer research and find a way to eliminate it forever.

“Without this sort of research so many people would not be alive today,” she explains.

“The research is giving everyone more time.”

At the upcoming Bowen River Rodeo, due to take place on June 9, Jan will be hosting her regular stall, selling merchandise to raise money, and also chatting to event goers to spread awareness.

“We are truly grateful to the whole community for all their help over the years,” said Jan.

Jan Brown, Della Norman, Wendy Windridge, and Deb Norman at a ‘Buck Off Melanoma’ event. Photo supplied

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Slip, Slop, Slap This Sunny Season

May 11, 2023

Within Australia, skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer, with over 750,000 new diagnoses made every year, making up about 80 per cent of cancers diagnosed in Australia.

While most skin cancers are curable if detected early, the disease can be deadly if left untreated. Therefore, it's crucial to know the signs of skin cancer and ways to prevent it.

Signs of skin cancer to look out for include:

1. Changes in the colour, size, or shape of a mole or other skin spot

2. Scaly or rough patches of skin

3. Redness or swelling beyond the border of a mole or other spot

4. Itching, bleeding, or oozing from a mole or other spot

Preventing skin cancer is essential, and there are several ways to do so:

1. Wear sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin, including your lips, every day.

2. Seek shade: Stay out of the sun, especially during the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

3. Cover up: Wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts, hats, and sunglasses.

4. Avoid tanning beds: Indoor tanning can increase your risk of skin cancer.

5. Perform self-exams: Check your skin regularly for any changes and report any suspicious moles or skin spots to your doctor.

6. Get regular check-ups: Have your skin checked by a dermatologist at least once a year, especially if you have a history of skin cancer or other risk factors.

In particular, the highest rates of skin cancer are found in Queensland, due to the high UV levels. By practising sun safety, you can prevent cancer and other associated health issues.

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The First Annual Military Ball

May 11, 2023

With the Proserpine Show Ball occurring this weekend after being revitalised only a couple of years ago, it is a reminder of just how popular balls have been in our district over the years. The first Proserpine Show Ball was held in 1910 but this was just one of the many types of balls that were an integral part of society and eagerly anticipated by locals. There were Nurses’ Balls, Teachers’ Balls, Rugby League Balls and Debutante Balls to name just a few. In 1919, after four years of wartime deprivation, the first Annual Military Ball was introduced and, not surprisingly, keenly embraced by the community.


The First Annual Military Ball in Proserpine was held at the Tivoli Theatre on ANZAC night, April 25, 1919 (This was on the site of what is now Porters Plumbing). This event was greatly anticipated as a commemoration to mark the anniversary of the Anzac Campaign. Programs were printed and over 200 tickets were sold.

Earlier on in the day of the ball, an Anzac Day parade and ceremony were held in Main Street Proserpine. Although the weather on the big day was gloomy, there was a splendid roll up at the First Annual Military Ball.

The organiser, Lieutenant Meredith, President of the Ball Committee, had received permission to wear uniforms by Returned Soldiers, Citizen Forces and the Rejected Volunteers who had been in camp. Although the theme of the ball was not fancy dress, the guests were invited to wear the national dress of any of the Allies or evening dress. As had been expected, the ladies of district did not disappoint and turned out in their finest ballgowns. Returned soldiers were attired in their khaki uniforms. Officers from Bowen had also expressed interest in attending the ball.

“The Proserpine Guardian” April 19, 1919, reported: “The Red Cross and Repatriation ladies have promised to provide the supper, so that it behoves each and every patriotic lady of Proserpine to help them in their colossal task.”

To cope with the large number of attendees, Mrs Kemp and Mrs Booth took on the task of co-ordinating contributions of poultry, salads, cakes etcetera, all of which were gratefully accepted. And so it was that according to reports from those who attended the ball, the sumptuous supper was a credit to the ladies who worked cheerfully at their enormous task. It was served in the skating rink at the Tivoli Hall “which was an ideal place as the ladies had a comfortable room to attend to their duties and the tarpaulins erected prevented the dew from interfering with those at supper” (“The Proserpine Guardian” April 26, 1919).

The hall was nicely decorated with the flags of the Allies, palms, and red, white, and blue bunting. The Proserpine Citizens Band were called on to play the military and dance music. They played the National Anthem followed by the ANZAC Grand March and Lancers. Eighty to ninety couples paraded about the hall. Those who assisted the Citizens Band were Miss Waldron on the piano and Mrs Lascelles and Mrs AL Scotts who contributed extras. The dance program continued well into the early hours of the morning, concluding at 2:30am with the only interruption being made during supper. The names of the twenty dances were aptly named, all relating to a significant battle or other war - related aspect and concluding with the suitably entitled “Dinkum’s Medley”.  

Masters of Ceremony for this inaugural ball were Sergeant W Biggs (a returned World War 1 soldier) and Mr W McNeil.

Story courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum and “The Proserpine Guardian” and photo courtesy Proserpine Historical Museum.

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SEX-ED – Do You Know What Your Kids Are Learning At School?

May 4, 2023

Parents came forward in outrage last week as the content of a sex-ed video shown at a local high school was revealed to contain a cultural comparison that they believe sanctions paedophilia.

The incident gained traction when a teacher also allegedly came forward to claim they had been instructed to ask their class to draw lewd pictures and had to “endure completely inappropriate commentary” from teenage students.

A worried mother took to social media to vent her concern which prompted many parents in the community to ask whether they really understood the content of the sex education information given to their children.

Concerned mum Kristy Hodder said she received five phone calls from other parents following her social media post which vented her anger at what she alleges is overly graphic and inappropriate sexual references in sex-ed classes of Year 8 and 9 students.

Ms Hodder alleges that her Year 8 daughter returned home and told her that “we have a choice to be what sex we want” and “it is okay to not want to be the sex you are.”

While she recognises the right of people to choose their gender, Ms Hodder believes that her daughter, at just 13 years old, is too young and impressionable to be exposed to that information. Especially, when they had not previously raised the question independently.

She believes it could prompt or plant the seed and create more gender confusion.

Dissatisfied with the subject matter, Ms Hodder spoke to other parents, and it was soon revealed that similar experiences had allegedly occurred with the Year 9 cohort.

Crash Course, a YouTube channel that is largely trusted and widely used across many schools in the country, released a video called Sex and Sexuality.

It was played at the local school and contained content that, Ms Hodder says promotes paedophilia.

The section in question denotes that it is okay for young boys to give sexual favours to older men and reads as follows:

“For example, among the Sambia of the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea young boys perform oral sex on, and ingest the semen of, older men as part of a rite of passage to adulthood.”

While the statement is true, the question remains whether its inclusion in this context is an age-appropriate example to use when educating 13-year-old students about sex.

Allegedly, a letter by an unknown author has been sent to the school, detailing concerns and outlining further situations within the school.

An excerpt from the alleged letter which reads as if it was sent to the school principal says:

“I was completely revolted and angry. This curriculum item is condoning and promoting paedophilia. Paedophilia is illegal in this country. We all know the devastating and terrible effects of this scourge on young people.”

Further into the YouTube video, the commentary suggests that incest is only wrong because society has evolved to support the traditional family network and that it would be “confusing” if your dad was also your brother.

A spokesperson from the Department of Education said that they were aware of a letter circulating online around a health and physical education lesson that was delivered to one class.

“The lesson contained a video presentation regarding gender biology and gender expression, which was not endorsed by the department,” said the spokesperson.

“The school leadership team has confirmed that this video will not be used in future lessons.”

The alleged letter also detailed a separate instance where a male teacher allegedly expressed his astonishment that he had to instruct Year 9 Health boy students to “draw on a piece of paper with a pencil their ideal sex partner.”

In Ms Hodder’s opinion, this would not only objectify the opposite sex, but also put anyone who was confused about their sexual preferences into a difficult, potentially embarrassing situation.

The Department of Education confirmed the letter contained a number of other statements but stated these were all “incorrect”.

Ms Hodder said she wishes there was more transparency around the content of sex education given at schools.

“I think parents need to be fully informed,” she said.

“And not just see the outline of the content but also have the opportunity to see the videos before they are shown – I think parents need to be able to sign-off to say they are happy for their kids to watch it.”

The Department of Education concluded their statement by advising any other concerned parents to contact their school directly.

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Editor's Note

May 4, 2023

Hi Everyone,

This week I would like to talk about the power of words and reading to create change in our community.

For the past few weeks, my mum has been visiting my son’s school and reading with his class.

She takes each individual student and spends about 10 minutes helping them to read, talking about the books and encouraging them to fall in love the written word.

Of course, like many other retirees, she would rather be sitting in a café, drinking coffee, happily immersed in a good book.

But as is typical with my mum (and the reason I love her so much), she puts the children first and the community first, spending her time patiently waiting for each stilted word to emerge from a six-year-old’s mouth instead.

What a legend!

In this week’s edition of the paper, we cover three stories that also illustrate the power of words and reading.

On page 10 we celebrate the win of a group of local dog-owners who successfully campaigned for an off-leash dog zone at Boathaven Beach.

We covered their plight in the paper a couple of weeks ago and it was very rewarding to think the newspaper played a small part in helping create change for them.

On page 6, we share Dr Melissa McCann’s powerful words as she brings awareness to people suffering from alleged adverse effects of COVID-19 vaccines.

It’s amazing to think that a Whitsundays-based doctor is leading the charge on a nationally significant Class Action lawsuit.

Finally, the most controversial ‘word related’ article this week is of course our front page and the shocking revelations about the content of a sex-ed video that has been shown at a local school.

The full story can be read on page 3.

Words can be used to draw attention, raise awareness, and help others – hopefully these stories open your mind and show you how much power you have if you speak up.


Quote of the Week: “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen” (Winston Churchill)

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