Whitsunday Region Entertainment News

Let There Be AC/DC This Australia Day

Let There Be AC/DC This Australia Day

The Airlie Beach Hotel will come alive with non-stop entertainment this Australia Day with live, loud and free music on the signature bar-top stage from 12 noon. The festivities kick-off with The Ewe Bewt Aussie Show warm-up band which is set to get the crowd pumping ahead of the headlining act – one of the world’s best tribute bands - Let There Be AC/DC.

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New Year’s Eve Events

New Year’s Eve Events

Bring In 2022 At The Grand View With live entertainment all night, the Grandview Hotel is set get the party pumping in Bowen this New Year.

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A Wicked Whitsunday Halloween

A Wicked Whitsunday Halloween

On all Hallows Eve, the moon will creep, silent and watching, over a Whitsundays prowled by ghosts, ghouls, spectres, and spirits patrolling the streets in search of treats or terror– hopefully only in costume.

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Win A One-On-One With Busby Marou

Win A One-On-One With Busby Marou

One lucky ticket holder will win a backstage meet and greet with headlining act Busby Marou at this years’ Airlie Beach Musical Festival. The purchase of a three-day pass will automatically enter you into the competition which will be drawn on Wednesday 3rd November.

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Stellar Line-Up Confirmed For Music Festival

October 15, 2021

With just a few weeks to go until the ninth Airlie Beach Festival of Music, organisers are excited to announce a brand-new line up of big-name musicians and emerging local talent who will be performing at the best party venues in Airlie Beach across three epic days.

The Angels, John Schumann (Redgum) and Shane Howard (Goanna) with The Red Rockin’ Dirt Band, Troy Cassar-Daley, Russell Morris, Toni Childs, Sarah McLeod (The Superjesus), Alex Lloyd, Busby Marou, Rick Price and Butterfingers have all been confirmed.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music founder, Gavin Butlin (Butto), says that it was devastating to cancel last years’ event and that he is beyond thrilled to welcome the stellar line-up to the party in paradise this year.

“Like all events this year, we have had to adapt to travel restrictions with some of our originally programmed interstate artists unable to attend but we are all systems go and our new line-up includes some huge Aussie music legends, Queensland touring artists and talented locals,” he said.

The audience will also get the opportunity to discover and support the ‘next big thing’ with Passport to Airlie, Australia's largest live original music competition where finalists perform at the Festival and the winner scores a spot on the main stage in 2022.

“We need to support the next generation of internationally famous Australian acts so I invite everyone to check out the Festival’s incredible program and support live, original music at a grassroots level,” said Butto.

Music-lovers can ease into the three-day Festival with the traditional Beach Jam Session and Passport to Airlie finals featuring celebrity guest judges at Magnums on Thursday 4th November.

There is also a special after-party held at Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill on Monday 8th November.

Attendees are encouraged to make a holiday out of the festival by extending their stay for a few days so they can enjoy some of the many incredible tours and experiences on offer in the Whitsundays.

The Airlie Beach Festival of Music takes place at the big-top tent at the Whitsunday Sailing Club from 5-7 November.

Tickets are $300 for a weekend pass and can be purchased from airliebeachfestivalofmusic.com.au.

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Julia And George’s Ticket To The Whitsundays

October 7, 2021

Locals, be on the lookout for Hollywood megastars, as George Clooney and Julia Roberts make their way to the beautiful shores of the Whitsundays in December of this year as part of the filming of the feature film ‘Ticket To Paradise’.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced back in March that the Universal Pictures’ romantic comedy would be filmed in the Whitsundays, as well as in the Gold Coast and Brisbane.

“This is huge news for Queensland and further evidence of our global reputation as the place to be for TV and film production,” the Premier said.

“Ticket to Paradise will inject an estimated $32.7 million into the Queensland economy and create more than 1,000 jobs for local cast, crew and extras."

The film follows the story of a divorced couple who travel to Bali to attend their daughter's wedding and stop her from making the same mistake they did 25 years ago.

Producers arrived in the Whitsundays earlier in the year, where they performed location scouting and interacted with Tourism Whitsundays, who helped with ideas and welcomed them to the region.

“We have been touching base with producers and helped them as they’ve come into region, scouting locations and ideas,” Tourism Whitsundays Marketing Manager Donna van ‘t Hoff said.

“They’ve been telling us it’s still progressing, and they expect to be here in full at the end of the year.”

The Whitsundays will serve as a Bali stand-in during the shoot in what is a massive coup for the region.

“It will help massively with the economic side and having the stars like George and Julia here, that puts a spotlight on us in an international perspective,” Mrs van ‘t Hoff said.

The movie will be directed by Ol Parker, whose previous credits include blockbuster ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ - he also wrote the script for ‘Ticket to Paradise’ along with Daniel Pipski.

This wont be the first time the Whitsundays has hosted a Hollywood mega stars, with the 2008 film ‘Fools Gold’, featuring Mathew McConaughey and Kate Hudson, and ‘Australia’, which was filmed in Bowen with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.

“Everyone’s excited and locals are especially excited to do a bit of star spotting; a lot of people will be being out to try and see them and I might have to join them!” said Mrs van ‘t Hoff.

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Women In Boating - Free Event Tomorrow

September 30, 2021

A social afternoon which encourages women from a diverse range of backgrounds to come together to celebrate their mutual love of sailing is taking place at Coral Sea Marina this Saturday from 3pm.

This free event is at the Lookout Lounge and is part of a series of innovative events designed to engage people with the marine environment.

All women are welcome to attend the event, whether a boat owner or not, and can expect an afternoon of relaxation with some light nibbles and welcome beverages whilst being inspired by the stories of women in the boating industry and enjoying informal networking with other like-minded women.

The afternoon event will provide the chance to learn of opportunities for support, friendship and advice from groups such as Women Who Sail, as well as inspiring podcaster Nicky Voux, the Boat Princess, plus the incredible Wendy Tuck who was the first female skipper to win a round-the-world yacht race and boasts over 170,000 nautical miles in her logbook.

Our own local legend, Whitsunday Sailing Club Commodore, Heather Sutton, will also be in attendance.

Coral Sea Marina’s CEO, Kate Purdie said that when she was first appointed to the role at Coral Sea Marina several people expressed surprise – not because she came from a different country and a different industry, but because she is a woman.

“While boating has traditionally been a male dominated activity, I am pleased to say I have seen that changing even in my short time in the industry, with capable women working as dockhands right through to owning superyachts,” she said.

The event is on Saturday 25th September at the Lookout Lounge from 3pm to 5.30pm. To register please email marketing@csmr.com.au

Image: Women in Boating is a free event being hosted by the Coral Sea Academy

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Artists Celebrate A Fantastic Weekend Of Festivities

September 30, 2021

What a weekend for the Whitsunday Arts Festival, with thousands of visitors taking part in workshops, perusing fine arts and enjoying the food as the beautiful weather gave artists and creatives the perfect atmosphere for a wonderful festival.

The Whitsunday Regional Arts prize of $5000, which was sponsored by Whitsunday Regional Council, saw a string of artists competing for categories of Regional Arts Prize, Local Artist Award, Aspiring Artist Award, Highly Commended and Young Artist.

The festival’s 2021 exhibition showcased the talented artists that the Whitsundays is home to, as well as some from beyond our shores and borders.

Of those creatives, one Queensland based artist and workshop runner on the day, Lisa Ashcroft, took out the Regional Arts award for her beautiful piece which followed the theme of ‘place’.

Her artwork now is a part of the Whitsunday Regional Councils art collection, and she received a $5000 dollar prize for her wonderful piece.

Lisa shows her work in solo, and group shows annually across Australia and has won many prestigious art awards, fellowships, and artist in residence in America, Cyprus, Australia and the UK.

For the other categories, Trudy Hastings took home the Local Artist Award, Jasmin Carter the Aspiring Artist Award, Howard Butler was winner of the Highly Commended Award, and youngster Mikayla Parrota was the deserved winner of the young Artist's Award.

It was a magical weekend filled with expressions of skill, talent, and hard work where artists of all classes – dance, performance, song, page, or paint – were spoilt for a creative atmosphere that will only serve to enlighten their creative fervour.

Much of the artwork from local creatives is still available at the Whitsunday Arts Festival Website for purchase.

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Have A Laugh With Christian Hull

September 30, 2021

One of Australia’s favourite comedians is making his way to Airlie Beach this month and will be performing at The Bar, Airlie Beach Hotel.

Known for his outlandish sketches and hilarious characters, Christian likes to share his ‘mess of a life’ with audiences who can relate to his parenting parodies and T-shirt folding escapades.

A simple clip of Christian using a T-shirt folding device sparked more joy than Marie Kondo and generated 15 million views in just two days.

Hugely popular right across Australia, Christian has accumulated over 600 million views and has two million followers across social media.

Since opening his Tik Tok account last year he has grown his audience to 824,000 followers and over 20 million likes. Christian also has over 900,000 followers on Facebook, 224,000 followers on Instagram and 104,000 subscribers on YouTube.

His podcast “Complete Drivel’ reaches the ears of over 9,000 listeners and currently sits within the top 100 podcasts in Australia.

Christian began performing live in 2018 taking ‘Complete Drivel’ across the country to sold out shows in eight different cities.

He also made his acclaimed stand-up comedy solo debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year.

A huge score for the Whitsundays, this show will bring one of Australia’s best comedians to town – so, gather your mates and come on down to The Bar for this big belly laugh of a night.

Hosted at the sports bar adjacent to The Pub – The Bar offers a lively atmosphere and it is standing room only.

Tickets are $35 plus booking fee and are available at Oztix.

The show is on Wednesday 13th October from 8pm until 9pm.

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Party In Paradise This November

September 30, 2021

Anticipation is building ahead of the Airlie Beach Festival of Music and with 12 different local venues all stepping up to host some of the live music events, it looks like this years’ event is going to a cracker.

The main stage is located at the Whitsunday Sailing Club inside the iconic big top tent which is almost entirely surrounded by the perfectly azure Coral Sea.

Nowhere else in Australia will you find a festival venue as tropically picturesque with festival attendees and participating bands literally partying in paradise.

The music also overflows into the town with a variety of different venues pumping out live music throughout the day.

Festival guests can wander the main street and soak-up the festival vibe – dip in and out of the venues at their leisure and experience an eclectic mix of original music by some of the country’s finest.

Due to the uncertainty of border restrictions, the final line-up is sure to have some changes, but organisers are confident that the atmosphere will come alive with unique and un-tapped talent alongside bigger names and local legends.

Secure your tickets to this iconic local event by heading to airliebeachfestivalofmusic.com.au. Ticket prices range from $300 for a 3-day pass through to $1000 for VIP tickets which include complementary food and alcohol and entry to the VIP bar throughout the weekend. Tickets numbers are limited so don’t miss out - get yours now!

Save the date: 5-7 November

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Ole! – New Spanish Night At The Rocks

August 19, 2021

The Rocks Restaurant at Coral Sea Resort in Airlie Beach is launching its first Spanish themed evening this Monday and, with delicious freshly made paella, tapas and of course sangria on the menu, this cultural extravaganza is set to be a gastronomic feast as well as a fun fiesta!

The event is organised by three staff members who are originally from Spain and missing their home country, the flamboyant culture for which it is known and their unique cuisine.

“The first thing that I noticed when I came to Airlie was there was no Spanish restaurants here,” said Luis Gonzalez who has worked at the Rocks for over a year.

“Airlie Beach is a small town where everybody knows each other so there is a feeling of community that is also present in the Spanish culture and the Spanish food.”

The trio say that despite loving the local lifestyle, they are also starting to miss their families and with a large South American population also residing locally, they think this night will give everyone a taste of home while also offering other nationalities the opportunity to experience a taste of Spain.

“We are trying to provide fun, loads of food and good wine – but the most important thing is for everyone to enjoy themselves so they can feel what it is like to be in Spain for the night,” said Manu Ruiz.

“There will be music, sangria and Spanish food, a really good night all together – we are a really close people, and we look forward to sharing that with everyone,” added Julia Tapia.

On the night, the lawn and beach at The Rocks will be transformed into a Spanish themed fiesta, with white linen, white lanterns, red roses and the lively ballads known from their home country.

The menu will feature many popular classics with paella, pinchos, tapas and tortillas offering guests a cultural grazing experience which will be infused with fresh, local seafood uniting the best of both cultures.

The event takes place on Monday, 23 August from 5pm – 9pm and tickets are available from whitsundaytickets.com.au. Tickets only $59 online.

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FESTIVAL FEVER!

August 5, 2021

The 21st Great Barrier Reef Festival Comes To Airlie Beach This Weekend

The Airlie Beach Foreshore is set to come alive with colour, culture, fun and festivity this week as four days of activities and events create a lively environment for the whole family to enjoy.

Proudly presented by Cruise Whitsunday, the 21st annual Great Barrier Reef Festival celebrates our unique Whitsunday lifestyles while raising awareness for our precious ecosystem.

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Great Barrel Of Laughs At Great Barrier Reef Festival

July 29, 2021

The Great Barrier Reef Festival is back, as well as the night of side-splitting laughter that is the Comedy Gala at the Reef Gateway Hotel on August 5 at 7:00pm, featuring two fantastic comedians: quick-witted comedian Lindsay Webb and British humourist Dan Willis.

Lindsay is an international act in the truest of terms; a man with a unique, homespun story to tell from his humble beginnings on a sheep and cattle station, Lindsay has built a career from making people laugh and he’s damn good at it.

“I didn’t ever contemplate that I would become a comedian myself,” Lindsay laughed.

“But I was encouraged by a wonderful comedian, and I absolutely loved it and I’ve forged a career out of it.

Lindsay has had an exceptional career so far and even with it slowing down during COVID, he’s had time to reflect on why he loves comedy so much.

“It’s quite addictive watching people laugh; that energy that you get back from a crowd when you spontaneously make them laugh at the same time.”

“Over 250 shows for the past 10 years and I’ve travelled around the world countless times; it’s an amazing lifestyle and a rewarding job,” Lindsay said.

He’s been support to many great acts, including Wil Anderson, Jim Jeffries, Martin Short, and Jimeoin, as well as a regular at Edinburgh Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide, Brisbane - he’s been everywhere.

He’s extremely excited to be back performing again and he’s enjoying travelling with his mate Dan Willis, Top British Comedian and Yorkshire/Geordie mixed man who is the most complete North-English comedian possible, who will also be featuring at the Reef Gateway Hotel.

“I’m very excited to be bringing Dan up to Airlie Beach; I’ve been up there many times before and performed many times before at the festival, so I’m very excited to be back,” Lindsay said.

“You miss this, you’ll be disappointed – I tell everybody at the show to tell people that they’ve missed out, so don’t be one of those people!”

Tickets are available at the GBRF website and include the Comedy Gala and a delicious meal cooked by Reef Gateway, so grab a seat for a fantastic Thursday night of entertainment.

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Get Your Song On At The Reef Festival’s Pub Choir

July 29, 2021

Hark! The Reef Festival has put out the call for singers, part-time, professional, wannabe, tone deaf or anybody with a voice at all, to be a part of The Assembly of Greatness Pub Choir at the Airlie Beach Hotel coming up on August 7.

The Assembly of Greatness is a Melbourne based Pub sing-along that’s heading up north for the Reef Festival this year and is going to guide you to sing your best.

“This is the best Saturday afternoon you’ll have in your life,” Assembly of Greatness organiser Rav Thomas said.

“Somehow, when everyone is all together, they manage to stay in tune. If you’ve got the best entertainment product and you bring it to the best place to party it’ll be fantastic.”

At the top of your lungs, sing and be a part of a beautiful synchronicity of voices that may or may not be melodious; it’s certainly the best day out you’ll be having at The Pub with a couple of drinks in hand.

Watch as the Fraser Ford Revvin’ the Reef Car, Bike and Truck Show cruises by, then the Rotary Street Parade’s colourful, reef-themed floats as they drift by!

The Pub provides the band, and you provide the voice – it’s the perfect combination, so come along beforehand for the band's “One Hit Wonders Set” from 2pm till 3pm and get the place warmed for the singalong from 3pm to 5:30pm.

They’re so excited to be here for the Great Barrier Reef Festival this year.

“No one parties like Airlie Beach,” Rav said.

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Movie Review: Black Widow (2021)

July 29, 2021

After more than a decade of waiting, Marvel’s first female Avenger has received a solo outing in Black Widow (2021), arriving in theatres in late June.

Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is the Black Widow, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's enormous anthology, with this film set directly after the events of 2016’s Civil War. Here, she confronts the darker parts of her past in a dangerous conspiracy that takes her back home to her mother country of Russia. She is pursued by a force that will stop at nothing to bring her down, and she must deal with the broken relationships she left behind before becoming an Avenger.

At its core, the film is about family and accepting the people around you as your family. She is bound to those she left behind in Russia by more than just blood, like she is with her Avengers teammates. It is a soul-searching and pensive film for a majority of it’s runtime, with the characteristic action finale that viewers will be used to from a Marvel film.

Johansson and co-star Florence Pugh’s as Yelena – Black Widow’s Sister - are the stars of the show, with a hilarious role for David Harbour as Alexei; each putting in some excellent performances. It's the perfect way to spend the afternoon, by re-joining a much-loved and strong female character in a familiar, but at the same time vastly different setting. It’s screening now at the Bowen Summergarden Cinemas and is rated M for Mature audiences.

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Southern Boaties Set Sail For Airlie Beach Race Week

July 22, 2021

Whitsunday Sailing Club (WSC) officials and members are looking through their spy glasses with anticipation as a record number of competitors and their supporters travel from all around Australia for the 33rd Airlie Beach Race Week, to be held from 12-19 August.

Event Chairman Ross Chisholm says that 156 boats have already entered the Race Week, a record number, and many interstaters are already in town.

“We remain hopeful that the current situation will not end up restricting those who are in lockdown at present,” Event Chairman, Ross Chisholm said.

The southern sailors of Victoria, South Australia and NSW are champing at the bit to head to Airlie Beach, with Royal Geelong Yacht Club Commodore John Kint among them.

John will be racing in the 53-strong Cruising Division.

“We are free from lockdown and itching to go racing again,” says Kint, who discovered the joys of Airlie Beach Race Week back in 1994.

“We came back in 2016, 2017, and 2018, so this will be our fourth. Coming back has something to do with the people – and the sunshine.”

“Three of us will sail the boat up; we’re very buoyant and upbeat. Our crew is dying to get to Airlie. We have 18 crew that will be used in rotation - that’s how keen we all are to go,” Kint said.

Tourism Whitsundays Chief Executive Officer, Tash Wheeler, said an extremely exciting Raceweek is ahead with the record number of entrants.

“The Whitsundays offer some of the world’s best sailing, with a combination of clear turquoise waters, steady breezes, secluded coves and fringing reefs The Whitsundays is the Heart of Sailing,” Ms Wheeler said.

“Airlie Beach Race Week has attracted entrants from all over the country, and with seven days and nights of high-profile entertainment and social activities, we are thrilled to hear that already over 150 boats are entered.”

Entries don’t close until Monday 2 August, and to enter online go to: www.abrw.com.au

For a full calendar of events and information: www.whitsundaysailingclub.com.au or by contacting the sailing manager at: sailing@whitsundaysailingclub.com.au

Image: Airlie Beach Race Week in 2019

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A Celebration Of All Cultures At Inaugural Whitsunday Multicultural Festival

June 11, 2021

All cultures, creeds and people are being welcomed for the 2021 Whitsundays Multicultural Festival in Bowen, which is fast approaching on July 30 at the Bowen Front Beach.

Starting at 5pm until 9pm, the free festival will be a celebration of food, entertainment and markets coinciding brilliantly with the Bowen’s 160-year anniversary.

It will be a must-see, with a lantern parade and a special cake cutting, followed by fireworks display on the beautiful parade.

There is the ever-important message of cultural acceptance and celebration that underscores the entire festival, as we come out of Reconciliation Week, it’s vital to remember Australian cultural roots, as well as our growing multi-cultural society.

Bowen is the perfect locale, with its rich aboriginal heritage and groups in the township, representing the Birri, Jangga, Juru, Gia and Ngaro peoples.

Whitsunday Regional Council had hoped to launch the inaugural event last year but it was postponed due to COVID and social distancing standards.

The original plan in 2020 was to base the festival at the popular Airlie Beach Great Australian Bites event, which has run since 2016.

The celebration will be interactive as well, with a traditional dance, cooking and art activities which locals will be able to join.

Make your way up to Bowen to honour the diversity of Bowen, the Whitsundays and Australia as a whole this July 30.

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On A Mission From God: Blues Brothers Tribute At Airlie Beach Hotel

June 11, 2021

If you remember the Blues Brothers and their hit 1980’s musical, comedy film, then you’re in for a treat next Saturday 19 of June with the Soul Men’s ‘Blues Brothers’ tribute show at Airlie Beach Hotel.

The ‘Soul Men’ first began with Greg Hill, a lifelong Blues Brothers fan, who started out as Jake Blues all the way back in 2001 at a Universal Studios performance of The Blues Brothers but he outgrew the tribute mantle and became the Soul Men.

Blues Brothers have been around since 1978, as a not-quite-real and not-quite-fake musical duo of John Belushi as ‘Joliet’ Jake and his brother Elwood Blues (Dan Akroyd) for a Saturday Night Live skit.

They went on to make a film in 1980 before Belushi’s untimely passing and the two have had legendary faux-band status ever since.

The Soul Men have more than a reverence for the Brothers, they’ve taken their seven-piece band all around Australia on a mission from God to share the pleasure that comes with the Blues Brothers exuberant music and love for life.

Playing Elwood to Greg’s Jake is renowned singer and harmonica-wizard Brent Moetara, joined by vocal powerhouse Mrs Murphy played by the incomparable Asabi Goodman.

The Soul Men are a time-machine to an era when dropping the bass actually meant dropping your bass guitar and they shouldn’t be missed.

There’s choreographed dancing, as well as jokes, so the audience sees and hears a complete live Blues Brothers package.

Every member of The Soul Men knows their music and what it takes to present it in the best possible way, using costumes that portray the characters of the original Blues Brothers movie as faithfully as possible.

You’ll shake your tail feather all night long to these exceptional artists at their free show starting from 2pm at The Pub.

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Pre-Teen Mental Health Workshop Coming Soon

June 4, 2021

An inspiring new one-day mental health event for pre-teen girls is about to come to the Whitsundays and organisers say that it will be fun and interactive, and most importantly backed by global experts in the field.

Marina Passalaris started Beautiful Minds 18 years ago and now employs 220 staff and delivers workshops to 935 schools each year, hosting 170 on-day workshops and 55 retreats.

“I believe in educating our teens at a young age about who they are, how their minds work, what healthy relationships look like, how to make good choices when it comes to peer pressure around drugs, alcohol and smoking,” she said.

“How to stop the negative self-chatter, how to like what you see when you look in the mirror, making the decisions not to sext and so many other vital topics.

“Then, we will create a generation of smart, happy, powerful young individuals who in turn will contribute greatly to their local communities. This is why Beautiful Minds is my greatest passion.”

The workshop is for 8–12-year-olds and is packed with information, tools and ideas which are backed by Stanford University experts but delivered by dynamic youth leaders in a fun and memorable way so that the participants absorb the information and can implement it in real life.

“There is a lot of movement - the performers educate and entertain - offering amazing learning and an incredible experience,” said Marina.

The event is on Saturday, 10 July and tickets are $190 each.

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Calling all Artists – To Bowen Art Ehibition

June 4, 2021

Entry forms are now available for the 60th Bowen Art Society Annual Exhibition and all local artists are encouraged to enter this iconic exhibition, which was the only show of its kind outside of Brisbane when it first started.

President of Bowen Arts Society, Julie Jurgens, said that the art show was established by Doctor Laurrie Hawes and it paved the way for other regional art shows, becoming a popular event on the annual calendar.

With $1000 in prize money up for grabs, submissions are welcome in a variety of disciplines - from oil paintings to water colour, acrylic to drawing – each with individual prize money.

This year, revered artist Barbara Cheshire from Townsville will be the judge and she has a reputation for being both popular and fair-minded.

The whole community are invited to browse the exhibition, which is due to be held on Saturday, 24 July at the Bowen Community Hall on Williams Street from 3pm.

Afternoon tea will be served and artists as well as art lovers from across the region will have the opportunity to connect and enjoy some authentic regional culture.

Submissions close on Friday, 23 July and entry forms are available from most community art groups, or you can email bowart55@gmail.com.

The Bowen Art Society meets every Wednesday at 9am at Queens Beach in their own art room which is opposite the Summergarden Cinema.

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A Positive Boost For Tourism Despite Victorian Lockdowns

June 4, 2021

Less than 24 hours after Queensland closed its borders to Victoria due to the recent outbreak in COVID-19, tourism leaders from across the state coincidently gathered at a ‘Conversations with Industry’ event here in the Whitsundays to discuss an action plan moving forward.

With Victorian tourists representing 50 per cent of all travellers to the Whitsundays from June until September, this halt in southern traffic meant a huge blow for local operators.

Fortunately, this industry forum, which attracted over 70 tourism operators from across the region, came at the perfect time to raise morale.

The resounding sentiment was that despite setbacks and uncertainty, the tourism industry in Queensland is fairing reasonably well, largely due to Queenslanders supporting Queenslanders and many residents choosing to enjoy a holiday within the state.

CEO of Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) Leanne Coddington said that consumer confidence in the region is positive.

“What we do know is that consumer sentiment is at a 10 year high,” said Ms Coddington.

“When consumer confidence is high, then spending levels of people are high and we’re seeing that.”

Statistics show that the 9.5 million international visitors who came to Australia in 2019 spent $45 billion which is an average of $5,210 per person.

The 10 million Aussie’s travelling overseas in 2019 spent $6,520 per person but the Aussie’s travelling within their own country since the outbreak of COVID spend on average just $690 per person.

This is largely linked to the ability to have shorter holidays and with that in mind, industry leaders are focusing marketing campaigns on encouraging Aussie’s to stay longer and invest more on experiences and tours wherever they go.

Another major topic of discussion was the Whitsunday’s ability to be ‘market ready’ as soon as international borders re-open.

President of About Australia, Paul Watkins, who promotes Australia to an American audience, said that this would be one of the first markets to bounce back.

“America is emerging at an extremely rapid rate; it will become the largest source market for Australia, along with UK,” he said.

“If we bring Americans to the Whitsundays, previously they would stay for three days, which meant we could only offer them two or three experiences. I look forward to having Americans stay for 10 days, instead of three, so we can give them seven or eight experiences.”

Image: Assistant Minister for Tourism Michael Healy MP, CEO of Tourism Whitsundays Tash Wheeler, CEO of TEQ Leanne Coddington and TEQ’s Group Executive Marketing Michael Branagh at ‘Conversations with Industry’ last week

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The Mayor’s Charity Ball Approaches

June 4, 2021

The year has been shooting by and Whitsunday Regional Council 2021 Mayor’s Charity Ball at Flametree, Whitsunday Airport is fast approaching, with tickets on sale now.

Due to take place on Saturday, 28 August, the Mayor has chosen to fundraise for RACQ CQ Rescue on what should be a spectacular night of dining and entertainment.

This year, RACQ CQ Rescue are celebrating 25 years of critical, lifesaving service to visitors and residents in the Whitsunday region.

RACQ CQ Rescue is almost entirely community financed and fundraising events like this are integral for keeping the service in the air.

The black-tie event kicks off at 6pm with beer and wine included, as well as a three-course evening dinner.

Live entertainment by the 8-piece Baker Boys Band will be followed by a charity auction, with the funds from that going directly to RACQ CQ Rescue.

It’s a perfect opportunity to get along and support a great cause, as well as enjoy a spectacular night out with good company and good food.

Tickets can be purchased for $200 per person here: https://bit.ly/3ffXe7u

Image: Mayor Andrew Willcox and his family at the 2019 Mayor’s Ball

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Coral Sea Marina Welcomed To The Hall Of Fame

June 4, 2021

Coral Sea Marina has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for Australian Marina Of The Year at the 2021 Club Marine Marina Industry Association Awards, which were held this week at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in Sydney.

This comes on the back of an incredible string of years for the Marina, as they won Australian Marina of the Year awards in 2017/18 and again in 2019/20, and last week, when they were awarded the Superyacht Industry Service Provider award.

“Eight years ago, when I bought Abell Point Marina - now Coral Sea Marina Resort - my vision was to create the Monaco of the South Pacific,” said Owner of Coral Sea Marina Resort, Paul Darrouzet.

“Through major investment in infrastructure and priding ourselves in outstanding service and impeccable facilities that vision has been realised. Having this recognised is a true honour.”

“Our success is only possible because of our incredible Coral Sea Marina family,” Coral Sea Marina’s CEO, Kate Purdie, said during her acceptance speech.

“We appreciate their loyalty, and we are dedicated to delivering outstanding service and facilities well into the future, to ensure we remain worthy of this award.”

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Entertainment Centre Takes Shape

June 4, 2021

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre is starting to take shape with the blockwork for the structure recently completed enabling the construction workers to move onto rendering and the installation of structural steel.

In addition, the stage area has been roofed and the service and back of house areas to the rear of the facility are underway.

By the end of the year the community can expect to see a 380-seat multi-purpose auditorium with retractable seating and large stage area.

The facilities will also include a kitchen, café, bar, ticketing area, toilets and dressing rooms.

Other features include a garden and street foyer, cinema screen, art installation, loading dock and scenery dock, technical theatre equipment, outdoor performance area and an upgrade of the War Memorial.

The Proserpine Entertainment Centre was extensively damaged during Cyclone Debbie in 2017 and the new development has been proudly funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund and Queensland Reconstruction Authority, with a current funding total of $18.8 million.

Upon completion it will bring back the region’s community hub for entertainment, celebrations and gatherings.

Over the next few months, however, drivers can expect intermittent one lane road closures between CaterQuip and the NAB bank on both sides of the street while underground electrical works, footpath and kerb works as well as landscaping takes place.

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Outdoor Movies Coming Soon To Airlie

June 4, 2021

Whitsunday Regional Council is projecting the Foreshore Movie Screen in Airlie Beach will be completed by the end of September this year.

The semi-permanent screen has been rolling onwards after positive results during local consultation in which 60 per cent of participants supported the location of the movie screen.

“A lot of people told me they didn’t bother to put in submissions, because they thought it was a no brainer; that everyone one would love it and have a great time with it!” Councillor Jan Clifford said.

The screen has been Ms Clifford’s baby for the last 18 months, and she’s been pushing to get the screen up and running, despite some difficulties along the way.

“It was part of the Works for Queensland, and everybody agreed we’d have the screen, but we’ve got logistical hurdles to jump,” she said.

Works will soon begin with a concrete slab and the installation of the 5.5 by 3 metre LED screen, which will be housed in a shipping container next to the new sound stage at the Foreshore.

The screen will be entirely retractable and can be raised to a height of approximately 20 feet from the ground, where it will show free G-rated movies or other non-commercial recreational entertainment.

“It’s going to be a community asset for the community to enjoy free of charge,” said Ms Clifford.

When not in use, the screen retracts into the shipping container, meaning the entire structure can be moved by crane and truck to another location.

The plan is for a mural to be painted on the shipping container by a local artist, to ensure the structure is appealing, rather than an eyesore.

Ms Clifford hopes that they will be able to show relatively recent kids films and in no way wants to compete with local cinemas, as the screen will be entirely free.

At the moment, Ms Clifford says that the Council has the PCYC lined up to run a film night once a month and will be calling out for other expressions of interest soon.

“I hope everybody enjoys it, because I will!” said Jan.

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Whitsunday Beauty Holds Charity Event

May 27, 2021

Miss World contestant Paris Bedford is holding a charity fundraising event at the Whitsunday Sailing Club next month ahead of the national finals in July.

Self-proclaimed ‘late-bloomer’, the Whitsunday resident started modelling in 2019 when she was 25 and now at 27, has been selected as one of only eight women to represent Queensland in the finals.

To achieve this, Paris competed against 60 others in the preliminary finals and if she is successful at the nationals on the Gold Coast, will go on to represent Australia at an international level.

“I am pretty happy about what I’ve achieved so far,” said Paris.

“In July we will stay at the Plaza Versace Resort for one week doing fitness and modelling challenges followed by the Big Finale on the Friday night.”

During the main event, Paris will introduce herself to the audience and then select a question at random to demonstrate her public speaking skills. This is followed with an evening walk in an evening gown. There is no swimsuit division in Miss World.

Paris’ charity event at the Whitsunday Sailing Club will be on June 12 from 5pm to 9pm.

All funds raised by the Miss World events go towards the children’s charity, Variety.

Tickets are $150 or you can purchase a table of eight for $1050 which works out at $130 a ticket.

During the evening there will be canapes and drinks included as well as entertainment, live auctions and raffle giveaways.

“The event is timed for sunset drinks and there will be a red carpet and fairy lights,” said Paris.

Tickets are on sale now and available from Whitsunday Tickets.

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‘Come Together’ In Beatles Song Writing Contest For Airlie Beach Festival

May 27, 2021

Airlie Beach Festival of Music has joined the search for a John-Lennon-inspired song in the ‘Liverpool International Song For Kindness’ contest, in memory of Lennon’s message “be as one”.

The contest was launched with collaboration of the organisation tuff.earth, members of Liverpool City Council, The Cavern Club, Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), and the Salvation Army run ‘Strawberry Field’, to collaborate in memory of John Lennon.

Airlie Beach Festival of Music has joined the competition which invites aspiring and established songwriters to submit their original songs of kindness and optimism via the website tuffm.com.

The competition is open for just 12 weeks, closing on the 50-year anniversary of the recording of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’, on July 31.

“Imagine… writing that winning song and getting to play it not just here in paradise, but at the home of The Beatles as well,” Mr Butlin said.

“To quote John Lennon, perhaps ‘it’s easy if you try’, so start writing and good luck!”

The winner will be announced by the mayors of Liverpool and New York on October 9, and then flown to Liverpool to play at The Cavern Club before having their winning song professionally produced, mixed and mastered by TUFF Music at Liverpool’s iconic Motor Museum studio.

Image: Members of the Airlie Beach Festival of Music committee impersonating the famous ‘Beatles’ walk

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ABC Distillery, Gin, Vodka and Rum, Oh My!

May 27, 2021

IN the winter of 2018, when brother and sister Mark Jordan and Sandra Argo asked the question, ‘why isn’t there a distillery in the Whitsunday?’ the ball started rolling and ABC Distillery was born.

Over the past two and a half years, the two have gone on the journey of perfecting their Australian, Award winning tropical flavoured gin.

Mark had moved up from Victoria, where he worked on vineyards, and realised that crafting boutique spirits was the perfect thing to keep himself busy during semi-retirement.

Now, Mark works 16-hour days keeping Rhonda, his Portuguese Copper Alquitar still, working hard as he produces 5 dozen bottles of gin, vodka, and dark rum a week.

ABC has moved fast in its two years, with retail outlets and bars snapping up their aqua vitae, like Banjo’s, Beaches Airlie, Breeze Bar, Fish D’Vine Rum Bar, and the Reef Gateway Hotel all serving ABCs array of craft spirits.

ABC Hand deliver their drinks if you live local and buy from their online store, which has sent packages all the way up to Townsville, as well as all the way down to Melbourne, Victoria.

They had their first day at Market last weekend on a wet and windy day and will be popping up each Sunday to sell their Tropical Gin, Gecko Gold, Ginger Gin, Tropical Vodka, Barrel Rum and the new Whitsunday White.

Don’t miss out on their Cocktails of the Month posted on their website for some delicious combinations.

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Bowen Bluster A Huge Success

May 20, 2021

Ukulele fans from across the country gathered at the Inaugural Bowen Bluster held at the newly upgraded Bowen Showgrounds over the May long weekend.

Over 70 ukulele players joined together for a weekend of music, laughter and song and organiser Jan Knight said that it proved so popular they are considering making it an annual event.

“It was a fabulous success, there was lots of ukulele playing, singing, eating, playing and trips to town to check out Bowen,” she said.

“We had groups from Townsville, Mackay and a small contingent from Tasmania attend.”

The weekend started with a welcome meet and greet on the Friday followed by a series of workshops on the Saturday and an open mic session that evening.

On the Sunday the 70-strong group performed at the Bowen Markets before heading to the Larrikin Hotel for a relaxing lunch.

Mayor Andrew Willcox also attended and took the time to chat with all the participants.

Anyone interested in joining the Bowen Ukulele Group Strummers (BUGS) is welcome to come along to their weekly gatherings which are held at the CWA Hall every Wednesday between 5-7pm at a membership cost of $4 per session.

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Editor's Note (issue 42)

May 20, 2021

Hi Everyone,

Life is full of opposites – don’t you think?

We all wear so many different hats and I experienced this first-hand last weekend.

On the Saturday evening I was dressed in a golden dinner gown attending the Mayors Ball in Mackay, then on the Sunday afternoon I was dressed as Super Girl at my four-year-old son’s Superhero birthday party – the two roles couldn’t have been more different and it was a blast!

Life is also full of other opposite roles and none more prevalent than the highs and lows of happiness and sadness, a subject we touch-on in a few different articles dotted throughout the newspaper this week.

Many people in our community live with depression and experience suicidal thoughts – during this time it is often the people who are closest that can help most.

This is what makes the one-day intervention training workshop run in both Cannonvale and Proserpine this weekend such an amazing tool for us.

An initiative of Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network, this workshop is free for everyone and it will give participants an insight into how they can actively help their loved ones.

If you would like to attend, simply text the word CORES to 0408 544 558 and you will receive all the details.

We never know when we are going to be called on to be perform that opposite role. Our loved ones need fun and friendship from us but sometimes they may also need counsel and support – let’s make sure we are all equipped to do both.

Rach

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Bringing You Total Entertainment

May 14, 2021

A host of new events and entertainment offerings are about to launch in the Whitsundays thanks to Total Entertainment, who are bringing a range of unique events to the region.

Owners Dylan Hammond and Lotty De have now teamed up with local event management expert Caitlin McLuskey to harness years of combined experience in the entertainment industry by creating events not before seen in our area.

Caitlin now joins Aliana Tabone (Melbourne), Nick Di Gregorio (Hamilton Island), Simon Briley, Heather Batrick and Ash Smith (Airlie Beach) to comprise the eight-strong team.

The company recently collaborated with the team from Champion Crewing and Concierge for an event in Melbourne onboard the largest superyacht currently in Australia.

This collaboration has inspired the company who recognise a huge gap in the market for different types of events here in the Whitsundays, not just for superyachts but a wide variety, including family festivals, concerts and concept events.

“We want to bring entertainment to the region that engages a range of different demographics,” said Lotty.

“At the moment there’s not much in the way of electronic music or dance for example, also, there is not a lot of musical or interactive entertainment for children and families, or musical theatre and classical.”

Total Entertainment are also now working with private venues on the mainland to create small bespoke events as well as larger venues where they are looking to hold larger community gatherings.

Dylan said they have some incredible events planned for Airlie Beach in the near future, which he is excited to announce soon.

“The Whitsundays will be renowned as a hub for world-class entertainment set alongside the backdrop of paradise,” he said.

Caitlin agreed, saying that the company are thrilled to be a part of something that will drive visitation to our region and see the whole community benefit.

“From accommodation providers to tour operators and of course the hospitality industry,” she said.

“We are really hoping to create events that will entice people from all over Australia to visit the Whitsundays for that unique experience that they won’t find anywhere else in the country”

Not only will Total Entertainment be focusing on the music at events, they will also be providing a host of unique performances. From stilt walkers to contortionists, balloon artists to children’s entertainers, pantomimes and more.

With this team behind the scenes, there is a whole new wave of culture coming to the Whitsundays – a culture of Total Entertainment.

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THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT

May 14, 2021

For the past twelve months, Covid restrictions have meant that we have been starved of opportunities to attend musical theatre, concerts and the like. So it was wonderful to be treated to two high school musicals over the past two weeks - “Mary Poppins” (St Catherine’s Catholic College) and “We Will Rock You” (Proserpine State High School).

But a love of such musical entertainment in our community dates back more than a century.

In the time before radio and television, and when gramophones and records were very basic and quite expensive, residents yearned for entertainment outside the home. Occasionally, travelling vaudeville groups and pantomime companies visited the town, mostly in winter months, but the majority of “live” musical entertainment had its roots within the community itself.

The Proserpine Citizens’ Band, formed in 1910, performed for delighted crowds throughout the district, playing at many functions and civic occasions as it still does today, 110 years later.

From very early days, concerts were staged in the Tivoli Hall (otherwise known as the Oddfellow’s Hall). Every church or community group needing to raise money would organise a concert which also provided a social outlet. Children’s concerts were especially popular. One such concert in aid of the Church of England was not only played in the church hall but also went “on the road” to the Banana Pocket Hall. Another concert, held in the shelter shed at Gunyarra on September 3 1924 by the Banana Pocket Sub-Branch of the CWA, typifies the period. Items on the programme included “How do you like to be a baby girl” performed by four little Proserpine girls; “Dirty Face”, a recitation by Mrs Munro and “The Policeman and Susanna”, a duet by Mrs Perroux and Mr Walmsley.  

In the 1920s, the town boasted an excellent theatrical society. An active amateur group, the Proserpine Costume Comedy Company, presented plays such as “The Elopement of Ellen” and “A Prince of Lies”. Scenes from the then popular “Choo Chin Chow” and “The Arcadians”, as well as songs from the war years, were also performed for appreciative audiences. A talented music teacher, Miss Waldron, directed numerous productions as well as providing piano accompaniment and Mr R J Walke, the headmaster of the state school, also produced some of these shows.

In 1923, a group calling itself the Proserpine Musicians and Vaudeville Club gave occasional performances and according to their advertisements, their repertoire included “Vocal, Musical and Instrumental Items, Novelty Instrument Items and Comic Songs.”

There appears to have been no shortage of amateur performers and, judging from the advertisements for piano teachers in the “Proserpine Guardian”, neither was there a shortage of keen musicians.

By the mid1920s, changes in the entertainment industry were afoot. The completion of the railway line between Mackay and Proserpine in December 1923, brought with it a constant flow of travelling shows ranging from full scale musical comedies such as “No, No Nanette” to the “World Famous Ladies Kilty Band”.

But while professional shows became increasingly available, homegrown entertainment continued to provide an outlet for lovers of musical theatre both as aspiring performers or enthusiastic audiences.

Story and photo courtesy of Proserpine Historical Museum

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Local Girl Issy Burnup Takes Off

May 7, 2021

Local girl Issy Burnup has taken the leap into singer-songwriter territory, announcing the release of her first single ‘When’s Take Off’ on May 5.

Born in Airlie Beach, Issy moved away to study at JMC Academy, one of Australia’s leading creative industry colleges.

“I graduated at the end of last year and I’m all educated; or as educated as you can be! From that I decided to do some recording and release my first single,” Issy said.

When’s Take Off is Issy’s first full song release, with another single and a full EP planned for the release later in the year.

“I recorded down in Sydney with my producer Matt Fell; I spent a week, and it was great recording all the songs,” she said.

The single was written a couple of years ago after a fun night down in Brisbane when inspiration struck.

“I wrote it when I was coming back from Fortitude Valley one night. The characters you see late at night down at the Valley; I saw this one woman who was totally dressed in black,” said Issy.

“She was standing in the middle of the street, doing her own thing – so I went home and wrote a song for her.

“It was a really fun time to see the song develop from when I wrote it on the acoustic guitar, to taking it to a band, to taking it on to a producer.”

You can find Where’s Take Off on Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music from May 5.

Caption: Issy Burnup’s New Single

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Prossie School Musical This Weekend

May 7, 2021

The Proserpine State High School’s musical production “We will Rock You” already impressed the audience at the first performance but you still have the chance to see the show this weekend.

The cast of 70 performed at the schools new performing arts building on Thursday night and there will be another show tonight (Friday, May 7) and then matinee and evening productions tomorrow, Saturday May 8.

This production is based on the music of iconic rock band Queen and it includes more than 24 of their greatest hit songs.

The story takes place in a future age on a planet once called Earth that is now controlled by a mighty corporation.

Rock music is unheard of and all musical instruments are banned.

The hope of breaking free rests with an unlikely resistance – an alliance of rebel bohemians.

Artistic Director Jenny Napier has been working with productions at the school for about 30 years and described this one as an “absolute cracker”.

Tickets for this weekend’s shows are available at whitsundaytickets.com.au

Caption: We Will Rock You performed by students of Proserpine State High School

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Meet The Man Behind The Bar

May 7, 2021

Meet The Man Behind The Bar

Known as Rowley by many, Matthew Rowley is a familiar face on the Airlie Beach social scene, having worked security in the area for over 20 years.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Rowley moved to Australia when he was seven and has recently stepped into a new position as manager of Airlie’s newest venue, The Bar.

Not only can Rowley be found down at Airlie Beach Hotel’s new sports bar, he can also be seen on a lot of promotional material which, has become so popular, he is now known as the ‘face’ of The Bar.

With 29 TV screens as well as three big screens all showing sport, this new venue has proved popular with sports fans everywhere.

Tell us what’s behind The Bar?

I love a good handle! And they are very popular with our old school customers who like an original beer in a traditional drinking vessel. We serve Resch’s in classic beer steins which have become a fantastic seller.

We also have a range of CUB products on tap – Great Northern, Super Crisp, Carlton Draft and VB as well as XXXX Gold. There are not many places you can get all these on tap any more.

Each month we have five different spirits that go on special and we offer free tasting on them. It gives people the chance to try something they wouldn’t normally try and, who knows, they might find their new favourite drink!

Caption: Airlie Beach Hotel’s ‘The Bar’ Manager Matthew Rowley

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Chisel Revived At The Pub This ANZAC Day

April 16, 2021

Cold Chisel and Jimmy Barnes tribute band Chisel Revived are set to feature this ANZAC Day at the Airlie Beach hotel.

The tribute band are seasoned performers, with hundreds of shows all over Australia and 10 years of experience behind them.

Front man Tim Carter is a talented singer in his own right, supported by world-class musicians and a backlog of exceptional songs.

The show is entirely free and begins at 2pm on Sunday, 25 April as part of the Airlie Beach Hotel’s ANZAC Day special event.

With a slew of anti-war songs, as well as uniquely Australian sounds, Jimmy Barnes and Cold Chisel are perfect accompaniments to Anzac Day.

The group have a reverence for Cold Chisel and Barnes, bringing their classic and unique sounds back to venues all around Australia to rave reviews.

A faithful reproduction of classic Cold Chisel and Barnes shows, featuring favourites like Khe Sanh, Choir Girl, Cheap Wine and Barnes solo hits from Working-Class Man to Ride the Night Away.

A tribute to iconic Australian bands in a memorable show is the perfect way to spend the ANZAC Day afternoon.

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