Chat With Chelsea

Chat With Chelsea

Hi everyone, I hope you have all had a great week! It’s been lovely hearing from you all, and please feel free to reach out to me to just say hi or share your stories with me – my email is! With university resuming for Trimester 2 this week, I’ve been busily working away already on my final few courses before I graduate from my Bachelor of Communications and Journalism degree later this year! It’s all flown by and I’m so excited! Along with university resuming,

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Burdekin Catholic High School Students Rally For Childhood Cancer Support

Burdekin Catholic High School Students Rally For Childhood Cancer Support

In a heartwarming display of compassion and community spirit, Year 7 students at Burdekin Catholic High School came together to make a significant contribution to childhood cancer support. Through their dedicated efforts, they raised an impressive $953.50, demonstrating the power of unity and generosity among the school's youngest members. This fundraising initiative was further bolstered by a generous donation of $1,000 from Queensland Country Bank in 2023, underscoring the local community's

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Last Calls For Estimates  Integrity To Be Upheld

Last Calls For Estimates Integrity To Be Upheld

As the spotlight turns to how the state government plans to roll out future funding for services and projects across Queensland, Member for Burdekin Dale Last has called for a commitment of transparency as Budget Estimates approaches. Mr Last said with allegations already swirling that one state government department had employed and since ceased separate media training ahead of Estimates proceedings, Queenslanders deserved assurances the parliamentary process of Budget Estimates would be held

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Flying-Fox Roost Management Plan

Flying-Fox Roost Management Plan

Burdekin Shire Council is calling on residents to review and provide feedback on the newly developed Draft Flying-Fox Roost Management Plan. After extensive collaboration with community members, conservationists, and wildlife experts, the Council has crafted a comprehensive plan aimed at managing flying-fox populations in urban roost areas. This critical document is open for public review until 31 July, 2024. Acknowledging the impact flying-foxes can have on residents, Cr Dalle Cort assured t

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Community Grant Boosts Veterans Deep Creek Retreat

July 18, 2024

The Vietnam Veterans Australia Burdekin Subbranch have secured a significant boost for their Deep Creek Retreat thanks to a successful Bendigo Bank Community Grant application.

Situated approximately 45km upstream along the Burdekin River, the retreat spans 7 hectares of leased land from the Burdekin Shire Council.

Established to provide a tranquil haven for veterans and their families, the retreat features essential amenities such as caravan and camping facilities, showers, septic toilets, camping and kitchen facilities, sheds, and covered BBQ shelters. However, maintaining the grounds has become increasingly challenging due to invasive weeds like bindi-eyes and nut grass, exacerbated by feral pigs that cause extensive damage, especially around the Cenotaph.

The $5360.75 grant from Bendigo Bank Community Bank Ayr has enabled the veterans to purchase essential spraying equipment and chemicals. This investment is crucial for implementing a comprehensive spraying program aimed at controlling the invasive plants and minimising damage caused by feral pigs. Previously reliant on manual spraying, which proved insufficient given the retreat's size, the veterans can now efficiently cover the entire area with a newly acquired 100-litre trailing spray tank and necessary personal protective equipment.

Since acquiring the leased land in 2011, the Burdekin Subbranch of the Australian Vietnam Veterans Association Inc. has been dedicated to enhancing the welfare and wellbeing of veterans and their families. They host a range of activities and services, including welfare support, pension advocacy, and an annual Memorial Service commemorating the Battle of Long Tan. This service invites community members to honour fallen Australian Defence Force members who have served in conflicts worldwide.

The retreat also serves as a hub for community engagement, hosting monthly meetings and fundraising events like the Plantation Park markets, held every third Sunday. These events not only raise funds but also foster community spirit, offering stallholder sites and a sausage sizzle BBQ for attendees.

The impact of the Bendigo Bank Community Grant extends far beyond financial assistance; it represents a vital partnership in preserving the Deep Creek Retreat as a sanctuary for reflection, community, and support for those who have served our country.

The Vietnam Veterans Australia Burdekin Subbranch have secured a significant boost for their Deep Creek Retreat. Photo supplied

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July 18, 2024

Opinion Piece

Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox said Labor’s new mandatory emissions reporting is yet another attack on Australian farmers and will impose costly regulatory burdens.
“In a cost-of-living crisis, this reckless policy making is going to see an added cost of $2.3 billion to farmers, which will ultimately increase the cost of fresh food and produce nationally, and will be passed onto consumers at the checkout,” Mr Willcox said.
Under the new reporting requirements, farmers and businesses will have to report their indirect greenhouse gas emissions right along their supply chain that aren’t being generated by the company directly.
Mr Willcox explained that large reporting entities could pass their risk down through the supply chain, with banks factoring in farmer’s emissions data into lending decisions, or supermarkets could require farmers to report their emissions, even though farmers don’t have the science to do so.
“There are currently no standardised methods for calculating land and livestock emissions in Australia, plus there are no real alternatives available for lines used in their operations, such as fertiliser and diesel that have the same value or impact,” he said.
“This is yet another demonstration of the Government’s contempt for farmers and is punishing these hard-working Aussies, despite our farming industry already having some of the best land management practices in the world.”
Mr Willcox said the reporting requirements are going to impose significant compliance costs with accounting and recording on-farm emissions.

“And with these increase costs, we will see them being passed on at the checkout, making the cost-of-living and cost-of-food crisis worse for our families,” he added.
“Our Aussie farmers are already drowning in green and red tape, and this will add even more complexity to that and unfairly increases the burden on our farming industry.
“This policy has the potential to push some farmers and small businesses out of business altogether, and there are legitimate concerns about how this data will be used, who it will be shared with, or if some industry groups might be discriminated against.
“In Australia, we can support our farmers and fulfill our international climate commitments at the same time, without creating reckless and harmful policies such as this.”

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Letter to the Editor

July 18, 2024

Dear Editor,

Burdekin LNP member, Dale Last, highlights a section of the Bruce Highway in his electorate that has had a-high number of fatalities over a 10-year period.

Dale is quick to point out that the Federal ALP, who have responsibility for Main Roads, have allocated monies to upgrades of the highway but there have has been nothing implemented.

However, Dale, in his 10-year time frame, has failed to say the Federal LNP was responsible for 8 of the 10 years highlighted and for a couple of years prior to that time.
Dale is quite vocal to highlight the failing of the ALP in government but in the years of the LNP in government there was not a sound from Dale, and he has been in the Burdekin seat for an extended period.

We all understand the trauma of a road fatality and the need to have up-grades to ensure safe travelling and the time frame and costs for the required upgrade will require lots of time and different Federal Governments. Hopefully the focus of one is the same as the other. Time will tell.

Dale may even retain the seat so hopefully he keeps up his vocal crusade to fix the “Bruce”.

T.P. Chandler.

Response From Member For Burdekin Dale Last

From the outset it is important to note that responsibility for the Bruce Highway is shared between the federal and state governments. “Main Roads”, as Mr Chandler refers to, is solely a state government department.

Until recently, federal governments were responsible for 80% of the cost of maintenance and upgrades of the Bruce Highway.  Well, they were until Albo decided to reduce the amount contributed by the federal government.

Other than for major projects, such as the Haughton Floodplain Project for example, the money is simply handed to the states who are left to make the decisions about where it is spent and when.

The system is far from perfect but to say that a federal government has control over how the funding is spent is simply incorrect.

The perfect example of the current state government’s attitude towards the Bruce Highway is the recent announcement of a second bridge to Bribie Island.  Perhaps Mr Chandler would like to justify the fact that the cost of an 800m bridge in the South East will be more than 3 years of funding for the entire length of the Bruce Highway.

I sincerely agree with Mr Chandler that we need upgrades for safety and efficiency and that those upgrades are not cheap and, realistically, won’t happen overnight.  At the same time I can assure Mr Chandler, and your readers, that I will continue to fight for those upgrades regardless of who is in power.

Yours sincerely,
Dale Last MP, Member for Burdekin

Burdekin Life has written on Federal Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox’s support for the LNP Opposition Leader Peter Dutton nuclear plan for the Australian nation.

The LNP are also seeking net zero emissions by the year 2050 and their proposal is supposed to support this goal. The most reliable date available at this time suggests that nuclear power is a long-term proposal, and Australians would not see any benefit from nuclear power until at least 2040. It’s too late to save Australia from global warming as the critical date is 2035 when extreme damage will occur.

The present Dutton plan is in direct opposition to the plan LNP Prime Minister John Howard put in place when he and his government introduced the plan to not be a nuclear nation. Even a number of the Opposition Ministers themselves are opposed to the nuclear plan and that is without mentioning State Opposition Leader David Crisafulli’s refusal to lead the State Opposition down that path.

The cost must also be a concern 4 to 6 times that of solar and wind generation. Convincing Australians might be hard. Remember the LNP call during the Voice referendum IF YOU DON’T KNOW VOTE NO.
T.P. Chandler

Response by Federal Member For Dawson Andrew Willcox

It is important for Australia to have base load power that is affordable, reliable, and available 24/7. 

Renewables simply do not provide this. So, if coal and gas are phased out, no emission nuclear technology is the only option. 

Nuclear generators can be fitted in the same locations as existing coal fired power stations. This will alleviate the need for the extra 28,000kms of poles and wires, and stop the massive destruction of good quality agricultural land and virgin native vegetation for solar panels and wind turbines. 

Labor’s reckless renewables only plan is forecast to cost between $1.2 and $1.5 trillion. Solar panels only last between 10 & 15 years, wind turbines, 15 to 20 years, not to mention neither are recyclable. Whereas nuclear technology has a lifespan of 80 plus years which I’m confident will be more cost effective in the longer term.  

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Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea At The Ayr Golf Club

July 18, 2024

Debbie Searle and a group of dedicated friends orchestrated a delightful event at the Ayr Golf Club on 30 June. Their efforts were to host a Biggest Morning Tea, an annual fundraiser that combines the simple pleasures of tea and treats with the noble cause of supporting Cancer Research.

Approximately 50 enthusiastic ladies gathered at the Ayr Golf Club to partake in a morning filled with camaraderie and goodwill. Among the highlights of the event was a captivating fashion parade featuring the latest collections from Glen Dell Boutique. Attendees enjoyed a delightful array of homemade delicacies, all savoured over warm cups of tea.

The morning proved not only enjoyable but immensely successful as well, with an impressive $2,600 raised for Cancer Research. The success of such an event would not have been possible without the generosity and support of the community. Special thanks and gratitude were extended towards the Ayr Golf Club, Delta Dry Cleaners, Dominique’s, Maria Porters Bakehouse, Shannon Peckham from Eyecare plus Optometrist, Rachael Southern, Kay York, Gudjuda Cafe, Bev Andrew’s and Di Wheadon, whose donations and support were instrumental in making the event a resounding triumph.

"A fabulous morning was had by all,” shared the Ayr Golf Club.

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Completion On The Horizon – The Establishment of Jean Morris’ Headstone

July 18, 2024

Launched over twelve months ago, the Community Fundraising Campaign to establish a monument to honour Jean Morris will see its completion this Spring.

Sage 1 of the project recently saw the placement of a cement slab on top of Jean’s 93-year-old unmarked grave situated in at the Ayr Cemetery. With the first stage of the construction complete, organisers have been eager to launch the last stages of the project. A dream that has been in the pipeline for those behind the initiative will soon become a reality with money tins now available in multiple Burdekin businesses in a final bid to raise another $3,500.

19-year-old Jean Morris was murdered in Queen Street, Ayr on 3 October 1932. Henery Peterson, along with co-organiser, Paula Dawson, wishes the Jean Morris Monument will stand as a reminder of every murdered woman within Australia’s right to a much better life.  

“Stiletto Jean Morris’s murder was one of the most brutal in Australian crime history and still to this day is unsolved,” shared the organisers of the Community Fundraising Campaign.

“Due to this fact alone, we believe Jean Morris’ unmarked grave at the Ayr Cemetery deserves to be acknowledged.

We are fundraising to place a headstone on her grave, so she is not just another unsolved murder statistic.”

Donations towards the Jean Morris Burdekin Community Fundraiser can be made at Paula’s Place Hair Salon on Queen Street, Ayr or online via the “Stiletto Jean Morris Headstone Fundraiser” Go Fund Me page at

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$10,000 Raised And 88 Skin Cancer Checks At Biggest Kali’s Cup To Date

July 18, 2024

On Sunday 7 July, another highly successful and memorable Kali’s Cup was held at the Ayr Golf Course in honour of Kali Totorica.

Kali’s Cup stands as an annual event held to promote skin cancer awareness in memory of Kali who tragically passed away from Melanoma when she was just 21 years old.

The 2024 competition received both outstanding levels of community support and attracted record breaking team registrations.

“We had our largest golf competition to date with 22 teams of 4 people registered and many more people come along to purchase goodies from the bake sale, buy raffle tickets or try Nonna's famous pasta at lunch,” explained one of the event organisers, Kali’s sister, Liana Kennedy.

In a Burdekin first, Kali’s Cup 2024 saw the exciting attendance of the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation’s Skin Check Truck, and members of the community were encouraged to come along for their free skin check from 10am. Having the truck present provided locals with a representation of where their generous donations are being utilised, and the truck’s attendance was well received by the community, with many locals expressing their appreciation and gratitude towards Kali’s family.

“Having the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation's (ASCF) national skin check truck present on the day was so valuable,” expressed Liana.

“They were able to screen 88 people and identified 13 spots that would require biopsy - this is exactly why we do this.”

The 2024 annual Kali’s Cup event raised an amazing total exceeding $10,000, with Kali’s family extending immense gratitude towards the community for their support.

“We continue Kali's legacy to raise awareness for melanoma and to raise funds for organisations such as the ASCF who are doing such amazing work in this field,” shared Liana.

“We cannot thank the local community enough for getting behind this event and support us every year.”

Kali's family would like to once again thank the local community for their ongoing support and generosity. As always, they urge everyone to get a skin check as early detection may be the influential factor that saves your life.

Kali’s Family raise awareness and urge others to get regular skin cancer checks. Photo supplied

Kali’s Cup saw 22 teams take to the green for a spectacular day of golf
The slow-moes team who lived up to their name on the course
The winning team of Kali’s Cup 2024 celebrating their victory!
The best dressed winners nailing the mad hatter theme

Photos supplied

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Tips To Reduce Falls At Home

July 18, 2024

Worrying about falling is common. Falls are one of the main reasons older people are admitted to hospital or need to move to a higher level of care.

Whilst looking after your health and staying active is important to reduce your risks of falling, there are ways you can help reduce your risk of falling by adopting the following measures:

   • Ensure your bed is the right height for you and your mattress is firm as this may aide getting in and out of bed easier and safer.
   • Non-slip floorings/mats, especially in wet areas of the house like the shower or bath, can make areas less slippery. Clean up set spills as soon as possible.
   • Use a bath seat or shower chair and a hand-held shower hose to help with unsteadiness.
   • In areas you need additional support, install grab rails.
   • Go to the toilet before going to bed and have a commode or urinal next to your bed.
   • Leave a night light on to aide your vision in the dark.
   • Have fluid and your phone beside your bed, especially at night within easy reach to limit the need to walk around in the dark.
   • Sit on chairs with armrests and that are at right height to assist making getting in and out of easier.
   • Have household items, for example toiletries and food, within easy reach to avoid bending and stretching.
   • A well charged cordless or mobile phone will assist in elimination of some cords and will make using the phone easier.
   • Eliminate trip hazards by removing clutter on the floor, checking for curled edges on mats/rugs.
   • Don’t wear unsafe clothes. For example, clothes that drag on the ground, socks without shoes, or shoes with poor grip.
   • Prepare food while seated to prevent loss of balance.

Contributed with thanks to Debra Cochran, Chief Executive Officer
Burdekin Community Association 

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Taking The Time To Learn About The People Around You

July 18, 2024

In our busy lives, it's easy to overlook the importance of getting to know the people around us. Whether it's our colleagues, neighbours, or community members, each person has a unique story and set of experiences that can add depth and meaning to our lives if we take the time to connect.

One of the most important reasons to get to know the people around you is to build a sense of community and belonging. When we take the time to learn about our neighbours and coworkers, we’re creating a bond that can make everyone feel more at home.  By understanding each other's backgrounds, interests, and challenges, we can find common ground and work together to create a more inclusive and supportive environment.

Learning about others also broadens our perspective and empathy. When we hear about someone else's experiences and challenges, it helps us see the world from different angles and appreciate the diversity of human experiences. This can lead to increased empathy and understanding, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts while fostering a more harmonious community.

Furthermore, taking the time to learn about the people around us can uncover opportunities for collaboration and support. Whether it's helping a neighbour in need, finding a mentor in the workplace, or simply making new friends, the connections we build through understanding and empathy can lead to mutually beneficial relationships.

So, in a nutshell, it's really important to take the time to learn about the people around us. When we do, we create a warmer, friendlier, and more connected community where everyone feels valued and appreciated. Let's all make an effort to reach out, listen, and learn from those around us.

Until next time,
The Team
Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre

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Cr Column Councillor Amanda Hall

July 18, 2024

Is it just me, or as we get older, do the days seem to meld into one? Time passes too quickly and sometimes I think we all need to slow down and take stock of what really matters to us. There is a Whitney Huston song called “The Greatest Love of All” and part of the lyrics are:  … “I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.”
On Tuesday night, Councillor Fina Vasta and I had the privilege and honour of attending Ayr State High School’s “Voices of the Future” where students delivered an 6-8 minute speech on a particular topic. It is not an easy task to speak in public and these young people did so with both confidence and verve. They spoke on topics that were informative and interesting, at times making those in attendance question themselves. At least that’s how I felt.
To think that this form of public speaking competition was very nearly lost due to Covid. In 2021, in lieu of cancelled Rostrum Voice of Youth statewide events and thanks to an incredibly determined English teacher, Mrs Linda Attard, Ayr State High School hosted their own public speaking competition. It is a testament to the teachers at Ayr State High School through their dedication and care for their students that this event continues today. Congratulations to all students and teachers involved. Overall winners were:
Junior Runner Up:  Parker
Junior Winner:  Chloe
Senior Runner Up:  Mahala
Senior Winner:  Sophie
Special Awards:
Public Speaking Achievement Award:  Layla
Stan Simpson Encouragement Award: Lee
To those students who competed and to all our young people, I say ”Stand tall, stand proud.  Know who you are, know your worth and you will achieve great things”.  Until next time.

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Did you Know? Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort

July 18, 2024

My first 100 days as Burdekin Shire Council Mayor have been a busy start.
It has been such an honour to represent the Burdekin, to advocate to all levels of government and attended over 30 community events.
I have participated in numerous media interviews, ranging from television to radio, attended various school events, spoken at several community gatherings, and met with local businesses and organisations. These interactions have been invaluable in understanding the diverse needs and aspirations of our residents.
Delivering the 2024-25 Budget was a significant achievement not only for myself but for the new team of Councillors. This Budget was all about stretching dollars and strengthening communities. Council has been mindful of the cost-of-living pressures faced by residents and local businesses while committing to a range of initiatives in infrastructure developments, economic growth, and community projects that will benefit the Burdekin now and in the future.
It has been a jam packed 100 days but with much more work to do.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please feel free to phone me on 0447 150 582 or email

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Burdekin Christian College Students’ School Holiday Adventure

July 18, 2024

The school holidays hosted a memorable ski trip for the Year 10 and 11 students of the Burdekin Christian College.

The students began their adventure way before sunrise, gathering at the school in the chilly hours of the morning. The group of travellers boarded the bus to the Townsville Airport where they departed on a flight to New South Wales to embark on their frosty holiday.

With the dedicated professional supervision and support of Megan Diamond, David Nourdine and Madolyn Gabiola, the students spent their time enjoying the magical atmosphere of the slopes, with some seeing snow for the first time. Together, the students crafted spectacular snow angles, built impressive snowmen and engaged in the occasional snowball fight in between hitting the slopes.

The students began their Perisher mornings with two-hour long ski and snowboarding lessons, followed by free time to put their new skills into action by practising on the slopes. Many enjoyed the warmth of hot chocolates and concluded their action-packed days winding down in the cosy atmosphere of the Ski Rider Hotel with boardgames, arcade games, billiards, card games and movies. After three days at Perisher, the crew boarded a bus to Canberra to enjoy the remainder of their adventure exploring various local sites, enjoying the magnificent views the capital city had to offer.

A selection of the student’s many highlights from their Canberra travels included their trip to the Old Parliament House, which now operates as the Museum of Australian Democracy, and engaging in the heavily interactive Questacon activities at the Science Museum. The staff members of the Burdekin Christian College have expressed their sighting of future politicians, scientists, and engineers following the trip, noting the inspirations encompassed throughout the visit.

“This unforgettable trip has also taught the students many lessons such as responsibility of looking after one’s plane ticket, an appreciation for the cost of a bottle of soft drink back home and the trials and tribulations that come with sharing close quarters with multiple other teenagers (along with the various odours and sounds that also accompany),” shared accompanying staff member Mr Lequerica.

The students are already reminiscing on their time spent on the slopes and thank Miss Megan Diamond for organising the trip, Mr Tony Shaul for driving the students to and from the school, and David and Madolyn for accompanying the students on their travels.

Year 10 and 11 Burdekin Christian College students enjoyed their frosty journey to NSW for their 2024 Ski Trip.
One of the students’ highlights of their travels was their trip to Canberra.

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The Lower Burdekin Scout Group “LEAP” into Adventure

July 18, 2024

The Lower Burdekin Scout Group attended an educational and enriching LEAP Camp led by Scouts Queensland over the second week of the school holidays.

Scouts Queensland organised two camps, one at Bluewater, north of Townsville, and the other south towards Brisbane. The week from 30 June until 6 July, the Lower Burdekin Scout Group attended the LEAP Camp at Bluewater, along with 100 scouts, and 40 leaders originating from places as far as Rockhampton to Cairns. Together, the scouts and leaders enjoyed a week of camping, fun, and challenging team activities.

LEAP stands for Leadership, Empowerment, Adventure, Patrol. A patrol encompasses a group of 4 to 6 scouts aged between 11 and 18 years old who hold the responsibilities of organising everything camping entails from cooking and eating to participating in games and challenging activities. The week works to develop and empower the leadership abilities amongst the attendees whilst fostering opportunities for adventure within their patrols.

Each of the patrols engaged in a range of outdoor activities including abseiling at Castle Hill, archery, rafting and other water-based activities, STEM challenges, camp cooking challenges, numerous games, and the older patrol groups camped on Magnetic Island. Together, the scouts additionally crafted campfires, organised Night Market stalls, and engaged in an activity called the Townsville Ramble where each patrol was to complete a range of challenges in and around Townsville.

Many of the scouts and leaders will utilise the skills, and knowledge gained over this camp in their preparations for the upcoming 12-day Jamboree which will be held in Maryborough in January of 2025.

Each of the leaders and scouts thoroughly enjoyed the week, with many heading home quite tired, and thankful to all those who had a hand in organising the event.

Scouts and leaders attending the opening and closing ceremonies
The scouts and leaders abseiling at Castle Hill
The scouts and leaders canoeing at Loam Island

One of the patrol tents and the dining shelters all set up
Preparing for offsite activities in Townsville
STEM activity of building a device to transport a potato along a racetrack
The scouts in Townsville for their activities near Jezzine Barracks
The scouts engaging in archery activities

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Which House Will Win The Spirit Stick?

July 18, 2024

It’s all about school spirit at Ayr State High School with each of the athletic and swimming carnivals preceded by a special Spirit Stick event where each House Group vies for the prestigious title.

This week the Spirit Stick competition took the theme of a dance-off and students were tasked with creating a performance around ‘Battle of the Decades’ where each House Group was given a specific decade to use as inspiration.

Groups of performers were made up of every age-group from Year 7 right through to Year 12 and they each took to the stage to dance and lip-sync from their chosen decade.

The event culminated in each group chanting their war cry and gearing up some good-natured competition ahead of the carnival at the end of the week.

Deputy Principal Courtney Carrigan said she loved the event and appreciated everyone participating.

“It was great to see everyone get involved and showcase their spirits,” she said.

There are almost 560 students at Ayr State High School and there are four house groups - Banks, Cook, MacQuarrie and Phillip.

The Spirit Stick will be awarded this Friday at the Athletics Carnival to the House Group that showed the most spirit.

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Agriculture's Shift Towards Autonomous Machines - A Rabobank Perspective

July 18, 2024

The future of farming is steering towards a revolution driven by autonomous machines, poised to transform crop cultivation worldwide.

In a recent report titled "Global Agtech in Focus," Rabobank explores the evolving landscape of agricultural technology, emphasising the potential of autonomous machines to enhance productivity, precision, and operational ease.

According to Rabobank's analysis, while autonomous machines represent a significant advancement in crop farming, their integration into mainstream agriculture will unfold gradually. The report underscores these machines, equipped with capabilities ranging from autonomous steering to more complex decision-making processes, are set to revolutionise various stages of crop production.

Doriana Milenkova, a farm inputs analyst at RaboResearch, highlights that current agricultural practices are already benefiting from automation, which enables faster and more precise operations while reducing resource consumption.

“These machines must be capable of stand-alone diagnosis, decision-making, or task performance in changing environments, without a human operator or on-site supervisor,” explained Ms Milenkova.

However, she notes that achieving full autonomy across all farming tasks will require successive technological advancements and widespread market acceptance.

Vitor Pistoia, an ag tech analyst at Rabobank Australia, has highlighted that Australian farmers are leveraging technology to enhance efficiency, lower input costs, and simplify farm operations.

"Australia is a nation known to be early adopters of technology and this is no different in the ag tech space where our innovative farmers, supported by the large scale of their farms and paddocks, are well-advanced users of technology in their farm machinery which helps to increase efficiency, lower the use of farm inputs, save costs and simplify tasks for operators,” said Mr Pistoia.

“Australia is an important market for most global farm machinery companies and new technology releases or even trials of technology are taking place on Australian farms.

Those technologies range from traditional machinery that is enhanced by technology like sensors, all the way to more recently introduced innovative technologies, like drones and the use of artificial intelligence, to help convert a vast amount of data collected on farm into insights for the operator or for use by the machine itself for innovative weed control.”

The journey towards autonomous farming is marked by incremental advancements and collaborative efforts within the agtech industry. While the journey towards fully autonomous farming may be gradual, Rabobank's report highlights the future of agriculture is increasingly intertwined with advanced technologies that promise to redefine the industry's landscape.  

RaboResearch analyst Vitor Pistoia.

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Discover Quality and Service at Burdekin Motorcycles

July 18, 2024

Since 2005, Dave, Alissa, and their dedicated team at Burdekin Motorcycles have been proudly serving the Burdekin community as the local dealer for Yamaha motorcycles, Yamaha golf buggies, Yamaha WaveRunners, Toro, Bushranger, and now Landini tractors. Together, the team offers their customers a diverse range of products to suit every need and passion.

Over the past 19 years, Burdekin Motorcycles has garnered multiple awards for both sales and service excellence from Yamaha, underscoring their commitment to delivering top-notch customer satisfaction. Their reputation for aftersales service is unmatched, ensuring that every customer not only finds the perfect product but also enjoys ongoing support and maintenance.

As true locals, Dave, Alissa, and their team take pride in having nurtured talent by training numerous apprentices over the years. The pair are dedicated to supporting local events and initiatives whenever possible, contributing to the vibrancy and growth of the Burdekin community.

Whether you're looking to hit the open road with a Yamaha motorcycle, explore the waters with a Yamaha WaveRunner, manage your property with a Landini tractor, or enhance your leisure time with a Yamaha golf buggy, Burdekin Motorcycles is your go-to destination. Top of Form

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Farmers Urged To Reach Out For Help

July 18, 2024

A rural charity is encouraging farmers to reach out for assistance this Farm Safety Week.  

“This year’s Farm Safety Week theme is 'in safe hands',” Rural Aid CEO John Warlters said.  

“Rural Aid’s mission is to stand with farmers when they need it most.” 

“We’re encouraging farmers to register with Rural Aid, so that our organisation and its passionate donors, can support farmers’ wellbeing and safety with a hand-up.” 

Rural Aid’s range of assistance measures help farmers improve their lives and businesses before, during and after disaster events – be it drought, bushfire or flood.  

“Rural Aid’s mental health and wellbeing team do a fantastic job of heading on-farm to chat with primary producers, at no cost to the farmer," Mr Warlters said. 

“Our financial, water and fodder assistance provides urgent relief for farmers in need. 

“And our Farm Recovery Events supply farmers with a team of volunteers, ready to tackle farming jobs post-disaster,” Mr Warlters said. 

Rural Aid’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Manager, Myf Pitcher, said it takes strength to reach out for help.  

“We want farmers to treat themselves as their most precious business asset and be open to receiving help with their busy workload,” Ms Pitcher said.  

“One conversation at the right time with the right person can change everything”. 

“More than 18,000 primary producers are “in safe hands”, already registered with Rural Aid,” Ms Pitcher said.  

“Registering with Rural Aid means we can support farmers when they need it, now or in the future, and it helps us support rural communities as well.” 

“Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to see how we can help.” 

To register with Rural Aid, visit or call 1300 327 624. 

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Unveil the Excellence of Rural Quip's Steel Department

July 18, 2024

Since its inception in 1982, Rural Quip has stood as a pillar in the community, renowned for its steadfast commitment to the steel industry. Nestled within the Burdekin, their business stands as a beacon for customers seeking both bulk steel solutions and meticulous 'cut to length' orders, with Robert Oar and his celebrated team catering to diverse project requirements with unparalleled expertise.

Rural Quip distinguishes itself with a comprehensive range of steel products and services designed to meet every need. The skilled team excels in shaping steel plates and bending reinforcing rods, ensuring precise specifications for construction applications. Additionally, operating with precision, Rural Quip ensures that each piece of steel meets exacting standards, from intricate hole punching to advanced processing capabilities and paired with the experienced and knowledgeable staff, the business provides its customers with expert guidance throughout both quoting and ordering processes.

In addition to the business’ robust steel offerings, Rural Quip provides an extensive selection of building materials essential for diverse projects in the areas of roofing, concreating, fencing and more. Going the extra mile, the dedicated team offers dependable delivery options, utilising a crane truck and a 45-foot semi-trailer to ensure prompt and secure transportation of materials to the job site.

Overall, from embarking on a major construction project or a simple renovation, Rural Quip stands ready to deliver superior steel solutions and building materials tailored to your specifications. Visit Robert, and the team to experience firsthand their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.

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Hopes Of Fair Work Commission Mediation For Wilmar

July 18, 2024

Unions negotiating a new enterprise agreement with Wilmar Sugar and Renewables are consulting with members on a company suggestion that the parties accept an invitation from the Fair Work Commission for the assistance of a Commissioner in resolving issues remaining in dispute.
The invitation for assistance was extended by a Commission Vice President after a hearing of the Full Bench in Sydney earlier this month (5 July).
During last week’s talks between the company and union representatives, the company put forward the suggestion of taking up the Commission’s offer in order to move on from the continuing stalemate.
A company spokesman said: “We have been willing from the beginning to explore all options to reach a fair and reasonable outcome acceptable to all parties, and we have welcomed the Commission’s assistance in the past.
“We hope that union members agree with us that the Commission’s invitation is an opportunity to move forward.”
Company and unions representatives discussed a number of options to close the gap between their positions. However, progress was limited to log items and not the key issue of the increase in wages employees might receive.
The discussion between the company and union representatives had been proposed by Wilmar before the Full Bench hearing.

Meanwhile, Wilmar Sugar and Renewables’ mills reportedly hit a sweet spot on the weekend, with strong factory performance and improved cane supply.
Group Manager Operations (Sugar) James Wallace said Wilmar’s eight sugar factories averaged above 85 per cent crush time over the weekend, following a challenging start to the season.
“Our factories have settled in and we’re seeing some good daily totals,” Mr Wallace said.
“The Burdekin region recorded above-budget throughput last week.”
Mr Wallace said the Wilmar group had now processed about 10 per cent of the estimated 15.59M tonne crop.
“Despite the interruptions to the crush thus far, we are only a week behind our initial throughput targets. We remain optimistic that, with a continued good run, we will process this year’s crop in a timely manner.”
Mr Wallace said the factories had experienced some stops and starts in the first few weeks of the season due to industrial action and wet weather.
“Thankfully, we’ve now got dry conditions and good cane supply in most of our regions.
“The main cane supply gaps are in the Herbert region where there are still some wet paddocks, but conditions are improving every day.”
Mr Wallace acknowledged the efforts of employees across the business in maximising weekly throughputs and sugar production.
“Our people are pulling together and working hard to get this crop through the factories for the sake of local growers and communities.
“Unfortunately, we are faced with notices of industrial action from unions this Thursday, which will force us to shut down the boilers and stop production at all sites for up to 16 hours,” he said.
“Our Operations and Cane Supply teams are managing the impacts as best they can but this industrial action will hurt harvesting operators, growers and communities at a time when we need to maximise production.”
Latest production statistics:
Herbert region – 214,000 tonnes processed
Burdekin region – 1.2M tonnes processed
Proserpine Mill – 115,000 tonnes processed
Plane Creek Mill – 98,000 tonnes processed

Group Manager Operations (Sugar) James Wallace

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NAIDOC Day With Ayr State High School

July 18, 2024

Ayr State High School’s cultural fire was burning “Loud and Proud” at their annual NAIDOC day held last week on 11 July.

Led by Indigenous Captain Seanna Chapman, the event commenced with a traditional Welcome and Smoking Ceremony by Uncle Randal Ross. The day also saw Year 7 students engage in cultural games, craft Message Sticks, and immerse themselves in traditional Dreamtime stories with the guidance of Uncle Neal and Aunty Leah Tabo.

“It was a privilege to have Uncle Neal and Aunty Leah Tabo helping with the cultural games, along with other elders and families attending to support the day,” shared Ayr State High School.

During the afternoon lunch break, the entire school community and honoured guests came together for a Cultural Feast, where the aromas of coconut, curry, and freshly baked damper filled the air, tantalising everyone's senses and transporting them on a culinary journey.

The festivities culminated in a special NAIDOC assembly, where the school community and guests were treated to captivating performances of traditional dances by talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

The assembly provided an interactive and memorable conclusion to the cultural journey of NAIDOC 2024, with staff and students joining in on the dancing in a fitting way to end the school’s annual celebration.

Photos supplied

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July 18, 2024

By August 1933, the Burdekin River had not had a flood since 1927 and the underground water level had diminished somewhat.  The Shire Council along with the farmers and townsfolk were getting worried about the water supply. Mr R. E. Shaw, assistant engineer of the Irrigation branch of the government addressed the Council.  The Plantation Creek, (a delta mouth of the Burdekin River) was selected to replenish the underground water supply.
The Burdekin River water would be diverted through a tunnel from the river into Plantation Creek. A survey was to be undertaken to include a pumping plant in the Delta, their capacity, distance to water and depth of drift at various points along the creek. It was ascertained from this survey that Plantation Creek was once the main channel for the Burdekin River to enter the sea.
The Burdekin River water would enter Plantation Creek through a pipe line that will be about 644 feet long and 5 feet above the bed of the river.  From here Plantation Creek was a well watercourse (with high scrub covered banks) to Cameron’s Waterhole (at the junction of Giddy Road Plantation Creek and Maidavale Roads). At the entrance to Plantation Creek much dirt would have to be excavated. The water would then flow down to what was known as the Klondyke Lagoon, (once known as Gilmore’s Lagoon and now Hutching’s Lagoon). Klondyke means a very rich source of wealth - it can refer to a card game, mining such as gold, or in this case, untold water.  Klondyke Lagoon is not only a part of Plantation Creek but it has beneath its bed a spring of water that bubbles away timelessly. There were to be 12 pumping plants between the river and Klondyke Lagoon.
Between March and April in 1934, the Plantation Scheme was established after the Council had voted for it to go ahead.  The estimated cost was £19,000 with the Government paying subsidising half and the shire to pay the other half. It was depression years and 75% of the labourers were to be chosen among relief workers and the other 25% labourers to be chosen by the Ayr Shire Council. As usual the estimated cost to the scheme would run over the £19,000. Sometime in 1934-35 tenders were called for the construction of the pipe line and the successful tenderers were Super Pipe and Construction Companies of Brisbane and Sydney, the local manager of the firm was Mr E H Bishop.  The pipe line was 644 feet long, 7 feet high and 7 feet wide.  It was constructed of reinforced concrete the tops and bottoms being 11 inches in thickness and sides 6 inches.  Some 240tons of cement was required and 43 tons of steel for the job and 700 cubic yard   of concrete will comprise the pipe and conduit. The bottom will be 5 feet above the bed of the river, and when the flood water of the Burdekin is level with the rails at Inkerman Rail Bridge, the conduit will be running full bore.
As a safe guard against erosion of the river bank, the first 120 feet of the conduit will be laid after tunnel laid for that distance.  This work was well in hand by October-November 1935. The remainder of the conduit was laid in an open cut approximately 24 feet in depth.  For the work of excavating this huge trench, a Bucyrus Excavator was employed, working three shifts of eight hours each.  The soil removed in a day of 24 hours is from 800 to 1000 cubic yards. The excavator steam shovel did an excellent work and had previously been used in the Theodore area during the irrigation works there. The conduit laid in the open cut will be covered after the completion with the soil which has been excavated. At one portion of the tunnel the floor will be approximately 27 feet underground.
As a further safeguard against erosion, the banks of the river from the bed to the top in vicinity of the intake was to be stone faced.  To prevent large timber and other debris from entering the pipe, the face was provided with a grid consisting of three-inch trash bars 15inches apart. In order to ensure that the water flowing into the pipe will all find its way to the creek and not be lost when the river commences to recede, a flood gate was provided near the intake. This will result in impounding all the water in the pipe when a flood is at its peak.  This flood gate was worked on a screw known as Archimedes Screw which is very simple to operate.
On account of the low level of pipes there will be 22,000 cubic yar of excavation between the outlet and the end of the conduit and Cameron’s Waterhole, a distance of eleven miles of open drain. This work was not completed until sometime in late 1936. This Plantation Replenishment Scheme was an experiment as authorities did not know if pumping water from the Burdekin River into Plantation Creek and into the underground would work. It has proved to be a success over the years as will be shown.
It is interesting to note the names of some of the road crossings along Plantation Creek to Cameron’s Waterhole. There is Gilligan’s Culvert near the river and Plantation Creek entrance.  Gilligan was bailiff for North Queensland Pastural Co which had property from Inkerman Station to the Burdekin River on the Southern side and on the Northern side of the river,  Jarvisfield and along Plantation Creek. The Clare Crossing on Clare Road, then we come to Old Clare Road, known as Laun’s Crossing.  Laun’s had a farm there which previously had been in the Rossiter Family and now Bugeja’s. Burnett’s Crossing at Giddy Road and Maidavale Road and down to Craig’s Crossing at the junction of Robertson’s Road and Maidavale Road. Craig’s Farm was previously owned by Spelta, and after Craig it became Whitson’s Farm.

Sometime towards the end of 1938, a cutting in Plantation Creek between Cameron’s Waterhole and Klondyke Lagoon to remove debris and certain obstructions along the Creek give Plantation Creek uninterrupted flow were submitted to the Department of Irrigation and Water Supply.  It was not until the floods of 1940, that the Plantation Replenishment Scheme proved to be a success.
For two or three days after the flood in the Burdekin River, the 7 by 7 feet conduit at the entrance to Plantation Creek from the river, the Creek ran full bore and the water reached the town boundary.  During the water’s progress, the large lagoons and water courses were all filled and immense quantities have penetrated the sandy soil to the underground storage.  The original scheme cost about £19,000 with the shire paying half on a 50-50 loan subsidy.
By 1945 the river ran into the creek for about 2weeks every year and growers using the irrigation plants along the bed of the creek noticed an improved supply of underground water since the installation of the diversion roughly ten years ago from 1935 onwards. One of the old hands that worked and irrigated along the creek gauged the depth of Hutchings Lagoon by the number of turtles sunning themselves on an old tree log in the creek. The depth being two turtles down to 4 turtles or maybe 5 turtles on the tree log.
This Replenishment Scheme which began in 1934-35 is noticed in the underground from the entrance to Plantation Creek down past Norham Road today.  A fish ladder has been installed at the culvert on Cislowski Road, Ayr town water is pumped from Plantation between Hutchings Lagoon and Cislowski Road. Plantation Park and its recreation facilities benefit from the Scheme also. Down towards the mouth of Plantation Creek which once acted a port for the Ayr District, an embankment has been built to stop the Salt from the ocean penetrating to far up the creek. Yes, the Plantation Replenishment scheme has been a success.
Note:  Much fishing has taken place along the banks of the Plantation Creek where Barramundi and other fish has been caught over the years.  Crocodiles have been known to lurk in the creek between Robertson and Cislowski Roads.  Swimming and kayaking have been another favourite pastime of the locals in the creek. Another pastime that was carried on by the young folk of the district was swimming through the culvert on Cislowski Road when the stream was flowing. Perhaps this was carried on at other crossings along Plantation Creek as well.

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Will it Rain? by Anne McCubben ©

July 18, 2024

The sky again is overcast; it’s threatening to rain.
The farmer gazes at the clouds; He has to burn his cane
And “ Will it rain or clear away? What will the weather do?”
‘Tis Sunday afternoon and dull; The farmer’s in a stew.
“Perhaps another break I’ll push and burn a little less.
Then if I’m caught by lots of rain, there won’t be such a mess!”
The time of year that should be wet was very, very dry
And harvest time’s supposed to have a cloudless, sunny sky,
But round here in the Burdekin, the harvest’s been delayed.
The crushing’s held up by the wet, and farmers are afraid
The mill won’t have capacity to crush the sugar crop
Because that rain, unseasonal, has caused the mill to stop.
The farmers try their very best to cut the soggy cane,
The haul-outs bog, the harvester has skidded In a drain.
The farmer’s thoughts turn back a bit, he ponders once again
On seasons, crops and harvesting, as happens now and then.
The farmer’s thoughts swing back again, he’s in the present now,
Decisions must be made and soon; a frown is on his brow.
“It’s overcast again,” he says, “I’ll have a smaller burn
And hope that soon again I’ll see the sunny days return.

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Meet Local Hero Kay Duggan

July 18, 2024

Kay Duggan is a ‘born and bred’ local in Ayr, and a volunteer at the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre where she is President and life member of the committee.

Having grown up and lived in Ayr for her whole life and attending St Francis Catholic School as a child, Kay knows the Burdekin community especially well.

She has been volunteering at the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre since retiring in 1995 and became president in 2010. Before this, Kay was a minute secretary for the organisation.

While she is president, Kay insists that the Neighbourhood centre is a team:

“We're a team, I'm not into being the boss.”

Explaining why she loves the work she does, kay emphasised that the committee have become valued friends to her, and the centre is made to feel like a “house,” to invite community members in.

Kay assists people around the centre and said she has always had good interpersonal skills.

“I feel that if I meet somebody, I like to know how they are, what they're doing and why they're doing it,” said Kay.

Alongside her duties at Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre, Kay also is involved in the Hockey association in Burdekin, obtaining life membership in 1982, as well as becoming a life member for the squash association in 1981.

Speaking about her highlight from the year, the Burdekin ‘Biggest Morning Tea,” Kay stated:

“Donations came from in town, from the Community, from the business houses and also private people, they all donated with no worries whatsoever, the community is very, very generous.”

Coordinator at Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre Natalie Saroglia said, “Kay is one of those people that will get in and do things and where she excels is that she will take people as they are, she doesn't try to change them.”

The Neighbourhood centre is looking for a new volunteer secretary, if you are interested in joining Kay and the team, please contact the Centre below:

Ph: (07) 4783 4243

President Kay and Treasurer Elvie being awarded lifetime membership for their long and outstanding contributions to the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre, Photo supplied

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Take A Moment With Mary

July 18, 2024

I was asked for advice on how to move on in mid-life after divorce. A woman in her mid 50s has found herself divorced after 28 years of marriage. Her children are grown, there was no other woman. She simply decided that she was absolutely miserable in her marriage and at the age of 54 took stock of her life.

She was at a crossroads, she could carry on with her life, stay unhappy but not have to face the world alone. Or she could leave and start a new life for herself. Obviously, she took the second option and left. She told me that she struggles to navigate this new path. She is discovering what her likes and dislikes are and it’s been so long since she thought about herself she had forgotten!

She binge-watches Bridgerton with the volume up in bed at night while eating chocolate (which she loves!) but she also feels the ache of loneliness in her heart when she sees couples holding hands or shopping or having a cuppa. 

She is middle aged and what if she never finds love again? What if the car gets a puncture, what if her ex remarries? 

I asked her to close her eyes and imagine her husband moving back into her house with her.

What was the first thing she felt?

She replied, sadness.

I was just finding myself, finding my feet in my new life and that was gone. The peace, calm and freedom was lost. I felt grief that the bits and pieces of me that were returning would be lost all over again and I might never find them.

She looked at me and smiled.

The fleeting pangs of ‘what ifs’, ‘maybes’ and doubts might always be there but it was worth it for the peace and calm she had found. 

Life is fleeting, weeks go by in a blink. Grab any chance of happiness you can. Laugh at the absurdities in life.

I've had the privilege in my nursing career of caring for people who were at the end of their journey in this life. Without exception the last conversations and memories involved were how much they loved and were loved. Be kind to each other and especially to yourselves.

Mary Torpey 

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Introducing Our New Sales Team at Nutrien Harcourts McCathies!

July 18, 2024

We are excited to share some important updates about our team. With Sue Perry moving into New Home Sales and Jo Gabiola retiring, we've had the opportunity to promote two of our dedicated staff members to sales agent roles. Amber Hornsby brings five years of industry experience to her new position. Known for her personalized approach and superior local market knowledge, Amber is committed to providing exceptional service to all our clients.
Candice Dyball, with three years of industry experience, also steps into her new role with enthusiasm. Candice’s excellent communication skills and deep understanding of industry practices, means she will be a valuable asset to our team. Both Amber and Candice are excited to continue servicing our clients with the same dedication and professionalism you’ve come to expect from Nutrien Harcourts McCathies.
Brielle Astorquia and Mikaela Casella continue their roles as assistant to the sales team ensuring every transaction matters. John Mottin plays a crucial role in the business, with over 25 years of agricultural experience and 17 years of real estate experience, John specializes in rural and lifestyle property sales, auctions and clearing sales.
Established since 1965 and rooted in local ownership, Nutrien Harcourts McCathies is deeply connected to the Burdekin community, treating every client like family. As the foremost agency in the region, we promise unparalleled local expertise, thorough industry insight, and unwavering dedication to delivering a seamless buying and selling experience.
The market in the Burdekin over the last financial year has been productive. We have seen an increase in growth over the last year in Ayr and Home Hill. However, the interest in units in the Home Hill area has been very slow moving. 19.6% of our buyers have been local, from the Burdekin area. Our rental yield for investment properties has remained consistent in Ayr at 6.7% and averaging slightly higher in Home Hill at 8.6% for houses and 8.8% for Units. The number of days on market has also decreased, averaging 50-70 days, which means properties are selling faster.
Nutrien Harcourts McCathies office has remained the top agency for the area in 2023- 2024, with an estimated market share of 55% for Sales Volume and Value. As trusted advisors to sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants, we would love to discuss your property goals.

Please call 07 47831911 to speak to an agent.

Contributed by, with thanks to Paula Mottin

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Good Deed

July 11, 2024

Home Hill Ayr Lions Club 2023 Harvest Festival Queen entrant, Alli-Jo Farry has made a celebrated donation to the Home Hill Kindergarten and to St. Colman’s Primary School.

Alli-Jo made the donations following her successful fundraising over the 2023 Harvest Festival Season in conjunction with the Lions Club, donating $1000 to the Home Hill Kindergarten, and another $500 to St. Colman’s Primary School.

Alli-Jo’s donation comes as another great accomplishment the Home Hill Ayr Lions Club has celebrated her following winning Miss Personality at last November’s Rotary Ball Harvest Festival Celebration.

Alli-Jo presenting the Home Hill Kindergarten with their $1000 donation.

Alli-Jo in the 2023 Harvest Festival parade wearing her Miss Personality sash.

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Chat with Chelsea

July 18, 2024

Happy first week back at school everyone! Both Ayr and Brisbane had a rainy start to Monday, solidifying my theory that it always rains on the first day back at school after holidays.

As you may already know, I went to Ayr State High School, and graduated in 2021. If you’re familiar with the lay of the land there, you’ll know that no matter what, if it’s been raining, you’re sure to have to make some extraordinary leaps around the library / office area to avoid soggy socks!

I remember always having new shoes ready to go for the new school year after the Christmas school holidays, only to have Mum make me wear last year’s fossils to save my new ones from getting muddy and destroyed. Although devastating at the time, saving their debut until the following week was always exciting, and the white on my shoes stayed white a little longer. Don’t let her know, but it’s safe to say Mum is always right.

This week I’ve been sort of back to school myself. O Week for Trimester 2 has begun, and I’ve been completing orientation tasks, planning my assessment blocks, and finalising my timetable, all in preparation for my final 13ish weeks of university (maybe) forever!

Everyone’s back in the swing of things, and routines are set! As always, feel free to send me a message to say hi and have a chat! Enjoy the read, and I’ll chat to you soon.

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Community Rallies To Support Local Scouts

July 11, 2024

On Saturday, 22 June five members of the Burdekin Men’s Shed teamed up with Harvey Norman in Ayr to fundraise for the Lower Burdekin Scouts.

Outside the store, they hosted a lively Sausage Sizzle, which was generously supported by Harvey Norman which donated bread, sausages, and onions. The Men’s Shed volunteers cooked and sold delicious sausages on bread, alongside refreshments, with all proceeds dedicated to the Lower Burdekin Scout Group in Home Hill.

President of the Burdekin Men’s Shed, Rob Ritchie, expressed their strong commitment to bolstering the local Scouting community, aiming to revive its historical strength in engaging young people in healthy outdoor activities. Ritchie emphasised the Shed’s close ties with the Scouts, having taken over their former premises in Ayr in 2011 after they relocated to Home Hill.

The Men’s Shed committee expresses great gratitude to Harvey Norman for their generous sponsorship in supplying both the food and venue for the event, along with Butcher on Queen, Bendigo Bank for their celebrated support and to the members who ran the sausage sizzle. Collectively, the Burdekin Men’s Shed have begun sponsoring the Lower Burdekin Scouts in hopes the scouting group will strengthen within the Burdekin community, acknowledging the work they do in encouraging younger generations to engage in outdoor activities.

“We look forward to conducting more Harvey Norman sausage sizzles for the Scouts in the future,” shared the Burdekin Men’s Shed.

Lower Burdekin Scout Group Leader, Chris Berkery, explained the scouting group has grown in numbers since January of 2023 from three members to fifteen. The group has set a recruitment target of twenty, and hopes to reach this total by the conclusion of 2024, with a long-term target of fifty hopefully on the horizon. The Scouts, who meet weekly in Home Hill, invite youths aged 5 to 15 for a complimentary trial period to experience activities like camping, archery, and community service.

Chris additionally welcomed support from other local organisations and individuals interested in sponsoring or volunteering with the Scouts. Scouting promotes healthy outdoor adventures and community involvement, offering a valuable experience for young people.

“Scouting is the largest youth organisation in the world promoting healthy outdoor activities for children,” shared Chris.

In appreciation of the joint effort by Harvey Norman and the Burdekin Men’s Shed, a $400 donation was presented to the Scouts, contributing to their annual operational expenses.

For more information about joining or supporting the Lower Burdekin Scouts, please contact Chris Berkery at 0419 104 035.

Burdekin Men’s Shed President Rob Ritchie presenting a $400 Bendigo Bank cheque to Scout Group Leader Chris Berkery. L to R Men’s Shed member Ed Chandler, Scout Group Leader Chris Berkery, M. Gill of Harvey Norman Home Appliances, Gary Roser of Harvey Norman Computers, Burdekin Men’s Shed President Rob Ritchie & member Alvin Thomas.

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One Life For Every Three Kilometres

July 11, 2024

Revelations that in the last ten years at least one person has lost their life for every three kilometres of the Bruce Highway in the electorate, has left Member for Burdekin Dale Last questioning how much more blood needs to be shed before desperately needed safety upgrades are funded.

Mr Last said despite community calls over the years for safety improvements the tragic events of recent weeks had shone a spotlight on a fact that regional Queenslanders were all too familiar with - the Bruce Highway is a national disgrace.

“To think that 59 fatal accidents equates to a tragic loss of life every three kilometres along the 187km section of the Bruce Highway in the Burdekin Electorate beggars belief,” Mr Last said.

“The question I have for the Minister is, how many more fatalities will it take before we see serious road investment from this state government?”

“Any life lost on our roads is one too many and as we have seen in recent weeks the wide-spread impact these tragedies have, goes further than the site of the accident.

“It tears at the heart of our community members, first responders and emergency services.”

Despite 36 projects being identified to improve safety from Bowen to Townsville in Labor’s strategic plan for the Bruce, Mr Last said the fact that none had received new funding sent a clear message to regional Queenslanders.

“Action plans and glossy documents won’t do anything to save lives on our roads, that comes down to funding for upgrades and maintenance, something the Minister has clearly forgotten about when it comes to the Bruce Highway in North Queensland,” Mr Last said.

“Perhaps the Minister needs to get in a car and experience for himself the Bruce Highway between Bowen and Townsville.  

“Maybe then he might understand that when we are screaming for road upgrades, we're not looking to get home faster, we are looking to get home alive.”

Opinion Piece from Member for Burdekin Dale Last.

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Local Students Complete Blue Edge Program

July 11, 2024

On Wednesday 19 June, 21 school students from years 9 to 12 celebrated their graduation from the Queensland Blue Light Association Incorporated Blue EDGE program.
The Blue Edge program was delivered at Home Hill High School over an 8-week period and works to uphold 4 core principles; educate, develop, grow and empower.
A Blue Light Queensland program, the organisation’s mission is to foster positive outcomes among police, community and young people through early intervention with the vision of every young person reaching their potential, and to live crime free.
The Blue Edge program was ran with the support of the Burdekin PCYC, local police, school staff, and Blue Light Volunteers.
Over the 8-week program, students attended 1.5hr sessions twice a week where they were provided with opportunities to engage in physical training and activities, provided with a simple, healthy breakfast before school, and the chance to learn from motivational guest speakers.
As a result of these activities, each day of the program ensured students would attend school alert, fed, motivated and ready for learning.
As part of their “Final Edge” graduation, the students travelled to Townsville to carry out the last day of the program, where they were rewarded with a tour of the North Queensland Cowboys HQ and enjoyed activities together at KinPin Townsville.
Families were invited to attend the graduation, to celebrate their child’s successful completion of such a comprehensive, and engaging course.

The graduating class. Photo supplied

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The Treasured History of Populins Hall

July 11, 2024

Populins Hall has stood proudly on the ever-bustling Queen Street for decades, and holding a rich history, and special place in the hearts of many within the Burdekin community.

The historic venue was, and forever will be a hive for activity, hosting regular events and occasions with millions of dancing shoes tapping on the classic wooden floors over the years. The space held many specular celebrations, sporting wrap-ups, weddings, dance rehearsals and more, with the balcony, overlooking Queen Street, hosting the official crowning of the Water Festival Queens during the Mardi Gra processions in the 60s.

The 1960s additionally saw the hall host many school dances and social events. St. Francis High School, the Marist Brothers School, and Ayr State High School annually held their highly anticipated, and ever popular dances, providing many students with the opportunity to dress up, and enjoy a formal night of celebration and socialisation.

In the 1970s Saturday nights had the community strapping on their dancing shoes, and donning their starched petticoats, stovepipe trousers, and hair sprayed updos to bust a move to the talented tunes including those produced by Townsville based band, The Squares. Many locals remember asking ladies for their hand to dance to the music of numerous local bands, and artists like Ron and Micky Odgers, Peter Wheelers, Billy Williamson, Norm Adcock, Allan and John Sinclair, and John McCathie.

Hundreds would fill the hall, spilling out to enjoy the popular atmosphere of the balcony, finding much enjoyment in meeting others, and engaging in casual conversations well into the night for what was “the highlight of the week” for most at the time. Many reminisce on having met their partners when indulging in the regular Saturday night happenings, and sharing in a dance for the first time with who would become their future husband or wife.

Populins Hall has homed millions of memories for both Burdekin locals, and travellers over its time, and its timeless structure will continue to welcome many more well into the future. An iconic pillar in the region’s history, Populins Hall has, and forever will be celebrated by the Burdekin community.

Populins Hall in September of 1967. Photo credit: Doug Thomas

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Danny’s Dream: The Opening Of Groper Creek’s “Our Front Yard” Shelter

July 11, 2024

On Saturday 29 June, many gathered on Groper Creek’s waterfront to celebrate the official opening of the “Our Front Yard” Shelter, a significant moment that completed the dream of Danny Garvey who sadly passed away in 2023 before his plans for the shelter came to fruition.

Over 100 locals, and travellers were in attendance at the event, including Mayor Pierina dale Cort, the region’s Bendigo Bank representative, David Catinzaro and representatives from the Home Hill Boat Club and Groper Creek Rural Fire Brigade.

Jeanette Garvey led the official opening, and was accompanied by her family and friends, some of whom travelled far to be present for the significant event to honour Jeanette’s late husband, Danny Garvey.

“Those who knew Danny, knew he always had a project on the go, and he was always proud of his “front yard”, mowing it to perfection, telling people to keep off the grass, and be respectful of our surroundings,” explained Jeanette.

Jeanette and Danny lived in Groper Creek for almost fifteen years, and immersed themselves in the community, quickly becoming active members of the Home Hill Boat Club and Groper Creek Rural Fire Brigade. 2016 saw Danny undertake the role of First Officer, and he was in turn, heavily involved in numerous clean-up efforts following the floods.

The pair were then appointed Park Managers in 2019, and despite the unprecedented times of COVID-19, Danny took advantage of his spare time, making valuable improvements to the area.

“Danny was busier than most during Covid times, setting about making improvements here with new fish fileting areas, unit upgrades, concrete pathways, and more,” recalled Jeanette.

“One of Danny’s last projects was to commence planning for this project – a new 10 x 6 metre shade shelter to replace an old Koppers log structure in the public car park area to provide a space for people to gather, picnic, fish or simply reflect by the water.”

In January of 2023, Danny sadly and suddenly passed away, leaving both his family, and members of the Home Hill Boat Club & Groper Creek Rural Fire Brigade devastated but determined to complete the “dream project” in his honour.

The Groper Creek Rural Fire Brigade raised substantial funds through Container for Change collections, and Jeanette reminisces on the lengths both herself, and her co-manager Wendy Coplick went to, recalling many dumpster diving instances to make every can count!

“We also thankfully had many visitors and locals who gladly drank more to contribute to the cause and attended our State of Origin and raffle nights,” said Jeanette.

The Home Hill Rotary club generously donated $1000 to the project, which kickstarted initial groundworks, and construction officially began in 2023 following a $10,000 donation from Bendigo Bank. With works underway, April saw the completion of Stage 1, and Jeanette received an amazing message, igniting the plans to begin Stage 2.

“Whilst the tradies were still onsite, we received notification that under this year’s funding round, Bendigo Bank was providing the additional $11,000 we needed to complete the project,” explained Jeanette.

“To receive this final funding amount and see this project completed was just amazing, I don’t know of any other bank which gives back to its community as generously as our Bendigo Bank.

“Danny’s original dream shelter has become a reality; it’s an everlasting legacy in his honour and it’s now here for generations to enjoy in “Our Front Yard” at Groper Creek.”

The Garvey Family - Dallan, Cas, Jeanette, Kurtis & Siahn Garvey toast the opening of "Our Front Yard Shelter" at Groper Creek.

Danny and Jeannette

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Home Hill Family Battle Tragic Diagnosis

July 11, 2024

The Savorgnan family are currently experiencing one of the toughest and most unthinkable situations a family can face with their young daughter recently diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Maria, Marty and their beautiful two-year-old daughter, Elenna, have flown from Townsville to Brisbane earlier this week after scans revealed a tumour on Elenna’s brain.

Additional scans have now shown the tumour has spread throughout Elenna's brain, and spinal cord, and the family is now awaiting emergency surgery and treatment.

With the rapid pace of Elenna’s diagnosis paired with the sudden travel and shock, numerous tests and treatments are still needing to occur. The uncertainty surrounding the entire battle ahead additionally leaves the family unaware of how long they will need to remain in Brisbane for.

Expecting their second child this month, the young Home Hill family have been hit with a whirlwind of emotions, expenses, and concerns, however numerous members of the local Burdekin community have provided the family with unwavering support, and a beacon of hope.

Earlier this week, Ashley De-Campo established a Go Fund Me fundraiser for the Savorgnan family to support Maria, Marty and little Elenna during this time.

“If you have the pleasure of knowing Elenna’s parent’s, Maria and Marty, you will know that they’re selfless, supportive, hardworking and kind-hearted people,” shared Ashley.

“Elenna is the absolute light of their life and as any parents could imagine, their whole world has been turned upside down with this news.”

The Go Fund Me page was created with the consent of the Savorgnan family to support them with the financial stressors that come with an event so life changing.

The Burdekin and surrounding community have supported Ashley’s efforts amazingly, with widespread donations now totalling far more than double the initial fundraising goal.

“It is unknown how long Elenna will be receiving treatment in hospital for - they are taking each day as it comes,” added Ashley.

“We kindly ask that their privacy be respected at this time - we truly appreciate everyone who has supported the Go Fund Me and Savorgnan family.”

The fundraising page has attracted over 200 donations and messages of support, with over $20,000 raised for the family.

Donations can be made to “The Savorgnan Family” Go Fund Me page at

Maria and Marty Savorgnan with baby Elenna. Photo supplied

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July 11, 2024

Local family set to celebrate 6th birthday of young boy who was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy at birth and given just days to live.

Tia Wall with her five children, Ayden, Anastasia, Andrew, Ainsley, and Azaria. Photo supplied

Ayden Wall Seeks New Set Of Wheels

Defying all odds, five-year-old Ayden Wall has continued to persevere far beyond the expectations of medical professionals following his quadriplegic cerebral palsy diagnosis at birth.

His family are now calling on the community to contribute towards a wheelchair that will allow them to transport him easily as he continues to grow.

Ayden was diagnosed following the discovery of an in-utero cranial bleed during a routine scan 32 weeks into his mother, Tia Wall’s, pregnancy. Tia was advised by medical professionals of Ayden’s unlikely survival, and as she was pregnant with twins, surgery was not a safe option.

The twins, Ayden and Azaria, were born prematurely at 35 weeks, and Ayden was immediately placed into the neonatal intensive care unit under palliative care where hope for his survival was slim. After several weeks in hospital, Tia was allowed to take her infant son home to spend his final days with his family.

Almost six years, countless surgeries, hospital stays, and around the clock care later, Ayden will soon be celebrating his sixth birthday.

Ayden will never have the ability to walk or talk, and will continue to require 24-hour care, however with the love and support of those around him, he has been able to enjoy a few of the daily activities every five-year-old should experience. In his first year of prep at the Burdekin Special School, Ayden enjoys being out and about within the local community alongside his family and loves swimming - an integral part of supporting his pain and mobility.

A single mum to five children, Tia, with the support of her family and friends, has been living each day as it comes, working to provide Ayden with the best quality of life possible. Currently the family are raising funds to purchase a safe and reliable wheelchair accessible vehicle to transport Ayden to and from his specialist medical appointments and therapies, as well as in and around the Burdekin community. Living in Ayr, the family often travels to Townsville for Ayden’s medical requirements, making the purchase of such a vehicle all the more essential.

Exhausting all possible opportunities, Tia established a Go Fund Me fundraiser as a last effort to source the funds needed for her son.

“I don’t know where else to turn now to try to get help - I’m desperate to get any sort of help for this little boy, so here we are,” shared Tia.

The Wall family are kindly calling on the community for their support to relieve a little pressure.

“Even a small gesture of kindness can have a big impact,” shared the family.

Donations can be made via the Go Fund Me link:

Ayden with his twin sister Azaria
A new wheelchair would enable Ayden’s family to transport him more easily
Ayden with his mum Tia. Photos supplied

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July 11, 2024

At 3.40pm on Friday 28 June, Ayr Police were called to a local business after receiving a call of theft from that store.  As a result of investigations, a 23yr old Burdekin woman was charged with one count of stealing, three counts of possessing dangerous drugs and one count of possessing medicines when not authorised to do so.  She was released on conditional bail to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.
At 6.10pm on Saturday 29 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Graham Street, Ayr.  As a result a 45yr old Burdekin man was issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) for drink driving, .232 and unlicenced driving.  He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.
At 3.20pm on Thursday 4 July, Ayr Police were called to an incident in Plantation Park, Ayr, where it was alleged an assault had occurred.  As a result of investigation a 46yr old Tablelands man was charged with one count of common assault and released on conditional bail to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 5 August.
At 9.50pm on Thursday 4 July, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Norham Road, Ayr.  As a result a 46yr old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .104 and obstruct Police.  He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.
At 10.10pm on Thursday 4 July, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Norham Road, Ayr.  At that time a 28yr old Burdekin man alighted from the front passenger seat and began abusing and swearing at Police.  As a result he was charged with one count of public nuisance and is due to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.

Vehicle Security

From time to time, vehicles are unlawfully entered with belongings stolen and sometimes vehicles are stolen.  
Some easy steps will help avoid being a victim of these types of offences:
   • Lock your car;
   • Do not leave the key in the ignition;
   • Do not leave valuables in the car.
Thieves don’t care whether you think you should have to lock up, they will just take advantage of any lax security.
Prevention and vigilance around your home and property can reduce these opportunistic thefts.  In most cases, locking your vehicles, homes and sheds & securing your belongings appropriately will reduce these thefts.
If you see someone acting suspiciously AT ANY TIME, ring Ayr Police Station on 4790 3555 or after hours ring 131 444, unless life threatening, then ring 000.
Crime prevention is a community effort.  Police regularly need public assistance and information to help solve criminal offences.  This information can be anonymous to crime stoppers.  If you have any such information, pls contact Crime Stoppers or Ayr Police.

Don’t let yourself become a victim of crime – Lock it or Lose it
If you have any information about crime or illicit drugs, phone crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.  The more detailed the information you give, the better it will be for all concerned.
Remember to secure your property – “lock it or lose it”.
You wouldn’t leave a dish containing thousands of dollars sitting on your bench or sitting out in the open, so why do this with your car keys
Car keys – treat them like cash

Did you know??
Who gives way at a roundabout??
A driver who is entering a roundabout must give way to any vehicle in the roundabout.
A vehicle includes a bicycle.
Regulation 114 Transport Infrastructure (Road Use Management-Road Rules) Regulation 2009

Home Security Audits
The Queensland Police Service have “ Home Security Audit” forms that can be accessed at the QPS website
Anecdotally the majority of unlawful entry offences are committed on residences or vehicles that are unlocked and/or have valuables in plain sight.  Locking your house and car & securing valuables including money, keys, wallets and mobile phones will deter opportunistic thieves.  
If you see someone acting suspiciously AT ANY TIME, ring Ayr Police Station on 4790 3555 or after hours ring 131 444, unless life threatening, then ring 000.
Crime prevention is a community effort.  Police regularly need public assistance and information to help solve criminal offences.  This information can be anonymous to crime stoppers.  If you have any such information, pls contact Crime Stoppers or Ayr Police.
Don’t let yourself become a victim of crime – Lock it or Lose it
If you have any information about crime or illicit drugs, phone crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.  The more detailed the information you give, the better it will be for all concerned.
Remember to secure your property – “lock it or lose it”.
You wouldn’t leave a dish containing thousands of dollars sitting on your bench or sitting out in the open, so why do this with your car keys
Car keys – treat them like cash

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ON THE BEAT Police wrap-Up

July 11, 2024

Home Hill Police Station

On 30 June 2024 at 11:30am Home Hill Police responded to major traffic crash involving a bus and a 4WD towing a caravan on the Bruce Highway, Gumlu. The scene was extremely confronting requiring multiple emergency resources from the Townsville and Mackay regions. Sadly, three persons lost their lives as a result of the crash and a number of other persons seriously injured. Home Hill Police extend our condolences to the family and loved ones of the passengers who passed away. We would also like to thank members of the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) and Queensland Fire and Emergency Service (QFES) who work tirelessly at the scene in difficult conditions. Mackay Forensic Crash Unit continue to investigate the matter. Anyone with information that could assist investigations, including vision of the crash, is urged to contact police.
Home Hill Police have seen a minor increase in property crime in the division in the last fortnight. While the choice to offend is the offender’s alone, there are things you can do to reduce being targeted by opportunistic offenders. We can never stop all crime however, we can work together to discover what is the best practice and to make it just that little bit harder for criminals to find easy targets.

What you can do:
   • Ensure doors are always locked with a key even when you are home.
   • Ensure that all external doors, including your garage, of your home are solid and fitted with quality deadlocks. Always ensure car keys and house keys, together with mobile phones, handbags and wallets, are stored out of sight.
   • Follow your local Facebook pages and share information but don’t forget to tell police first, so that we can assist.
   • A carport or garage is not an impenetrable barrier for a determined thief.
   • Consider sensor lights and CCTV.

Please remember report crime to Police and inform us if you see something suspicious. If we don’t know, we can’t act!  If a crime is happening now, call Triple Zero (000). If not, think Policelink report online or via 131 444.

Ayr Police Station Report
At 3.40pm on Friday 28 June, Ayr Police were called to a local business after receiving a call of theft from that store.  As a result of investigations, a 23 year old Burdekin woman was charged with one count of stealing, three counts of possessing dangerous drugs and one count of possessing medicines when not authorised to do so. She was released on conditional bail to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.
At 6.10pm on Saturday 29 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Graham Street, Ayr.  As a result a 45 year old Burdekin man was issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) for drink driving, .232 and unlicenced driving. He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.
At 3.20pm on Thursday 4 July, Ayr Police were called to an incident in Plantation Park, Ayr, where it was alleged an assault had occurred. As a result of investigation a 46 year old Tablelands man was charged with one count of common assault and released on conditional bail to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 5 August.
At 9.50pm on Thursday 4 July, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Norham Road, Ayr. As a result a 46 year old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .104 and obstruct Police. He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.
At 10.10pm on Thursday 4 July, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Norham Road, Ayr. At that time a 28 year old Burdekin man alighted from the front passenger seat and began abusing and swearing at Police. As a result, he was charged with one count of public nuisance and is due to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 22 July.

Ensure Vehicle Security
From time to time, vehicles are unlawfully entered with belongings stolen and sometimes vehicles are stolen.  
Some easy steps will help avoid being a victim of these types of offences:
   • Lock your car;
   • Do not leave the key in the ignition;
   • Do not leave valuables in the car.
Thieves don’t care whether you think you should have to lock up, they will just take advantage of any lax security.
Prevention and vigilance around your home and property can reduce these opportunistic thefts. In most cases, locking your vehicles, homes and sheds and securing your belongings appropriately will reduce these thefts.
If you see someone acting suspiciously AT ANY TIME, ring Ayr Police Station on 4790 3555 or after hours ring 131 444, unless life threatening, then ring 000.
Crime prevention is a community effort. Police regularly need public assistance and information to help solve criminal offences. This information can be anonymous to crime stoppers.  If you have any such information, pls contact Crime Stoppers or Ayr Police.

Don’t let yourself become a victim of crime – Lock it or Lose it
If you have any information about crime or illicit drugs, phone crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.  The more detailed the information you give, the better it will be for all concerned.
Remember to secure your property – “lock it or lose it”.
You wouldn’t leave a dish containing thousands of dollars sitting on your bench or sitting out in the open, so why do this with your car keys
Car keys – treat them like cash

Home Security Audits
The Queensland Police Service have “Home Security Audit” forms that can be accessed at the QPS website.
Anecdotally the majority of unlawful entry offences are committed on residences or vehicles that are unlocked and/or have valuables in plain sight. Locking your house and car and securing valuables including money, keys, wallets and mobile phones will deter opportunistic thieves.  
If you see someone acting suspiciously AT ANY TIME, ring Ayr Police Station on 4790 3555 or after hours ring 131 444, unless life threatening, then ring 000.
Crime prevention is a community effort. Police regularly need public assistance and information to help solve criminal offences. This information can be anonymous to crime stoppers. If you have any such information, pleas contact Crime Stoppers or Ayr Police.

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Mental Health Stepped Care Services

July 11, 2024

I’m please to let you know that BCA are expanding our mental health support services from Saturday the 6th of July 2024.
Our Burdekin Centre for Rural Health (BCRH) will be open to the public from 9.00am to 4.30pm, Monday to Saturday.
Please visit the Centre at 12a Chippendale Street Ayr, telephone 4783 2711 or email to receive information about health and wellbeing services available at the Centre, via telephone and telehealth (online).
Sarah Lutkin (clinical psychologist), Phillip Murray (psychologist), Rick Scott (mental health social worker) deliver counselling sessions for adults and children under the Psychological Therapies Program. This is a free service for people who hold a health care card, pension card or concession card.
Please ask your GP for a referral through the Head to Health Phone Service. This Service will contact you and if you are eligible, refer you to the Burdekin Centre for Rural Health for counselling services. Our mental health team also offer private counselling sessions for a fee if you aren’t eligible for the free program.
In the next month, we expect to be able to recruit a Journey Coordinator to further support community members and provide more timely mental health care and coordinated support.
For information or services, please visit the BCA’s Burdekin Centre for Rural Health (BCRH), 12a Chippendale Street, Ayr.  Ph:47832711.  Email:  Website:

Contributed with thanks to Debra Cochran
Chief Executive Officer
Burdekin Community Association Inc (BCA)

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July 11, 2024

When you think of taxes, neighbourhood centres may not immediately come to mind. However, the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre has assisted community members with their tax responsibilities for over 20 years.

We have been doing this in partnership with the ATO and the Tax Help Program. When we could not source a volunteer for this program, we explored other options. Fortunately, we discovered the JCU Tax Clinic and have been collaborating with them for the past four years to offer free help and assistance to the community.

"The JCU Tax Clinic offers support and assistance from JCU taxation students supervised by experienced tax practitioners to individuals, small businesses, and non-profit organisations with their tax affairs."

We are looking forward to being able to collaborate with the JCU Tax Clinic team again this year.  If you would like more information about how to access their help – please give us a call at the Centre on
47 83 4243.

At the Neighbourhood Centre, we aim to encourage study in various sectors at a local level and help to provide placement opportunities for local students.  

We have enjoyed having students from Social Work, Guidance and Counselling, Mental Health, Education and, of course, indirectly, the students from the JCU Tax Clinic.  

Our higher goal is to have future local place-based workers from our community – working with our community. We also provide a space and supervision for local external students to conduct exams, if required.  

We aim to enable local community members to achieve their educational goals without being disadvantaged by their location.

“It takes a village to raise a child” and a community to provide the opportunities!

Until next time,
The Team
Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre

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Cr Column Councillor John Furnell

July 11, 2024

Budget for 2024/2025 for the new term of Council has been handed down. A minimal increase (1%) in the minimum general rate and moderate rise in fess & charges. Congratulations to the hard work put in by Council staff, especially finance.
Congratulations to Brittany and Joshua Furnell on the birth of Delilah Joy Furnell (3rd July 2024), sister to Ali and our sixth grandchild.
Well done to Julie Pavone, committee and volunteers who recently donated four hundred thousand dollars to the “Brain Care Centre”. There has been over eight hundred thousand dollars raised and donated since ‘Laurie’s Love’ fundraising began.
Burdekin Show 2024 was well organised. Hats off to Chris and his hard working team for another great day. Can’t help the weather but seemed like a very good turn out. I was there for the middle of the day to view my grandchildren’s delight on the jumping castles and the many displays/entries presented by Burdekin locals and business houses. Good work by the Council team who manned the Environment tent to educate fellow locals on recycling and environmental concerns. From the feathered friends, horses, working dog presentations to the Melville Farm animals it was a wonderful morning.
Pacific Blue grants have just been announced so well done to the recipients of funding. How fantastic it is to see local Burdekin based businesses giving back to the local community. For those community organisations looking for funding there are many grants you can take advantage of. If you’ve never done one, just jump in and give it a go – follow the guidelines and if unsure give the Grant provider a call for queries you may have.
One game to go in ‘State of Origin’, well done to the Queensland women and may the best team win in the decider in Brisbane for the men.  
In regards to the Bruce Highway bus crash, my condolences to those who lost loved ones and friends, to those injured swift recovery. To the persons who assisted at the scene, first responders, helicopter crews, hospital personnel our community says thank you, thoughts and prayers to you all.

Cr John Furnell

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Did you Know? Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort

July 18, 2024

Did you know that Burdekin Shire Council has a Mosquito Management Plan?
The Mosquito Management Plan 2020-2025 provides a framework for Council and the community to manage mosquitoes throughout the region.
As there are many different types of mosquitos in the Burdekin, the focus of the Plan is to identify appropriate mosquito management activities to implement throughout the region. This will reduce the risk to the community of contracting mosquito-transmitted disease. It is important to note that mosquitos are vectors/carriers of disease – not born with disease.
The Plan establishes local priorities and sets out actions that aim to minimise the public health impacts of mosquitoes by clear directions of mosquito surveillance, management, and control activities.
The Pest Management team works with Queensland Health to conduct routine trapping which assists in virus detection such as alpha virus and ross river virus. Over the last few years the methods have changed from traditional chemical fogging to more environmentally friendly practices which also reduce the risk of adverse reactions to vulnerable members of the community. The main control method currently used is a selective bacterial solution applied to waterways that specifically targets mosquito lave, inhibiting their growth.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please feel free to phone me on 0447 150 582 or email

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Enhancing Community: The Ayr Golf Club’s Grant Success

July 11, 2024

Established in 1926, the Ayr Golf Club stands as a cornerstone of the Burdekin community, offering an 18-hole, 5,861 metre championship course. With a membership of 200 dedicated individuals, the celebrated club thrives on the support of volunteers committed to promoting golf and creating a welcoming environment for members, visitors, and social players alike.

Golf plays a pivotal role within the Burdekin community, particularly for the aging population, as the sport fosters physical activity promoting strength, mobility, and social connectivity. The Ayr Golf Course recently sought funding through Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank grant program to enhance the course’s facilities and improve the overall experiences of players.

“The Community Bank application was targeted at improving community facilities by providing an on-course toilet block,” said the Ayr Golf Club’s Grants Officer Angie Baxter.

“With significant distances between some holes and the clubhouse, having a toilet available on the course ensures that players don’t have to trek back to the clubhouse to use facilities.”

The Ayr Golf Club was beyond grateful to be awarded an $8,000 grant from Community Bank Home Hill and Ayr, planning for the generous donation to fund the construction of an on-course toilet block.

“The provision of a practical and convenient amenity will enhance the playing experience for Burdekin golfers and would be a significant enticement for clubs, groups and individuals wishing to visit the beautiful Burdekin and play at the Ayr course,” explained Angie.

Throughout the year, the Ayr Golf Club hosts a variety of tournaments, championships, and social events that bring together diverse community groups. These initiatives underscore the club’s commitment of inclusivity and community spirit; values shared with the Community Bank.

The Ayr Golf Club extends a warm invitation to the local community to visit the clubhouse and join in on the Club’s social afternoons each Sunday from 11am to 5pm.

“Members, visitors and guests are welcome to join us for a round of golf, some conversation and refreshments,” said Angie.

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Calling All Burdekin Residents – Become A CAN Member

July 11, 2024

Burdekin locals from all corners of the region and walks of life have been encouraged to express their interest in becoming a member of the Burdekin-based Community Advisory Network (CAN).

The CAN plays a vital role in ensuring health consumers' voices are heard, giving feedback on existing services and identifying areas for improvement. Items discussed at the CAN are raised with the Consumer Advisory Council which looks at issues across the entire Townsville Hospital and Health Service catchment area. Members Joanne Barbagallo and Barb Stockdale have encouraged anyone who has had any interaction with the Ayr and Home Hill services to get involved in the CAN.

Joanne wanted to join the CAN to help improve the delivery of healthcare in the Burdekin.

“We come together for a monthly two-hour meeting and as a group we discuss issues, raise potential healthcare solutions and advocate for better healthcare in the Burdekin,” said Joanne.

“We want everyday people to be part of the CAN, especially people that are using our hospital and health service currently or are caring for someone who does.

“We need their feedback and information to understand the community’s needs.”

Barb said being part of the CAN was a fulfilling way to give back to the community and to provide support for better health care outcomes in the region.

“Over the past four years the CAN has been able to make improvements including changes to the dental service hours to better suit the community, advocate as a collective for important medical equipment, raising awareness about the challenges faced by healthcare staff and more,” explained Barb.

“Being involved in the CAN has given me a new appreciation for the challenging job our healthcare workers face and the impact I can have in improving health in the community.

“It’s not about having prior experience or expertise; it’s about sharing your perspective and helping us to shape a better healthcare system for the Burdekin.”

Expressions of interest close on Friday, 26 July, and more information can be found online at

Current members of the Community Advisory Network (CAN), Barb Stockdale and Joanne Barbagallo, encourage others to join up. Photo supplied

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Sharing Costs To Improve Farming Practices

July 11, 2024

Farmers are not just talking about change but are acting and co-investing in agricultural technologies for sustainable management of their farms.  

Practice change with machinery in the sugar industry is pivotal for modernisation. The integration of advanced machinery not only enhances efficiency, productivity and quality but also aligns with sustainability goals while ensuring a safer industry. Continuous adoption of advanced technologies is crucial to maintaining the sugarcane industry's sustainability in the global market. 

Funding through the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation provided grants across the Lower Herbert, Mackay Whitsunday and Lower Burdekin regions for machinery and technology to achieve management practice changes that better match nutrient application to crop requirements and reduce losses through runoff entering the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon. 

In the Lower Burdekin, the Major Grants project provided growers with financial incentives to implement additional improvements to irrigation technology, nutrient management practices and precision agriculture. NQ Dry Tropics, supported by Sugar Research Australia, agronomy service provider Farmacist and smart farming company Aglantis, engaged with 33 growers to improve management practices on their farm, delivering over $1 million in incentive grants with farmers investing over $1.2 million of their own money.

A range of on-ground actions were funded to achieve reductions in nutrients and pesticides and improve irrigation efficiency. These included the use of Stool Zippas to reduce fertiliser and chemical run off, GPS guidance and rate control for more precise application and recording of nutrients and pesticide, modems for accurate and trouble-free data collection and management, and improved water use efficiency through increased adoption of automated irrigation technology and infield scheduling tools.

Overall, the Reef Trust Partnership-funded Major Grants projects have delivered over $4 million in incentive grants across the three sugarcane regions and farmers have invested over $6.6 million of their own money. That equates to $1.65 invested by farmers for every grant dollar received. 

The farming practice changes funded through the program are resulting in improved land management, which is positively affecting growers’ bottom lines, boosting the local economy and having a significant impact on end of catchment pollution load reduction. This is a positive outcome for the future of farming in Reef catchments and the quality of water in the Great Barrier Reef lagoon. 

Mario Barbagallo explains the benefits of combining GPS, variable rate control and Stool Zippas to improve nutrient and pesticide placement. Credit NQ Dry Tropics.
Scott Harness with his fertiliser box and Stool Zippa closing wheels in the lower Burdekin. Credit NQ Dry Tropics.

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Overcoming Adversity In Burdekin's Cane Sector

July 11, 2024

Passionately advocating for the interests of local growers and contractors is Charles Quagliata, the Burdekin District Chair of Queensland Cane, Agriculture and Renewables (QCAR).
As the 2024 crushing season unfolded, anticipation was high among growers and the broader community, however, their optimism was quickly met with challenges.
Several factors led to the delayed crush, including delays in mill readiness, sporadic industrial actions and unexpected rain showers in late June, all of which hindered progress and prevented them from fully utilising the early favourable conditions.
“We were looking forward to making a really good start this year as we had the advantage of having a dry start, but unfortunately there were delays between mills being ready and a couple of days of industrial action,” said Charles.
“It’s very disappointing that we ended up receiving rain at the end of June, where we’ve missed the opportunity to supply close to a month’s worth of cane due to growing evidence that most mills were not properly ready,” he added.
At the core of QCAR's mission lies a commitment to resolving operational challenges and
ensuring the sustainability of the cane industry in Queensland. Charles voiced concerns over ongoing issues with staffing shortages and operational inefficiencies, emphasising the significant impact on both mill operations and the field sector.

“QCAR have constantly and continually engaged with mill management about specific problems, and nothing seems to get done about it.  In fact, it feels as if it is being received on “Deaf Ears”” Charles remarked.

“We are aware that the shortage of staff is an issue, but it’s just one issue! We understand that whilst mills face this issue, so too do we as well in the field as growers and contractors, but unfortunately, the miller’s problems seem to continually fall back on the grower, their third party contractors and in turn, the entire local community and quite frankly, this continual transfer of risk is not acceptable to QCAR and its members.”

“We and our underlying harvest sector colleagues are disgusted with the arrogant reception received from local CS&T operation management when we raise such concerns and observations, and while senior management continue to fail to intervene to curb such conduct, then we have no unjustified reasoning to question our Miller’s good faith, integrity and genuine interest in providing a long lasting processing service to our communities.”
Central to QCAR’s objectives is the optimisation of the crushing season to an efficient 18-20 weeks. Charles stressed the importance of achieving this timeline not only for operational efficiency but also for mitigating the financial burden on growers and the broader community.
Charles also emphasised the economic consequences of extended crushing periods and the need for timely resolutions.

“QCAR’s priority is to get season lengths back to 18 or 20 weeks crushing so we can have all the ratooning done by the end of September, and as our Miller’s very own published data compiled by Dr Lisa McDonald shows, to have an ultimate crop for the next season we need to finish ratooning in September.”

“Ratooning in November and December is just an absolute joke!”  

“This and other research by our various productivity services concludes financially disastrous consequences for the Growers, the Miller and the local communities, particularly for the following season’s crush.”

“We’re just causing a lot of financial impact onto these growers by not having an 18-20 week crushing and it’s a lot of money for the town that’s getting lost.”

Looking ahead, Charles remains optimistic about overcoming the current challenges. He emphasised the necessity of collaborative efforts among all stakeholders to ensure a successful upcoming season and a sustainable future for the Burdekin's sugarcane industry.
"As QCAR works towards achieving the best possible outcomes, it’s important that we put an end to disruptions that harm our members," Charles affirmed.
“We look after a lot of local milling issues and engage with members, and the Burdekin District Board will continue to keep an eye on day-to-day operations with the Miller and its Cane Supply and Transport.”
“The growers, harvest sector and broader community are the innocent affected third parties in this dispute between the Mill and the Unions. I demand to see it resolved asap, and without any further belligerence, so we can get this crush properly underway as we’re already too far behind, and in a year where we were initially presented with such dry conditions, it is completely unfathomable that we are in this predicament!”

In the intricate interplay between weather patterns, staffing, machinery and unmasking the reality of mill readiness, Charles stands as a very strong advocate for the Burdekin’s sugarcane industry and is eager to provide the best possible outcome this crushing season.

Panikos Spryou and Charles Quagliata,  Burdekin district chair of Queensland Cane, Agriculture and Renewables (QCAR). Image supplied

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Home Hill Harvest Festival Queens: Celebrating Community Spirit

July 11, 2024

As preparations for the Home Hill Harvest Festival get underway, the excitement in the Burdekin community is palpable. The upcoming event on 9 November promises to be a spectacular celebration, with a diverse array of activities highlighting the spirit and vibrancy of the region. At the heart of these festivities are the Home Hill Harvest Festival Queens, who play an integral role in the event through their dedicated efforts in fundraising and community engagement.
Each candidate for the Harvest Festival Queen title is sponsored by a local not-for-profit club, sporting organisation, or business entity. Their journey, which includes fundraising and active participation in festival events, culminates in the grand Gala Ball presentation. This year's festival, like those before it, benefits greatly from the energy and dedication of these amazing young women.
Dayna Linton, the 2023 Charity Queen, and Ally-Jo Farry, the 2023 Personality Queen have shared their stories, providing an insider's perspective on the Harvest Festival Queen experience. Both Dayna and Ally-Jo’s stories provide a vivid picture of the commitment and joy involved in participating in this cherished community tradition.

Representing Burdekin Netball Association, Dayna Linton, 19, is an Agribusiness Relationship Assistant at Rural Bank and is currently studying a Diploma of Agribusiness Management. Having been involved with the Burdekin Netball Association from a young age, Dayna's role as Umpire Convener and her passion for developing junior players are testament to her deep commitment to the club.
Memorable Moment: "The most memorable moment for me as a Harvest Festival Queen was when I was on stage and got to look out at the crowd to see all my favourite people there supporting me."
Inspiration to Participate: "As a queen for Burdekin Netball Association, I have seen many other players and members of the club participate as queens before me. I wanted to be a role model like those girls were to me and give back to the club."
Impact on Club Involvement: "It was more the behind-the-scenes things I had to organise for events and fundraising that I became more involved with."
Rewarding Part of Fundraising: "The most rewarding part of raising money for my organisation was knowing what that money will be used for and that it will impact our club for many years to come."
Experience in Festival Events: "I had a lot of fun participating in the Harvest Festival events. The parade was definitely my favourite part, having players aged from 6-17 as part of the float supporting myself and Burdekin Netball was very touching."
Qualities for a Successful Queen: "I think the only quality needed to be a successful charity queen is passion. As long as you’re passionate about what or who you’re fundraising for and willing to be out in the community and give new things a go, that’s all you need."
Advice for Future Participants: "Don’t take it too seriously, enjoy the events and the group of queens you’re with. Get involved wherever you can!"
HOME HILL - AYR LIONS CLUB: ALLY-JO FARRY – Personality Queen 2023
Ally-Jo Farry, 18, represented the Home Hill – Ayr Lions Club. Currently a second-year apprentice at Phoenix Hair Studio, Ally-Jo has been a lifelong resident of the Burdekin district and treasures its tight-knit community.
Favourite Part of the Festival: "Throughout the Harvest Festival, my favourite part was seeing the whole community come together as one. I have met some wonderful people, and they are moments that I cherish. Their support towards the events and us queens was phenomenal and that is something I will never forget."
Feeling Winning the Title: "In my eyes, everybody is a winner. It was definitely a shock when I was announced that I had won Personality Queen. I almost cried! I remember sitting on the stage with butterflies in my stomach. Everybody was cheering. It’s definitely a moment in life that I will never forget."
Personal Growth: "Being a Queen has definitely influenced my personal growth. Before doing the Harvest Festival, I never liked speeches as I was never confident enough to stand on stage and talk in front of a large crowd. I have developed confidence in myself to do that, and that is something I’m really proud of."
Balancing Responsibilities: "Trying to balance work life and my commitments was actually a lot easier than I anticipated at the start. Sometimes there were events that I couldn’t attend, but the Harvest Festival committee was always very understanding. One thing that helped was most of the events were either on a weeknight or a Sunday, which I had already finished work."
Fun or Unexpected Experience: "The best event is definitely the pet show. It was the best day seeing everyone come down with their pets. Every pet was so different. There were cats, dogs, chickens, ponies, guinea pigs, and reptiles. Seeing all the different pets in costumes was definitely a fun night."
Role of Family and Friends: "My family, my partner Jaidyn, and his family were definitely my biggest supporters. I couldn’t thank my partner enough. As I didn’t have a car, Jaidyn would drop me off and pick me up from all my meetings and events, for which I am grateful. And of course, my mum and Jaidyn’s family for always being at every fundraiser I hosted or contributing in some way."
Preparation for Events: "When preparing for events for the Harvest Festival, such as my fundraising events, I definitely wanted to do something different that I felt the town would enjoy. Two major fundraising events were my trivia night at the Crown Hotel and my bake sale. The Lions Club was a massive help in organising and making the night perfect, and everyone jumped in to help bake some delicious treats."
Upcoming Events
The 2024 Home Hill Harvest Festival promises a full program of events, kicking off with the Ephemera & Harvest Festival Launch on 29 September at Lloyd Mann Gardens. Highlights include the Students Ball on 4 October, Town of Origin on 20 October, King and Queen of the Hill on 26 October, Derby Day on 2 November, Golf Ambrose on 3 November, the Pet Show/Bolt for Bucks on 6 November, the Harvest Ball on 8 November, and the Grand Parade/Street Party on 9 November.
The Queensland Country Bank Home Hill Harvest Festival celebrates the rich agricultural industry and laid-back lifestyle of the Burdekin region. With events running from September through early November, there's something for everyone.
This year, our 2024 queens will start their fundraising events from 1 August and value the support of the community. Keep an eye out for all the amazing events they will be putting on.
For more information and to get involved, visit the Home Hill Harvest Festival website, or follow the festival on social media.

Float entrants in the 2023 Harvest Festival Parade in Home Hill
2023 Harvest Festival Charity Queen Dayna Linton representing the Burdekin Netball Association in the2023 Harvest Festival Parade in Home Hill.
2023 Harvest Festival Personality Queen, Ally-Jo Farry representing the Home Hill and Ayr Lions Club in the 2023 Harvest Festival Parade in Home Hill.
Ally-Jo Farry being crowed as the 2023 Harvest Festival Personality Queen at the Harvest Festival Ball at the Memorial Hall in Home Hill.
Dayna Linton being crowed as the 2023 Harvest Festival Charity Queen at the Harvest Festival Ball at the Memorial Hall in Home Hill.
Dayna Linton and Ally-Jo Farry standing together after being crowned at the 2023 Harvest Festival Ball

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Tips for Selling Your Home: A Comprehensive Guide

July 11, 2024

Selling a home can be a daunting task, but with careful planning and execution, you can navigate the process smoothly and achieve a successful sale. Whether you're a first-time seller or have sold homes before, these tips will help you prepare your home, attract potential buyers, and negotiate the best deal.

   1. Prepare your Home for Sale
Before listing your home, invest time and effort in making it look its best:
   • Declutter and Depersonalise: Remove personal items and excess clutter to help potential buyers envision themselves in the space.
   • Clean Thoroughly: Deep clean every room, including carpets, windows, and appliances. A clean home creates a positive impression.
   • Make Repairs: Fix any visible issues like leaky faucets, cracked tiles, or peeling paint. Small repairs can make a big difference in buyer perception.

   2. Set the Right Price
Pricing your home correctly is critical for attracting buyers:
   • Research Comparable Properties: Look at recent sales of similar homes in your area to gauge the market value.
   • Consider Market Conditions: Assess whether it's a buyer's or seller's market, as this can impact pricing strategy.
   • Consult with a Real Estate Agent: An experienced agent can provide a comparative market analysis (CMA) to help you set a competitive price.

   3. Market Effectively
Effective marketing increases visibility and attracts potential buyers:
   • Professional Photography: High-quality photos highlight your home's best features and attract more online views.
   • Online Listings: Utilise multiple online platforms and social media to reach a broad audience.
   • Open Houses and Showings: Make your home accessible for showings and consider hosting open houses to generate interest.

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Chat With Chelsea

July 18, 2024

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve all had a great week and enjoyed the school holidays!

As always, I’ve been keeping busy, chatting with you all here and there, hearing your stories, or just saying hi, and please feel free to reach out to me via email anytime!

My friends and I have had a big start to the “21st Birthday celebration season”, and it’s been great to catch up with everyone again after everyone heading off for the mid-year university break.

After just over a month off for the break, I’ll be back into the swing of it all next week with Trimester 2 O-Week kicking off on Monday. With graduation just around the corner, my workload consists of the last few subjects left on my “check list”, and I could not be more ready to smash them out! I’ll finish my degree, a Bachelor of Communication and Journalism, in October, and will officially graduate in December… exciting!!

I’ve been seeing plenty of posts on the Water Festival Facebook page of people reminiscing on their time as ambassadors, sharing photos of their extravagant floats, and I’m loving it! You may have seen, my mum, Kari is on the committee, and of course she’s been posting plenty on my time as a junior ambassador for the PCYC in 2015. It was such an amazing experience, and I loved every second of it! My float had a GIANT elephant on it dressed in an amazing outfit handmade by my Grandma, and we themed all our costumes, music and decorations to showcase the Wild & Wonderful (the 2015 theme) vibe of Bollywood, it was so much fun, and we took out Best Junior Float, and Grand Champion Float of the whole festival!

If you or anyone you know is thinking about applying to be an ambassador, do it!

I hope you all have a great week, enjoy the read, and I’ll chat to you soon!

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Making Lives Brighter

July 4, 2024

Barbara Stockdale has been celebrated for becoming the Home Hill Health Service’s first Brighter Lives volunteer.

Barb, as she’s warmly known within the Burdekin community began volunteering at the health service drawing inspiration from her experience of supporting her mum in hospital during the COVID 19 lockdowns. Barb’s decision to give back to her community has been commended by both residents of the Burdekin and Townsville, with her compassionate nature touching and inspiring many.

Wanting to use her spare time to help others, Barb spoke with the health service staff, and was connected to Brighter Lives. A few hours a week, Barb brightens the lives of patients with activities, walks, conversation and companionship, with many acknowledging she’s the most perfect person for such an important role.

Brighter Lives Townsville Hospital Foundation is actively seeking more volunteers in rural areas like the Burdekin.

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Last Sounds Fire Station Sirens

July 4, 2024

Member for Burdekin Dale Last has sounded the alarm for the Minister to announce a new Fire and Rescue Station in Ayr as local firefighters and the community grapple with the impacts of a toxic compound contamination.
While Labor’s budget included $4 Million toward remediation works at the current station, Mr Last said the lack of funding for a new station meant a lack of certainty for staff and the wider community.
“It’s been more than five years since PFAS chemicals were detected in Ayr’s drinking water and more than four years since the Detailed Site Investigation found its origins were the historic use of firefighting foam,” Mr Last said. 
“In that time we have seen under-funded and half-baked solutions that has left our local firefighters unable to undertake essential training on site for years and a water project unable to progress past tender.”
“If the Minister isn’t in Ayr within the week with funding to provide the Ayr community with a new fire station, it will send a clear message to residents and local firefighters that Labor is happy to turn a blind eye to community safety when it comes to water and emergency services.”
Mr Last said with local firefighters now facing the potential of having to either operate on a construction site or be pushed into a temporary facility, it would be a slap in the face to firefighters and the local community for Labor to not announce funding for a new local fire station.
“These are the people we rely on to save lives and this community will not stand by while an arrogant government refuses to treat them with the respect they deserve,” Mr Last said.
“For years now we have been asking for the Detailed Site Investigation which we now know was provided to the Labor government in February 2020 at the latest.  Even if the remediation works started today it would be more than 4 ½ years that Labor has left staff exposed to carcinogenic compounds.”
“You have to ask what it will take for Labor to do the right thing by the community and our firefighters.  Do we have to wait until someone is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease or for someone to die before this government actually lives up to its mantra of keeping Queenslanders safe?”

Opinion Piece contributed by Member for Burdekin Dale Last.

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July 4, 2024


Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox, is renewing his desperate calls for the Federal and State Labor Government’s to fix the Bruce Highway.

Following the recent fatal tragedy on the weekend near Gumlu, Mr Willcox said Labor’s decision to slash funding to the Bruce Highway in his electorate of Dawson is despicable.

“While the investigation into the cause of this accident is still ongoing, any life lost on the Bruce Highway is one life too many, and we desperately need investment into this road to ensure there are no more victims of the Bruce Highway,” Mr Willcox said.

“The stretch of highway that runs through my electorate, from Mackay all the way up to Townsville has the worst safety rating out of the entire Bruce Highway.

“While Labor is busy investing millions of dollars in the southeast corner to secure votes, innocent lives are being lost, and frankly, it’s disgusting.

“This isn’t about politics or political agendas; this is about the safety of my people and the safety of the people travelling through our region.”

The Department of Transport and Main Roads data of the 15 deadliest lengths of road between 2015 to 2024 shows that 9 of these are located in the Mackay, Isaac, Whitsunday and Townsville areas.

Mr Willcox explained that the previous Coalition Governments prioritised funding to upgrade the Bruce Highway during their time in office, and yet the State Labor Government has been sitting on this funding.

“I have called on the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King, many times to look at funding for this section of highway, I have even invited the Prime Minister and his Ministers to come and see it for themselves,” Mr Willcox said.

“Instead, they pulled millions out of our region and injected it into the southeast corner, all while slashing the funding model from an 80:20 split to a 50:50 split.

“This government is playing with the lives of every person who travels the Bruce Highway, and it needs to stop.

“We deserve better.”

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Ayr Water Treatment Plan Marks A New Milestone

July 4, 2024

The construction of the Ayr water treatment plant has reached a new milestone, with a contractor appointed to commence work on the $46.88 million project.

Under the funding allocations made in the 2024/25 Budget last week, the Tallai Project Group were awarded the construction contract following the Burdekin Shire Council’s extensive tender process.

The project consists of numerous stages, with Stage 1 of the new water treatment plant including iron and manganese pre-treatment, coal on sand dual media filtration, disinfection, solids handling, chemical storage, and dosing.

“This is a critical piece of infrastructure for the Ayr, Brandon and Alva communities that will ensure that we can continue to provide safe and reliable drinking water to our residents,” said Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort.

“We are excited to see this construction project nearing commencement after years of strategic planning and design.”

Works are expected to commence at the South Ayr borefiled in September, with the new bores expected to be up and running at the time of completion of the new water treatment plant.  

“The South Ayr borefield will also undergo a complete rejuvenation with the development of up to eight new submersible pumps and delivery infrastructure,” explained Mayor Dalle Cort.

“The water from this borefield will be treated by the filtration treatment plant to remove iron and manganese from the source water eliminating historical discolouration issues at South Ayr”

The 2024/25 Queensland Government Budget funding also provides support for costs associated with refurbishing South Ayr bores to supplement current drinking water supplies and is part of an ongoing management plan following detections of PFAS in the groundwater. Additionally, the Queensland Government will invest $1 million to better understand the groundwater in Ayr through monitoring and modelling the aquifer.

Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing, Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher believes the investments and support directed towards the Burdekin Shire uphold the Queensland Government’s commitment to supporting councils and delivering for Queenslanders.

“I look forward to working with Mayor Dalle Cort to continue to deliver for the Burdekin Region,” said Glenn.  

“We know how important water supply is for our communities and we’re always there to roll up our sleeves and help Councils with their water infrastructure needs.”

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort with Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing, Minister for Water, Glenn Butcher.

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Wilmar Growers report July 4

July 4, 2024

The initial 2024 season sugar price forecasts from marketing companies indicate that the high physical premiums received by Australian sugar in the 2023 season, are likely to be repeated for this production season.

For Wilmar growers who use Target Pricing, the initial forecast is for $38.43/t Actual to be added to the AUD #11 swap price fixed by the grower. This is in comparison to QSL’s forecast of $21.12/t Actual.

While the initial forecast is below the 2023 season estimate of $53.22/t Actual (QSL $33.91/t Actual), it is important to remember that not long ago this premium was negligible to negative.

This is good news for growers and underscores the strong demand for the quality sugar that is consistently produced out of Australia.

An expected bounce back in the Thai crop, which is the main competitor in Asia for our sugar, may keep a lid on upside revisions from here.

As far as the broader market is concerned, the focus remains on the progress of the Brazilian crop. The ICE #11 continues to trade around 20c/lb as the market continues to digest the volume, ATR, and production mix from the early Brazilian crush.

The May 24 UNICA fortnightly reports indicate that all three sugar production key variables were trailing behind market expectation: tonnes are down, sucrose yield is lower and sugar make is below 50 per cent.

The trend through June was for the crop, yield, and sugar make to firm up. Nevertheless, the speculative community has reduced their short position, and upside resistance will depend on how the rest of the world crop is developing.

As previously noted, the Thai crop is expected to be recovering well this year and the monsoon in India appears to be on track for a normal season. Even if the Indian crop comes in higher, the increased production is expected to be absorbed into ethanol production and therefore, global sugar stocks will not be affected.

Wilmar’s Senior Sugar Trader Peter Bingham will be touring Queensland in the second week of July. He will be presenting in each of our regions, providing an update on Wilmar’s supply and demand forecasts, as well as an insight into the key destination countries for Australian sugar.

This is always a popular event, so make sure you contact your local consultant for further information.

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Being The Change – Sarah Chapman Providing Opportunities For Young Students In STEM

July 4, 2024

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) stands as a program designed to connect young, regional girls with local industries, and has made significant strides under the leadership of dedicated local educator, Sarah Chapman.  

Sarah Chapman, a former Ayr State High School student, Townsville Science Teacher, and recipient of the 2013 Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, has been the driving force behind STEM Changemakers, holding the position of Co-Chair of Women in STEM Australia.  

The two-month-long program has been celebrated for the experiences, mentorship, and opportunities it presents to its participants within STEM careers.  

“As a teacher with twenty years of secondary state school experience, I’ve seen countless talented girls in STEM who lacked support at home, or faced too many other life demands,” explained Sarah.

“That’s why six months ago, I decided to be the change I wanted to see in the world and take a year off work to devote my time to changing opportunities for regional girls in STEM; that is where I developed the STEM Changemakers program.”

Within the current workforce, 80% of the fastest-growing occupants require STEM skills, however, only 15 per cent of STEM-qualified jobs are held by women. The program, STEM Changemakers, works to provide girls with tangible experiences with the support of role models to further transform girls’ aspirations, enabling them to perceive a positive future for themselves on a STEM pathway.  

“The girls in the STEM Changemakers program walk away with a reinforced confidence in themselves - they have strengthened communication and networking skills and are able to collaborate with a range of stakeholders in the community,” said Sarah.

A central focus of STEM Changemakers is collaborating with local stakeholders and businesses, one of which being Wilmar Sugar Australia. Wilmar Sugar Australia has presented a real-world industry challenge to the students, involving ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions of the transport of sugarcane to the mills. Nina West, Manager of Design Engineering at Wilmar Sugar Australia, says this challenge not only gave the girls a practical problem to solve but also highlighted the relevance of STEM in addressing global issues.

“There have been amazing ideas resulting from the girls’, some of which we might not have considered without them, and that is exactly what we were hoping for,” said Nina.  

Ayr State High School’s Grade Eight student, Jorja Ahern has been part of STEM Changemakers over the past two months and believes the program has expanded her knowledge and understanding of the diverse career opportunities available.  

“This program has opened up opportunities for my future studies and career path - it has helped me understand the different types of engineering, and what I could achieve as an engineer, and I have found interest in electrical engineering and environmental engineering,” said Jorja.  

Tiana Cameron, fellow Ayr State High School student in Grade Ten, was also part of STEM Changemakers, and developed similar understandings to Jorja, explaining the program provided her with a glimpse into STEM careers.  

“Changemakers has brought me from a girl interested in science to a girl interested in a career in science, and I think that’s my biggest takeaway,” said Tiana.  

On Saturday 22 June, STEM Changemakers culminated, where the girls celebrated their involvement with the program by presenting their STEM solutions to over 200 businesses and supporters. Jorja Jerkic, Mia Formilan, Tiana Cameron, Briella Wassmuth, and Jorja Ahern made their presentations at the Science Precinct in Townsville, and in their audience was special guest, Australian Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Folley, who has supported the girls and the growth of the STEM Changemakers program.  

Sarah’s inspirational and commendable mission has only just begun, and she has made long-term plans for the future to continue supporting young girls in STEM.

“Long-term, I am aiming to work with regional industries to provide targeted skills training that is flexible and responsive to young people’s needs, rapid technological change, and industry demand to ensure Australia’s STEM skills workforce can be more dynamic and responsive to change and allow our young people to be the leaders in solving future STEM challenges,” said Sarah.  

Jorja Jerkic, Mia Formilan, Tiana Cameron, Ms Sarah Chapman, Briella Wassmuth, Jorja Ahern, and Mrs Claire Brock at the Final Presentation Day.
Bella Lawry, Tiana Cameron, and Briella Wassmuth.
Jorja Ahern, Mia Formilan and Jorja Jerkic.

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BCA’s Make It Happen Life Skills 8 Week Cooking Class

July 4, 2024

The "Make It Happen" Life Skills Cooking Class was created following the Burdekin Community Association (BCA) observing an increase in people who haven’t learnt essential life skills like cooking.

The program works to educate and teach attendees essential skills like budgeting, and hygiene alongside cooking to empower participants to take control of their health, and finances.

The classes are designed for people who have never learnt the basics of cooking and creating meals on a budget - a crucial skill considering the rising cost of living.

Participants can expect to begin with the fundamentals of cooking including essential kitchen tools and techniques and students will learn how to chop vegetables, measure ingredients and understand cooking terminology. The hands-on approach ensures that everyone gets practical experience, making it easier to replicate the recipes at home.
Budgeting is a crucial component of the course. Many people avoid cooking because they believe it is too expensive or time-consuming. The "Make It Happen" course teaches participants how to plan meals, create shopping lists, and make the most of their grocery budget.

Another critical aspect of the course is hygiene as proper food handling and kitchen cleanliness are essential to prevent foodborne illnesses. The class covers the basics of food safety, including how to store ingredients, sanitize surfaces and avoid cross-contamination.

A free course, BCA is taking bookings no. Call the BCA Support Centre on 4783 3744 or email

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July 4, 2024

We thought we would do a recap of the programs and activities that are available from the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre.  

Our regular programs and activities are:
   • Crochet Club -Monday’s 1pm – 5pm
   • Free Community Legal Advice – First Tuesday of the Month (depending on rostered solicitor)
   • Dementia Support Group – First Tuesday of the month 10am – 12pm
   • Burdekin Seniors Computer Club – 1st and 3rd Thursdays 9.30am – 11am
   • Be Connected – by appointment
   • My Time Program – Monthly activity for families with children with a disability
   • Emergency Relief Program – by appointment
   • Parkinsons Support Group – 4th Friday of the month (Feb – Nov) 9.30am – 11.30am

The newest star on the block will be our S.H.I.N.E Program (Seniors’ Health and Interactive Exercise Program).  Starting Monday 8th July running for 8 weeks.

We are also home to a number of local community groups that offer opportunities to learn, be social and support each other:
   • Burdekin Mahjong Players
   • Burdekin 4WD Club
   • Burdekin Games Society – Dungeons and Dragons / Warhammer
   • Aglow

The Neighbourhood Centre works closely with other services in our region to provide a space so that our community can access local based support.

Australian Hearing
54 Reasons Playgroup
Feros Care
My Pathway
Women’s Centre
DYNAH (Counselling)

The Centre always looks forward to talking with community and discovering where we can help fill gaps.  We don’t have all the answers, however, we know that by working together with fellow community members we can make the Burdekin a better place to live.  

Pop in for a cuppa – you bring the ideas – we bring the ears!  
Until next time,

The Team
Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre

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Cr Column Councillor Michael Detenon

July 4, 2024

I would like to start by congratulating everyone involved in the success of the Burdekin Show. This annual event continues to showcase the vibrant spirit of our region. It is a great opportunity for families and friends to come together, enjoy entertainment, exhibits, and activities. Your hard work and dedication have once again created a memorable experience for all attendees. 

Last week Council adopted the 2024/25 Budget, focusing on stretching dollars and strengthening communities. Council’s strategic planning ensures continued investment in essential infrastructure, community projects, and services that benefit all residents. Additionally, starting 1 June 2024 year, we will transition to half-yearly rates to provide greater flexibility and ease for our residents. This change aims to make payments more manageable and align with many households' financial planning. You can still pay your full year's rates. The half-yearly rates are half of the general rates and utility charges you would normally receive in a yearly notice.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for Council’s upcoming Feral Deer Workshop on Tuesday 9 July 2024. This event will provide insights into managing the local feral deer population and understanding the impacts on our environment and agriculture. It’s a great opportunity for community members to learn and engage in discussions on effective management strategies.

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Did you Know? Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort

July 18, 2024

Did you know that a leaking toilet can waste more than 96,000 litres of water a year? Fixing leaks and using water-efficient fixtures can save not only water but also reduce your utility bills significantly. Simple actions like turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or taking shorter showers can make a big difference.
The allocation of water to properties in the Burdekin Shire (your annual entitlement) is generous compared to many other Councils across Queensland but property owners still need to monitor water consumption so that they do not exceed their entitlements.
You pay for every drop of water used, whether it is used wisely or wasted, so water conservation is something we should all practice.
Council’s website has some great resources available for smart water management. These resources offer tips and tools to help you conserve water, from efficient irrigation techniques to water-saving landscaping ideas. You can also find a guide on typical water use patterns for various activities throughout your home, such as dishwashing and leaking taps.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please feel free to phone me on 0447 150 582 or email

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The Celebrated Family Business of GPB Constructions

July 4, 2024

GPB Constructions has been operating with a high level of workmanship for over 74 years, providing the surrounding communities with trustworthy, and reliable servicing opportunities.

George Populin has been the director and leader of GPB Constructions since 1975, and prides himself on his honest and realistic approach to business. In joining the family business, George developed his understanding of GPB Constructions under the guidance set by the original founder, George’s father Demetrio Populin, who began the business in 1950. With his family having been in the industry all his life, George has a lifetime of construction experience, and reminisces on building the Townsville Stadium in the 2000s as one of his many career highlights.

The Management and Administration team now consists of eight dedicated members; George, Christine, Kurt, Alicia, Dean and Alyce Populin, Michael Dodds, and Kerry Muller. Along with 15 employees, all observing the same 1950 values the business was built upon just under eight decades ago.

GPB Constructions specialises on concreting, reinforcing, and framework construction with professionalism and the act of completing projects on time at the forefront of their operations. Currently the team are working on numerous developments within the region, dedicating their skills towards projects in the areas of Sugar Mills, and Defence Force infrastructures.  

Looking towards the future, GPB Constructions will continue to uphold the same customer service and work ethic their customers know, love and expect from the family business, just as it has been achieving since 1950.

George Populin, Kurt Populin, and Dean Populin.

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The Release Of The Reef Water Quality Report Card

July 4, 2024

The latest Reef Water Quality Report Card (2021 and 2022) has been released.

The report shows progress towards targets being made in the Burdekin region to improve Reef water quality, with a 0.5% reduction in sediment recorded for the area.

The Burdekin catchment recorded a three per cent reduction in dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), one of the largest reductions across Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef catchments for the reporting period. 

The region also recorded good overall ground cover with 88 per cent of grazing lands having adequate ground cover in the late dry season in 2022, compared to 71 per cent in 2021 and 56 per cent in 2020. This result was largely due to the higher than long-term average rainfall in the Burdekin region in 2021 and 2022. 

The report card shows overall inshore marine condition was moderate in 2021-2022 with coral conditions remaining moderate, as recovery continues from Severe Tropical Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

Inshore seagrass meadow condition improved from poor to moderate, with seagrass meadows showing high resilience, particularly in their capacity to recover from disturbances such as the large flood event in the Burdekin region in 2019.

NQ Dry Tropics Program Manager Sustainable Agriculture Rob Hunt said the report card demonstrated the reduction in sediment and nutrient loads as a result of the on-ground activities NQ Dry Tropics was funded to carry out across the region.

“NQ Dry Tropics and its delivery partners work directly with farmers to trial and validate farm management practices for improved farm production and water quality,” said Rob.

“We support Burdekin farmers to drive change from the ground up to identify, test and validate practices that can reduce their environmental footprint while also enhancing farm production and viability.

“The DIN result is positive - It reflects cane growers’ ongoing commitment to improve water quality through their management planning and practices while also ensuring business viability.

“Although the sediment reduction is small, major water quality programs were in their infancy during the reporting period.

“Greater progress is expected in meeting these targets as multi-year projects funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust, as well as projects funded by the Queensland Government, are completed and reported.”

Mr Hunt said the Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting (Paddock to Reef) program provided the framework for evaluating and reporting progress towards Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan targets and objectives through the Reef Water Quality Report Card.

Photo Caption: NQ Dry Tropics Program Manager Sustainable Agriculture Rob Hunt.

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Fair Work Commission Orders Suspension Of Industrial Action

July 11, 2024

The Fair Work Commission has ordered three unions to suspend industrial action at the Queensland factories of Wilmar Sugar and Renewables for six weeks after hearing submissions from unions and the company.

In light of the Commission’s decision, Sugar and Renewables is planning to have all of its eight factories crushing cane again this week, as soon as harvesting resumes in the wake of rain that drenched all its districts from Sarina in the south to Ingham in the north during the past week.

A spokesman for the company said that, assuming no more rain fell in the regions, it expected to have cane supply enabling production at all Burdekin mills this week, starting with Kalamia and Inkerman mills tomorrow (Monday) followed by Invicta and Pioneer mills by Thursday.

“Further south, Proserpine Mill is also expected to commence crushing Tuesday and Plane Creek Mill at Sarina is looking promising for Tuesday or Wednesday,” the spokesman said.

The Macknade Mill in the Herbert region to the north was expected to be in production early this week with Victoria Mill following mid-week. Fair Work Commission Deputy President Dobson had been asked by Sugar and Renewables to issue suspension orders after unions notified intention to mount a series of stoppages over coming weeks, further threatening company attempts to continue with the annual sugar season.

The company gave extensive evidence to the Commission on the impact of bans and stoppages, including the effect on regional economies and third parties in the sugar supply chain, particularly cane growers. The Sugar and Renewables spokesman said the suspension of industrial action relieves the immediate risk to the annual crushing season, and provides clear air for negotiations with unions on the enterprise agreement.

“Everyone in the supply chain can now make the necessary preparations to get underway and begin making up for lost time,” the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, Wilmar received another blow last week, with two staff with more than 14 years of experience handing in their notice of resignation at Invicta Mill.

The AWU (Australian Workers’ Union) claims that these latest departures come as a direct result of Wilmar’s low wages and will leave Wilmar’s largest mill critically short-staffed.

The AWU reported that one Wilmar worker at Invicta, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions, said the departing workers will lead to the mill struggling to maintain quality and reliability throughout the crush.

“I fear the process side at Invicta will suffer this year as managers are pushing new starters to get signed off with only 3-4 weeks training,” they said.

“They still haven’t filled all positions in the fugals, mills or lab, it is a sh*t show for coverage - people are burned out already.”

AWU Northern District Secretary Jim Wilson said these reports confirmed what workers, cane growers and the local community had been saying for some time.

“Wilmar’s greed is slowly strangling the sugar communities of our region,” said Mr Wilson.

“We have also heard that Wilmar has had to send a boiler operator and a boiler assistant from the Inkerman mill to Proserpine because they don’t have anyone trained to do the job down there.

“It’s time for Wilmar to send an adult into negotiations to get this resolved.”

Invicta Mill’s startup commenced last month but production has been interrupted by industrial action and weather. Photo credit: Wilmar Sugar and Renewables

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Local Hero Elvie Dickinson

July 4, 2024

For more than 20 years Elvie Dickinson has been Treasurer of the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre.

As treasurer Elvie looks after the money of the neighbourhood centre, puts together the budget and oversees that everything is done correctly.

Elvie does more than volunteer her time at the Neighbourhood Centre, she is also the coordinator of a support group for people with Parkinson’s disease in the Burdekin.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease herself in 2011, she noticed there was no support group for people in the Burdekin.

“I just thought that it was something that was needed and we meet on the fourth Friday of every month,” said Elvie.

“Parkinson’s is the second most prevalent neurological disease after Alzheimer's, in Australia. There are 18 or 19,000 people in Queensland, with Parkinson's disease.

“We help by what I like to call, a talkfest but we also have guest speakers as often as we can, they talk about different aspects of Parkinson's or the different ways that
you can get help for Parkinson's.

“We have people that provide help for people living with Parkinson's, the different programs that can help people.  

Coordinator at Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre Natalie Saroglia said Elvie has mentored her and that the neighbourhood centre would not be what it is today without her.  

“She has a huge heart and she’s here for the community and it's people like Elvie that make community organizations what they are.”  

Photo supplied

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Word On The Street

July 4, 2024

How is the cost-of-living crisis affecting you? Where is it hitting you? And What would you like the government to do to help?

Doreen Man
“It doesn’t affect me because I live by myself and have two pensions. I'd hate to have a family I don’t know how I’d do otherwise, I’ve got a gold card, and free health and medical stuff. For those struggling minimum wage could be raised without having to tax more people and if they could keep some control over the supermarkets and the pricing of goods, I don't think they'll be able to do that, but it’d be good.”

Yasar Dolu
“I'm just a backpacker doing the visa here and working on the farm. I need to work more hours than I expected. Before I came here, I thought I would save more money. But now it's kind of just enough for the bill for my rent, groceries and transportation.”

Jane Goodchild
“It's very high and making it hard. It’s affecting me most at the grocery store and you know your living expenses, your fuel, your rates and your insurances and everything. If the government can help bring prices down on groceries if they can, and car registrations and other stuff really.”

Hayley Vidler  
“I guess we’re just more cautious when we go to the grocery store and more cautious with after-school activities. We don't eat out anymore, we eat at home a lot more. The government can help with petrol and food they are probably the two biggest factors. They really need to come down, that's getting out of control and more funding for private schools would be good too, that would be great.”

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On the Za Za Road!

July 4, 2024

The exceptional talents of the young Zaza Road Quartet will ignite the Burdekin Theatre this July as part of the 2024 Outreach Tour.  

Violinist Keven Hsu, cellist Mya Whatson, clarinettist Nathanael Duffy, and pianist Mai-Lien Olsson attended the Australian Festival of Chamber Music’s (AFCM) International Masterclass Program as students, and now will lead the Outreach Tour to Charters Towers, Ingham, Ayr and Townsville.

“They are the perfect example of what we aim to do in both programs – to nurture young musicians, and to share music and pathways with North Queensland students through our Outreach Tour & Workshops Program,” said AFCM Pathways Program Director Lloyd van’t Hoff.

Much more than performances, the tour will host workshops at the secondary schools throughout the region, one of which being Ayr State High School to provide mentorship and inspire students about the opportunities and careers in music.

“We are hoping that students of music, and related studies, will take part in the workshops and we encourage everyone to come and watch our performances and talk to us about our respective careers and what’s ahead, as well as how students in regional Queensland can pursue careers in music,” said Lloyd.

The AFCM Outreach program stands as an important part of the festival’s commitment to community engagement, access and development, and has been made possible with the incredible support of Wilmar Sugar and Renewables.

Wilmar Community Relations Manager Kylie Newman said the company was proud to partner again with the AFCM to support this year’s Outreach Tour & Workshops Program.
“We are pleased to welcome Lloyd and the Zaza Road Quartet back to North Queensland to share their talents with music lovers in our regional communities,” Mrs Newman said.

“We know there is a wealth of musical talents in the regional communities of North Queensland, and we hope the young people who attend the workshops are inspired to continue to peruse their music studies.”

The free AFCM Outreach Tour Concert will be held on Monday 22 July from 6pm at the Burdekin Theatre, and more information can be found online at

What: AFCM Outreach Tour Concert.
When: Monday 22 July from 6pm.
Where: Burdekin Theatre.
More Information: Online at

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Burdekin Singers & Theatre Company Debutante Ball

July 4, 2024

On Saturday 22 June, fifteen debutantes made their official debut at the Burdekin Singers & Theatre Company’s 2024 Debutante Ball.

The theme of the evening was “A Night Under the Stars” with gorgeous decorations, dresses and suits igniting the Burdekin Memorial Hall in Home Hill.

Each debutante and partner shone bright for what was an amazing evening filled with both dancing choreographed by the talented duo, Eliza Worlein and Rory Jorgensen, and traditional dances debutante balls are known for.

Congratulations to all the debutantes.

The Debutantes with dance teachers Rory and Eliza on either side.

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Call For Stallholders At The Home Hill Harvest Festival

July 4, 2024

The Home Hill Harvest Festival has begun gearing up for what will be an amazing Parade and Street Party for the annually anticipated event.

The festival celebrates the rich agricultural industry within the Burdekin community and encompasses a range of events spread throughout the back end of the year from late September to early November. The Grand Parade, accompanied by a fantastic Street Party concludes the celebrations, and will run from 5pm at Eighth Avenue in Home Hill on Saturday 9 November. Set to bring extraordinary live entertainment, delicious food, wonderful merchandise stalls, and terrific carnival rides, it’s time to mark your calendars.

The unforgettable evening will follow the Home Hill Harvest Festival Street Parade and is now calling for stall holders to apply. Watson’s Green in Home Hill will become a lively hot spot for fun and excitement as the community comes together for a memorable 2024 celebration with the setting of the sun from 6pm.

Stall holders, travellers, and locals are all invited to enjoy an evening under the stars as the Home Hill Harvest Festival celebrated the bountiful harvest season for another year.

Applications will be accepted through the festival’s online form at Those interested are invited to contact the committee via email at

What: Home Hill Harvest Festival Street Parade and Street Party
When: Saturday 9 November from 5pm
Where: Eighth Avenue Home Hill and Watson’s Green Home Hill
More Information: and the Home Hill Harvest Festival Facebook Page

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The Burdekin Potters’ Colourful Creations

July 4, 2024

The Burdekin Potters have been busily creating beautiful pieces as part of an Underglaze Decorating Workshop under the experienced guidance of the talented duo, Maleny Potter, and Judy Gardiner.

The treat of a workshop had members expanding their pottery skillsets to colourful new heights. Each member was taught the technique of applying a gorgeous design to a raw, dry clay plate, and then adding vibrant colours and depth through the medium of ceramic paints or underglazes. After decorating their creations, the pieces underwent a first firing, followed by the application of clear glaze and then being placed back into the kiln for the final glaze firing.

The results were stunning, and all the potters attending the workshop were amazed and impressed with their own creativity, with most of the attendees looking to continue utilising their newfound techniques and talents into their future pieces.

The workshop instilled confidence in the attendees, proving you do not have to be an experienced potter to achieve great results. Most members of the Burdekin Potters have not been long on their journey with clay, making the results of the workshop even more fulfilling, and commendable.

Since the workshop, the members of the Burdekin Potters have been creating many more unique, and colourful pieces, and the group extends a warm thanks to the generous funding provided by the RADF, and to the Burdekin Shire Council for their support.

“The opportunity to gain this valuable knowledge for members, was only available through generous RADF funding and the continued support to the Pottery Club by the Burdekin Shire Council,” expressed Burdekin Pottery Club President, Debbie Ferraris.

A marine choice for Sue.
Mara painted her pup Raff.
Lyn styles in black and white.
Kristy shows her self-portrait with tutor Judy Gardiner.

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A Showcase Of Burdekin Stories

July 4, 2024

On Wednesday 12 June, the Home Hill branch of the Burdekin Library hosted a fantastic showcase of the literary talents of Burdekin Creative Writers, and Burdekin Night Writers.  

The talented writers presented poems, and stories focusing both on the past, and looking towards the future along with stories filled with love, paired with stories sharing the tales of familial chaos.

Burdekin Creative Writers, and Burdekin Night Writers were joined by an audience of locals, and relatives, and once again, each story and poem transported listers far beyond the Burdekin and broke away from the regularities of everyday life – with each audience member being returned safely back to reality at the conclusion of the event.  

The Burdekin Creative Writers Anthology is now available to read at the Home Hill and Ayr branches of the Burdekin Library, and both Burdekin Creative Writers, and Burdekin Night Writers extend a warm thanks to the Burdekin Library for hosting the event.  

Thanks were also expressed to all those who attended and their contribution to making the showcase a success. George Venables was congratulated for being the driving force behind the Anthology, and his hard work and dedication to the publication of the book were acknowledged, with the groups expressing that its existence would not have been possible without him.

Members from both Burdekin Creative Writers, and Burdekin Night Writers sharing their stories

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Lower Burdekin Scout Group

July 4, 2024

The Lower Burdekin Scout Group dedicated their time at the 2024 Ayr Show on Wednesday 26 June for another year, ensuring areas including parking ran smoothly.

The group managed the carpark from 8am to 8pm, along with one of the entry admission points to fundraise for their organisation, with some scouts providing families with information on the club and what Scouting entails.

The wet weather could not dampen the spirits of the scouts, with both youth and experienced members of the club fulfilling their duties efficiently.

Youth members of the club were stationed at the information table, offering the opportunity for members of the community to come along and try Scouting for free over a four-week period.

“This is a major fundraising event for our group, and we thank the show committee for allowing us to do it each year,” explained Group Leader Chris Berkery.

“This and the other fundraising events we undertake throughout the year provides Scouting at a lower cost to youth in the Burdekin.”

Members of the Lower Burdekin Scout Group ready to go at the Ayr Show. Photo supplied

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The First Burdekin Water Festival

July 4, 2024

On 16 April 1958, a group of representatives from numerous local organisations gathered to create a committee to organise the first-ever Water Festival.  

The first official Water Festival Committee members, known as Office Bearers, were Chairman Cr E. W. Ford, Secretary Mr R. L. Weatherstone, Assistant Secretary Miss J. M. Kruckow, and joining them were committee members, R. Rossiter, M. Towers, C. Richards, H. Wade, W. Saxby, L. M. Stockham, and S. M. Green.  

The committee developed various ideas, and plans for the festival, and floated the idea of introducing a Queen Competition, where a “Mermaid Queen” who fundraised the highest total would be crowned at a ball held on the Friday following the street procession. The initial brainstorm as published by the original Advocate, also included “an ugly man competition”, as well as the traditions the community now adores like decorated floats, and shop window displays. Additional proposed ideas included a garden competition, decorative lights for an evening display, a water display, sporting tournaments, Choral Society entertainment, religious events and even a spear-driving competition.  

The date was set, and the first official Burdekin Water Festival was held in Ayr from 12 – 14 September. Described as “Brilliantly Successful” by The Advocate, the procession ignited Queen Street with thousands of locals in attendance. With spectacular shop window displays and even more spectacular floats lining the sides of the bustling street, the community enjoyed the festivities all throughout the day, and well into the night.  

The 1958 Water Festival Ball as organised by the Ayr Rotary Club, was held on Friday 19 September at the Caledonian Hall, and the celebrated crowing of the first festival queens took place. The Queens gathered at the Shire Chambers to meet with the official party and then proceeded to the Caledonian Hall where they met Mr and Mrs C. Dempsey – representatives of the Ayr Rotary Club. Miss Val Pegoraro, Kalamia Queen (nominated by the Kalamia Mill Suppliers Committee), was crowned the winner, with Miss Dawn Chapple, Pioneer Queen (nominated by the Lower Burdekin Junior Farmers Club) announced the Runner Up, and Miss Mary Blakoe, Sports Queen (nominated by the Ayr Rifle Club), taking third place.  

The Burdekin Water Festival holds a treasured place in the region, and the continuation of the event in 2024 holds great significance, and stands testament to the great dedication of the extraordinary members within the community.  

The man who first dreamed of establishing what has now become one of the most treasured events in Burdekin history was Mr Bob Saxby. In the words published by The Advocate in 1958, “What a splendid reality that dream turned out to be”.  

Caption: The crowning of the first Water Festival Queens, L to R Miss Dawn Chapple, Miss Val Pegoraro, and Miss Mary Blakoe.

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Nominations Now Open For The Burdekin Water Festival’s Ambassador

July 4, 2024

The time has come to nominate both Junior and Senior Ambassadors for the 2024 Burdekin Water Festival! With the theme announced, and preparations well underway, the committee is calling for ambassadors to join the 2024 Bring it Back event, and many locals have begun reminiscing on their time spent as a Water Festival Ambassador in previous years since the announcement.

Clubs, schools, sporting groups, and organisations are invited to nominate their Junior Ambassador who is 11 – 12 years of age in grades 6 or 7 within the Burdekin region.

As for the Senior Ambassadors, nominations can be made from clubs, organisations, and businesses as well as individuals who will be matched with a suitable club, organisation or business.  

All nominations can be made by emailing the Burdekin Water Festival Committee at or via messaging the Burdekin Water Festival Facebook Page.

The Burdekin Water Festival Committee looks forward to supporting both Junior and Senior Ambassadors on their journey in 2024 for what will be a spectacular revival of the much-loved, and treasured event.

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Celebrating The Graduates Of The Burdekin PCYC’s Get Set For Work Program

July 4, 2024

On Thursday the 20th of June, four students from the Burdekin PCYC’s Get Set for Work Program celebrated their official graduation.

The Get Set for work program is a skilling Queenslanders for Work program funded by the Queensland Government designed for those 15 - 19 years no longer attending school.

Reece Piva, Kyle Gudge-Bollman, Jhay Leamon, and Jak Hervey completed a Certificate II in Skills for Work and Vocational Pathways over the duration of 10 weeks, engaging with and participating in the extensive program.

Having now graduated from the program, each student has the opportunity to progress their learning by electing to obtain a Learners’ Licence, Responsible Service of Alcohol Certification, First Aid and CPR Certification, and a White Card under the guidance of the Burdekin PCYC.

Each of the frou students completed employment enhancing activities to further advance their knowledge and understanding in numerous fields. The program supported the students in building resumes and cover letters in response to job advertisements and educated them on the details of budgeting, AOD Awareness, Road Safety and much more. Additionally, the students gained a further understanding of the historical and cultural knowledge of the Burdekin area.

Applications for the next season of the program are now open, and the Burdekin PCYC encourages those interested, or those who know of a young person who could benefit from this program to apply. The program will begin on Monday 8 July, and to apply, contact Rowan Scott or Tamara Kemp on 0448 686 648. 

Reece Piva, Kyle Gudge-Bollman, Jhay Leamon, and Jak Hervey celebrating their graduation

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Tips to Finding Your Dream Home: A Comprehensive Guide

July 4, 2024

Finding your dream home can be an exhilarating journey filled with excitement and challenges. Whether you're a first-time buyer or looking to upgrade, here are essential tips to help you navigate the process and land the perfect home:

   1. Define Your Priorities
Begin by making a list of your must-haves and nice-to-haves. Consider factors such as location, neighbourhood, size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, layout, and specific features like a backyard or garage. Knowing your priorities will streamline your search.

   2. Set a Realistic Budget
Determine how much you can afford to spend on a home, taking into account your income, savings for a down payment, closing costs, and ongoing expenses like property taxes and utilities. This will guide your search and prevent you from falling in love with a home that's out of your financial reach.

   3. Research Neighbourhoods
Explore different neighbourhoods that align with your lifestyle preferences. Consider factors such as school districts, proximity to work, amenities (parks, shops, restaurants), safety, and future development plans. Visiting neighbourhoods at different times of the day can provide valuable insights.

   4. Work with a Real Estate Agent
A knowledgeable real estate agent can be invaluable in your search for a dream home. They have access to exclusive listings, understand market trends, and can negotiate on your behalf. Choose an agent who specializes in the neighbourhoods you're interested in and who listens to your needs.

   5. Attend Open Houses
Open houses offer a firsthand look at properties and allow you to assess their condition, layout, and potential. Take notes, ask questions, and envision how each home aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.

   6. Consider Long-Term Resale Value
Even if you plan to stay in your dream home for many years, it's wise to consider its resale potential. Look for properties in desirable locations with features that appeal to a broad range of potential buyers.

   7. Get a Home Inspection
Before making an offer, schedule a professional home inspection. This will uncover any hidden issues or necessary repairs that could affect your decision or negotiation process.

   8. Factor in Additional Costs
Beyond the purchase price, budget for additional costs such as property taxes, homeowner's insurance, maintenance and repairs, and possible homeowner association (HOA) fees. Understanding these expenses upfront helps you prepare financially.

   9. Trust Your Instincts
Finding your dream home is as much about emotion as it is about logic. If a property feels right and checks off most of your boxes, trust your instincts. Picture yourself living there and envision your future in the space.

Finding your dream home involves careful planning, research, and a clear understanding of your priorities and budget. By following these tips and working with experienced professionals, you can navigate the real estate market with confidence and find a home that fulfills your aspirations. Remember, patience and persistence are key to discovering the perfect place to call home.

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Budget In Brief The Burdekin Shire Council 2024/25 Budget Allocations

June 26, 2024

On Wednesday 26 June, the Burdekin Shire Council announced allocations as part of its 2024/25 Budget. Here is an outline of what you’ll find in the budget.

$16.4 Million for Road Reconstructions and UpgradesAn investment dedicated to both rural and urban projects, $16.4 million will be invested into initiatives in the areas of reconstruction, floodway, drainage and culvert upgrades, and footpath replacements. Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort said this investment is dedicated to a range of initiatives including road designs, renewals, and drainage construction project, carefully selected to address key areas of improvements for reliability and safety.

$3.2 Million for Industrial Estate Expansion
In the Burdekin Shire Council’s continued commitment to investing in the region’s economic development, expansion of businesses, and creation of jobs, $3.2 million will support the development of the Industrial Estate expansion, with Phase 1 set to be completed by the end of 2024. Complementing the existing Ayr Industrial Estate, Phase 1 of the expansion will deliver up to 25 new industrial lots in the short term, with a further 20 lots to be released in the future as part of Phase 2 of the expansion. Works will include; new roads, drainage, water, sewerage, and underground power infrastructure that are currently underway.

$2.9 Million for the Reconstruction of the Jerona Causeway
The Burdekin Shire Council has secured $2.9 million from the State Government to reconstruct the Jerona Causeway following damage to the structure in the 2023 flooding events. The successful tender for the construction of the new Jerona Causeway has been awarded to A. Gabrielli Constructions, with construction set to commence at the end of June.

$155,000 for Community Well-Being and Infrastructure
$155,000 will be invested into facilities throughout the shire, with plans to construct a new shelter to ensure the community can enjoy the pool while being protected from the sun. The Home Hill Pool, and the Millaroo community  pool have been included in Masterplan works with new developments set to take place.

World First Wastewater Facility
The Burdekin Shire Council has announced an exciting milestone with the world first Macro Algae Bioremediation Facility set to be commissioned in September. A joint initiative between Council and RegenAqua, the innovative facility will use native green algae to treat wastewater and remove nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen which are harmful to the Great Barrier Reef, and will also sequester carbon dioxide.  

Long Term Portable Water Supply
Long term portable water supply for the Ayr, Brandon, and Alva communities has been secured in the 2024/25 Budget, ensuring a safe and reliable source of drinking water well into the future. The construction of a new Water Filtration Plant is expected to begin in the coming months.

Councillors and Mayor Dalle Cort announcing the 2024/25 budget on Wednesday morning

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Chat With Chelsea

July 18, 2024

Hi everyone! Thank you for all the messages of support I’ve received over the past week! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you all here and there, and love continuing to share your stories.

This week, my social calendar has been booked and busy, farewelling many of my friends heading off for Euro-Summers, Contiki’s and ski trips. We’ve had a few see you soon evenings and have even started warming up with a new firepit on our back patio. We also headed out to a music concert the other night to watch The Dreggs play at Fortitide Music Hall. We were freezing cold, but we had a great time! It’s Antarctic here in Brisbane, and as I’m writing this my fingers are numb! I’m certainly missing the Burdekin winter temperatures right now.

I hope everyone had a great day at the Burdekin Show yesterday! I was lucky enough to interview special guests, Steven and Trent, and both of their performances sounded fantastic. I remember visiting the Show myself with my friends and family, and my favourite part would always be sitting on the grandstands watching the fireworks.

Last week I chatted with Amanda at the Molongle Creek Caravan Park to share the amazing work they’re doing for the community. It was so lovely to hear everything Amanda and Drew have done for their park, and the surrounding locals, as well as their plans for the future.

As always, feel free to reach out to me if you would like to share your story with me, or even just to say hi!

Have a great week, and I look forward to chatting soon!

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Old Dog, New Tricks

June 26, 2024

In a world where tech is responsible for all aspects of our lives, it’s worth keeping in mind how this affects our seniors.

So much of our digital world keeps on changing, it becomes more difficult for many of our seniors to learn how to use new technology on their own. 

Many require help in learning how to use their smart phone, smart TV, or computer etc. 

One Ayr resident was having difficulties with his new devices until Mark Viero volunteer at the Burdekin Community Association helped him, free of charge.

The Ayr resident said Mark was quick to outline the problem and fixed both the resident’s laptop and checked their phone.

“After outlining the problem, he quickly assessed where the software problem was and quickly had the laptop up and running again,” he said.

“He then went further and scanned through the computer systems to ensure all programs were operating properly.

“Then he offered to scan through my phone settings to once again ensure maximum performance.

“As he worked, he used a tutorial method to ensure I understood why any changes/modifications were made and how I could maximise the value of my computer and mobile phone.”

Manager of Volunteers at Burdekin Community Association Rita Quagliata said, “Mark has demonstrated his remarkable patience, expertise, commitment, reliability and has assisted numerous Seniors through the years, ranging from 55 to 95 years of age.”

“He is a tech whiz, anyone who has a problem with their computer or phone, he finds the issue and sorts it out immediately.”

Mark Viero, Photo supplied

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A Frightful Hit

June 26, 2024

Around 7:30pm on Saturday 22 June, Kylie Rice was driving home from work when a rock was hurled from the side of the Bruce Highway, penetrating through her front passenger window.

A terrifying ordeal, Kylie was fortunately not physically injured by the dangerous act, however, was extremely shaken by the experience, and hasn’t driven her vehicle since.

“I heard a thump and a shattering sound, and I rang my husband, and said, ‘My window has just smashed’, and he was like, ‘What do you mean your window has just smashed?’” Kylie recalled.

Kylie’s window was completely shattered by the incident, with the thousands of glass shards being held in place solely by window tint.

Kylie had finished her shift at BP Ayr and was passing Good Year Tyres travelling from Ayr to Home Hill along the Bruce Highway, when a rock the size of a palm shot through her window. The rock landed directly on Kylie’s passenger seat, and the act could have had serious consequences, causing harm to Kylie or any potential passengers.

“I’m feeling okay now, but at the time, I was so shaken up, and it took me ages to wind down to go to sleep that night,” said Kylie.

Considering the angle the rock penetrated the vehicle, both Kylie, and her husband, Rowan Rice were immediately suspicious, however, the offender was not visible to Kylie when she stopped to assess her situation.

“Not only could this have hurt someone but could have caused a serious accident, and killed someone,” expressed Rowan.

Rowan shared the ordeal on Facebook, urging locals to be vigilant.

“When we rang the police, they said we had to do a report online as both police stations were shut for the weekend, which I thought was a joke, I can’t believe that not one police station is open on a weekend in this day of age in Ayr or Home Hill – this could have killed someone,” expressed Rowan.

“I can’t prove anything, but I know you just don’t get a rock the size of your palm through your window.”

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Firies Left In Limbo

June 26, 2024

The state government has been accused of putting the cart before the horse when it comes to addressing the contamination of Ayr’s water supply.
After it was revealed historic use of firefighting foam at the Ayr fire station had caused carcinogenic compounds to leach into the town’s drinking water, the state government committed $4million towards remediation works at the station.
However, Member for Burdekin Dale Last said with no funding commitment to provide Ayr’s firies with a new alternative home, it seemed absurd for remediation works to commence.
“It leaves you to question how our local firefighters are supposed to adequately respond to emergencies when there are bulldozers and excavators in operation removing and replacing contaminated areas of soil,” Mr Last said.
“This is another example of poor planning by this state government who seem quite happy for our firies to be left trying to operate a fire station while these remediation works take place.”
Mr Last said since the detection of PFAS chemicals in the Ayr water supply more than five years ago, the state government’s disdain for working with the community to ensure the town’s drinking water was safe and its firefighters could use their station to full capacity was clear.
“For years the local council have been left unable to adequately plan for a future water supply for Ayr and the town’s firefighters have been unable to undertake essential activities like training due to the inaction by the current Minister and her predecessor to be open with this community.”
“If she was serious about this issue, there would have been a commitment in the budget for a new fire station for our firefighters.”
“Now that she’s been dragged in to fixing this mess, it seems this Minister is determined to offer a partial solution which ultimately leaves the community in limbo.”

Opinion Piece contributed by Member for Burdekin Dale Last.

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High Visibility Theft Burdekin Communications Jaycar Targeted by Thieves

June 26, 2024

Burdekin Communications Jaycar was struck by a pair of thieves on Thursday 20 June.

Dressed in high visibility clothing and backward Akubra hats, a man and a woman stood directly in front of a functioning security camera and stole a $3,500 camera system from Burdekin Communications Jaycar.

SRW Security Services have shared images of the two on social media, and their post has been shared well over a thousand times, with widespread input from the local community to help name the pair of thieves.

The community is outraged, and appalled by the act, expressing their anger and dismay on social media. Many find the irony in the situation of the pair stealing a security camera system and believe they will be found in a matter of time.

“Put these photos up everywhere on social media, someone is bound to recognise them,” said one commentor.

The incident comes after just over 600 offences have been reported in Ayr to the Queensland Police Service to date in 2024. Appearing to be on a welcome decline, the number of offences reported in 2023, 1,663, was a 344 decrease from 2022’s 2,007 spike.

SRW Security Services are urging anyone recognising the pair to make contact.

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Willcox Backs Coalition Energy Plan

June 26, 2024

Last week, Peter Dutton and the Coalition announced their nuclear energy plan to ensure Australians have access to “zero-emission reliable power” that operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“As your Federal Member, I support the announcement made by the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton MP, and Leader of the Nationals, David Littleproud MP, as we stand behind all Australians and have a plan to ensure all future generations have access to a strong and reliable energy grid,” Federal Member for Dawson, Andrew Willcox said.
“This is good policy that is good for Australians and the environment.
“Unlike the Albanese Labor Government’s plan to run 28,000 kilometres of transmission lines to build solar and wind farms to achieve their reckless race to renewables, nuclear energy is no emissions technology, and it saves us from wiping out good agricultural land and native vegetation,” Mr Willcox added.
Mr Willcox said that the nuclear power stations will be built on decommissioned power station sites and will not have the “negative ecological effects” of building solar farms, or wind farms, on land or in the middle of the ocean.
 “Every Australian deserves access to affordable, cleaner, and consistent electricity, and under Labor this is not happening,” Mr Willcox added. 
“Wind and solar power plants only have an operational life of 20 years, while the nuclear power stations that form the Coalition’s energy plan have an expected service life of up to 80 years.
“Australia is the only developed country in the world who is not drawing on zero-emission nuclear technology to support our energy mix.”
The announcement included seven locations for nuclear reactors across Australia that will utilise existing infrastructure from power stations that have closed or are scheduled to close.
These locations are:
   • Liddell Power Station, New South Wales
   • Mount Piper Power Station, New South Wales
   • Loy Yang Power Station, Victoria
   • Tarong Power Station, Queensland
   • Callide Power Station, Queensland
   • Northern Power Station, South Australia (SMR only)
   • Muja Power Station, Western Australia (SMR only)
“A future Coalition Government is committed to delivering Australia’s Energy Future Plan and a net-zero electricity grid by 2050 and a strong and resilient economy,” Mr Willcox said.
To read more about the coalition’s energy plan, head to

Member for Dawson Andrew Willcox backs the coalition’s plan to build nuclear power stations for every Australian to have access to affordable electricity. Photo supplied

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The 2009 Disappearance Of Senior Sargeant Michael Isles

June 26, 2024

On Wednesday 23 September 2009, Queensland Police Officer, Senior Sargeant Michael Isles was last seen leaving his residential home in Graham Street, Ayr. Wednesday 26 June 2024, was to be for celebrating Senior Sargeant Michael Isles’ 73rd birthday, however, he was celebrated in the memories of those he left behind, still searching for answers.

Mick, as he was fondly known, was a praised member of the community, a dear husband to Fiona, and a loved father of three. He served in the police force for over 35 years and prided himself in his role of keeping his community safe, observing “old style” values, and his kind nature often prompted him to dedicate his time to supporting troubled youth. His integrity was trusted within all the communities in which he served.

Mick held the values of family above all else and has been described as a caring, honest and humble man who loved his kids dearly, and passionately. His kind heartedness extended beyond those closest to him, and he was known for always lending an ear to those in need no matter the hour.

His disappearance shocked the Burdekin community, and 2024 marks 15 years of anguish for his family and friends. Mick was last seen leaving his home at approximately 7:30am on Wednesday 23 September driving a police service vehicle. The car Mick was driving, an unmarked 2009 Silver Toyota Aurion Sedan with Queensland Registration Number 060KVD, was later located approximately 80 kilometres from Ayr. Positioned in bushland off an unsealed road north-west of Ayr, the vehicle was travelling to Ravenswood.

An extensive search of the area yielded no evidence into Mick’s disappearance, neither did the following investigations carried out over the following months.

Wednesday marked the passing of another occasion where Mick’s attendance was only possible in the memories of his close friends, and family, and his absence continues to raise questions into what really happened in 2009.  

Readers are urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to provide any insight into the disappearance of Senior Sargeant Michael Isles.

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A Memorable Mural Family Event

June 26, 2024

On Sunday 16 June, George Populin and his family gathered at the popular Beach Road mural commissioned by George earlier this year to mark a special occasion.  

The mural honours two of the Burdekin region’s most respected and influential residents, Maria and Demetrio Populin. The mural was commissioned by the couple’s son, George, to honour his parents following his travels in Italy to uncover his family’s history.

Last week’s gathering stood as a memorable event to express their love for Maria, Demetrio and their rich family history.

“The occasion was a gathering of our family to commemorate our gratitude to Maria and Demetrio Populin,” said George.

“They are very special to us all and will always be cherished in our hearts and memories.”

The Populin family proposed a toast in honour of Maria and Demetrio, and shared in a few drinks, and nibbles, creating the setting for a beautiful morning, with George expressing his sincere thanks to all his family members for making the event possible.

George Populin with his family next to the mural of his parents. Photo supplied

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Rescue Pet Of The Week Meet Dug

June 26, 2024

Rehoming fee: $450
DOB: 1/11/2023
Sex: Male
Breed: cattle dog x
Kid friendly: yes
Cat Friendly: untested
Other dogs: Yes
Fences: 5ft

Dug is a friendly, goofy but loveable boy looking for a forever home.
Dug has a lot of love to give and loves sharing that with humans and other dogs alike.
He enjoys playing with toys and is learning some obedience.
Dug would benefit from someone that is willing to put the time in to continue his training.
If you're looking for a dog that will make you laugh, look no further than this ‘dorky’ character.
Dug is available for adoption desexed, micro-chipped, up to date on vaccinations, flea/tick/intestinal and work treated & on heartworm preventative.
If you are interested in meeting Dug please fill out an enquiry form at:

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June 26, 2024

At 4.40pm on Saturday 8 June Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on MacMillan Street, Ayr.  As a result a 52yr old Burdekin man was issued a Notice to Appear (NTA) for unlicenced driving and he is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 24 June.
At 10.00pm on Saturday 8 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Beach Road, Ayr.  As a result a 45yr old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .189 and he is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.
At 11.35pm on Saturday 8 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Burke Street, Ayr.  As a result a 29yr old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .287 and he is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 24 June.
On Sunday 9 June, Ayr Police received a complaint relating to an assault in Ayr.  As a result of investigations a 38yr old Burdekin man was charged with one count of assault occasioning bodily harm and released on conditional bail to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.
At 2.35am on Monday 10 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Porter Street, Ayr.  As a result a 41yr old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .142 and unlicenced driving.  He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.
At 8.20pm on Thursday 13 June Police from Ayr Highway Patrol intercepted a vehicle at Plantation Park, Ayr.  As a result an 18yr old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .022.  He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.  
At 10.10pm on Friday 14 June Police from Ayr Highway Patrol intercepted a vehicle at Beach Road, Ayr.  As a result an 22yr old Townsville man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .089.  He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.  
At about 2.06am on Sunday 16 June, a single vehicle traffic crash occurred on Kilrie Road, Jarvisfield.  As a result of investigations a 30yr old Burdekin man was located shortly after and issued with a NTA for drink driving, .102.  He is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.  
At 4.00pm on Sunday 16 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Queen Street, Ayr.  As a result a 32yr old Burdekin man was issued a NTA for drink driving, .149 and is due to appear in the Ayr Magistrates Court on 8 July.
At 6.20pm on Wednesday 19 June, Ayr Police intercepted a vehicle on Edwards Street, Ayr.  The driver, a 30yr old Brisbane man was issued a NTA for driving with a relevant drug in his saliva and is due to appear in Ayr Magistrates Court on 16 September.

School holidays and cane season
Cane season is just about to start.  Tram crossings that have not been used in months will have loco’s and bins running at various time of the day and night and not all the crossings being used have twin alternating red warning lights.  In many cases cane will obscure the approach of the tram until the last moment which means extra care is needed when approaching these crossings.  
Some tips to stay safe is to slow down when approaching tram crossings, don’t try to beat cane trams though the crossing and obey the warning lights and signs on the crossing.  Remember that some of these crossings have CCTV coverage.
There will be the associated increase in slow moving farm machinery traversing the districts roads along with cane haul out trucks pulling out onto our local roads from paddocks and sidings.  All this has the potential to decrease the safety of road users should they not remain vigilant when using the roads in our area.  
Also don’t forget the southern travellers heading north to enjoy our glorious winter weather.  
With the school holidays starting as well, always make sure you add sufficient time to your journey to take into account these factors and remain patient.  Take regular breaks and be realistic when it comes to time to cover the distance to be travelled.  When accounting for traffic hold ups, whether road works or slow traffic, stops for fuel, for something to eat, toilet breaks, etc, a good rule of thumb to use is travelling about 85kms in an hour and sometimes less.  Don’t let frustration cause you to drive in a manner that endangers yourself, occupants of your car or other road users.  Stay safe and alert – and arrive safely to enjoy your travels.

Don’t let yourself become a victim of crime – Lock it or Lose it

If you have any information about crime or illicit drugs, phone crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.  The more detailed the information you give, the better it will be for all concerned.
Remember to secure your property – “lock it or lose it”.
You wouldn’t leave a dish containing thousands of dollars sitting on your bench or sitting out in the open, so why do this with your car keys
Car keys – treat them like cash

Did you know??
What is a safe distance when passing a bicycle rider??
Motorists passing a bicycle that is travelling in the same direction as the driver must stay wider of bicycle riders by giving a minimum of:
   • 1m when passing a bicycle rider in a 60km/h or less speed zone
   • 1.5m where the speed limit is over 60km/h.
Regulation 144A Transport Infrastructure (Road Use Management-Road Rules) Regulation 2009

Home Security Audits
The Queensland Police Service have “ Home Security Audit” forms that can be accessed at the QPS website
Anecdotally the majority of unlawful entry offences are committed on residences or vehicles that are unlocked and/or have valuables in plain sight.  Locking your house and car & securing valuables including money, keys, wallets and mobile phones will deter opportunistic thieves.  
If you see someone acting suspiciously AT ANY TIME, ring Ayr Police Station on 4790 3555 or after-hours ring 131 444, unless life threatening, then ring 000.
Crime prevention is a community effort.  Police regularly need public assistance and information to help solve criminal offences.  This information can be anonymous to crime stoppers.  If you have any such information, pls contact Crime Stoppers or Ayr Police.
Don’t let yourself become a victim of crime – Lock it or Lose it
If you have any information about crime or illicit drugs, phone crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.  The more detailed the information you give, the better it will be for all concerned.
Remember to secure your property – “lock it or lose it”.
You wouldn’t leave a dish containing thousands of dollars sitting on your bench or sitting out in the open, so why do this with your car keys
Car keys – treat them like cash

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Ayr Police Report

June 26, 2024

On 14 June 2024 a motor vehicle was stolen form an address on Turnbull Road, Home Hill. The offenders then committed numerous other offences between Home Hill and Ayr. Home Hill Police later dealt with a 17-year-old juvenile for seven offences, including Unlawful Use of a Motor Vehicle and Evading Police under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act. A 14-year-old juvenile was also dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act for four offences relating to the matter.
On 18 June 2024 at 3:20pm Home Hill Police responded to a two-vehicle traffic crash at the intersection of Tenth Street and Eighth Avenue Home Hill. The driver of a Toyota Corolla, a 94-year-old female, was injured and transported to Ayr Hospital. The driver of an Izuzu D Max, a 17 year old male, was also transported to Ayr Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Traffic diversions remained in place for approximately 2 hours. Investigations into the cause of the crash are continuing.  
Home Hill Police have noticed an increase in the number of people driving with a relevant (unlawful) drugs in their system. Since April 2024, 13 persons have been detected driving with a relevant drug in their saliva within the Home Hill Division. Drug use worsens your driving ability through cognitive impairment, which affects your judgement, memory, and reaction time. This is why it is listed as a Fatal 5 when it comes to trauma Queensland Roads. If you’re driving in or through Home Hill, be prepared to be drug tested by local officers. If you’re driving with illicit drugs in your system, be prepared to be caught.

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Supping Our Chaplains – The Bendigo Bank Community Grants

June 26, 2024

The Burdekin Chaplaincy Committee carries out outstanding work for the youth of the community, and their importance was generously recognised with Bendigo Bank granting the committee $10,000 as part of their Community Grants.

The Burdekin Chaplaincy Committee consists of six Chaplains working in ten local state schools within the Burdekin community. Each Chaplain exists to support the social, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing of all members of the school community, including teachers, parents and students. Chaplains host numerous activities within the region’s state schools to continue providing such essential support including lunchtime activities, brekky clubs, self-esteem groups, anger management classes, in-class support, boxing clubs, and stress and anxiety management groups.

The generous grant from Bendigo Bank will be directly funding the ongoing support for Chaplains in the Burdekin, keeping them present within the region’s schools for up to five days a week.

The Burdekin Chaplaincy Committee Chairperson, Ronda Williams was personally encouraged at the Bendigo Bank presentation evening, an event which highlighted the wonderful volunteer organisations within the Burdekin community.

“It was so uplifting to hear that there are so many community-minded people in the Burdekin, and it restores one’s faith in the goodness of people,” expressed Ronda.

Ronda explained each year, the Burdekin Chaplaincy Committee faces the prospect of reducing the hours of their Chaplains, and limiting their time spent providing such integral services within schools due to a lack of community support.

“The generous grant is so, so helpful in allowing us to maintain our current level of service in the Burdekin,” said Ronda.

“Apart from the finances, I believe that the grant represents a genuine encouragement for what Chaplains are doing in our community, and that is priceless.”

Ronda, and the Burdekin Chaplaincy Committee have expressed their gratitude towards Bendigo Bank for their amazing recognition of the work of volunteer groups within the community.

“Well done to the Bendigo Bank for facilitating and encouraging all these organisations with their financial grants,” said Ronda.

“Your support goes a long way to enhance the lives of everyone in our community.”

Ronda Williams receiving the Bendigo Bank Community Grant for the Burdekin Chaplaincy Committee

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Selectability Celebrated Opening of the Burdekin’s First Mental Health Hub

June 26, 2024

Tuesday 18 June marked the official opening of the Burdekin Mental Health Hub, with the community now able to access a range of mental wellbeing services under one roof.

More than 100 locals – including service providers, community members and groups – came together to celebrate the opening and find out what was on offer at the new facility.  

selectability Chief Executive Officer, Debra Burden said the Mental Health Hub provided a central location for those across the region to connect to vital support.

“We are committed to ensuring all regional Queenslanders have access to high-quality mental health services locally,” Debra said.

“Before developing our plans to refurbish the disused Caledonian Hall we carried out extensive community consultation to understand the service gaps.

“This included a community survey which found 93 per cent of respondents believed there was a need for a dedicated mental wellbeing facility in the region.

“We are delighted to have had the opportunity to partner with the Community Infrastructure Investment Partnership Program, which supported the project with an $808,000 grant, to address this unmet need.”

Guests were given a tour of the hub and an insight into the services now available to the region … local community radio station Sweet FM,even treated attendees to a live broadcast throughout the event!

Gudja Elder Uncle Eddie Smallwood conducted a Smoking Ceremony, while his sister Professor Gracelyn Smallwood delivered the Welcome to Country.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor, Pierina Dalle Cort spoke at the event, supporting selectability’s expansion to the region.

Newly appointed Burdekin Regional Coordinator, Bryn Hicks, said the Mental Health Hub would bring huge benefit to the community.

“Initially scheduled to open last October, the project faced delays due to construction and weather challenges,” Bryn said.

“However, despite these setbacks, we’re excited to finally open our doors and provide services for the Burdekin community. 

“I am looking forward to working with groups and individuals across the region to improve mental wellbeing and prevent suicide in the Burdekin.

“Our team specialises in delivering one-on-one and group support through the NDIS and other funded mental wellbeing programs.

“We also provide free services to carers through the Federal Government’s Carer Gateway. part of the Carer Gateway.

 “You don’t need an appointment or referral, just drop in to see the team at 182 Edward St, Ayr (the former Caledonian Hall).”

Contributed with thanks to selectability.

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Pioneer Kicks Off Production

June 26, 2024

The final of the four Wilmar Sugar and Renewable’s Mills in the Burdekin kicked off production on Tuesday 18 June.

General Manager Operations, Mike McLeod was on sight to see the first bit tip at Pioneer Mill at 9:50pm on Tuesday evening along with Pioneer Mill’s Manger Operations, Matthew Norton.

A milestone beginning, Pioneer’s start leaves Wilmar at 50% production across all its mills, with half of their structures now producing sugar, molasses, and renewable electricity.

Leading the way in the Burdekin region was Inkerman Mill, officially beginning the crushing season for the Wilmar group on Monday 10 June. Inkerman has crushed over 77,000 tonnes of cane and has produced approximately 10,000 tonnes of sugar despite the unexpected shutdowns earlier this month. However, unlike Inkerman, Kalamia and Invicta Mills felt the effects of the industrial action, and began crushing a week behind schedule, tipping its first bin on Thursday 13 June.

Overall, crews have been working hard across the board to maintain production levels to ensure growers can continue harvesting while fine weather prevails.

“Everyone in the industry has an eye on the weather at this time of the year, so we can’t afford to lose any time,” said Mr McLeod.

“Our people have worked hard to recover from the earlier stoppages, and delays, and with everything going our way, everyone will have a good season.”

Across Wilmar’s eight mills, an expected 15.59 million tonnes of sugarcane will be processed this year, producing over two million tonnes of raw sugar.

Manager Operations Matt Naughton was on hand to see the first bin tipped for 2024.

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Fight Stepped Up Against Varroa Mite

June 26, 2024

Queensland is intensifying its battle against Varroa destructor by employing six Varroa Development Officers (VDOs), an Extension and Engagement Coordinator, and establishing new surveillance hives for early pest detection.
While varroa mite Varroa destructor has not yet been detected in Queensland, it is currently in New South Wales and the State Government has identified that Queensland needs to be prepared for this pest.
The varroa mite is an insidious pest that poses a significant biosecurity threat to the common European honeybees whose pollination services add an estimated $14.2 billion to the Australian agricultural and horticultural industries each year.
Following the endorsement of the National Varroa Mite Response Plan earlier this year, Queensland along with other states and territories has shifted from attempting to eradicate varroa mite to managing it.
The newly advertised VDO positions will educate and support beekeepers on integrated pest management (IPM) techniques and offer practical support during the transition. Working closely with individual beekeepers and beekeeping clubs, the VDOs will provide hands-on assistance to build skills, understanding and resilience.
This approach aims to mitigate the impact of Varroa destructor on Queensland's beekeeping and pollination-reliant industries when it inevitably arrives.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said that Queensland is intensifying its efforts against varroa mite by appointing six Varroa Development Officers (VDOs) and delivering 19 workshops across the state over the next 12 months.
"We have joined with other states and territories in shifting our focus from eradication to management of varroa mite and will continue to safeguard Queensland's valuable honeybee industry and recreational beekeeping sector from this pest,” Minister Furner said.
Additionally, 19 workshops will be conducted for both commercial and recreational beekeepers. These workshops will focus on enhancing skills in detecting, monitoring, reporting and managing varroa mite for the long term.
"Biosecurity zone provisions under the Biosecurity Act 2014 restricts the movement of bees and bee related equipment into Queensland from a state or territory where varroa mite has been detected,” Minister Furner added.
"Through comprehensive training and practical support, we are fostering a more resilient and well-informed beekeeping community.”
Customised resources for Queensland’s beekeeping industry will be made available online free of charge.
Biosecurity Queensland is also enhancing surveillance along the Queensland-New South Wales border, focusing on the Gold Coast region and high-risk areas of Stanthorpe and Warwick, where pollination events are anticipated in early spring.
To provide early warning for Varro destructor in Queensland, 18 sentinel hives have been established in these key locations.
"This initiative is crucial for protecting our beekeeping and pollination sectors, which play a vital role in the agricultural success of Queensland,” the Minister said.
"It is crucial to continue protecting Queensland's bees, which in turn supports the sustainability of pollination-dependent industries.”

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Wilmar Invites Talks On Voluntary Arbitration

June 26, 2024

Wilmar Sugar and Renewables has urged unions to seriously consider a suggestion made by the company earlier this week in a Fair Work Commission hearing that the parties meet and explore the possibility of independent voluntary arbitration as a means of concluding a new enterprise agreement on fair and reasonable terms.

However, Wilmar claims that the two unions did not immediately take up the offer while the third rejected the option.

The offer to meet and explore the potential of the option of voluntary arbitration will now be put in writing by the company.

A Wilmar Sugar and Renewables spokesman said the company welcomed the assistance of the Fair Work Commission over recent weeks in trying to bring negotiations to a conclusion.

“It is since the Commission’s involvement that we have been able to close the gap between company and union positions, this week managing to specify the ranges within which each party believes agreement might be reached,” the spokesman said.

“At bargaining talks on Thursday, Sugar and Renewables indicated it was looking to an outcome between 14.25% and 15% over 3.5 years, while unions said they were looking to a range between 18% and 22% for a 3-year agreement.

“Unfortunately in the Commission conference today, the unions withdrew their 18% to 22% range, and instead reverted to a claim of 22%.

“Despite the gap having been expanded by unions, we remain committed to exploring all options to bring negotiations to an outcome, including voluntary arbitration,” he said.

“There are many people and businesses hoping we can reach an agreement without further industrial action. We should be exploring every way to achieve a fair and reasonable outcome quickly.

“If the parties can agree on the parameters for voluntary arbitration, this is a certain way to test the arguments and the data. We have complete confidence in the information on which we have based our offer and we would expect unions would welcome the same opportunity.”

The Australian Worker’s Union (AWU) claimed that Wilmar “Is now not making an offer to their employees, instead offering a “window” which involves removing employees' right to take accrued RDO hours when they choose.”
A union representative said that despite unions providing indisputable data that the cost of living over the last four years has dramatically outpaced the wage increases Wilmar has paid to mill workers, and the published pay rates of surrounding mills, Wilmar has instead stuck to their “discredited, questionable figures” which include aggregate quarterly inflation figures to artificially lower the rate.
“I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that Wilmar has got the figures wrong again, this is a company that claims four days of industrial action have delayed the start of the crush by several weeks,” AWU Northern District Secretary Jim Wilson said.
“Despite profits having gone up dramatically, Wilmar is still trotting out the same old disproven lines which have twice failed to fool more than 80% of their workforce.”
The AWU also claimed that at least one mill may have to stop for up to six hours a day due to Wilmar being unable to attract staff at the wages they offer.
“No doubt Wilmar will try to blame this on their workforce as well, and not the below industry standard rates they pay,” Mr Wilson said.
Mayor Dalle Cort has also spoken on the ongoing Wilmar dispute, saying that the Burdekin Shire Council acknowledges the critical role of the sugar industry in sustaining the local economy, and the overall prosperity of the community.

For generations, the sector has been the lifeblood of the Burdekin district’s growth and development, and Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort has expressed concern over the ongoing industrial dispute between Wilmar and its workers.

“The recent publicised industrial dispute between Wilmar and its workers is a concern, not only for the parties involved, but the broader Burdekin community,” Mayor Dalle Cort said.

“While it is not the remit of Council to directly involve itself in the matter, as Mayor, I strongly encourage all parties to work collaboratively in a bid to finalise the dispute for the common good of our community.”

The Commission was also told that there has been constructive discussion on a separate set of log items being negotiated in conjunction with the enterprise agreement. The Deputy President has left it open to the parties to request another report back when they consider it beneficial.

The AWU said it will meet with delegates in the coming days to discuss industrial action moving forward.
At time of print, a date for further bargaining has not been agreed by the parties.

The Inkerman Mill under full steam last week. Photo credit: Rachael Smith

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New Funding Initiative Targets Queensland's Feral Pig Problem

June 26, 2024

$2 million in funding has just been announced by the Queensland Government in hopes of managing the State’s feral pig problem.

Feral pigs are widespread across Queensland and cause significant harm as pests. They degrade soil and water quality, threaten native species, spread invasive plants, harm agricultural crops and livestock and can even transmit diseases.

More than $2 million in funding has been awarded with four new feral pig management coordinators appointed with a focus on investing in a biosecure future for all Queenslanders. 

Rachel Chay Deputy Director General & Chief Biosecurity Officer said “Feral pigs wreak havoc on agriculture and the environment.

“These grants not only mitigate the impact of feral pests but also create more jobs in regional areas, contributing to the overall economic health of our communities.

The two successful applicants - Desert Channels Queensland and South West Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils were selected to receive funding through Round 8(a) which will see the employment of four feral pig management coordinators.

These coordinators will support the initiation and delivery of effective feral pig management bolstering local biosecurity efforts.

“This funding of more than $2 million has been dedicated to employing up to four feral pig management coordinators to support the initiation and delivery of effective feral pig management across the state,” Dr Chay added.

"This is a crucial investment in biosecurity and feral pest management in Queenslanders.”

The application period for Round 8(a) - Feral Pig Coordination - Biosecurity Preparedness closed on February 29, 2024.

Applications were received from various Regional Natural Resource Management groups, Regional Organisations of Councils and incorporated industry organisations.

This latest funding round under QFPI brings the Queensland Government’s total investment in controlling invasive plants and animals to more than $29.2 million over eight years. This initiative is further bolstered by a $14 million investment from the Federal Government.

For more information, visit

$2 million has been awarded to combat the issue of troublesome trotters with a focus on investing in a biosecure future for all Queenslanders

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Part Of The Community With Rural Quip

July 2, 2024

Rural Quip is a dynamic business which has a dedication to providing the Burdekin community with an abundance of materials to ensure each customer can efficiently fulfill their industrial and farming supply needs.

Robert and Annette Oar have owned and operated Rural Quip for 43 years and in coming from a farming background, are highly experienced and knowledgeable on all aspects of the business’s operations, product ranges, and the demands of the Burdekin community.

Rural Quip’s product range holds everything their customers need on a day-to-day basis and more and paired with their connections with the AIS National Buying Group, Rural Quip effectively competes with all levels of business.

Robert began his working life as a boilermaker at Kalamia Mill. After completing his apprenticeship, he purchased Andersen Engineering which he then relocated from Rossiter Street to the Industrial Estate, renaming the business to what its known and loved as today to Rural Quip.

In following the shifting flow of the business landscape, Robert adapted with the economic trends within engineering circles to make a transitional move into the retail industry. Moving forward into the retail sector, the pair made the decision to join the AIS National Buying Group to further grow their business and ultimately benefit their customers.

“Joining the AIS National Buying Group in 1998 was a huge move forward, giving access to new deals, new suppliers, and meeting a network of other retail businesses around Australia,” explained Robert.

With just under a century of experience in the industry, both Robert and Annette have created a business to be celebrated, with a customer base extending from Bowen to Woodstock to Giru.

“The market is strong with this rich agricultural area, and our staff work on a very strong model to have the goods required in stock, carrying on demand for common products and services,” said Robert.

Rural Quip Team, Photo credit: Daniel Heggie

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A Troubling Future For The Sugar Cane Industry

June 26, 2024


I sit here as a Grower/Contractor in the Burdekin and a Representative in the Sugar Cane Industry bewildered, confused, concerned and very frustrated about where our mighty industry is heading and whether there’s even a future for our children to come back to the farm.
Now most mills in my area and my representative areas are either not performing to what they should be, or even more concerning aren’t going at all. With the agreed set down date to start around early June, in most cases this hasn’t happened and the ones that have, only a small percentage are performing to an acceptable standard. That standard has deteriorated over the last five years and has slipped to a point that is not acceptable for any of us. This scenario doesn’t work for growers, contractors, millers or even community.
The dollars that growers and contractors lose every year due to late finishing seasons is in the millions and those millions don’t flow through the towns to small businesses and everyone is suffering. I would hate to think what the milling company is also losing in processing profit as well as the amount of sugar marketing and trading profit that they are missing out on. Just doesn’t make sense.
The real kicker for me looking from the outside is what is going on at present. The start dates have been put back in some cases 2-3 weeks behind the scheduled start and apparently it has to do with industrial action.
I understand from the information I have received, that the industrial activity to date has only consumed around four days plus a small number of one hour stop work meetings and yet we have 50% of the mills not operating some two weeks after the last hint of any industrial activity.
I’m baffled to understand how mills can lose ground under this scenario.
Not Good Enough.
These small towns have endured hell in the last four years with rats, disease, out of season floods and unprecedented rain events and then added salt to injury with late starts and late finishes from their milling companies. With good sugar prices, my members in most areas can’t make the most of it because of poor yields associated with all the above. With forecasted wet weather looming towards the end of the season. We are once again on the merry go round of another disastrous year where most of my members have lost the opportunity to send cane to their factory in glorious weather conditions.
Our mill workers and broader communities are feeling the effect of this with shop owners closing doors, harvesting contractors considering their future and our kids moving away to find work elsewhere is disheartening.
These workers are the lifeline of our mills and towns, the experience we have in these towns cannot be lost or taken for granted and must be rewarded for their loyalty over a long period of time. From what I can apprehend, it appeared that the unions compromised on a reduction of around 7 percent with very little movement from the other party. That shocked me a little. These workers aren’t looking for mining rates, they’re just asking for what the average rate that is being paid around their towns so they can be home every night with their families. With the skilled labour shortage at the moment and strong employment opportunities in other sectors it worries me that we will lose good people if something doesn’t change.
I do personally support the workers in this battle. We will have to endure some more pain in the short term, but I hope that the whole community sticks together to get through this. We can’t keep giving because soon enough we will have nothing left to give and this is when we will be at our most vulnerable.

Russell Hall
AgForce Cane President.

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Burdekin Centre For Rural Health

June 26, 2024

Did you know that the Burdekin Community Association Inc (BCA) has the Burdekin Centre for Rural Health? The Centre was built with the help of government funding and a lot of community support in 2004. It’s been going strong ever since and has helped thousands of community members to improve their health and wellbeing.
Services currently available at the Centre include:
   • BCA Psychological Therapies Program (Free for eligible people and includes suicide prevention) Ph: 4783 2711
   • Private Psychological Counselling (Deepwaters Healing, Lutkin Psychology, Philip Murray) Ph: 4783 2711
   • Bloom Hearing Ph: 1800 027 779
   • Burdekin Hearing Ph: 1800 008 308
   • Centacare NQ (Counselling) Ph: 1300 672 273
   • Clarity Hearing Solutions Ph: 4779 1566
   • NQ Foot & Ankle Centre Ph: 4723 5500
   • Synergy Health Centre (Exercise Physiology, Diabetic Education, Dietician) Ph: 4724 3250
   • Telehealth Hub Services (Free online service to assist with appointments with a health professional) Ph: 4783 2711
   • Consult Room Hire (health & wellbeing services) Ph: 4783 2711
   • Meeting Room Hire (meetings, groups or workshops – capacity 30 people) Ph: 4783 2711
We would love to see you at the Centre, so please call in to 12A Chippendale St, Ayr, Ph: 4783 2711 or E:

Contributed with thanks to Burdekin Community Association.

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Councillor Column Councillor Max Musumeci

June 26, 2024

This week saw the adoption of Council's 2024/2025 annual Budget. I would like to thank my fellow Councillors and the Council staff who helped deliver a great budget that aims to stretch the dollars and strengthen our community. Council is very aware of the stress that the cost of living is having on everyone. Without going through it with a microscope, I can tell you that it equates to an increase of $2 per week for residents on the minimum general rate. This small increase combined with rates shifting from annual to biannual, essentially splits your annual payment into 2 instalments and hopefully makes it easier to pay in these tough times. This means your first rates notice will arrive in August and then a second rates notice will arrive in February. For those wanting to still pay your full rates in one instalment, this is still an option.
Rates, fees and charges are one of the least enjoyable parts of our role as councillors, however and unfortunately, Council is required by legislation to practice sustainable financial practices and is not immune to the rising cost of supplying all the services throughout the district.
I hope that by the time you read this, Queensland have won the State of Origin, and the Shire has celebrated another successful Burdekin Show. I'm wary of jinxing the mighty Maroons, but the Burdekin Show is always fantastic thanks to an exceptional committee. I also hope the weather was favourable, and I haven't jinxed the show's success either.
Growing up in an era where there was a show in both Home Hill and Ayr, I personally am very grateful that the Burdekin still has an annual show and not forgetting the Giru Show also. They are a great opportunity for the community and families to come together and create some great memories.

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Did You Know? Mayor Pierina Dalle Cort

July 18, 2024

Did you know that the Burdekin Shire Council 2024/25 Budget was adopted on Tuesday?
I am delighted to have presented the Burdekin Shire Council 2024/25 Budget. Our new team of councillors, elected in March 2024, worked closely with staff to deliver this budget on time, focusing on serving our community now and into the future.
Many have asked for no rate increase, but it would be irresponsible to implement a nil increase. Like any business or household, Council has faced cost increases that we had to consider when developing this budget.
I am pleased to announce that we have contained the general rate increase to just 1%. This reflects a mindful approach to the cost-of-living pressures faced by our residents and local businesses. While we are not immune to these pressures, this budget aims to stretch dollars and strengthen our community.
Despite keeping general rate increases minimal, utility charges have seen modest increases to accurately reflect the cost of delivering these essential services to the community.
‘Stretching dollars, strengthening communities’ highlights the essence of the 2024/25 Budget which showcases Council’s commitment to residents and the ongoing development of the Burdekin as a vibrant place to live, work, play and invest.
Council thanks all tiers of government for their contributions which enable significant community initiatives to come to fruition.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please feel free to phone me on 0447 150 582 or email

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Take A Moment With Mary

July 18, 2024

Good day to you all,

I'm excited to be joining you all and hope you take a few minutes out of your day to relax, have a cuppa and join me for a catch up.

I'm experiencing Burdekin snow (or cane trash depending on who you ask!) for the first time. I know two things for sure - don't put washing out on the line and don't wear white when it's Burdekin snow season!

With this in mind and the fact that there is a lot more smoke about, this time of year can bring out allergies and increase the risk of respiratory infections.

If you have asthma, it's important to see your G.P for an asthma management plan, having an asthma management plan could make all the difference, especially if you live on your own.

We often think of our health only as a physical entity but more and more we are recognising the importance of mental health too. There are a lot of free online courses on meditation, mindfulness etc. 

When I qualified as a Master hypnotist and hypnotherapist a few years ago I witnessed first-hand how powerful the subconscious mind is. 

We have the inate ability to ease our stresses, traumas and mental anguish within ourselves. It's truly humbling to watch a person break free from these chains following a hypnotherapy session. 

You can practice these calming meditation sessions for free, they're all there on the internet. 

In a world of anxiety, disconnectedness and isolation take time to stop, reconnect with friends and family and just breathe. 

Try not to inhale the Burdekin snow though!

Until next time, look after yourselves and each other.
Mary Torpey 

Do you have a health related question to ask Mary? If so, send them in to

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Biggest Morning Tea At The Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre

June 26, 2024

Back for another year of festivity and fundraising, the Burdekin Neighbourhood Centre held their 23rd Biggest Morning Tea earlier this month and they were once again thrilled with the turnout.

An impressive $2,500 was raised on the day and organisers would like to say a massive thank you to everyone in the community.

“Our most sincere thanks to every single community member that supported our fundraising efforts - whether by attending or donating,” they said.

“To all of our local business houses donating to our massive raffle, our delicious morning tea or making our morning just that little bit special - a very big thank you!

All funds received are on their way to the Cancer Council to help win the fight against Cancer.

Photos contributed.

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June 20, 2024

By Rachael Smith

A special event in honour of Kali Totorica, the young local who tragically lost her life following a brave battle with Melanoma, is taking place at Ayr Golf Course next week and the whole community is invited to come along and support this worthy cause.

Kali was a passionate advocate for skin cancer awareness and embarked on several fundraising efforts, despite battling the disease herself. It is now her loving family that help continue this legacy in her name.

Kali Totorica sadly passed away from Melanoma at just 21 years of age. Photo supplied

Golf Day And Tea Party
In Kali’s Honour

Determined not to let this young life be lost in vain, the family and friends of Kali Totorica, have held an annual Golf Day and social morning in her name for several years.

Kali sadly passed away from Melanoma in November 2018 at just 21 years of age and this event will be the fourth of its kind.

So far, the events have raised more than $25,000 and every cent goes to the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation.

On attendance on the day will be the free skin check truck and residents are encouraged to come down to Ayr Gold Club to play a round of golf, enjoy some delicious food, a warm social gathering and . . . to get your skin checked for cancer.

“We want everyone and anyone to come down and get a free skin check,” said Kali’s sister Liana.

“It’s also great for people to see where their donations are being used – as it all helps to keep the skin cancer truck on the road.”  

As Kali’s family knows too well, early intervention is key to an early diagnosis which can ultimately save lives and they encourage everyone to take advantage of this free service while it is in town.

Also present on the day will be ‘Melanoma Man’ Jay Allen who is also the co-founder of the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation.

A survivor of both Melanoma and Throat Cancer himself, Jay is a dedicated advocate and fundraiser who is very close to Kali’s family.

He will be there on the day to answer any questions and offer advice.

While skin cancer awareness is at the heart of the entire event, so too is fun! And organisers are pleased to bring you the Matter Hatter Tee Party.

For those who enjoy a game of golf they can ‘Tee’ off with the nine-hole Ambrose which will feature four people per team and cost $20, with some funds donated back to the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation.

For those who would prefer to relax, they can enjoy a cup of ‘Tee’ instead – there will be a large Bake Sale and morning tea held at the site too.

Lunch will be served after the golf is finished and more fun will ensue with raffle prizes, money boards and the auction of a signed Cowboys Jersey.

Kali was a proud member of the Burdekin community. She ran a local business, Lilly May flowers and gifts, and hosted local fundraisers to raise money and awareness for melanoma research, all while enduring her own battle with the deadly disease.

Skin cancer statistics are disheartening and unfortunately have not changed.

Melanoma is the most common cancer affecting Australians aged 20 to 39, with statistics showing that one Australian is diagnosed with melanoma every 30 minutes.

It is estimated that 1300 Australians will die from melanoma this year.

This is the reason it is so important for the community to get behind this important fundraiser.

For regular updates about Kali’s Cup and the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party please head to the Kali’s Cup Facebook page.

WHAT: Kali’s Cup
WHERE: Ayr Golf Cup
WHEN: July 7 from 8am

Be Skin Cancer Smart – Get A Free Check!

Look Out For These Symptoms:

   • A new spot on the skin
   • Changes in the size, shape or colour of an existing spot
   • A spot that is itchy or painful
   • A non-healing sore that bleeds or develops a crust
   • A red- or skin-coloured shiny bump on the top of the skin
   • A red rough or scaly spot that you can feel

Kali's Mum, Dad, Aunty and Uncle had the pleasure of meeting up with Jay The Melanoma Man and the Australian Skin Cancer Foundation skin check truck in NSW last year. Photo supplied

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Chat With Chelsea

June 20, 2024

Hi everybody! I’m so excited and grateful to Rachael and the team for the opportunity to continue sharing your stories each week in the Burdekin Life Newspaper.

Sam was my no.1 guidance and support over the past 6 months, and in attending events here and there with him in the Burdekin, it was clear how much he was loved and appreciated by each and every person who spoke with him. He’s left huge shoes to fill, and I’ll give it my best shot!

As Rachael mentioned last week, I’ve taken on a full-time position with the team whilst I’m in mid-trimester break from university. I’m currently in my last few months of completing a Bachelor of Communications and Journalism degree at Griffith University and will graduate later this year!

I’ve been keeping busy, like always, and a couple weeks ago, I was interning at Nine News Queensland! I was working alongside the journalists in the Mount Coot-Tha station, out and about in Brisbane, and even shot a couple reports! I sat in on the 4pm and 6pm news bulletins with Melissa Downes, Andrew Lofthouse, Alison Ariotti, and Alisin Kriukelis, and to say I was starstruck is an understatement. It was such an interesting and great experience, and in my travels around the station I passed by the Current Affairs office, waving hi to Burdekin’s Reece D’Alessandro on my way.

I’m extremely grateful for all the mentorship Sam provided me, and thank Rachael for the continued support throughout this transition, and thank you all for welcoming me into the role! Although I’m living, working and studying from Brisbane, you’ll see me pop back here and there to say hi, and I look forward to chatting soon!


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Marine Conservation In Action At Alva

June 20, 2024

Mount Surround-based Environmental Conservation Organisation, Wildlife Surrounds, recently held its Marine Conservation day, inviting students from The University of Texas at Austin to take part in a new experience at Alva as part of their AUIP Study Abroad program.
The day covered the impacts of marine debris, sediment, herbicide, and pesticide runoff before students took to the beach to collect rubbish, set up quadrats, sift sand for microplastics, and audit debris.
Students also participated in an interactive exercise to calculate their carbon footprint and explore the effects of climate change.  
“A huge thanks to Reef Check Australia for volunteering and sharing their expertise on marine debris and microplastics, as well as entering the valuable data collected into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative,” Wildlife Surrounds shared on social media.
“Shout out to Ayr Surf Life Saving Club for their support and facilities!
“Together, we're making a difference.”
Wildlife Surrounds contributes to conservation of Australian flora and fauna through education, research and collaborative conservation programs.
For more information, visit Wildlife Surround on Facebook.

Students from The University of Texas recently took to Alva Beach to take part in a series of conservation activities thanks to Wildlife Surround. Photos supplied

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Remembering Angie Baby

June 20, 2024

Angelo Hercules Panayiotou, was famous across the region and beyond as a fun-loving, vibrant man with one of the kindest hearts you’ll ever come across. Known by all as Angie Baby, he had been labelled as a Water Festival Icon and a living legend in every community he touched.

A Burdekin treasure, his love for entertainment stemmed from his simple desire to light up anyone’s face with a smile. Each year, the community could expect Angie Baby to put on a show as part of the Burdekin Water Festival parade down Queen Street, and many locals recall his outfits to be reflective, glitzy, flamboyant and nothing short of extravagant.

Described as the epitome of an extrovert, Angie Baby’s contagious charisma began from his school days, and has been singing, dancing and performing for as long as anyone can remember. He has been remembered as the kind of person who would never forget your birthday and would often gift a rose to you each year. Annually, the local hospital’s maternity wards would be lined with flowers on Mother’s Day, gifted by Angie Baby as he visited with a basket overflowing with frangipanis. Angie Baby was also a man with a vision, and a strong willingness to help each and every person he came across. From lending $20 to a stranger and never asking for it to be paid back, to joining community groups in the political sphere, his kind-heartedness was like no other.

In Angie Baby’s later years, he spent time in aged care facilities after living contently in a caravan park in Canberra. Angie Baby regularly entertained the patients in the dementia wards, running the same show each week and without fail, continuing to bring plenty of smiles and laughter to his entire audience.

His passing was shared on Facebook by one of his dear friends and has been flooded with hundreds of comments from locals recalling their love for Angie Baby, and their treasured memories on how they were touched by his lovable personality.

A true legend of the Burdekin, a secret saint, and Burdekin Royalty, Angie Baby sadly passed away peacefully on Tuesday 21 May 2024 at the age of 73. His kindness, and pure heart will never be forgotten.

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