Works for Queensland delivers $3M boost for Burdekin Shire projects

Burdekin Shire Council will construct a new visitor information centre as part of a $3 million Works for Queensland funding boost supporting 14 projects across the Shire.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said Council had identified tourism as an economic driver for the Shire and a new visitor information centre at Plantation Park in Ayr was seen a key step in growing this vital market.

“The Queensland Government’s Works for Queensland funding program supports regional councils to undertake job creating projects,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Our Council submitted a wish list of 14 projects to be considered for the 2017-19 program earlier this year. I’m delighted to announce we were successful.

“We’ve been awarded $3 million in total. This includes $1 million to demolish and remove the existing visitor information centre at Plantation Park and construct a new one, along with $200,000 to continue extending the Nature Based Play Space at Plantation Park.

“We’ve also been allocated $350,000 to carry out an infrastructure and drainage upgrade at Ayr Showgrounds, $100,000 for the installation of a fuel facility at Ayr Aerodrome and
$100,000 to upgrade the public toilets in Queen Street.”

Cr McLaughlin said some of the other projects earmarked for funding included $200,000 to replace footpaths around the Shire, $60,000 to replace the existing softfall at Anzac Park Playground, $50,000 for public artworks and $50,000 to install exercise stations along the Burdekin Be Active Trail.

She said a new visitor information centre had been identified as a priority for the Burdekin Shire.

“Ayr’s visitor information centre should be a showcase for the region – unfortunately, we’re limited by what can be achieved within the existing building,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Visitor information centres are a first point of call for tourists.

“They play an important role in engaging with and providing information to our visitors, but also in promoting our tourism products.

“A new tourist information centre will be a game changer for our Shire.

“Along with the Burdekin Gateway Visitor Information Centre at Home Hill, it will ensure drive tourists from both the north and south have the best opportunity to acquire information about our tourism products.

“Council is grateful to the Queensland Government for making all of this possible.”

Council will have until June 2019 to complete all of the projects.

For further information please visit Council’s website or contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on (07) 4783 9800.

Colouring the Ayr fountain gold for childhood cancer awareness

Liquid gold will flow through the Ayr CBD fountain this month, as Burdekin Shire Council joins with the Golden Octopus Foundation to help raise awareness of childhood cancer.

Golden Octopus Foundation founder and Burdekin teenager Keely Johnson helped Council to colour the water in the fountain gold today in support of the Gold September campaign.

Cr McLaughlin said gold was chosen as the colour for children’s cancer in recognition of their strength, courage, and resiliency. “Keely has an incurable bone marrow cancer that caused a tumour in her brain, but she doesn’t let this stop her,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Keely’s strength, courage and resiliency has seen her raise $600,000 for childhood cancer charities to date. This includes an incredible $150,000 raised for the Golden Octopus Foundation since it was founded in 2015.”

Keely was named the winner of the LGIAsuper Community Award at the 2017 Queensland Young Achiever Awards for her incredible efforts.

Cr McLaughlin said Council was proud to support the Golden Octopus Foundation and its founder.

“The Foundation aims to upgrade paediatric oncology facilities in regional hospitals and help supply childhood cancer nurses in communities across Australia,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“So many children and families are touched by childhood cancer. Colouring the fountain gold is just a small gesture that we can make to raise awareness of childhood cancer and to show support for all the families and children who have been affected by it.”

Keely called on the community to get behind the Gold September campaign.

“With everyone getting behind the Gold September campaign there will be more awareness, which leads to more research, which leads to a cure,” Keely said.

“We are aiming to help families by letting kids with cancer fight from home and getting nurses in our communities, like the breast cancer nurses, which will help this to happen.

“I have just returned last night late from Perth where we lit Western Australia’s Parliament House gold for the first time and the Queensland Parliament House is gold as well.”

Home Hill art trail a bright idea for CBD

Three walls in Home Hill’s central business district are being transformed into vibrant art attractions, as part of a new street art trail in the Burdekin.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said Council had engaged North Queensland artists Nicky Bidju-Pryor and John Bradshaw to create the eye-catching murals, which have been painted onto the side walls of three buildings in close proximity to the Home Hill Comfort Stop.

“The Home Hill Comfort Stop is known around Australia. It is used by thousands of travellers every year, so we wanted to give these visitors every reason to venture out, explore the CBD, frequent our shops and extend their stay in the region,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“These artworks really add to the unique identity of the area. It’s about rejuvenating and brightening up the streetscape and it’s also about growing cultural tourism in the Shire and all of the opportunities that come with that.”

Cr McLaughlin said the project wouldn’t have been possible without the Queensland Government, which provided $15,000 through its Works for Queensland initiative.

“The feedback has been fantastic. A lot of people are excited by what has been created here,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“We’d like to eventually have a Burdekin-wide art trail extending into Giru, Brandon, Clare, Ayr and Home Hill. Council is already investigating ideas for more artworks across the Shire.”

For further information please visit Council’s website or contact Council’s Customer Service Centre on (07) 4783 9800.

Ayr Swimming Pool reopens after upgrade

The Ayr Swimming Pool has reopened after receiving a major upgrade to future-proof the popular aquatic facility for years to come.

Burdekin Shire Council Environment and Health Coordinator Linda Govan said as part of the works, the pool’s ageing pump and filtration system had been replaced, ensuring the pool water would continue to be clean and up to user expectations in years to come.

A new chair lift has also been installed providing a more comfortable way for reduced mobility users to access the pool.

“In the last swim season 14,529 children and adults came through the gates of Ayr Swimming Pool,” Ms Govan said.

“The pool was also used by 4,265 school children, in addition to being accessed by the swim club and for events.

“It’s one of our most popular community assets. After extensive refurbishment works, we have been pleased to reopen the facility this week, in time for the September school holidays.”

Ms Govan said much of the refurbishment work involved the upgrading of infrastructure that couldn’t be seen, but which was essential to the pool’s operation.

“Many pools from the 1950s, like Ayr Swimming Pool, were built with their pipes running directly underneath the pool.

“We’ve relocated these pipes to feed in from the sides. If we ever have a leak, it’s something we’ll be able to get to.

“We’ve also improved the storage for chlorine and other chemicals and completed a temporary fix on the pool’s scum gutters.

“The fix is temporary because we wanted to ensure the pool would reopen in time for the warmer months, but we are looking at a long term fix in the near future.”

Ms Govan said the works wouldn’t have been possible without shared funding from the Queensland Government.


Chair lift improves disability access

Pool users with reduced mobility will be able to more comfortably access Ayr Swimming Pool thanks to the installation of a new, modern chair lift.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the new chair lift featured a comfortable seat with a foot rest and adjustable arm rest.

The addition of a safety belt will also provide a more secure lift into the water.

“This new chair lift replaces the older-style lift previously installed at Ayr Swimming Pool. It is a great asset and ensures that everyone has a chance to access and enjoy the pool, which is provided for the benefit of everyone in the community,” she said.

The Queensland Government’s Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program supports local governments by assisting with infrastructure costs as well as creating jobs and contributing to building safe, caring and connected communities.

Cr McLaughlin thanked the State Government for its contribution of more than $400,000 towards the pool upgrades

“The estimated total project cost is $850,000 with the State Government providing more than $400,000 towards these works,” she said.

Burdekin business sends first shipment of bottled water to China

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin has congratulated Burdekin business Mt Elliot Springs on securing a lucrative export deal into Asia, as the family-owned operation sends its first shipment of bottled natural spring water to China this week.

The high-quality water will be sold to mix with baby formula in 250 child supply and pharmacy stores across China, with at least a million bottles expected to be supplied per year.

Mt Elliot Springs manager Keith Brincat said the export opportunity came about when he was approached by South Australian business consultant Michael Fullgrabe of Ozwater Pty Ltd who with his wife developed the idea to send water for baby formula into China to fill a niche market.

“Ozwater selected us for this opportunity because our water is of an extreme high quality and, critically, meets all of the standards required to pass the Chinese regulations,” Mr Brincat said.

Mt Elliot Springs has already employed an additional five staff to help supply the first shipments of 36,000 bottles, with another five to 10 jobs likely to be created in coming months as a result of the deal.  The product has been named My Precious One.

Mr Brincat said the Burdekin was known for its abundance of water but water was also a precious asset.

“It comes down to the geology of the Mt Elliot area, which produces naturally occurring spring water with an unusually high PH level.  This natural alkalinity is what makes our water special.

“As it comes out of the ground it has that taste signature of the mountain. It’s all natural without anything added and that’s what natural spring water should be.”

Mr Brincat said finding a point of difference could open big opportunities for small producers.

“If you can find a niche, something you do better than the rest, that’s what you should concentrate on, that’s where the opportunities lie,” he said.

Cr McLaughlin said it was exciting to see a local company exporting into the Chinese market.

She said the Burdekin was home to some wonderful, innovative businesses which were doing exciting things in their fields.

“There are immense opportunities, through the export market, for our businesses to expand their reach into key international markets in Asia and across the world,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Mt Elliot Springs is an excellent example of a business which is creating products here in the Burdekin while reaching consumers across the globe. I congratulate Mt Elliot Springs on their achievement.”

Cr McLaughlin said water was the Burdekin’s greatest asset.

“It is the lifeblood of our thriving agricultural industries and now, it will be exported directly into China where it is expected to be met with high demand,” Cr McLaughlin said.

Lock up and win this Christmas

The Burdekin Building Safer Communities Action Team (BSCAT), with support from Queensland Police, is running a ‘Lock It or Lose It’ campaign throughout the Burdekin region over the holiday period.

The campaign aims to raise awareness and reduce the number of vehicles being left unlocked, and subsequently being easy targets for vehicle and property theft.

Council’s Community Development Manager and BSCAT Chairman Tony Vaccaro said a similar campaign in Bundaberg had proved successful.

“The campaign will include local police officers doing random vehicle checks from December through to February to ensure people have adequately secured their vehicles,” he said.

“The checks will be made in the Ayr and Home Hill CBDs as well as the smaller suburbs of the Burdekin or in back streets where cars are parked on the footpaths.

“Cars found to be secure will receive a congratulatory note on their windscreen along with an entry ticket to win gift cards from local businesses.

“We hope this will encourage everyone to lock up and secure their vehicles and personal property.”

Mr Vaccaro said tickets for the prize draw could then be placed in the entry boxes at the Burdekin Library Ayr and Home Hill branches.

“Vehicles not adequately secured will be given a list of tips on how to better secure their vehicle and personal property,” he said.

Burdekin BSCAT is a group of state and local government representatives together with business and community representatives who have developed a community partnership approach to crime prevention and community safety.

Burdekin BSCAT provides the opportunity for our local community to take positive action to prevent crime and build a safer community. This team is an advisory group to Council.

Council trials collecting fertiliser bags for recycling


Burdekin farmers are being encouraged to drop their used fertiliser bags to Council waste disposal facilities as part of a free recycling trial which will see the bags turned into alternative plastic products.

The trial is being run by Farm Waste Recovery in conjunction with the Council, the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Incitec Pivot Limited, Impact Fertilisers and Canegrowers.

Governance and Local Laws Manager Dan Mulcahy said there would be special collection cages at Council’s waste disposal facilities in Ayr, Home Hill and Giru.

“There are more than 350,000 one-tonne bags and 2 million 25 kilogram bags being used by the sugar cane industry each year,” he said.

“Although some are returned to the manufacturer, most are dumped, burned or stockpiled on farms.

“This trial collection would be an ideal way for farmers to help our environment by clearing the bags from their farm.

“All you have to do is empty the bags, roll the bags up and tie them with the bags own string ties before taking them to your nearest collection cage.

“This will allow for easy collection by the recycling processers and minimise the risk of bags being blown around in strong winds.

“The trial will run until mid-December this year so hopefully farmers will have plenty of time to clear their farms of the bags.”

“The aim of this trial is to see if it is feasible to continue collecting these bags,” he said.

“If it gets sufficient support it is likely that Council will continue to act as a collection point for the fertiliser bags.”

Fertiliser bag collection locations are:

  • Ayr Waste Transfer Station – Open 7 days from 9am-5pm
  • Home Hill Waste Transfer Station – Open 7 days from 10am-5pm
  • Giru Waste Transfer Station – Open Fridays and Sundays from 3pm-6pm

For more information on Farm Waste Recovery go to


Minister to open Ideas@108


Minister Assisting the Premier in North Queensland, Minister for Seniors and Minister for Disability Services Coralee O’Rourke will officially open the Burdekin Library’s new innovation hotspot, Ideas@108, next week.

The opening celebration will be held on Wednesday, August 12, at 9am in the Music Loft, which adjoins the creative space.

Burdekin Shire Council Library Services Manager John Scott said Ideas@108 would benefit Burdekin small business, start-up business and local youth.

“This is a great space where businesses and community members can come to explore, create and grow ideas,” he said.

“This is an exciting development for the Burdekin and I thank the State Library for funding the $36,500 project.

“We want people to come in the space and ask ‘Can I?’ and use the latest technology we have on offer, like the 3D printers, 3D scanner and computers, to achieve their aim.

“There will be a number of programs will operate in this innovation space.

“A TAFE Queensland North _ Burdekin Campus representative has expressed an interest in being part of an industry liaison group for the life cycle of this project and beyond.

“We have also partnered up with the Ayr and Home Hill Chambers of Commerce who will provide access to business mentors for those wanting to start-up a business and innovators.”

Mr Scott said the State Library of Queensland also was bringing along a humanoid robot.

“The NAO robot has been used in schools in the United Kingdom as part of their IT studies and this one will be here for a couple of weeks to allow our schools the opportunity to see and use it,” he said.

“The sky really is the limit as to how our community can use this space and what ideas can be created here.”

The Burdekin community is welcome to join opening of Ideas@108 celebrations, but are asked to contact the Burdekin Library on 4783 9970 for catering purposes.


Australian Small Business Advisory Services Program to benefit Burdekin business


Burdekin small businesses have a new program they can access for advice on how to build their business.

Burdekin Shire Council Economic Development Manager Adrian Scott said Council was pleased to be partnering with the Ayr and Home Hill Chambers of Commerce and the Townsville Business Development Centre (TBDC) to offer the Australian Small Business Advisory Services Program (ASBAS) to local businesses.

“The TBDC will help businesses in the Burdekin by delivering advisory services which will enable them to develop and prosper into the future,” he said.

“The service is being launched in conjunction with the next Ayr Chamber of Commerce meeting on July 14 at the Ayr Traveller’s Motel, Ayr.”

TBDC chief executive officer Sharyn Brown said the centre is committed to providing advice on business and strategic management, financial management, marketing, increasing management capabilities and digital engagement implementation.

“At TBDC we are all about finding solutions, creating opportunities and contributing to the economic development of Townsville and the North Queensland Region,” she said.

“Our vision is to see small businesses operating independently, with confidence, to ensure sustainable commercial growth and create employment opportunities.”

TBDC currently offers a range of subsidised advisory services and fee for service business advice, including development, marketing, finance, planning, record keeping, policy and procedures, coaching and mentoring, across the commercial lifecycle, from new business start ups through to developing and well-established businesses.

The Australian Government will invest $18 million over the next three years in the ASBAS Program to increase the capacity of small business advisory services to provide small businesses with easy access to low cost, expert advice.

For more information about the program go to or call 132 846.


Photos capture the Best of the Burdekin

Lagoons, cane fires, water, sunsets, beaches and landmarks featured in the fantastic entries received in the Burdekin Shire Council’s Best of the Burdekin Photo Competition.

Burdekin Shire Mayor Bill Lowis thanked everyone who had taken the time to enter the competition and praised the quality of the entries.

“There were some beautiful photos entered and I’m sure the judges had a hard time choosing a winner,” he said.

“Council now has some great shots of our beautiful region to use in our promotional material.”

Townsville Bulletin Chief Photographer Scott Radford-Chisholm and well-known Burdekin photographer Bryan Lynch were given the task of selecting the photo they thought summed up the Burdekin pictorially.

The judges said the standard of the entries was exceptional and it was hard to pick just three winners.

The winning photo – “Looking up the mill stacks with heaps of smoke” – was taken by Wayne Smith at Canegrowers. The judges chose this as being “very Burdekin”. “A different perspective was chosen by the photographer making an interesting composition and it is all systems go, full steam ahead with the mill in action,” they said.

Second place went to “Windmill” which was taken by Ann-Maree Rickerby. The judges said it was a “well-composed pic, simple but very effective, nice use of wide angle lens to capture cloud formation and the ‘openness’ of rural Burdekin”. “Bryan told me that Home Hill or Burdekin was known as the ‘city of windmills’ even before his day, so ties in with the theme well,” Mr Radford-Chisholm said.

Third place went to “Start of the Burn” which was taken by Sheree Heatley. The judges both agreed that the Burdekin was the home of cane. “We liked the use of long lens and the framing of the image, still being able to see cane standing,” they said. “The human element was also a good point, with it being a large part of employment in the region. We also liked the lighting of this image, late afternoon/ early evening, very nice.”

Competition winner Wayne Smith said he was pleased his entry had won.

“I was on a Canegrowers familiarisation to Invicta mill and the view of the stacks caught my eye,” he said.

“I like the contrast, angles and energy and took a picture on my phone’s camera.”

The first prize is $200, second prize $100 and third prize $50.

To view all the entries in the competition go to Council’s Facebook page


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