Free Industry Advice Available for Local Tourism Businesses

Burdekin businesses wanting to unlock their commercial potential can receive free one-on-one consultations with industry experts through the Australian Government’s Northern Australia Tourism Initiative.

Under the Entrepreneurs Programme, small to medium businesses are matched with a tourism business advisor who is able to give advice on how to overcome current challenges and expand into new markets.

Eligible businesses also have access to up to $20,000 in matched funding to obtain external advice on a key area identified through the consultation process.

AusIndustry North Queensland Regional Manager Kay Strong said external advice could relate to topics such as marketing, human resources, and business expansion.

“Support is also available to bring groups of tourism companies together to work on a mutual business strategy, through the tourism partnerships service,” Ms Strong said.

“We have seen North Queensland businesses realise growth potential and take on new opportunities by accessing these support services.”

Eligibility criteria include:

  • Businesses must be a ‘tourism business’;
  • Be a solvent company with an annual turnover or operating expenditure between $750,000 and $100 million; and
  • Be trading for a minimum of 3 consecutive years.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said that many businesses may still be eligible despite not considering themselves ‘tourism businesses’.

“To be a valid tourism business under the eligibility criteria, businesses simply need to derive a significant portion of their revenue from visitors and operate in a tourism-related industry,” she said.

“Tourism-related industries include accommodation, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, clubs, pubs, taverns and bars, passenger transport, tour operator services, cultural services, sports and recreation services, and retail trade.”

For further information about the Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs Programme including full eligibility criteria, phone Council’s Tourism Officer on (07) 4783 9800 or visit


State Funding Available to Improve Homes’ Cyclone Resilience

Burdekin residents who own a house built before 1984 may be able to receive Queensland Government funding to help improve the resilience of their homes against cyclones.

$20M is now available under the Household Resilience Program for owner-occupiers who live within a recognised cyclone risk area and who meet the income eligibility requirements.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin confirmed the Burdekin fell within the recognised cyclone risk area, which spans north from Bundaberg to the Queensland/Northern Territory border and 50km within the coastline.

“As we are all aware, the risk of cyclones in North Queensland is very real,” she said.

“Burdekin residents have suffered the devastating impacts of cyclones before. The Queensland Government’s Household Resilience Program is an opportunity for low-income earners to make significant improvements to their homes and minimise the potential for future damage. I encourage residents to check their eligibility and apply as soon as possible to avoid missing out.”

Under the co-contribution program, applicants can receive funding for 75% of the cost of improvements, up to a maximum grant of $11,250.

Applicants must contribute the remaining 25%; however loans are available through the Household Resilience Program.

Valid improvements include roof replacement; roof structure tie-down upgrades; replacement of garage doors and frames; window protection including cyclone shutters or screens; tie downs of external structures; and replacement of external hollow core doors with solid core external grade doors.

Applications are now open.

For more information including the full eligibility requirements and how to apply, visit

Call for 2018 Sportstar Award Nominations

Nominations for the 2018 North Queensland Sportstar Awards are now open.

Categories include:

Nominees are judged on their achievements and performances during the period of 1 October 2017 to 30 September 2018, except Service to Sport Award which is for a longer period of time.

The following criteria in order of importance are used in the selection process:  international representation, national representation, and state representation.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the Burdekin was filled with talented sportspeople and dedicated volunteers.

“This is a great opportunity to recognise not only those who excel in their chosen fields, but also those who work tirelessly behind the scenes for the benefit of the community and for North Queensland sport.”

Nominations must be lodged with Council’s Community Development Team by 5pm Friday 31 August 2018. Nominees must be a resident of the Burdekin Shire to be eligible.

Council will select one successful nominee per category to be considered at the annual North Queensland Sports Award Cocktail Dinner at Mission Beach on Saturday 27 October 2018.

Nomination Forms are available above, or from Council’s Customer Service Centre and Burdekin Library.

For more information, contact Council’s Community Development Team on (07) 4783 9800.

Children to Learn to Dance like Jackie French’s Josephine

Children inspired by the classic Jackie French book Josephine Wants to Dance can live out their grandest ballerina dreams during a special Storytime Session at the Burdekin Library this Friday.

Following an interactive reading of the much-loved picture book, children will spin, twirl and curtsy their way through a short complimentary ballet class with local ballet teacher Kady Brandon.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the event would celebrate the arrival of Monkey Baa Theatre Company’s live-stage adaption at the Burdekin Theatre.

“We are excited to present both the captivating story of Josephine Wants to Dance live on the Burdekin Theatre stage and the accompanying special Storytime,” she said.

“Kady has taught early childhood dance programs at her school ‘I Dance’ for 8 years and is incredibly passionate about dance. We’re sure children will leave this free event with a leap in their step.”

Children and their families can attend the special Storytime session at the Burdekin Library on Friday 10 August at 10:30am. This is a free event and bookings are not necessary.

Josephine Wants to Dance will be live onstage at the Burdekin Theatre on Thursday 16 August at 10am. Tickets are $10-$13 and can be purchased from the Burdekin Theatre Box Office, by phone (07) 4783 9880 or by visiting

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

Library a Treasure Trove for Children’s Book Week

Burdekin children with a thirst for adventure will be able to go on a scavenger hunt, search for treasure under the sea and even receive a special pirate name during Burdekin Shire Council’s Book Week celebrations this year.

Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the annual event, which runs from Monday 20 to Saturday 25 August, was a great opportunity to celebrate books, authors and reading.

“The Children’s Book Council of Australia’s (CBCA) theme for this year’s event is Find Your Treasure and there is plenty to find in our local libraries,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“During Book Week, the Burdekin Library will have a number of book displays aimed at different age groups, meaning that every member of the family can find their next treasured read.”

Other activities include an interactive Storytime Session, where children will hear one of the books shortlisted for the 2018 CBCA’s Book of the Year award and take part in craft activities.

“The importance of developing a love of reading early on is well documented and I encourage all Burdekin families to engage in regular reading activities,” Cr McLaughlin said.

Families can take part in the Burdekin Library scavenger hunt and interactive displays Monday to Friday 9am-5pm and Saturday 9am-1pm.

The Book Week Storytime Session will happen on Friday 24 August at 10:30am and bookings are not necessary.

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

Rates Notices Arriving Soon

Burdekin ratepayers will receive their Burdekin Shire Council rate notices in the mail this week with a due date of 3 September 2018.

Council’s 2018/19 annual budget included a modest general rate rise across most categories of 2.2 percent.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the rise was consistent with Council’s 10 year financial forecast.

“Council is very conscious of the pressures of household budgets, so we worked hard to keep rate rises to a minimum,” she said.

Waste Charges remain unchanged under the 2018/19 budget, whilst Sewerage and Water Access charges have only increased by $5 and $4 respectively.

Cr McLaughlin said Council had increased the pensioner rebate by $8 for the third consecutive year, bringing the annual remission to $366 per pensioner.

“Pensioners may also be eligible for the State Government pensioner subsidy of $200 and a 20 percent discount on their State Government Emergency Management Levy,” she said.

“I encourage all pensioners to visit the Burdekin Shire Council Customer Service Centre with their pensioner card to check their eligibility.”

Rates payments can be made over the phone by calling (07) 4783 9800, online by visiting BPOINT, by BPay via your financial institution, by mail or in person at Australia Post or Burdekin Shire Council Customer Service Centre.

Any ratepayer who is having difficulty paying their rates by the due date is asked to contact Council as soon as possible to discuss a payment plan. This option incurs an 11 percent interest on any overdue balance, however regular part payments can minimise interest.

Ratepayers who do not receive their rate notices by 13 August must contact Council on (07) 4783 9800.

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

Sweet Days, Hot Nights a celebration of original cane cutters

Burdekin resident John Arrate was introduced to the art of hand cane cutting by his father while growing up on their small family farm at Clare.

He will line up in the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships, part of the Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival at Home Hill Showgrounds this 30 May and 2 June, with nothing but respect for the original hand cane cutters in the field.

“They’re the ones I take my hat off to. I think it’s a bit of an honour to think you’re still competing with the guys who have done this for a living,” Mr Arrate said.

“It’s important people have the chance to see how it was done while those guys are around. Some of them are in their seventies. Being a bit of a competitor it just bugs me that I still can’t beat the old guys.”

Mr Arrate, who now owns and operates his own sugarcane farm at Home Hill, has been competing in the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships since the introduction of the Kevin Swindley Memorial prize for local cutters in 2012. “I knew the Swindley family so I thought it would be a good way of paying tribute,” Mr Arrate said.

When he first signed up it was “just to make up numbers” however one of the older cutters soon become a mentor to Mr Arrate, who has been honing his skills ever since.

He went on to win the Kevin Swindley Memorial in 2016. “Hopefully this year I’ll be holding a trophy again,” he said.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said Sweet Days, Hot Nights would incorporate the First Fire of the Season and the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships and package them with a range of family-friendly, festival-styled events.

“The First Fire on Wednesday 30 May offers visitors and locals the chance to experience the awe-inspiring sight of cane fire up close,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“On Saturday 2 June at the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships, festival-goers will witness a test of skill and endurance, a competition that brings to life the back-breaking work of a by-gone era.”

For more information visit or ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ the sweetdayshotnights page on Facebook.

Talent Showcase attracts record nominations

A record number of talented North Queenslanders will put their best singing, dancing, music and performance skills on display in front of a live audience at this year’s Burdekin Fast Track Talent Showcase.

The Burdekin’s largest talent competition will be held at Burdekin Theatre in Ayr on Saturday 28 April, with former The X Factor winner Cyrus appearing as the guest celebrity and judge.

Burdekin Shire Youth Mayor Sarah McDonnell said more than 40 acts had already signed up to perform in the heats and nominations were still rolling in.

“Not only will we have Cyrus, but we will have national talent scouts in town and more than $2,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs,” Ms McDonnell said.

“Many of the people who have performed before have returned plus we have lots of new acts this year, including singers, dancers, musicians and even a stand-up comedian. Altogether, there are over 100 competitors of all ages and talents performing in groups or as individuals.

“The acts are coming from across North Queensland to be involved.”

Miss McDonnell said the top 20 acts from the Heats in the morning would go through to the Final Showcase that night, which Cyrus would also perform in.

She said the Burdekin Fast Track Talent Showcase was the Youth Council’s major event for the year and their members had been working hard to promote it within the community.

“If you love talent competitions like The X Factor, The Voice and Australia’s Got Talent you are going to love Fast Track,” she said.

“The Final Showcase nearly sold out last year so if you want to attend, make sure to book your tickets now to avoid disappointment. I’d like to thank Burdekin Shire Council and all the Youth Council members for their hard work in making sure the Burdekin gets a turn in the spotlight.”

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said Fast Track was a national talent showcase that had launched the careers of many household names in the entertainment industry.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Burdekin and North Queensland talent to shine,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“As part of the experience, all the acts can attend a workshop with Cyrus on the Friday afternoon prior to the event so it will be a valuable chance to develop their skills with the support of an experienced performer.”

To register to perform in the Burdekin Fast Track Talent Showcase, which is open to all ages, email your name and contact details to. For more information call 1300 FAST01 or visit

Heats will commence from 11am with the Final Showcase featuring Cyrus at 7pm.

Audience tickets are $10 Heats and $25 Final Showcase and are available at the Burdekin Theatre website; by phone (07) 4783 9880; or in person at the Burdekin Theatre Box Office or Council’s Customer Service Centre.

New playground equipment for Home Hill park

Arch Dunn Memorial Park at Home Hill is set to be transformed with new playground equipment and a new picnic shelter and barbecue.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said a spiral slide, cubby house, climbing nets and suspension bridge were some of the new features set to be installed at the park as part of the works.

“Arch Dunn Memorial Park is great community space in the heart of Home Hill which has always been very popular,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“The park is well used with good shade provided from the trees and many children’s parties and family barbecues have been held here over the years.

“Some of the existing pieces of playground equipment at the site are beginning to age and are now due for replacement.

“The new equipment will give Home Hill families even more reasons to get outdoors and get active, with a range of elements that are not only fun but which are also beneficial for the development of children’s gross motor skills and confidence.”

The existing barbecue area will also be replaced with a new, modern barbecue and shelter.

Cr McLaughlin said Council aimed to encourage increased use of community spaces and facilities in the district.

“Our parks and playgrounds are provided for the benefit of the whole community, as places to meet, socialise and engage in sport and recreational opportunities,” Cr McLaughlin said.

The park will be closed for the duration of the works, which are scheduled to take place in May.

More information on the closures dates will be provided in coming weeks.

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.

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