International Year of the Reef event to delve inside shipwreck

Visitors to It’s Your Reef Fest at Alva Beach will have the opportunity to delve into the myths associated with the S.S. Yongala with insights from wreck videographer and researcher Max Gleeson.

It’s Your Reef Fest, a celebration of 2018 International Year of the Reef, will be a plastic free event on at Alva Beach Park from 9am to 3pm this Saturday 23 June.

Mr Gleeson spent the past four years putting together a definitive documentary into the loss of the S.S. Yongala and will preview the film S.S. Yongala – Mystery of a Generation at 10am and 12.30pm during Saturday’s reef event.

“It is the story of one of the most tragic maritime disasters in Australia’s history,” Mr Gleeson said.

“The loss of the S.S. Yongala, which sunk in a cyclone on 23 March 1911, was a mystery that meant so much to the generation of people at the time. There were 122 passengers on board and no survivors. The wreck itself was not found until 1958.”

Mr Gleeson received special permission to film inside the shipwreck – located just 12 nautical miles off the coast of Alva Beach – and captures not only the fascinating journey from stern to stern throughout the wreck but also the staggering marine life around it.

“This particular shipwreck is unchallenged as far as marine life goes – it’s like a giant aquarium and just blows people away who have the opportunity witness it,” Mr Gleeson said.

Mr Gleeson said the Great Barrier Reef was one of Australia’s greatest assets and looking after it was essential.

It’s Your Reef Fest will be a free community event celebrating the Burdekin’s connection to the Great Barrier Reef and promoting responsible habits, with Hands on Wildlife shows, over 20 stalls and special guest speakers.

This Burdekin Shire Council event has been made possible thanks to an Australian Government Reef Guardian grant.

Both the documentary and Mr Gleeson’s book S.S. Yongala – Townsville’s Titanic, will be available to purchase on the day.

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

Burdekin celebrates International Year of the Reef with fun, family day

A free community event celebrating the Burdekin’s connection to the Great Barrier Reef will bring Hands on Wildlife shows, over 20 stalls and special guest speakers to Alva Beach Park this Saturday 23 June.

It’s Your Reef Fest, a celebration of 2018 International Year of the Reef, will be a plastic free event with fun activities and entertainment for the whole family.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the event was being held in recognition of the Burdekin’s close proximity and strong ties to the Great Barrier Reef.

“This is reflected in our community’s strong connections to water and fishing,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“We want to take this time to celebrate this natural wonder which is right on our doorstep, however we are also using this opportunity to promote responsible habits. This includes taking our waste with us and not leaving it behind on our beaches, near our waterways, or out at sea thrown from boats, where it can cause harm to wildlife and damage the environment.”

Residents will be able to get up close to wildlife including crocodiles, turtles, snakes and lizards on the day, with Hands on Wildlife shows between 11am-12pm and 1pm-2pm.

Cr McLaughlin said a diverse range of agencies interested in spreading the message of protecting the reef would be represented with stalls.

“This includes Reef HQ, Turtle Hospital, the Sea Turtle Foundation, JCU and Tangaroa Blue. Dewy the Dugong from NQ Dry Tropics and the Pacific Reef Prawn will even be making special appearances and mingling with the crowd,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Wreck videographer and researcher Max Gleeson will also launch his documentary into the loss of the S.S. Yongala S.S. Yongala – Mystery of Generation, a range of food will be available to purchase and there will be a jumping castle and face painting for the kids.”

It’s Your Reef Fest is plastic free event. Council will supply a cold water refill station as no single use plastic will be sold on the day.

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

Pet Day Out a fun day out for families and their best friends

Burdekin residents are invited to a pet-friendly, family day out at Plantation Park in Ayr from 9am to 12 noon this Saturday 16 June.

The annual Pet Day Out is a Burdekin Shire Council initiative to promote responsible pet ownership in the community.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said this year’s event promised to be a great family day out, with goodie bag giveaways, fun competitions, a jumping castle and free microchipping for the first 50 pets.

“Don’t miss out on this wonderful opportunity to come down to Plantation Park and get your dog or cat microchipped for free. All you have to do to qualify is to ensure your pet is registered with Council,” Cr McLaughlin said.

The RSPCA’s Education Mobile Unit will be set up in the park, giving families the opportunity to explore fun and interactive animal welfare education displays.

Pets will also be able to strut their stuff in the pet show, with competitions for Best Dressed Pet and Owner; Best Trick; and Most Obedient.

“Bring your pet down on the day and get involved with our fun competitions,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“A lifetime registration for your pet will also be given away. Owners can register for this prize on their arrival. The pet needs to be registered and microchipped to qualify and owner and pet need to be in attendance at the draw.”

Cr McLaughlin said having a pet could be a wonderful experience, but everyone who owned an animal should be aware of the responsibility it brought, as well as the community’s expectations about responsible pet management.

“Council plays an active role in promoting responsible pet ownership and offers numerous incentives for animal owners who do the right thing,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“Pet owners who microchip their animals can be easily identified and contacted if their pet becomes lost.

“Fortunately, many of the lost animals received by Council are microchipped, which means they can be quickly identified to return to their owners.

“Burdekin Pet Rescue plays a key role in the rehoming of many of the animals that do enter the pound and will have pets available to meet during our Pet Day Out event.

“It will be a great opportunity to speak with the Burdekin Pet Rescue foster carers and meet some of the beautiful animals who are looking for forever homes.”

For more information please visit:

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.

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.


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