Roxanne Vass makes history with fourth consecutive Ladies Cup win

Burdekin cane cutter Roxanne Vass has maintained her undefeated status at the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships (AHCCC), taking out a remarkable fourth-consecutive Ladies Cup.

Vass, 45, made quick work of the cane on Saturday, cutting her way through three seven-metre drills in a speedy 5:37.03.

She was followed by locals Sue King (6:59.69) and cousin Nikki Vass (7:03.00)

The Ladies Cup was first introduced to the AHCCC in 2016, meaning Vass is the only woman in the competition’s history to win the title.

Meanwhile in the inaugural Ladies Novice competition, Roma’s Anne Tuttle proved she too was handy with the cane knife, finishing in a respectable 6:56.16. Germany’s Kathi Strein (8:01.22) and the Burdekin’s Krystal Kerr (8:53.44) finished second and third respectively.

Council to provide free tyre recycling throughout June

Burdekin Shire Council is helping residents give life to unwanted tyres by providing free tyre recycling throughout the entire month of June.

As part of the initiative, Burdekin residents can dispose of unwanted tyres at the Kirknie Landfill and the Ayr, Home Hill and Giru Transfer Stations for free.

The collected tyres will then be processed into tyre-derived products that can be utilised in asphalt, for energy recovery, and playgrounds.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the month-long initiative is made possible through funding received from Tyre Stewardship Australia under the Regional and Remote Councils Collection and Recycling Program.

“Council has long been committed to reducing the environmental impact of tyres through the use of accredited tyre suppliers and recyclers. In February this year, Council formalised that commitment by obtaining accreditation under the Tyre Stewardship Scheme,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“As a result of that accreditation, Council has been successful in receiving $13,000 in funding to conduct a month-long tyre collection initiative, plus an additional $8,000 to contribute to the installation of the tyre-derived soft fall at the Nature Based Play Space.”

“Whilst Council already engages an accredited tyre recycler to dispose of all tyres that are received at our waste management facilities, this initiative will make tyre recycling more accessible for residents. On behalf of Council, I thank Tyre Stewardship Australia for providing this funding for the benefit of our community.”

Tyres can be disposed of free of charge from 1 June to 30 June at the following locations:

  • Ayr Transfer Station, 7 days 9am – 5pm
  • Home Hill Transfer Station, 7 days 10am – 5pm
  • Giru Transfer Station, Friday and Sunday 3pm – 6pm
  • Kirknie Landfill, Monday to Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm and Saturday 8am – 12pm

This initiative is available to all Burdekin Shire residents for disposal of domestic tyres. Standard fees will apply for commercial businesses.

For more information about Tyre Stewardship Australia and our commitment, visit

Roll up! Roll up! Flipside Circus is coming to town!

Burdekin youth will flip, roll and tumble their way into the school holidays when Queensland’s largest youth arts company comes to town next month.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin has announced that Flipside Circus is returning to the Burdekin, hosting a series of workshops between Monday 1 and Wednesday 3 July.

“Flipside Circus workshops are the perfect way to curb holiday boredom. The workshops provide a unique opportunity for young people to show off, take risks, trust, dream and aspire, work hard, laugh, and have fun,” she said.

“This is the third year Flipside Circus have brought their fun-filled workshops to the Burdekin. These workshops are always popular and numbers are strictly limited so I encourage families to get in early when tickets go on sale next Friday.”

For the young ones, one-hour Kindy Camps will explore all the fun circus has to offer, while ages 4-8 years can join in on the ‘Flipperoos Camp’ – a two hour workshop with lots of play for beginners.

Meanwhile, older children aged 8-12 years and 12-16 years can learn seven circus tricks they will never forget including juggling, mini tramp, trapeze and tumbling, all followed by a mini-performance for their friends and family.

Workshops details

Kindy Camp (2 – 4 years)

Monday 1 July, 9:30am – 10:30am or 10:45am – 11:45am

Burdekin Library

$10 per child


Flipperoos Camp (4 – 8 years)

Monday 1 July, 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Burdekin Theatre

$30 per child


7 Tricks in ½ day (8 – 12 years)

Tuesday 2 July, 9:30am – 12pm, 1pm – 4:30pm or Wednesday 9:30am – 12 pm

Burdekin Theatre

$40 per child


7 Tricks in ½ day (12 – 16 years)

Wednesday 3 July, 1pm – 4:30pm

Burdekin Theatre

$40 per child


Tickets to all four Flipside Circus workshops go on sale Friday 7 June at 10am. Tickets are available from the Burdekin Theatre Box Office, or by phoning the Council Customer Service Centre on (07) 4783 9800.

Rookies receive tips from cane cutting champ ahead of national titles

It’s normally the team at Queensland Sugar Limited (QSL) giving tips to cane farmer Mark Vass, but the roles have been reversed ahead of Saturday’s Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships.

QSL Burdekin’s Greg Watson and Kristen Paterson, joined by their QSL Brisbane teammates Barb Roberts and Ginette Barrett, will race to cut 60 metres of cane by hand when they compete in the inaugural Corporate Challenge.

Eager to get a leg up on the competition, Greg and Kristen visited Mark – a two-time Under 35 Years hand cane cutting champ – at his farm this week.

Mark took out the title when he first entered the back-breaking championships seven years ago and says he’s only ever missed one year due to a shoulder reconstruction.

“My three tips would be never grab more cane than you can cut in one swing; stack the butts right; and strap your hands.”

When asked if blisters were a risk, his answer was simple.

“Oh you’ll get blisters; you’ll get blisters everywhere.”

For Greg, the sugar cane industry is in his blood.

His father and uncle both worked as hand cane cutters in the Burdekin before mechanisation revolutionised the industry.

Greg’s father, now in his 70s, will be in the crowd cheering his son this Saturday as he brings to life the back-breaking work of a bygone era.

Meanwhile, former Charters Towers girl Kristen is a little newer to the industry – but that hasn’t held her back from getting her hands dirty.

“Before I started with Queensland Sugar Limited, I hadn’t even stepped foot on a cane farm. That was six months ago,” she said.

“As presenting sponsors of the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships, it is important for us to show people we’re not simply putting the QSL name to the festival – we’re in there and we’re getting involved in the event as much as we can.”

The Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships presented by Queensland Sugar Limited gets underway from 11am on Saturday 1 June at the Home Hill Showgrounds, with the final commencing from 2:15pm.

Nominations are still open by emailing before Friday midday, or by nominating on the day before 11am.

The championships is one of three events making up this year’s Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival between 30 May and 1 June.

For more information, visit

Wait for Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival nearly over

The wait for the highly anticipated 2019 Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival is nearly over, with the three-day event kicking off tomorrow night.

This year’s festival will feature an exciting mix of creative fun for the kids, live music, novelty competitions and culinary delights, plus the inimitable First Fire and Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships.

First up is the First Fire, which gets underway from 5:30pm Thursday at the Home Hill Showgrounds.

The event will mark the start of the Burdekin’s cane fire season when organisers light a one-hectare purpose-grown cane field, prompting a massive cane fire to roar through the autumn night.

Soulful singer Miella Sartori will entertain audiences from the Sweet Stage before the fire twirling Sensory Circus Tribe jump into action.

Across from the Sweet Stage, festival-goers can drum to their heart’s content with The Rhythm Connections’ drumming circle.

Returning this year is the festival’s signature art installation, the Sculpted by Fire effigy. Festival-goers can write down a secret, fear or concern and pin it to the sculpture before it is set on fire.

There’s also plenty of fun to be had on Friday night when the inaugural Burdekin Cultural Fair gets underway.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the fair – which is happening from 5:30pm in MacMillan Street, Ayr beside the PCYC – is a celebration of all things food, fun and family.

“There will be a range of displays including cultural dancing, as well as authentic culinary delights and novelty competitions such as a spaghetti eating and plate smashing competitions,” she said.

“There will also be plenty of free activities, including a jumping castle, face painting, rock climbing wall, hair braiding and henna tattoos, plus the first 250 children to visit the Burdekin Shire Council tent will receive a free gift bag.”

Meanwhile, Saturday is all about the Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships, which kicks off at the Home Hill Showgrounds from 11am.

Attendees can be a part of the action and vie for cash prizes by entering one of seven different hand cane cutting divisions, including the inaugural Ladies Novice and Corporate Cup.

For those not eager on testing their cane cutting skills, there will be plenty of other activities on offer including the duck races, mini quad bikes, face painting and the animal farm.

Entry to the Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival is free.

For more information visit


Take a pic with Mick to win!

Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival organisers are encouraging locals to pull out their phones and snap a selfie with festival mascot Mick to win.

Organisers are holding a ‘Take a Pic with Mick’ competition with entrants going in the running to win a $100 Burdekin Gift Card.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said life-size cut-outs of the akubra-wearing, guitar-playing hand cane cutter will be appearing around the Shire in the lead up to the highly anticipated event.

“With less than two weeks to go until the 2019 Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival, our festival mascot Mick is eager to explore the sites of our Shire,” she said.

“If you find Mick, snap a selfie and upload your photo to Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #SweetDaysHotNights to go in the draw to win.”

The Take a Pic with Mick competition will run from today until Saturday 1 June.

The Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival, presented by Pacific Hydro, is a celebration of our rich agricultural region and our relaxed lifestyle.

The 2019 festival includes the First Fire (Thursday 30 May), Burdekin Cultural Fair (Friday 31 May) and Australian Hand Cane Cutting (Saturday 1 June) events.

For more information, visit

Shane Webcke to MC Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships

Rugby League Hall of Fame legend Shane Webcke will leave Brisbane for sweeter days, with Webcke today revealed as the MC for the Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival’s Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships.

The Brisbane Broncos great is a household name for running onto the paddock as a Queensland Maroon 24 times and for representing Australia in 26 tests. He was also awarded the Daly M Prop of the Year award three times.

Throughout his NRL career Webcke was regarded as one of the toughest in the game– but he says even that hasn’t prepared him for the intensity of hand cane cutting.

“I’ve never been near sugar cane, including cane cutting knives. I think I might give the competition a miss – lest I return home minus a limb or two!” Webcke joked.

“I’m looking forward to mixing with regional Queenslanders and soaking up the atmosphere of one of our iconic industries. It’s sure to be an enjoyable occasion.”

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said Shane Webcke was a great fit for the national hand cane cutting competition.

“The Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival is all about showcasing and celebrating our rich agricultural region here in the Burdekin, from our world-class produce to our iconic sugar cane fires,” she said.

“Shane grew up on a sheep property in the Southern Darling Downs and now owns his own farm where he runs wool growers, fattens lambs and grows grains. He has a great appreciation of all things agriculture and is a perfect match for the festival.

“I had the pleasure of hearing Shane speak in the Burdekin last November. He is such an engaging speaking who resonated with the entire audience. We’re incredibly excited him to have him come on board as part of the 2019 Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival.”

The Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships kicks off from 11am on Saturday 1 June at the Home Hill Showgrounds, with finals to commence from 2:15pm.

The Championships is one of three events making up this year’s Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival between 30 May and 1 June. For more information, visit

Discounted microchipping event to be held in Home Hill

Burdekin Shire Council is hosting a pop-up discounted microchipping event in Home Hill next week.

Residents can take their registered cats and dogs to E. W. Ford Park – next to the Home Hill Racecourse – on Tuesday 21 May between 5pm and 6pm to take advantage of the $15 service.

Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said Council was hosting the event to make microchipping more accessible for residents and to reward responsible pet ownership.

“Along with animal registration, microchipping is one of the most important things you can do for your cat or dog. Having your pet microchipped means Council officers can easily identify and reunite lost or stray animals with their families,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“We held our first discounted microchipping event in March, and during a one-hour period 10 dogs and 7 cats were microchipped which is a really great result. We’re hoping to see a similar result this time.”

Bookings for this event are not required and the offer is open to all registered dogs and cats.

For unregistered pets, owners must phone Council’s Customer Service Centre on (07) 4783 9800 to complete their animal registration prior to accessing the discounted service.

All dogs must be on leashes and cats must be in cages.

Mayor condemns theft of statue from Home Hill Comfort Stop

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin has condemned the flagrant actions of thieves after a statue was stolen from the Home Hill Comfort Stop less than 12 months after it was installed.

The metal statue of a lizard, which formerly sat atop a decorative rock, was reported missing by Council’s Parks and Gardens officers earlier this month.

It is not known exactly when the statue was taken.

Cr McLaughlin said the thieves had gone to considerable lengths to steal the artwork.

“This statue, which was only installed in September last year, was secured by bolts, pins and construction-grade glue. It would not have been an easy item to dislodge,” she said.

“What we are looking at is not a flippant act or a crime of opportunity – it was an intentional act that would have required considerable effort.

“It beggars belief why someone would feel so entitled to steal something that was intended for the benefit of the whole community and visitors.

“I am absolutely disgusted by this deplorable act.”

Cr McLaughlin said the brazen theft would cost Council more than $2,000.

“The police have been notified and I encourage anyone who may have any information about what occurred to come forward.”

Anyone with information is urged to contact Police Link on 131 444.

We need you for our 2019 Sweet Days, Hot Nights Volunteer Event Crew!

Do you want to help us make this year’s Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival bigger and better than ever before? Then we need you for our 2019 volunteer event crew!

Community volunteers are the friendly faces of the three-day event, helping to create the festival atmosphere and are essential to its success.

The commitment doesn’t need to be huge- even one hour would help organisers enormously.

Burdekin Shire Council Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said a range of tasks were available to suit different skills and personalities.

“Volunteers can help with everything from marshalling, to event programme distribution, to data collection and even race timekeeping,” she said.

“There’s a role to suit everyone, with each and every volunteer crucial to making the 2019 Sweet Days, Hot Nights Festival an incredible experience for tourists and locals alike.”

Volunteers can choose one or more of the following events:

  • First Fire – Thursday 30 May
  • Burdekin Cultural Fair – Friday 31 May
  • Australian Hand Cane Cutting Championships – Saturday 1 June

Applications for volunteer event crew close on Friday 17 May at 5:00pm.

A mandatory induction and information session for all volunteers will be held from 5:00pm to 6:00pm on Wednesday 29 May.

For more information and to apply, phone Council’s Tourism Section on (07) 4783 9800 or email .

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