Provenance Magazine Vol #1 2020 update

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Vol 1 2020 update



provenance /’pr v( )n ns/ noun the place of origin or earliest known history of something. synonyms: origin, source, place of origin; the beginning of something’s existence; something’s origin. “they try to understand the whole universe, its provenance and fate”

Provenance Magazine is a Reef Catchments initiative. This project is supported by Reef Catchments, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare program, Mackay Regional Council and the Greater Whitsunday Food Network. First printed July 2019. Updated and reprinted July 2020.

Food consumers are driving demand for the story behind the food. We want to know where our food comes from, who produced it and how. Provenance Magazine is about answering these questions and communicating the value of the food we eat through connection to the people and land that produced it. It showcases the whole lifecycle of the produce. From stock feed, to retailers, paddock to plate, and even the waste recycling of unsold produce turned into compost and worm castings; and used to improve the soils that grow our food. In September 2018, Reef Catchments received funding from the Australian Government National Landcare Program to begin a program called Up-skilling farmers to adapt to changes in climate and market demands to secure the future of sustainable food production in the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region. Through many marketing and climate adaptation workshops, participants learnt some valuable land management practices to incorporate into their farming systems. Many of the producers in this project have not worked with Reef Catchments previously, it’s been an exciting and rewarding opportunity to connect with a new group of landholders to work together for sustainable natural resource management. We hope to showcase the diversity of produce that is grown in the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region, introduce you to the inspiring people that produce it, and highlight some of the places it is available. Let’s reconnect with local food!

Interest in local food in the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Region has improved considerably since the first print of Provenance Magazine in mid 2019. The initial 3000 copies of Provenance Magazine were distributed widely, popular with both locals and tourists. Reef Catchments would like to thank all of the farmers, producers, retailers, restaurants, cafes, value-add businesses, consumers, volunteers, not-for-profit organisations and government for their commitment in strengthening the food culture in our region. This support has led us to secure funding to reprint the this first edition of Provenance Magazine and announce a second edition. There are many more stories to tell!

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With thanks from the editor, Tegan McBride, Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer, Reef Catchments


“Honeybees are critical for food production - a third of the food we eat is dependent on pollination by honeybees. Another third of Australia’s food crops benefit from pollination by honeybees.”

Introduced to beekeeping at the age of 11, Paul Marsh found a passion that eventually took him to Canada in 1997, where he realised his hobby could be the career he’d always dreamed of. With an interest in agriculture and many years of working in soil science, Paul returned to Australia in 2000 and set up ‘Cadena Apiaries’, producing queen bees for the domestic and Canadian market. Paul finds honeybees fascinating, not only their biology and behaviour, but the way they live together in the hive community. “Honeybees are critical for food production - a third of the food we eat is dependent on pollination by honeybees. Another third of Australia’s food crops benefit from pollination by honeybees.” Working with nature and maintaining colonies of honeybees to ensure the production of food for our nation into the future, is what drives Paul and partner Wendy to continually develop the business. Over the years Paul’s focus moved to honey production, and in 2012 the business was rebranded and ‘Bee2U’ was launched. “Our hives are moved between honey flows within a 400 km radius from our coastal Sarina Range base. With a mild tropical climate, and a diverse range of flora, it’s highly suited to yearround honey and queen bee production.” Not all honey is equal. Whilst they are all sweet, each honey will have its own distinct flavour and aroma, dependent upon the flowers the bees forage on. Hives are placed in natural bush locations for the production of pure, natural honey from a variety of floral species including Ironbark, Blue Gum, Gum-Topped Box, Stringybark, Normanton Box, Bloodwood, Tea Tree, Sunflower, Macadamia, Mangrove and Rainforest species.

“Raw honey is a natural product, gathered by some of natures hardest workers. It provides more nutrients than sugar, including antioxidant vitamins E and C and minerals. We support local buying to minimise the food miles associated with supply, and consuming local honey is believed to introduce micro-doses of local allergens which reduces seasonal allergy symptoms. Awareness of provenance, the origin of and how a product is produced, is also important to a lot of consumers so we like to share our story.” Whilst Paul spends his time maintaining honeybee colonies, making and repairing hive hardware, travelling in search of nectar sources, queen bee production and processing honey, his partner Wendy manages the administration, financial and marketing aspects, in addition to dabbling in the production of natural wax products when time permits. “We pride ourselves on producing quality natural honey and beeswax products, and are passionate about promoting the importance of the Australian honeybee industry to pollination and food production.” Paul has never forgotten his introduction to beekeeping - he donated hives and volunteered his services to introduce beekeeping to the Sarina High School Rural Skills Centre a few years ago, runs Beginning in Beekeeping courses and volunteers his time with Central Queensland Beekeepers Association to share his passion with others.

For a full range of specialty products and suppliers visit

Whitsunday Gold

Even a cyclone can’t stop

COFFEE Lovers The Whitsunday region is well-known for being part of the Great Barrier Reef, but a lesser-known fact is that it is also home to one of the largest coffee plantations in the country, and after being wiped out by a cyclone, Whitsunday Gold Coffee is back in business.

“The great aspect of Whitsunday Gold Coffee is that we can cater for large events. The launch of the Whitsunday Tourist Information Centre located at the front of our property was exciting – we hosted over 200 people. Every week it’s getting better and better.

The plantation, which boasts 140,000 Arabica coffee trees, is located on a well-used tourist trail and visitors to the region are encouraged to treat it as an essential stop on their way through. It is a popular destination, particularly among those who are seeking to sample the local wares.

“The local community has been very supportive with people coming from Airlie Beach, Bowen, Mackay, everywhere. Tourists love it as well, as they get to stop, stretch their legs, and enjoy a coffee. We have a large dine-in restaurant and our wood fired pizzas are the best in the region.”

Plantation owner Nikki Phillips said: “This was my late husband, Trader Pete’s dream, that he imagined 20 years ago. After he passed away, I mothballed it. Cyclone Debbie wiped it out, and we had a clean slate to start with. I thought I owe it to Trader to continue on with his dream, so I went for it”.

“Whitsunday Gold Coffee also has a menagerie, where visitors are able to walk into the aviary to view our exotic birds, or get up close and personal with Chino the goat, or Alfie the miniature horse. We have lots of different animals, birds and plants. I can talk about it all day long, but you must visit Whitsunday Gold Coffee to appreciate the charm of our place.”

“We’re getting a fantastic response from all our visitors. We have a large indoor kids’ play area, with blow up slides, tea cup rides, and soft play area. We also have two kids’ party rooms where we offer parties. We have held Christmas and birthday parties large and small. Teamed with the building expertise of Rick Shelley, dreams do come true.”

The coffee shop, restaurant and kids play area is open daily. Plantation and roastery tours will be available again soon by appointment only.

“Every week it’s getting better and better.” Located just one minute north of Proserpine.

For more details, visit the website or our follow our Whitsunday Gold Coffee face book page.


Local ingredients help airport bar take off

The Prickly Pineapple


Chef Ashleigh Black from TurBARlence said customers like to know where their food is coming from. “We get a lot of return business from locals now who know that we support the local businesses and so they in return support us. They find it interesting because there’s a story behind it. People really enjoy that.”


Some of the local products TurBARlence uses include Freckle Farm produce, Cannonbee honey, Sarina Sugar Shed rum, and Retrospect Life sauces.

The Prickly Pineapple is dedicated to bringing the best produce to the Whitsundays, looking to local farmers to supply a wide range of fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We work with local suppliers to see what we can use on our menus. It’s about forming bonds with them and keeping the lines of communication open to see what is available. It just makes sense for us to source our ingredients locally when we can.

The family-run business supplies the wholesale and retail market with fresh produce as well as the best fresh fruit juices and smoothies in the region.

An emphasis on locally sourced ingredients is helping a Mackay restaurant grow.

“Ibis Mackay, which houses the restaurant, has been operating for nearly four years now and I’ve been here since we opened. There has been a steady increase in business over this period, to the point where it is now a very efficient operation.”

for the Whitsundays

Jamie and Jen Fuhrmann run The Prickly Pineapple. Jamie said: “Along with outstanding service levels and knowledge of fresh produce, you will be amazed at what we have to offer and how good fresh food can taste.” Jen added that it is important to have relationships with local growers and to support the farmers in our region.

“We get a lot of return business from locals now who know that we support the local businesses and so they in return support us.” TurBARlence is located at the Ibis Mackay Airport.

Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a light snack in transit. Mon—Fri: 5am—9pm, Sat—Sun: 6am—9pm

“You will be amazed at what we have to offer and how good fresh food can taste.” Located at Whitsunday Plaza (Centro) in Cannonvale Open 7 days

Just Got Laid Poultry Supplies

the nest for success No matter what you eat, if it hasn’t been grown with optimum nutrition via the soil or the diet it consumes, you won’t get what your body needs to be in peak health. Knowing this changes everything. Moving from city life to regional Queensland in the late 90s, Caroline met Greg Sandral in Mackay and soon after welcomed three chickens - Parsley, Basil and Thyme. Without knowing it would lead to anything more than fresh eggs and a way to re-purpose their kitchen scraps, the backyard novelty would prove to be the catalyst for things to come. “We loved collecting the eggs and even enjoyed the neighbours providing scraps for our girls. Moving to our farm we continued to have poultry, but we also wanted others with backyards to have the same experience as we had,” said Caroline. Greg’s background in farming (five generations) and experience as a grain marketer, combined with Caroline’s work in natural resource management (sharing respect for the land, with values of sustainability and environmental stewardship) led to Just Got Laid Poultry Supplies.

As Caroline advocates, ”Producing your own food – even a small amount – is satisfying, knowing where your food comes from, how the animal is treated, what they’re fed. You can taste the difference in the eggs they lay.” The business produces Isa Brown hens and chickens with superior genetics — the most advanced in the world, for backyards and farms. Greg’s industry knowledge on feeding animals quality grain has led to the development of QStockfeeds, the overarching company for their operation. However, customising blends of locally sourced grain, developed with the Queensland climate in mind, has been challenging. Gaining government accreditation and approvals, the business is also Safe Food Accredited and operates under a Quality Assurance program. For Greg it’s all been worth it. ”Sourcing local grain ensures a strong relationship and collaboration with Central Queensland farmers who have some of the best farming practices in the world. Offering people on the land the highest standard of feeds, tailored to their animals’ nutritional requirements is extremely rewarding.” The property is bounded by freshwater creeks and, with two sons, Caroline and Greg feel strongly about maintaining the balance between the natural ecosystems and a sustainable farming business. Diversifying their farm, beyond cane, has taken years of dedication and also creates long-term viability for future generations to be involved in the family business.

0429 182 833

Join the ‘Just Got Laid’ conversation on Facebook

Eungelladale Dairy


Balance is the key. We consistently set ourselves goals to preserve the land we occupy, and having our dairy co-exist is not only important but is what makes it unique. We want our children to understand how to continue developing a balance for plants, birds and iconic animals like the platypus living in the river.

from pasture to pasteurised Perfectly positioned near the rainforest of Eungella and the peaceful Broken River, Eungelladale Dairy is the realisation of a lifelong dream for Dale Fortescue, since he and wife Paula made the decision to raise their five children on farm.

Eungella (an Aboriginal word meaning ‘land of the cloud’) was the obvious choice at over one thousand metres above sea level, with cooler temperatures and more than 2m annual rainfall providing the best conditions for his Jersey, Fresian and Brown Swiss cows.

Set on rolling green hills, surrounded by nature and mindful of the unique flora and fauna endemic to the largest National Park rainforest in the country, Dale understands the responsibility of managing his farming operation within such a diverse and pristine setting.

Dale feels nostalgic about the transition. “With dairy being a big part of my childhood, the passion was definitely there to run my own one day. I think having children made me re-evaluate things. I’ve referred to it as a ‘mid-life’ crisis.”

Dale’s goals to deliver a healthier product (and expand the product range) within that environment involve plans to adopt more natural pasture management practices and incorporate biodynamic principles. “We have had people ask us how can platypus live so close to a dairy farm? Well — they do, and they do it well and this is not because of good luck, it’s because of good management.”

A dairy farmer’s day begins before sunrise, when the herd is prepared for milking. When producing milk for processors became financially unviable, Dale witnessed many dairies closing and he decided to take matters into his own hands. After crowdfunding for finance in late 2015, the Fortescues began operating the first milk processing plant in the Mackay Whitsunday region during March 2018.

Visit the website for stockists

Pasteurising and bottling on farm means the entire process is managed to the highest standard, then delivered fresh daily. Sourcing distribution locally through Bidfood allowed the busy farming family to focus on what they do best — producing fresh milk from healthy, happy cows.

Shore Fresh Seafoods

g and selling n i c r u so

SEAFOOD Shore Fresh Seafoods is a Mackay business devoted to sourcing and selling the best local seafood to the region.

“We also work with a local lady, Stacey Morton from MDS Tailored Catering, who is able to value add some of these products.

Emma Melody, owner and operator of Shore Fresh Seafoods, started the business when she realised that the people catching the fish did not have the time and resources to bring their catch to the market.

“I’m now also able to source products from our neighbouring regions during our local closures and to be able to offer a wider range all year round.

Established in 2015, the aim of the business was to source and on-sell local seafood to locals. Emma realised that it was not viable for the fishermen to retail their own products, given that they spend a long time based at sea working with an inconsistent roster, which is subject to changes in weather, moon phases, tides, machinery breakdowns, and general maintenance. Emma said that once the business was established, the next stage was to expand while maintaining the original local focus. “The idea was to grow the business while keeping as much of the seafood local as possible. We started out with only one supplier and now, over three years on, we have several, including a mud crab supplier, reef fish, prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, and scallops.

“I started this journey because of my passion for retail, fresh food and a love for eating local seafood. Since I was young, I dreamt of owning a shop, which is what I will continue to work towards with the support of the local community.” The business is currently mobile, giving the flexibility to move around and service areas of Mackay and surrounding suburbs, delivering a high quality of seafood.

”The idea was to grow the business while keeping as much of the seafood local as possible.”

Wednesdays: Farmers Markets from 7am to 11am / Hotel Eton from 1.30pm - 5.30pm Thursdays: Northern Beaches Bowls Club from 12:30pm to 5:30pm Fridays: Rosella Store from 12:30pm to 5:30pm Saturdays: Showgrounds Markets from 6:30am to 9:30am Sunday: Rotate Between Seaforth and Moranbah

Follow Shore Fresh Seafood on Facebook to find out what’s fresh.

Ventons Tropical Blooms

An eye for

beauty, with exotic taste

When you love what you do and people will pay you to do what you love, you’re in business. At least that’s the way Jim and Lyn Palmer found themselves living in ‘paradise’ surrounded by exotic flowers and fruits. What began as an interest in flowering tropical plants quickly became an obsession that resulted in an extensive selection of beautiful blooms taking over their suburban block. “We knew it was time to move to a larger property, and it was on one of our trips visiting Far North Queensland, when we were leaving a commercial tropical flower farm, Jim said ‘‘That guy has my job!’, our lives changed forever.” Moving from city life to a 15-acre block 35km south of Mackay in 2008 and with no prior farming experience, the Palmers’ love of growing flowers would be tested. Lyn’s sister Christine made it a family affair by joining the business as a partner. Determined, they set about cultivating the land and learning what they could about soil and plant nutrition. Aiming for a standard of excellence in the Heliconia, Ginger, and Tropical foliage they produce today. “We’re surrounded by natural environment and fortunate to have permanent flowing water from Plane Creek that attracts wild life. The property

was originally a cane farm (1950s), then cattle, and now flowers and fruit, so we plant our fallow ground each year with cow pea to improve soil health.” In 2015 the business expanded to include 300 tissue culture banana trees that now total approximately 2000 and several varieties like Cavendish, Ducasse, Dwarf Ducasse, Lady Fingers and Dwarf Red Daccas. Pawpaws, papayas, passionfruit, black sapotes, carambolas, star apples, mangoes, lychees, limes and lemons are also grown. “Food is one gateway to achieving good health and wellbeing. By aligning what you eat with the seasons you are supporting local farmers, retaining the most vitamins and nutrients possible from the food and minimising the time between harvest and consumption.” According to Lyn, it is the love of growing beautiful flowers and delicious fruit that keeps the business growing year after year. They supply bananas to local IGA stores and on special days like Valentine’s or Mother’s Day, they’ll ‘pop-up’ with flowers roadside and enjoy face-to-face interaction with customers.

Chris and Lyn can be seen at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Market most Wednesdays, while Jim and Lyn are permanent stallholders at the Mackay Outdoor Showground Markets each Saturday.

Sarina Sugar Shed

the smell of

SUGAR IN THE AIR As you travel north from the ‘beef capital’ of Rockhampton, there is a distinct change in the landscape. Mountain ranges rise from bushland and you glimpse coastal views. The unmistakable emerald green of sugarcane unfolds as far as the eye can see. Harvested from June, the cane crushing season evokes all the senses. The mills in the Mackay region spring to life as cane trains deliver their sweet load for processing through to December.

In 1928 Australia’s largest distillery was built in Sarina, 30km south of Mackay. Originally producing alcohol for CSR Inner Circle Rum and yeast for Vegemite, these days it is well known for its tourist attraction – the Sarina Sugar Shed. The only one of its kind in Australia, this miniature sugar mill and distillery shares the story of rich agricultural heritage and the profound influence sugar has had on the region. Visitors can safely get up close to sugar processing from the cane field to production of tantalising spirits and gourmet products. If you’ve never experienced fresh sugarcane juice, you’ll be delighted by this ‘liquid gold’ (try it with lime juice and mint for a tropical treat!). Over the years Sarina Sugar Shed has embraced the opportunity to produce farm-to-plate products and experiences that continue to build its reputation as a culinary hub. They utilise local produce (like pineapples, tomatoes, mangoes and their home-grown limes) to create authentic flavours in signature products that include hand-crafted spirits, condiments and ice-creams. The award-winning rum spirit isn’t sweetened, caramelised, or adulterated in any way except to be proofed and barrel-aged prior to bottling. The experienced distiller crushes the cane, checks still levels and also makes ginger beer. You can experience it all in this charming, intimately scaled operation — visually enticing and aromatically pleasing. The final phase of sensory overload comes from the tastes. Visitors get to sample the goods prior to taking home some souvenirs.

From humble beginnings, the Sarina Sugar Shed has become a state leader in tourism, winning back-to-back gold awards in two categories — Excellence in Food Tourism and Wineries Distilleries and Breweries. Sarina Sugar Shed has gone on to represent Queensland four times at the Australian Tourism Awards, picking up two silvers along the way. An iconic regional attraction, the business is deeply loved and supported by the community and publicly funded by Mackay Regional Council.

Open 7 days a week (closed public holidays)

Tour times: 9.30am, 11.00am, 12.30pm and 2.00pm

flav ur h megrown produce preserving the


Australian households waste an estimated four million tonnes of food every year! That doesn’t include food rejected by retailers, or left on the ground to rot. This provided an opportunity for Mary-Ann Refalo when she was presented with an oversupply of lychees on their property, nestled in the Pioneer Valley, a short drive west from Mackay.

Wanting to leave mainstream employment and work from home, she made the decision to start her own little business Retrospect Life. “I decided to make a jam with a mix of lychees and dragon fruit,” she said. “It was a favourite in our family so I decided to venture out and try my hand with other preserves with the ingredients coming from our farm. When you have an abundance of fruit or vegetables, it is shameful to throw it out, so in most cases it’s frozen and then value added into a product.” Mary-Ann’s selection of homemade products has increased to include nearly 50 items ranging from unique local jams such as guava jelly and wild hibiscus/rosella jam, to those using chocolate and liqueurs, and to classic items such as chutneys, relishes, sauces, pickles, and flavoured salts. “If we don’t happen to grow it, it’s sourced as locally as possible,” she said. “So the philosophy of paddock to plate was born. I had been considering doing a weekly market and this was a perfect opportunity to have an outlet to sell my preserves.” Made to a traditional family recipe, her mother’s Mango Chutney will tantalise your tastebuds and the best selling Worcestershire Black Sauce will have you coming back for more. Mary-Ann prides herself on creating chemical, preservative and artificial colour-free products. While not everything has gone smoothly, trying new recipes has led to a greater understanding of ingredients that work. “Sometimes there are recipe failures, but I’m not one to give up, as I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I also love being a stall holder, the relationships that you build with your customers, and the feedback, are very encouraging.” The popularity of the delightful condiments mean several local businesses are now stockists. You can find them at Melba House in Marian, The Siding Café in Walkerston, TurBARlance at the Ibis Hotel at Mackay Airport, the tourist information centres in Mackay and Sarina, Handmade Cottage & Co at Caneland Shopping Centre, and in Sarina the Freckle Farm Butchery, George Street Butchery, and Goodes Butcher.

Weekly at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Markets at Blue Water Quay from 7am to 11am and monthly at the Twilight Markets. Connect with Retrospect Life on Facebook or the Greater Whitsunday Food Network website

Retrospect Life

Proserpine Herbs and Seedlings

HOME GROWERS keep coming back for seedlings

Kevin and Paulette Ecker certainly have the green touch. The Proserpine couple spend their time sprouting vegetables and herbs and selling them to the public. They grow everything on a hectare of land at Proserpine. Kevin said he started growing seedlings in 2008 and has been growing herbs for about 25 years. “We mainly do it so people can grow their own veggies without having to buy them. So people can enjoy eating out of their own garden.

“If you grow it in the same environment, people take them home to the same climate so they know they are going to have the right conditions. “My mother always had a veggie patch, so I suppose it stems from there. It’s relaxing, I enjoy watching the seeds come up, it works well if you get good seeds in. The seeds I get usually have about 95% germination. Kevin and Paulette work a roster selling seedlings in Mackay, Townsville, Airlie Beach and Bowen.

“I try to use organic processes as much as I can. I use ecooil for insects, which is 100% organic and does a good job for me.

“Young people come here and they’ve never grown anything before. They come back and they are growing things. I try and help them when I can. Most of my customers are return customers.

“We do everything by hand, I do all the seedlings myself, all the vegetable seeds and the herbs, tomatoes, chillies. I buy the seeds in and germinate them myself, then transfer them into their individual pots.

“There’s things you can plant at any time of the year, summer or winter. As long as you are prepared to put the time in and look after them, you’ll get results.”

”People come back saying how their seedlings have grown so well and that they want more.”

Auscan Worm Farms

y l War g g i W

on organic waste As composting increases in popularity, many people are including worm farms, which generate castings (worm poo) and tea, a nutrient-rich liquid that can be watered down and applied to the plants.

When Nevyl Overall retired after a lifetime of business ventures, instead of devoting more time to sailing, he decided to start another business — worm farming! After twelve months of research and a visit to the US where he toured farms with more than one billion worms, he returned to Mackay inspired and began his own worm farm in the backyard.

Garden. Passionate about nature and healthy living, she develops and hosts children’s gardening workshops.

“At first we were using the food scraps from our kitchen and blending it in the food processor. As the worms grew, so did the amount of food they ate. I started picking up food waste from a local grocery store and I would bring the waste home and use an old lawn mower to chop it all up.”

Breeding over 750,000 worms, Auscan Worm Farms has moved onto a farm in Kuttabul and invested in a tractor to manage the loads. Sourcing food waste is a full-time job, with the pair collecting from the Mackay Base Hospital and Mount Pleasant Shopping Centre. They also sell worm products at Porters Mitre10 Mackay City.

With the worms growing in size and number, so did the amount of castings and tea, leading Nevyl to visit markets where he began selling products and gauging consumer interest. “When I started selling, some of the farmers at the markets were sceptical, but are now regular customers. I love it when that happens!” The exposure also introduced a business associate, Maighan Grant. She had a keen interest in gardening and spent many years volunteering at the Mackay Community

Join Auscan on Facebook for more

“We make a great team (sometimes we get mistaken for father and daughter… lol). We work hard collecting waste, processing it and educating the public. We are saving the planet one worm bin at a time!” Nevyl says.

Valuing community connections, they educate via social media, local compost talks at Porters, and workshops at the Mackay Community Gardens. “Right now we would love to connect with more farmers, Landcare companies, and local government. We want to engage with more commercial businesses (restaurants, care homes) and the Mackay Regional Council to address food/organic waste in the city.”

Longmile Mangoes

the taste of

in the tropics In Queensland the flowers of the mango tree precede long hot days and stormy weather, heralding the arrival of summer. Mangoes have long been an Australian symbol of sunshine and sweetness, an icon of tropical fruit highly anticipated each year and valued by southern markets. With a background in mining and construction, Ken was looking to do something different. Mary was raised on a family farm, cooking and preserving fresh produce (her father also had a mango orchard), so farming appealed to both of them as a retirement plan. Ken explains, “Both of us had an interest in mangoes and cattle, with an open mind to a more sustainable way of farming considering the environment and producing the best quality food. Mary also had the skills to turn that produce into a range of products.�

For Ken and Mary Ede, the delectable fruit is a lifestyle that provides an income.

”We love the outdoors, being in the sunshine and fresh air, watching our trees and animals grow. Producing healthy foods in a sustainable way is our goal, the challenge is continual improvement we want to leave the farm in a better state than we found it.” Longmile Mangoes are grown in an enviable location, overlooking the azure Coral Sea and islands off the Mackay coast (Seaforth) to one side, with mountain ranges on the other. A tree-lined freshwater creek provides habitat for native fish, frogs and birds — is it any wonder Ken and Mary love it? Formerly a sugarcane farm, 6ha supports 1000 mango trees, managed holistically with 50 head of mixed cattle and pasture hens. Soil fertility is of the utmost importance to ensure three mango varieties — Kensington Pride (Bowen), R2E2 and Princess, which produce the best fruit. To achieve this, the Edes take a natural approach through rotational grazing and organic fertiliser. “We make our bio-fertiliser from fish waste, which multiplies the microbes and increases carbon in our soil. Shifting the cattle around regularly and allowing the hens to free range definitely improves our soil fertility, which in turn nurtures juicy, full-flavoured, nutritious and brightly coloured fruit to tempt the taste buds.” However you like to eat your mangoes, one thing’s for sure: you’ll taste the difference in Longmile Mangoes. Picked at maturity when brightly coloured and full of flavours that will take you back to your childhood, they’re packed with nature’s goodness. Try it fresh, frozen, diced, dehydrated, or blended into sauces and chutneys.

For more information call 4959 0658

“It’s also been important to foster strong partnerships with regional suppliers who focus on the production of ethical produce.”

Hay Point Country Bed and Breakfast

Tasty lifestyle

a real treat for tourists

As global and local travellers alike embrace B&B services throughout Australia, the digital disruption to commercial accommodation has not fazed those delivering old-fashioned country hospitality. Just 20 minutes south of Mackay, Judy Langdon and Graham Jones welcome visitors who can experience a pet-friendly stay at their Hay Point Country Bed and Breakfast. With no previous hospitality experience, Judy recalls how a love of meeting people inspired the boutique business. ”Converting the unit on our rural property into accommodation in 2013 has provided us with an opportunity to contribute to our community in retirement,” said Judy. “I spent my working life as a visual arts teacher and librarian while Graham spent 35 years in mining as an electrician.” Growing up on a cane farm west of Mackay, originally cultivated by her great grandparents in 1881 gave Judy an appreciation of rural life, especially gardening and country cooking. This makes mornings at the B&B a celebration of the best regional produce, with the couple combining delicious local eggs, succulent meat, and freshly baked bread, all garnished with a selection of garden-grown herbs. Each breakfast is served with a bottle of their highly acclaimed smoky tomato relish. “We created the relish for our guests as a token of appreciation and it is now highly sought after by the locals for its unique flavour. It’s also been important to foster strong partnerships with regional suppliers who focus on the production of ethical produce,” Judy said. The couple’s quest to deliver Mackay’s friendliest B&B saw them win a Silver Award in the 2017 Mackay Region Tourism Awards. Judy’s commitment to advancing tourism in the Mackay/Isaac Region also gained recognition in 2018, with a Gold Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to Tourism. “We care about our guests, our community, our animals, and Planet Earth. Promoting tourism provides visitors with an overall appreciation of the beautiful region we call home. It’s all part of the experience we want to share.” Guests can visit Sarina Sugar Shed, or take a walk along the council-constructed pathway from Halftide Beach to Salonika Beach, or play golf in Sarina and stop in at the Tourist Information Centre. Judy and Graham also connect guests to the country lifestyle. “Our herd of resident goats graze the paddock near the unit, so visitors can interact with them or just watch them from the patio. There’s a range of birds attracted to the native gardens as well as our vegetable and herb gardens, where the food we serve is growing. International tourists really enjoy our ‘Aussie’ culture.”

To stay with Judy and Graham call 0407 756 567 haypointcountrybedandbreakfast

The Farm Fruit Wines

Local vet with a penchant for flavour Bec Bannan is a woman with many talents and an aversion to waste. The Sarina vet first thought about fruit wine when she was sitting with her family one Christmas looking at mangoes rotting on the ground.

“We have made lime, tomato and mandarin wine now and have just started a chilli wine. The strawberry wine is the most popular.”

“The kids were all whinging about the smell, and I said to my husband – you know, my grandmother used to make wine out of everything. She was an old German woman who never wasted a thing. She used to make wine out of prickly pear fruit. So we decided to give it a try.”

Farm Fruit Wines is now fully licenced and selling their product to the public. While they don’t currently have a cellar door open, orders can be placed by sending a message through their Facebook page. They currently deliver locally or through mail order and have a stall at the Sarina Markets. They are also running a pick-up arrangement through a local business and are looking into opening a cellar in Sarina.

From experimental first efforts, Bec has grown to produce a wide range of tempting flavours – mango, starfruit, strawberry, bush lemon, bush figs, jaboticaba and guava which are now available to the public. They’ve also produced a basil wine and are trialling other herbs. Fruit wines are very popular in Europe and gaining more traction in Australia. “You can turn any fruit into wine, and every wine is different. We’ve had a lot of fun with it!” Bec says. “The bush lemon and strawberry are amazing, and the jaboticaba’s really good. I got in contact with one of the local strawberry farmers last year, and now we buy all their seconds.

And with her connections as a vet, the local farming community have come on board. “You’d be surprised how many times I go out to look at a cow and come home with a bag of lemons!” “I get lots of fruit given to me from the local community and farmers now – ‘fruit for wine’ they call it, which is lovely. It has a very collaborative feel.” Like them on Facebook

Eungella Fingerlimes

Rainforest farmer grows unique Australian

CITRUS Clean, clear mountain air and pure, pristine water were the inspiration for a horticultural venture in the rainforest growing gourmet bush tucker. Eungella Fingerlimes is a boutique orchard at an altitude of 650m near the township of Eungella, 82km west of Mackay. It is nestled beside Eungella National Park, where sub-tropical meets tropical rainforest, making this region one of the most diverse ecosystems in Australia. The Australian native finger lime is a rainforest tree, producing fruit that has become popular with chefs for its unique taste, texture, and versatility. In 2014, Jock Hansen purchased a small, abandoned bush block on Bee Creek Road, Eungella, and transformed it into an orchard of 300 finger lime trees,

grown with an ecological focus. He is enthusiastic about encouraging soil and plant health, using organic growing practices. “We chose to grow finger limes because they are unique and our location suits their natural habitat. Jock grows two varieties of finger limes that produce fruit from January to May. “We conducted trials with our first crop to look at how we can utilise the whole of the fruit. We have now created a skin care range using the peel of the finger lime. Gin and vodka trials are ongoing and a range of sweets and desserts are progressing.�


We chose to grow finger limes because they are unique and our location suits their natural habitat.

Jock has plans to expand the orchard to take advantage of the regular flow of tourists through the region. “The dream is to one day have an outlet to showcase my produce, by creating a range of foods and produce for people to taste and purchase. In Eungella, of course.” Jock is enthusiastic about farming in Eungella for many reasons. There is the diversity of the surrounding rainforests and a distinct change of seasons, and with high and consistent rainfall there is little need for regular irrigation of the Australian native trees. “People are my inspiration. Like-minded people that have an interest in healthy food and who care for the environment. This combination is unique in this region.” Jock is a qualified horticulturist with 30 years of experience working in the horticultural industry. He has worked in some of Australia’s premier food growing regions.

Connect with Eungella Finger Limes on Facebook

Eungella Beef / Couldbreak Lowlines


in the land of the clouds

The mist-shrouded and forest-clad mountain refuge of Eungella National Park is one of Queensland’s most ecologically diverse areas, with 860 plant species and a wonderful variety of endemic wildlife like the Eungella Dayfrog, Eungella Spiny Crayfish, and Eungella Honeyeater.

These are qualities that are highly valued by Kell and Mandy Tennent since 2010 when they purchased ‘Cloudbreak’, a former dairy property west of Mackay perched at an altitude of 800m in Eungella and a stone’s throw from where Kell was raised. As responsible custodians, they aim to reduce the impact of grazing practices while removing invasive pest plants and animals from the environment. 2009 was the year their initial investment in the compact breed, Australian Lowlines, quickly grew from four head to 12, before the couple sought greener pastures and they moved their herd from Yeppoon, a coastal community near Rockhampton, in search of more land and higher rainfall. What began as a passion to raise awareness through breeding and selling these gentle natured beasts led the Tennents to the highest standards of certification and acclaim. This is a story Mandy loves to share. “We have spent the past ten years sourcing the best Lowline genetics from the east coast, as far as southern Victoria, and have selectively bred our herd to be of the highest quality.” “Our stud cattle have been sold around Queensland and have gone on to win ribbons at their local shows.” Raising stress-free, content, free-range, grass-fed animals assures beef cattle customers and consumers alike that they are purchasing superior quality, ethical beef. Firmly established as registered Lowline Cattle breeders, it seemed logical that the next step would be to develop a market for Eungella Beef Cloudbreak’s signature brand of “well-marbled, tender, flavoursome and beautifully textured beef” as described by Mandy, who’s extremely proud of the care taken. “Nurtured from our paddock to our customers, with low food miles, food provenance is important,” she said. “We love to host occasional catered farm tours for groups, where we get to share our love of our country and our cattle with people who don’t have this opportunity, and treat them to our paddock-to-plate informative lunches, where they meet our cattle and then sample our beef.” Farming is in their blood, but wasn’t the first choice when it came to careers. Both Mandy and Kell’s families have cattle properties; however they were drawn to the coastal lifestyle, working in marine related industries for much of their younger lives, Kell as a marine mechanic and Mandy as a fisheries inspector! With two young daughters, Imogen and Cassidy, both keen to follow in mum and dad’s footsteps, the future sustainability of Cloudbreak is secure in their hands. lowlinecattleqld

Freckle Farm

come first Farmer, mother of three and entrepreneur – life is certainly not dull for Deb McLucas. Together with her husband Rob Bauman, Deb runs the iconic Freckle Farm near Eton, 40km south-west of Mackay. She is also President of the Greater Whitsunday Food Network, striving to promote the hidden foodie secrets, local tastes and flavours of our region. For Rob, Deb and their three girls, good food (and mindful food production), have literally become a way of life. It’s something the family live and breath each day.

“Rob and I are farmers first. It was a bit over ten years ago that we decided to change tack. We felt very strongly that there needed to be a change in the way we produced food, and the quality of the food we were producing – that industrial agriculture was not the way forward,” says Deb. A fourth-generation farmer, Deb also did a stint as a rural journalist with ABC radio. It was during this period she began to really see a disconnect in the agriculture system. “I saw so many farmers struggling in what is called the ‘conventional’ system. I don’t like that term, because it makes it sound like that’s how people always farmed, and it’s not – industrial farming with heavy use of chemicals has actually only been around since WW2. “So I was talking to these farmers, and they were having problems with soil health, declining profits, cost of farming going up and of course there was declining human health in the wider community. And I thought, there’s so much merit in trying another way.” In 2010, Freckle Farm was born, and the regenerative farming business hasn’t looked back since. Rob and Deb previously farmed pigs commercially, and currently run 3000 laying hens and 200 head of beef cattle on their 265-hectare farm that backs onto the beautiful Ben Mohr State Forest. Visitors to the farm delight in seeing spotted Nguni cows graze contently in fertile pasture and chickens free to scratch and lay at their leisure. “We are seeing a growing interest in what we do,” Deb says. “From chefs to home cooks – someone who is passionate wants to do the absolute best with what’s available. That means starting with quality ingredients and understanding the story of where that food comes from.” As the business expands, Deb admits it can be hard to find time to do everything. However, she says family time is essential. And Deb jokes she Rob and their girls (Hannah, Laura and Megan) enjoy what could be the nation’s best breakfast on the weekend – without having to leave the house! The family took home Gold for bacon and Bronze for eggs at the 2018 Australian Food Awards.

“Freckle Farm animals are raised naturally; there are no chemical treatments, and feed supplements contain no antibiotics or growth hormones and are GMO-free.” Freckle Farm products are available weekly at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market frecklefarmeton

AT Zelenka Farming


farm sells direct

Anyone who has travelled south of Mackay is likely to be familiar with the pineapple farm at Alligator Creek. It has been a landmark on the way to Sarina for 60 years. John Zelenka runs the farm, along with another at Koumala which has been in his family for 40 years. The two farms originally belonged to John’s father who passed away in 1997, at which point John took over. John says that sustainable farming is an integral part of the pineapple farms’ operation. “We’ve got riparian zones in our farm at Koumala. We try not to do too much groundwork during the wet season and we let grass grow over Christmas to minimize any wash. With pineapples, there’s a minimal amount of cultivation involved anyway. When you plant them, nothing gets touched for four or five years. “We send a fair bit of our produce away, but we do concentrate on supplying locally. The best returns come from local produce as you’re not paying for freight and cartons, all of which can add up. We try to send our produce locally as much as we can, and the benefit to the consumer is that it’s fresh. It’s 2000 kilometres fresher than the major supermarkets, which comes from up here, goes down to Brisbane, then back up again. We keep the green miles to a minimum.” “We supply all the IGA supermarkets, we supply Vegies Unlimited, Big Bear over North Mackay, we supply the markets, and we supply fruit shops in Townsville and Ayr.”

Zelenka pineapples are available at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market.

“The benefit to the consumer is that it’s fresh. It’s 2000 kilometres fresher than the major supermarkets .”

Deep Gully Goats Milk Soap

a hit at markets A goat farmer is keeping in tune with the earth to bring a range of goats milk soap products to market.

also for veterinary and soil health purposes. “There’s not a lot of chemicals or antibiotics,” she said.

Suzy Marshall farms 110 acres at Mount Martin near Kuttabul, running Dexter cattle, boer goats and dairy goats.

“It took a lot of research and I started very small with animals. We did lots of soil samples, got my soil right how I needed it to be, then brought the animals in. You can see it working because you can see what the soil’s doing, you see what plants are and aren’t growing, you see the animals’ health, so you know you’re on the right track.

“I’m from a family of homesteaders and my father has always had goats so we got goats. My sister was a ranger in the Northern Territory and the Aboriginal ladies out there taught her how to make soap and she taught me. That’s where the soap started. “I was already making beeswax products because I had just had my daughter and I was trying to do natural stuff. So I created most of the beeswax products from local people who gave me their beeswax, then began doing the markets to start selling it.”

“If you look after the planet, it will look after you. You need to be at one with it, you do the right thing by it and it will do the right thing by you. There’s no need for the other bells and whistles that goes with it — the animals, the plants and the land will tell you what you’re doing right or wrong. Just make sure you listen.”

Suzy does paddock rotation and all her animals are fed on a mineral supplement diet for parasites and

”The plants and the land will tell you what you’re doing right or wrong. Just make sure you listen.”

Weekly at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Market’s at Blue Water Quay from 7am to 11am and monthly at the Twilight Markets.

Connect with Deep Gully Goats Milk Soap on Facebook

BEE sanctuary

A natural approach to modern beekeeping In the summer of 2012 the Cannon’s embarked on a new adventure that would change their lives. In a quest to raise children, live on land and make a living as a family unit, Janine and Doug Cannon, co-owners of CannonBee, met with some of the state’s finest fruit producers.

One thing they found every farmer had in common was a strong family bond and the bees. The farmers ultimately talked more about the bees pollinating their orchards than about the fruit. “Bees provide an excellent example of resilience, resourcefulness and willingness to sacrifice their own life for the benefit of the colony. “An inspiring, amazing socialist society run by women” said Mrs Cannon. Starting with two hives, borrowed extracting equipment and no protective gear, the Cannon’s became beekepers.

With guidance from Peter Zahra, a man with 70 years apiary experience, what started as a trial grew into a passion. “We were drawn to bees due to the potential mutual benefits that can co-exist between people and the world’s most valuable creatures,” said Mrs Cannon. With the decline of bees worldwide and a lack of real raw honey on the market the couple decided to grow the number of colonies and dedicate their business to producing bee products of the highest quality while caring for the bees. “Bees want to do two things: collect supplies and multiply,”


“We were drawn to bees due to the potential mutual benefits that can co-exist between people and the world’s most valuable creatures.” said Mrs Cannon. “We provide a place for them to live if they want to stay — it’s their choice. We only take surplus honey from the top of the hive that the bees can spare and leave them ample supplies to get through the wet season, dearths and winter. We are strongly against feeding our colonies sugar water due to lack of good management and taking too much honey.” Mrs Cannon’s attitude is the bees must come first and that the quality of honey will shine when given the right resources, the right genetics and a bit of seasonal luck by Mother Earth.” “Breeding queens is a big part of our program. Whilst we are very vigilant to control disease we strongly disagree with treating bees and propping them up to keep them alive. With the right genetics, floral varieties and resources, the bees will overcome most issues. We want our bees fit for their environment not just fit for our needs”. “We started like most other beekeepers buying queen bees from interstate. Whilst these bees perform very well in ideal conditions they can struggle in our tropical conditions. We soon found bees locally raised showed higher levels of resilience to pests and diseases. We select colonies with desirable traits, graft larvae and raise new virgin queens from the daughters of the parent colony, then allow them to open-air mate with local drones”. Bee sanctuaries allow bees to live for generations in the same location, allowing adaptation to their environment, as opposed to conventional beekeeping were bees are often transported from one location to the next and used for pollinating crops. CannonBee specialise in producing 100% raw honey of single batch and single origin. Each jar of honey is traceable by location and time of year. “Our honey is not blended with artificial honey or syrups, ultrafiltered or heated. This keeps our honey as the bees intended, 100% pure with microorganisms, pollen and enzymes intact”. CannonBee’s apiaries are located in Mackay City and the Mackay Wetlands. Mackay City bees can comfortably forage the melaleuca wetlands of the Kommo Toera Trail, mangroves of the Pioneer River and backyard garden blooms. Our raw honey is of exceptional quality from seasonal varietals, namely Melaleuca, Mangrove and Eucalyptus. In addition to raw honey, CannonBee have developed a turmeric honey from locally sourced certified organic tumeric, chilli honey from locally grown fruit, 100% beeswax candles and bee balms. They also have plans to develop a cosmeceutical range in the future.

Meet the Cannon’s and read more about the CannonBee story, plus see products and stockists online at or email

Great food

EXPERIENCES come from the heart Sharing a meal unites us — as families, lovers and friends. However, there’s an intimacy with food that is often lost in the commercial reality of supply and demand. The resurgence of interest in local food movements, may be symptomatic of our need to be more involved. Whatever the reason, whole regions are benefitting as people like John and Mary-Ann Refalo share their generational knowledge and skills. The small property (Nannu Johnny’s Farm), just west of Mackay provides fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables through local markets. Mary-Ann saves surplus produce to create a range of condiments and preserves, including a rich pasta sauce. “We grow ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic, onions and herbs for our range of preservative-free, all-natural pasta sauces branded ‘Retrospect Life’. Our Maltese heritage brings the garden, cooking and family together. We saw

an opportunity to make our homemade pasta for other families to enjoy.” Free-range eggs and pasture-raised beef and pork for the meat ravioli are sourced from nearby Freckle Farm. Plain and flavoured pasta — fettuccini, spaghetti, maccheroni, fusilli (spirals) and lasagne sheets, are also sold in glutenfree varieties (spaghetti and maccheroni). “Pasta making days are a family affair with John and myself, assisted by my daughter Michelle and my sister Grace. We use durum semolina flour, which is milled in Queensland. Since the pasta contains eggs, it is more tender compared to dried pasta and only takes about half the time to cook.” Freezing pasta has allowed the Refalos to retail the range through Misfuds Fresh Fruit Barn and the Freckle Farm Shop. Regulars at the weekly Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market, they’ve established name for themselves – a testament to the quality of the products.

Pasta Cucina (Pasta Kitchen)

“There is nothing more rewarding than being able to enjoy and create memories around a table shared with family and friends. We are now completing our food trailer which will provide a cooked pasta product and other Mediterranean style food, available for catering and events.” Forever developing the business Mary-Ann is now making cheese from locally processed Eungelladale Milk, which is used in the Maltese cheese ravioli.

Weekly at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Markets at Blue Water Quay from 7am to 11am and monthly at the Twilight Markets. Connect with Pasta Cucina on Facebook

“Pasta making days are a family affair with John and myself, assisted by my daughter Michelle and my sister Grace.“


THE SEED growing a community

Third Ground Coffee House

“We see many of our community issues stemming from disconnection. By encouraging people to meet, develop relationships, learn and share practical skills to grow food - we believe we’re building greater community health and resilience.” Third Ground has a mission ‘to connect people with each other and with great food’. It’s what drives this distinctive business in Sarina to continually push the boundaries of conventional business. What began as a conversation between friends, Alexes Marshman and Tania Bailey, volunteering at the community garden in 2013, quickly became a serious business venture. Originally the idea was to source vibrant, locally grown food and create a co-op style meeting place from which to share and learn. Of course refreshments would be needed and so Alexes and Phil Marshman, drawing on their own backgrounds in farming and health, embarked on what would become one of the most challenging adventures of their lives. Described as a ‘re-villaging’ project, the Third Ground Project exists to intentionally create a village style ‘third space’ for connecting people and food, something that seems to have been lost in our modern lifestyles and hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Marshmans. The vision of Third Ground Coffee House was realised in 2015 and has developed over time to include the cafe (receiving rave reviews from locals and tourists alike),

serving locally sourced food and ‘great’ coffee, while also providing a meeting place for people to trade knowledge, seeds and garden produce. The venue also hosts a quarterly, seasonal feast in the backyard, where local producers and businesses share a meal with customers, staff and friends around a fire, accompanied by music. “Third Ground is unique in that there is no other “third space” like it in Sarina, where people can simply come and spend time. It is completely unfunded by government or corporate grants, and as such is free to respond without limitation or agenda when opportunities arise.” Alexes said. Now focused on community capital building as a priority, Alexes and Phil have had plans for a community garden drawn up. Embracing the homesteader lifestyle, they share whatever knowledge they attain freely, happy to see others valuing community and investing in fresh food — our life source. “We have witnessed the goodness that comes from a unified and diverse people with a common goal and we are eager to share and grow this goodness with you.”

Third Ground Project - a café, a community garden, a homesteading school, and a community marketplace in the making. visit:


offers hands-on experience for beer lovers

“It’s a fresh product — it’s not like homebrew, but it’s not like a commercial product either.”

Goanna Brewing

A Mackay microbrewery is taking an innovative approach to attracting local customers – by getting them involved in the brewing process. Goanna Brewing, based in Paget, is a brew-on-premises microbrewery, offering over 240 beer varieties on its menu. The products are unpasteurised, with no preservatives, and include beer, cider, and ginger beer. Goanna Brewing is a membership-based beer lovers club, allowing members to get involved with the brewing process, as much or as little as they like, in order to get the best tasting beer in Mackay. The advantage of a brew-on-site arrangement is that customers are charged 3% excise rate instead of between 35% and 50%, making the beer cheaper. Goanna uses a paddock to pint method, waste from the brewery goes back to the farm, is made into compost which is used on the fruit trees, then that fruit comes back to the brewery to make more cider. Owner Aneurin Williams says: “I’ve got a passion for food and alcohol, I travel around the world a fair bit and see different cuisines and cultures. With this brewery I saw an opportunity. Within the microbrewery and boutique beer industry, there’s a lot of people starting to get educated about beer. There is such a variety of flavours around the world and there’s a lot of people receptive to that. “Joining our network of almost 4000 members and become involved is an opportunity to find beers you enjoy. People join up, test a few beers, then they might ask to make a few changes to the recipe, it gives the consumer the ability to find what they like. “You become a member, then you can bring your own bottles down and bottle your own beer, we also can supply bottles. It’s a minimum of a carton of beer to purchase. You bring bottles in, pay $34 to fill the carton, you can do it yourself, fill and cap the bottles, so you have that handson experience. “Then you have the ability to upgrade and have your own bar at home. Many of our members bring in kegs, they have a refrigeration system at home with a nice tap setup. You can have draft beer at home. “It’s sustainably run, and one of the things we are tapping into is when you see these catastrophic events that wipe out plantations and there’s all this produce going to waste. I purchased a van to go in and utilise that produce, I’ll be making sure that produce is not going to waste. Sustainability is huge for me, I hate seeing things go to waste.”

Visit them at 11/25 Transport Avenue, Paget

Look them up at


KEEPING the natural way A husband and wife team are creating pure, natural, raw honey on their 15-acre property at Nindaroo – with the help of about 400 hives of bees. Over the past five years, Keith and Denise Lang have grown their beekeeping business, Pure n Natural Honey, to the point where they will have to start hiring staff to help keep up with production demands. Keith said he has been keeping bees for over 30 years. “We’re based at Nindaroo on 15 acres, where we’ve got our extraction plant where we extract all our honey and we also breed queen bees here to supply the local market and for our own use. “Our only income is as beekeepers. We are full-time beekeepers and we run about 400 hives. On a good year we can extract up to 20 tonnes of honey. We are as big as we can go with a husband-and-wife team, without employing anybody else — that will be the next step, one or two people on a parttime basis just to help with the peak times.

“We are full-time beekeepers and we run about 400 hives. On a good year we can extract up to 20 tonnes of honey.”

Pure n Natural Honey

“We are migratory beekeepers — that means we move our hives around. We’ve got a small truck and trailer so we can move about 80 hives at a time. We follow the blossoms, predominantly chasing eucalyptus trees, blue gums, ironbarks, those sort of trees. We work an area of 300km from home. We move them at night time and unload them the next morning. How long we stay in one place varies depending on the blossoms and the trees that are flowering in the place we set up. It depends on the weather as well. Normally we spend three months in one area. “We’ve got areas that we have been going to for quite some time, so we arrange to go back to those, but if there’s a shortage like there was after Cyclone Debbie, I’ll drive up to 500km to find the right trees and then contact the property owner. It’s rare that you get knocked back to put bees there. Everyone understands the importance of bees and wants to help. Normally it’s a trade-off — I’ll give them a bucket of honey in exchange for putting the bees there. “I promote not using any kind of chemicals. A couple of the properties I use are into sustainable agriculture and don’t allow any chemicals at all. Those are spots that I keep going to because I know I’m not going to get the bees sprayed out. That’s a risk when you do pollination jobs, you could end up with the bees sprayed out so I definitely try and promote limited pesticide use.”

To find out more, go to

Sometimes Keith has refused paid pollination jobs on small farms because the risk of spraying from neighboring properties was too high. “Because of the small acreage of the property and how far bees fly – up to 5km – the property you’re on might only be half a kilometre across and the bloke down the road sprays and you lose your bees.” Denise takes care of the marketing and distribution. “A lot of our sales are at markets,” she said. “We have regular customers who keep coming back, but we have branched out into a few selected shops around Mackay and Airlie Beach area as well. We supply bulk honey to a lot of the shops as well — the Chinese shops, restaurants, and health food shops as well. “We sell it around town at Mifsuds, Farleigh Store, Evans Ave IGA and Big Bear supermarket. We also sell from home – we even offer a free delivery service around town. I’ll drop it off to the customer’s door. It’s good for older people, sick people or people with babies.

Café One 3

Vegies Unlimited


Local Produce for a quarter of a century doing things differently Andrew Watts, owner of Café One 3 in Airlie Beach, has been involved in food and business since he was 11 years old. Passionate about exploring diverse and nourishing dishes, Andrew and the café take a creative approach to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Andrew strives to use organic and local products to create clean, healthy homemade food. “I started basically because I thought it was a good idea to use what the region had at hand, and it’s just gone from there. I love using local, promoting and supporting local,” he says. The café also features local non-edible products, including craft and artisan goods. But Andrew admits cooking local isn’t always easy. “I just try to get as much as we can. People who grow it in their back garden even bring it in, and we barter and swap for a coffee or breakfast and do it that way! What you can get is very seasonal and unfortunately some of the bigger producers can’t cater for the small orders; and some of the smaller can’t guarantee produce. We work with what we can, that’s the reality of local.” Throughout the year Andrew can usually source his winter veggies, tomato, limes, bananas, some tropical fruits, parsley and some greens locally. Andrew likes doing most things a little bit differently. With a menu inspired by Dr Seuss, he says – “we are a little different, but then who isn’t!?”

Find them at 13 Waterson Way, Airlie Beach

follow on Facebook

Vegies Unlimited has been supplying the Mackay area with locally-sourced fruit, vegetables and herbs for more than 25 years for both retail and wholesale customers. Operator Steve Schmidt moved to the area after working as a dairy farmer in the Darling Downs. He said: “I’m inspired to support, wherever possible, the local farmers in their endeavors to get their product to market. “It’s important to be sourcing from local farmers to try and build up resilience within the local economy and build up a strong network of local suppliers. It’s critical for the whole community and it helps to bond our local community together.” Steve also volunteers his time to strengthen the local food movement as a management committee member with the Greater Whitsunday Food Network.

The Vegies Unlimited retail store is located at 303 Nebo Road, Mackay and the wholesale outlet is at 5 Woodman Parade, Mackay.

Charlie Muscat

Mackay Showground Outdoor Market

Pick of the produce for

early risers Each Saturday morning at 6am, Mackay’s popular Showgrounds Market kicks off. It features local produce, a farmers’ market, flea market stalls, natural products, seafood, plants and much more. The Showgrounds Markets has evolved over time from the original Showgrounds Saturday Flea Market, which started in the late 1970s, selling produce alongside bric-a-brac and second-hand goods. These days the market has become the place to find local produce on a Saturday morning. Steve Gavioli from the Mackay Show Association recalled the origin of the markets. “They used to be at the end of the grounds near the corner of Milton and Gordon Streets under the old shed there. “It operated there for many years and always had a strong fruit and veggie side to things, but in those days there were a lot of flea market, bric-a-brac stalls as well. “It’s always been a strong local produce market — for example when in season, the farmers turn up to sell mangoes, watermelons, custard apples, lychees or bananas; they stay for four or five weeks, then they don’t come back until the following year. “It’s received very well by the public. Closer to Christmas, more and more of the locals will visit the markets. There’s quite a large following in Mackay that do their produce shopping here every week.”

“Over the years, the bric-abrac side of things has fallen away and more produce has been injected into the markets, and that’s what we have today.” Showgrounds Market is open from 6 to 10am every Saturday. Free parking is available on-site. For stall information, phone 0447 917 763.

Charlie, a

friendly face at markets Charlie Muscat is a familiar face at Mackay’s markets. He has been selling produce that he has grown on his five-acre farm at Pleystowe for nearly 30 years. Charlie grows an assortment of fruit, vegetables and herbs, including cucumbers, sweet potatoes, watermelons, corn, paw paws, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, beetroot, carrots, coriander, parsley. “Everything is grown here locally, and I try to keep it as local as possible.” “I grow lots of small things, you can’t just grow one crop and that’s it. “I mostly sell my produce direct to the public at markets, although I am supplying one shop at the moment. I do all the markets — Greater Whitsunday, Sarina, Marian, sometimes Seaforth, and Troppo. “While my produce is not 100% organic, I try to use as little chemicals as possible. I haven’t got a routine to spray every week, I only spray when there is a need for it. Like when you go to the doctor, you only go when you need to. I try and keep it to a minimum.”

Weekly at the Saturday Showground Markets Mackay and Wednesday at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Markets

Flackyard Dining


WITH A NATIVE FLAVOUR Gourmet ‘bush tucker’ - fine dining gone wild!

“There is so much love that goes into the production of these ingredients, and it’s really important for me to be able to flow that on, to give produce the respect it deserves, right through to the plate.”

Let’s set the scene. A leisurely drive to the picturesque Pioneer Valley, you arrive in Pinnacle at an intimate old timber church, steeped in history. You’re greeted at the arched doors and seated comfortably. Now relaxing with chilled wine, a beer or even better, the house crafted specialty cider – made at Goanna Brewery, enjoying the company of your friends or family. Your senses are overwhelmed by the aroma wafting from the kitchen. Perhaps it’s Freckle Farm beef, served two ways with pickled wild rosella, sea fern and a red wine jus. It might be wild-caught coral trout with pickled fennel, fish-bone broth emulsion, crustacean oil and Eungella rainforest grown finger limes, served with triple cooked potatoes. Followed by dessert, featuring local finger lime, Davidson Plum, and strawberry gum ice-cream, served on a bed of wild puffed rice with muntrie berries (also known as an emu apple with four times the antioxidants of blueberries) – topped with caramelised white chocolate, and marigold flowers. Everything is made to order from fresh ingredients – stocks and sauces, to whole fish and sirloins. Meet chef Nik Flack, with a passion for local food, produce and the ultimate bush tucker experience, Nik is bringing a fine bush dining revolution to Mackay. Following the success of Nik and Emily’s ‘Flackyard Dining’, he’s opened a restaurant a stone’s throw from his childhood neighbourhood in Pinnacle, with the help of wife Emily, introducing his sons Iluka and Hunter to the country life. “Only two percent of all Aussie bush tucker, commercial, is indigenous owned. We discovered Meningrida ‘Wild Foods’ from Arnhem Land. Wild harvested green ants, bush apple, Kakadu Plum - a lot of it is extremely healthy, high in antioxidants and omega 3. The response has been fantastic, with patrons enjoying a two, three, five, seven or ten course degustation. The vibe is very relaxed.” Nik has been a chef for 20 years, 13 of which he has spent in fine dining, now creating mouthwatering degustation menus from seasonal produce. A moving feast that means no two dining experiences will be the same. Originally raised in Finch Hatton, he returned to Mackay with Emily and Hunter, after travelling Australia and the world. Nik has worked alongside some of Australia’s most respected Chefs including Shannon Bennett (MasterChef and Vue De Monde, Melbourne), Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov (Fervor) and Jed Gerrard (Wildflower, Perth) who ignited his passion for native fare. However, it is a local Mackay chef he says he will be forever grateful to - his mentor, Chef Steven Branson, for his direction and determination. “We’re using Aussie bush tucker as our focal point, really showcasing our local growers and producers. Since returning to Mackay, I’ve been gob-smacked by how much more local produce is available and it’s growing.” “There is so much love that goes into the production of these ingredients, and it’s really important for me to be able to flow that on, to give produce the respect it deserves, right through to the plate.” The Flackyard is now open, so check out Nik’s website to book directly. Catering to all dietary requirements, you won’t experience anything like this, anywhere else in the region.

Call Nik on 0457 082 344

Follow, The Flackyard on Facebook to see what’s cooking and check out Nik’s story on YouTube.


have become part of the Mackay landscape

Debbie’s Seafood

“All our catch is the result of sustainable fishing practices. Everything is sustainable and monitored, so that any given area isn’t fished out.” Debbie and Mark Ahern are in a fortunate place. They own a thriving seafood retail business, employing approximately twenty loyal and valued staff and in their own way, are innovators of the seafood retail industry in central Queensland. Life was not always so abundant however… As commercial fishers, they spent every waking moment trawling the north Queensland seas in search of fish, prawns and crabs, desperately trying to bring in the biggest and best catch possible. They then sold their haul to seafood restaurants and fresh fish markets. Available fish stocks and ever-fluctuating competitive market prices governed their lives. Fortunately for the Aherns and for the residents of Mackay and surrounding areas, the days of battling the worst Mackay weather on the high seas are now over. The times of sleeping on beaches being eaten alive by sandflies are finished. Although the hardest of times are long gone the lessons learned by Debbie and Mark have been invaluable. Having been at the blunt end of the industry, they know what it is like to search in vain and come home empty handed. Equally they have experienced the elation that comes with netting a quality catch, knowing the joy it will bring families at the dinner table. They know that “local and fresh” is not just a motto; it’s a lifestyle. The Aherns’ industry experience provides an intimate knowledge of what is quality seafood and what is not. It taught them to respect their produce and handle it with great care, ensuring quality was maintained.

Debbie obtained her seafood retail license and began selling some of the catch out of a small truck at the Mackay markets. With a strong commitment to service, the idea of selling fresh seafood to the masses struck a chord with many loyal customers. Debbie and Mark knew that locals wanted quality, convenience, and they were street smart when it came to seafood. The business grew and is now a major and well-respected enterprise in the Mackay region. Debbie says that they follow sustainable fishing practices to ensure there is a future for the region’s fisheries. She said: “Mark is on the inshore working group committee, which is an advisory board for the government on quotas. The species of fish that are at critical numbers, we don’t buy. “All our catch is the result of sustainable fishing practices. Everything is sustainable and monitored, so that any given area isn’t fished out. There are scientists involved in ongoing monitoring of the fisheries.” Debbie’s Seafood is based at a seafood shop of the same name at 16 David Muir Street in Slade Point. Here the daily fish catch is filleted, prawns and crabs are cooked, and mussels marinated. The enterprise is probably best known, however, for the fleet of seafood trucks roaming the countryside from Mackay to Sarina, Moranbah, Farleigh, Marian and Dysart. They have become iconic. They are part of the Mackay landscape. They have a cult following. When Mackay residents think local fish market, they think Debbie’s Seafood!

For the seafood van locations, visit

MAD Cow Coffee

Mobile service

lends an ear When Sonya Oliver-Scoble and Baz Scoble lost their son Aiden Eckstein to Mixed Anxiety and Depression (MAD), they resolved to continue to tell his story over coffee and raise awareness for the issue of suicide in regional areas. They decided to provide an ear for those who have a story of their own, assist with providing links to local services, be a voice for those who are suffering or have an untold story and continue to work towards reducing the stigma associated with mental illness through MAD Cow Coffee, a mobile coffee van servicing the Mackay region. Sonya said MAD Cow Coffee was started as a legacy to Aiden, who lost his battle with Mixed Anxiety and Depression (MAD), and a tribute to a great bunch of mad cows — friends and family who supported and continue to support her and Baz through the hard times. “Our Aiden was quite the coffee buff. Not only was he very particular about the quality of his brew and the types of roast and beans but would open up and chat over coffee. “Our legacy to him is to continue to tell his story over coffee and raise awareness for the issue of suicide in regional areas, provide an ear for those who have a story of their own, assist with providing links to local services, be a voice for those who are suffering or have an untold story and continue to work towards reducing the stigma associated with mental illness.” The MAD Cow Coffee van services a regular Monday-to-Friday mobile coffee route in the Mackay region and caters to regular sporting, private, community, corporate and charity events. They deliver great coffee and a range of other hot and cold beverages along with fresh local ready-made sandwiches,

The MAD Cow Coffee van can be found weekly at the Greater Whitsunday Farmers Market. Like them on Facebook

wraps, rolls, cakes, slices and snacks. “We are community focused — giving back to and supporting the community that supports us is an important part of what we do,” Sonya said. The MAD Cow Coffee team takes pride in delivering a singleorigin brew that is grown and roasted locally in Queensland from a regional grower practicing sustainable farming methods. “We only use milk sourced from local dairy farms situated right here in our own backyard at beautiful Eungella and delivered fresh by the farmer to our door. “By supporting us, you are not only supporting our son’s legacy and helping us to continue telling his story, but are supporting a range of local community groups, our pay-it-forward coffee program and our local farmers. “We utilise Whitsunday Dairy Fresh to supply our business with fresh local milk and cream. We source our coffee blend from the Skybury coffee plantation in far North Queensland. “Both suppliers support our values and are familiar with our story. We always source locally produced goods and services from local businesses where possible. “We are a Grapevine Help-a-Mate hub and support a range of local community services and sporting groups.”

Holistic Pantry

BIG DREAMS for a small farm Holistic Pantry is a small-scale farm with big dreams nestled in the lush rainforest of the Eungella hinterland. They grow several types of garlic on a half-acre site, including giant Russian garlic, along with red Madras turmeric. Adam Burrows, who runs the farm along with his partner Alicia Kidd, says Holistic Pantry is a small family run business in the Mackay, Whitsunday region. He said: “Our goal is to produce fine foods using traditional wholesome methods. Our farm in Eungella has produced its third crop of garlic, which can be purchased here.” “Black garlic will also be a new addition to our business in 2019. “Holistic Pantry Artisan Bakehouse is currently under construction, and in 2019 organic woodfired sourdough will be locally available.” Adam said their aim is to create products using wholesome traditional methods. “We practise biodynamic farming and have a passion for soil health which means well-cared-for plants resulting in quality chemical-free products for our consumers. “We’ve got all our seed stock for garlic and we cut all our own mulch. Some growers use plastic for garlic, but we don’t. The mulch comes from the farm, it’s all done by hand. The only inputs we use are organic, such as Seasol.” Holistic Pantry produce can be found at the Freckle Farm Shop, Vegies Unlimited, Soul Food and the Mackay Showground Markets. Their produce is also featured on menus at Ibis TurBARlence and Oscars Cafe.

To find out more about market locations or to follow Holistic Pantry’s journey, like them on Facebook

or visit the website at

Ballantyne’s Strawberry Farm

Marg Ballantyne never thought she’d end up in strawberries. “I was an office girl, and my husband Alan came to me during the airline strike in the ‘80s and said ‘I’ve just bought 60 acres’ and I said ‘what?’.” Fast forward 30 years and Ballantyne’s Strawberry Farm is one of the region’s most iconic and well-known local producers. Each year, the farm opens its gates to hundreds of eager visitors, ready to pick, eat and enjoy the delicious red fruit. From humble beginnings, and with a lot of hard yakka, Ballantyne’s has grown significantly. Now, Marg is the first to admit that strawberries are her life and her passion. “I get a bit bored in the off season! Alan grew up on a small orchard in New Zealand and he’d always been keen to try strawberries. We started with just a few thousand plants, which we sold locally at the Airlie Beach markets, and it took off from there. We jumped up to 50,000 plants the following year and we currently have about 80,000. “It’s a family business, the kids all help out. We’ve just finished planting (April 2019), and my daughter, who is actually a teacher, was here all holidays.” Ballantyne’s offer a rare treat — a local food experience that is hands-on. In season (from about mid June) visitors can drive up to the Calen farm, and head into the strawberry fields to select, feel and pick their own punnet. The concept is a brilliant one for families, and locals looking for something a bit different. “People really love it and a lot of people say there’s nothing else like this around Mackay. We have people come from interstate and overseas. It’s a great experience for families and this is a beautiful area out here – people don’t just pick and leave, they come for the scenery, see the water hole up the road and make a full day of it,” Marg says. Ballantyne’s has its own café on-farm and sell strawberry jam and strawberry ice-cream, as well as the fresh fruit. That’s a trip that’s hard to resist!

36 Brodies Road, Camerons Pocket, Calen. For more information on a Ballantyne’s daytrip, visit their Facebook page Ballantyne’s Strawberries @Strawbs1 You will also see a Ballantyne’s fresh strawberry cart on the Bruce highway near Calen from late May to late September. Buy Ballantyne’s strawberries in season at the Mackay Farmers Markets – Saturday morning at the Mackay Showgrounds and every Wednesday at the Bluewater Quay — and the Airlie Beach Market on Saturday morning. In full production, strawberries are stocked at the local IGA in Proserpine.

Camilleri’s Farm Market

Next time you’re driving by Mac’s Truck Stop BP in Balberra, stop in and pick up some local produce at Camilleri’s Farm Market. Brian Camilleri is from a strong farming background. A sugar chemist by trade, he says he “ended up going farming”, starting production at his most recent Alligator Creek farm in 2006.

“Back in the old days we used to supply produce all over Australia but now we just supply our own outlets. What we stock that isn’t grown ourselves we buy direct from other farmers, locally if possible and if not locally, from as close as we can source the product.” His list of produce is impressively extensive – the Camilleri’s grow custard apples, soursops, lychees, figs, pomegranates, mangoes, pawpaws, a wide variety of citrus, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce in the winter, watermelons in the summer, rockmelons, pumpkins, and have just started on dragonfruit. “We’ve got 150 acres, 50 acres in horticulture and the rest is in cane,” says Brian. He is conscious of efficient production and has done projects with Reef Catchments focused on more sustainable farming. “We try to keep our soil in good condition and it seems to be working — we get good moisture retention and nutrient retention.” Brian’s grandparents came from Malta a bit over 100 years ago in 1914 and started farming once they arrived. They farmed in Mt Jukes valley, then had a family farm in the Eimeo and Blacks Beach area, with Brian’s Alligator Creek property the most recent in the history of local food production.

Camilleri’s Farm Market, 78 Macs Truckstop Service Rd, Balberra or find Brian’s produce at the weekly markets.

Find them on Facebook @Camillerisfarmmarket

Dave Hunter — Bananas

best of the

BUNCH When it comes to local food bursting with flavour, you can’t go past Dave Hunter’s organic bananas. Nourishing, sweet and locally grown, these are the ultimate guilt-free provenance treat. Dave owns and manages an organic banana farm near Calen with his wife Janet. He is a well-recognised figure at local markets, having grown and sold his mouth-watering fare for the last 30 years. Situated at Camerons Pocket, 55km north-west of Mackay, his property is bordered by the beautiful St Helens Creek and Eungella National Park. About 6ha of the 50ha property is under banana production, both Cavendish and Ducasse. The property is lush, green and as well nurtured as the fruit he sells. Dave has been certified A-grade organic with AusQual for the past 10 years and has a strong interest in sustainable production.

“The more you tap into the natural system you will find that nature will keep things working on its own,” Dave says. Dave has made many changes to his farming approach over the years, including recent significant revegetation of native species across the property. Unfortunately, he took a big hit during Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017. “Cyclones for us are like a drought for a cattle man. You have 18 months to 2 years without income,” Dave says. Luckily, the local community remains incredibly supportive and production is now back on track. For Dave, the local markets and word of mouth are all he needs. His customers come looking for the fruit he sells. “We love selling at the markets, the people are very positive. All our sales are by word of mouth and by samples. Once people have tasted one, they come back.”

”For me one of the big things is food miles. We sell our produce locally and that means a lot. Most of the bananas you would usually buy are doing 1500km – 2000km by the time you get them.”

Find Dave at the Mackay Farmers’ Markets – Saturday morning 6.30am to 11am at the Mackay Showgrounds — and every Wednesday at the Bluewater Quay from 7am to 11am. Dave’s produce is also at the Airlie Beach Market on Saturday morning.

Shine Meitzel


with love - all things


It is often in childhood we experience things that nurture, shape, form, guide or even hinder us. For Shine Meitzel, moving from suburban life in Mackay at the age of 7 to a small acreage ten minutes from town is still recalled with fondness.

now leads the ‘Chai Tribe Cafe’ and many people will know him from Happy Daze, Springfestival and Mushroom Valley.

“We grew up there with horses, chooks, dogs, cats, geese, guinea fowl, ducks, peacocks, pigs, goats, cockatoos, eventually even ostriches as well. My dad loved his animals and plants.”

Shine values local community, friends, sharing, and cooperation.

Shine’s father invited him to a local branch meeting of the Rarefruit Council of Australia when he was 15. Amazed and inspired, Shine joined the following year, becoming the organisation’s fourth life member. His love of fresh produce and plants was further developed as an apprentice chef, opening the door to global travel, where he honed his culinary knowledge. Travel had made him restless, moving from Cairns to Darwin and then Brisbane, before encountering permaculture in northern NSW. “I helped to establish the Permaculture Research Institute with Jeff Lawton and friends, then started a Permaculture implementation business. After volunteering in Ecuador for one year, helping restart a permaculture project, I moved back to Mackay.” Permaculture is a design system for the creation of socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable communities and, with this in mind, Shine became involved in starting the Mackay community garden, while sharing permaculture principles, plants, and cooking. Plantasia Nursery is another of Shine’s initiatives, stocking tropical food plants. Considering all of his experience, it was a natural progression to set up a catering business and food van. Beginning with events and festivals like Wintermoon, he

“We source as much home-grown, organic and local produce as possible, from meat and eggs to a variety of seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. I run cooking workshops and actively educate people about growing food in the tropics.” When he’s not at festivals, workshops, the community gardens, or his nursery, you’ll find Shine working hard on a Certified Organic banana farm and selling produce.

”You have to be open to change in yourself first and then share with friends and family, dance, sing, garden, be curious, ask questions, have compassion, love is still the answer....”

Mackay GardenGro


CHOICES for home growers

A Mackay farming company has introduced GardenGro, a line of organic compost, aiming to introduce home gardeners to organic growing practices, and educate future generations on sustainability and healthy lifestyle choices.

Sales manager Gavin Franettovich said that it is a family-owned business. “We’ve been operating for over 30 years. We’ve got an operation at Marian and one at Bakers Creek. “We worked in conjunction with Reef Catchments to buy the composter about six

or seven years ago. We get by-products and we turn it for about eight weeks until it’s a black compost product, then we use that to fertilise our farms. Now we are also using it to complement other people’s urban farms. We are just now moving into selling the compost separately.

”Composting builds up our soil so we don’t have to buy products in. That’s the future of farming.”

“Composting has definitely improved as technology machines have been developed — farm technology, GPS technology has changed significantly. “The costs of inputs have kept going up and soil nutrient levels have gone down so we looked to find a way to improve our farming operation and compost was the solution. “The biggest thing on our farms is that you want zero run-off. We’re close to creeks and rivers. So all our farms have tailing dam setups, so that when we are watering, it’s getting caught in those tailing dams. The next step is using compost as opposed to synthetic fertilisers. It reduces the cost and is also more environmentally friendly.

levels and decrease synthetic fertilisers. That’s our goal. “Sustainable farming is the future and we’ve got to start using by-products for farming. Composting builds up our soil so we don’t have to buy products in. That’s the future of farming.” GardenGro is ideal for vegetable gardens, fruit trees and plants. It can be mixed with existing soil to introduce essential nutrients and increase moisture holding capabilities GardenGro comes in one tonne and 20-litre bags and is available from the Turfgrass Mackay store located at 5 Te Kowai Foulden Rd, Te Kowai.

“We want to educate people on how to use this compost for their soils to increase nutrient

For more information, go to

GardenGro products are on show at the local Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Markets every Wednesday from 7am to 11am, and local delivery is available on all products.


culinary delights in your backyard

Grow your own

Did you know that we waste over five million tonnes of food annually? One in five shopping bags end up in the bin, or at least compost. That’s a waste of more than $3,800 of your income. Fortunately, supermarket waste can now be collected by charities like OzHarvest and re-distributed to those in need. But this doesn’t address the whole problem.

Growing your own vegetables, fruit, herbs and greens has its rewards, but there are also challenges to consider. The best use of available space, health of your soil, or available organic matter, growing conditions and even surplus produce, can all be problematic. With some planning and relevant knowledge, you could be benefiting from delicious, nutritious fresh foods and saving money. It’s also a great way to get children involved, understanding their food and eating a variety of things they grow. A bonus that most gardeners will attest to, is the satisfaction of eating produce you’ve grown yourself – with love and time. It can also be very therapeutic to spend time outside digging around in the dirt, connecting with life-sustaining elements.

Sunlight, water, microbe-filled soil and fresh air are not only good for your plants, but for you as well. Just ten minutes of sunlight on your skin (before 10am and after 3pm to be sun safe) provides you with vitamin D, produced in your own body! Then there’s the visually appealing nature of gardens that is very relaxing. Flowering plants will attract bees, butterflies and a number of insects, not all beneficial, so there are a few things you need to know about managing them especially if you want to do it without chemicals. The internet is a great source of information if you know where to look. Connecting with your local community garden will also provide hands-on experience and seeds or seedlings, grown in your climate zone.

Getting Started... Growing in small spaces – consider a container garden in a small backyard, or pots in a sunny spot on your balcony can be a good way to begin growing food. Herbs, vegetables and some fruits grow well in containers and mixed plantings like thyme, rosemary, basil or chives will enhance salads, soups and meat or seafood dishes. Strawberries do well in a pot or hanging basket. No-dig vegetable gardens work well in small yards for pumpkins, potatoes, ginger, turmeric

and beans, leafy greens, tomatoes, carrots and beetroot (strawberries too). They reduce the need for maintenance (weeding) and save your back because they’re raised above ground. TIP - Planting fruit trees instead of ornamentals will give you foliage and seasonal food! Composting and worm farms provide solutions to garden and food waste, while also generating organic matter to improve your garden, not to mention worm castings and worm tea – nature’s fertiliser!

Mansfield Park

Local paddock

to local plate Have you ever set out in search of a new beginning only to find yourself drawn back to where you started?

When Graham Mansfield met Glenys and started a family, they never dreamed that years later in 1997 when exploring Tasmania and Queensland for a suitable grazing property, complete with water and plentiful pastures, they would find 200 acres in the ranges of his hometown, Sarina. Glenys recalls the sentiment of the time. “During that year we set about fencing boundaries, building our family home, adding infrastructure and building our herd of cattle.” Clean air, combined with rolling green hills and cinematic landscapes, provided the perfect backdrop to establish their grazing business, before adding a successful farm stay and animal nursery. Ahead of their time, agri-tourism (as it is known today) would continue to permeate their lives, when in 2008 they purchased a motel and restaurant in the heart of Sarina’s town centre.

”The abundance of fresh flowing water through West Funnel Creek and the climate was one of the draw cards to the property.”

No longer able to maintain the farm stay, the family put everything into the new venture. However, the farm would play a pivotal role in the restaurant. “After a couple of years, we were frustrated with the quality of produce available to our restaurant and we began the journey to produce our own free-range pork,” said Glenys. “Graham really enjoys breeding his Large Black and Berkshire pigs. They’re rich in flavour and well marbled.” Building strong relationships and supporting local producers through the Greater Whitsunday Food Network is also proving beneficial. Provenance is important to patrons who are keen to know where their food is from and how it is produced. “There is a great deal of pride when you supply your own product into your own restaurant. It also means that our paddock is not far from the plate. Our customers can talk to the farmer behind the product, learn some local history, and taste delicious food.” With a stud herd of Grey Brahmans, the Mansfield Park legacy continues through their sons — Jason, a practicing vet whose knowledge has assisted the family in improving management of pastures and livestock, and youngest son Shaun. He is also hands-on and ensures Glenys and Graham travel or take short breaks. “Our number one goal is to conserve the local heritage through sustainable farming practices,” said Glenys. To that end, they have worked closely with local NRM group, Reef Catchments, over many years to improve their land and water systems. Glenys said all changes made on-farm are done with future generations in mind. “Our grandkids swim in our creek and our family works on this land. It means everything to us. We want our sons and their families to enjoy the land and its abundance long into the future.”

Get in touch via email:

food and family

GROWN ON-FARM “There’s always something to do,” is an understatement for Rob and Ainsley McArthur and their six children. Their property, Mystery Park, has been in the McArthur family for more than 90 years since Rob’s great grandfather settled just west of St Lawrence in 1925. Rob and Ainsley are fourth generation graziers who have more recently branched off into pig and pork production, supplying to the Greater Whitsunday Food Network and region. They run the large property, simultaneously raising and involving their six children. It’s safe to say there’s never a dull moment. “We run about 4500 head of cattle, and about 150 pigs,” Rob says.

McArthur Holdings Mystery Park

The pigs now provide production and total system benefits. “We raise our pigs in pastured paddocks through a rotational grazing system, which complements our larger cattle grazing rotation (a multispecies type system). Our aim is to both build organic matter and improve soil health. Pigs are rotated into fresh paddocks regularly so that nutrients are spread evenly and grass cover is maintained,” Rob says. But Ainsley says initially they began growing Berkshire pigs to feed a hungry brood of their own! “We initially went into pigs for our own consumption, loving the array of fresh homegrown pork, ham, bacon and ribs they provided for our growing children. We couldn’t believe how much more flavour and character pasture-raised pork had. “As our confidence grew with pig husbandry, we could see an opportunity to expand our band of breeding sows. Growth has been very organic, scaling slowly to ensure we could manage farrowing, weaning and market preparation, always seeking to improve our system.” The McArthur’s do not sell direct to the public, but have previously supplied to the local Freckle Farm shop and Greater Whitsunday Food Network. “This has been a great relationship, allowing us to work with a boutique brand and see transparency in the supply chain. We are excited to offer the local community a homegrown product we know and love to market in this way,” said Ainsley.

You can also learn more about the McArthur’s rural family life at Mystery Park at the blog

Rob said McArthur Holdings had always been built on a family foundation, and that the pig enterprise was no different. “It’s all about connecting consumers with their farmers, building knowledge and confidence in the food production system, developing and improving our land and involving our children in the business of agriculture along the way.” Ainsely agrees. Now that’s something worth investing in.

”We are raising our six children, while immersed in the life we are passionate about – the beef business, the land we are custodians over, the livestock we raise, and nurturing a family in rural Australia.”

”Being a part of an accredited farmers market is great for us and means that the customer is assured that all produce has not travelled great distances or been kept in cold storage.”

Aproducing labour of love a bountiful harvest Spoilt for choice when it comes to cooking shows, many of us are now searching for local fresh produce to enhance our efforts. What we can’t grow in pots on the patio or patches in the backyard is generally provided by grocery stores. For John Refalo and wife Mary-Ann, their Maltese heritage meant they’ve always had a backyard ‘vegie’ patch. Growing food was second nature thanks to their families, something Mary-Ann is grateful for. “Our parents were our greatest teachers and it’s something that our children and grandchildren have learnt as well. We currently have 1000 lychee trees, with 4 varieties, producing early, mid and late season. As well as a mix of mangos, limes and assorted tropical and citrus fruit trees.”

Nannu Johnny’s Farm

Striving to be chemical free where possible, John spends all his free time tending the farm. Running a successful engineering business by day, according to wife Mary-Ann he loves nothing more than taking the four wheeler out at the end of the day. “It’s his way of de-stressing. He considers himself Mackay’s gourmet farmer, raising and growing our own food, knowing where it comes from and appreciating the taste which is second to none.” With a reputation for excellence, in 2016 the Refalos were approached to join the Greater Whitsunday Food Network and provide their fresh produce to the public via the Farmers’ Market. This meant branding the hobby and creating a business — Nannu Johnny’s Farm was the obvious choice as Mary-Ann explains, “It’s what the grandkids call it, Nannu in Maltese means granddad. “Being a part of an accredited farmers market is great for us and means that the customer is assured that all produce has

You’ll discover more on their Facebook page.

not travelled great distances or been kept in cold storage. Customers quite often comment on the longer shelf life and noticeable taste difference.” Nannu Johnny’s Farm, will never rival the range of global grocery chains and doesn’t want to. Customers understand that available produce is seasonal, but may be pleasantly surprised by the variety offered outside the kitchen staples. “We have the flexibility to grow and experiment with our crops, supplying vegetables not often found in the grocers such as heirloom varieties of carrots, tomatoes and eggplant. If it’s unusual such as kohlrabi, I explain its taste and uses and they go away a bit more educated. I also offer some recipe cards for customers to take away with them.”

New Reefs Hydroponics

LETTUCE make your day New Reefs Hydroponics has been owned and operated by husband and wife team Dean and Alison Halpin since 2000. Situated in Mackay, they specialise in the production of hydroponic lettuce, herbs, bok choy, rocket, baby spinach and salad mix. Both Dean and Alison are particularly passionate about producing local and fresh produce. Dean grew up in the farming industry, and has continued his passion for producing for the industry growing quality, fresh and seasonal vegetables. Alison said the company is approaching its 20th year. “New Reefs Hydroponics commenced operation 19 years ago. We were only going to sell from the roadside but we approached all local wholesalers and IGA in Sarina and we realised that they were interested in local fresh produce all those years ago. “Back then, there was a grower at Pleystowe and a large iceberg growing property on the current university site. Our first sale was to the Colonial Fruit and Veg shop in Sarina. “In our first year of growing, we had every conceivable disease and bug, and hailstorms, and we had a hydroponic grower in NSW who was our mentor who told us ‘you’ll be fine from now on — you’ve dealt with all the lettuce problems’. “Over the 19 years we have developed and grown with the growth of Mackay and The Whitsunday area. We started with 800 holes and now grow in 30,000. “Over the first three years, Dean and I both worked off farm. He did day shift at Hay Point with a contractor while expanding the farm and I worked evening shift nursing at Good Shepherd Lodge. Then Dean went full-time on farm and I

Stockists: Vegies Unlimited, Growers Own Proserpine, The Whitsunday Farmers’ Market

worked day shift and did the Mackay deliveries before work. “They were busy times, while raising our four boys. Over the years the boys have all worked on the farm and helped out wherever possible, and still do to this day when time permits. “We believe this has given all our boys a great work ethic, because in the end we work to raise our children and give them all the opportunities that we can in life. “We didn’t have the luxury of going away on holidays, but we could work around the farm to be at all their sports and school events. “At one stage we had three women working for us and we were sending produce to Mackay, Townsville, Rockhampton, Brisbane markets. Dean spent so much time away from the farm, meeting trucks at all hours of the day, and we got to a time where we could actually sell all produce in Mackay and Rockhampton. “We at present run the farm ourselves. We grow six varieties of lettuce, we do salad mix, basil, coriander, dill, Italian and English parsley, watercress, chives, kale, rocket, English spinach in cooler months, we may pop up with a few more new lines this year in the Asian greens, they will be for market stalls. “The production of produce in farming primarily comes down to weather, and living in the north of Queensland, we have our challenges. As of this year we have decided not to stress ourselves any longer and close the farm down over the wet season. This gives us refocus time, major maintenance time and a lovely holiday time to catch up with family and friends. “So, lettuce make your day.”

Weekly at the Showground Markets Mackay

Dean 0409 564 017; Alison 0428 727 722. Please leave a message if we don’t answer.

”Over the 19 years we have developed and grown with the growth of Mackay and The Whitsunday area.”

9th Lane Grind, CURB, K&Co

recipe Nik Flack

Rainforest finger limes

ON EVERYTHING Native to subtropical regions of Australia, we at FlackYard Dining love them on everything! Preparation: Take a sharp knife, cutting off the end of the lime. Gently squeeze towards the end that you have cut allowing the pearls to roll out into a chopping board. With the tip of a knife pick out any seeds that maybe in the fruit and you are left with zesty pops of citrus that go amazingly with seafood, desserts, and over the rocks in sparkling water! They are a great substitute to lemon or lime and have amazing health benefits. TIP: fruit that has a reddish colour will be sweeter, while a more lemon colour indicates the fruit will be more bitter. SEAFOOD It’s as simple as sprinkling the pearls over the top of your favourite seafood, whether it be pan-fried fish, BBQ bugs or fresh oysters. DESSERTS Add to creamy desserts as the acid element, to help cut through the creaminess of white chocolate mousse, cheese cake or on top of home baked scones with wiped cream and jam. DRINKS I like to add a teaspoon to any drinks that need a little acidic pop, like a pallet cleanser between causes, such as lemon myrtle rainforest finger limes and tequila.

a foodie’s

GO-TO Local chef Kristy Borg is passionate about fresh, simple and seasonal food. Tucked away off Mackay’s Wood Street, her a la carte cafe 9th Lane Grind has become a foodie go-to for those in the know. She is also the face behind the well-known catering and coffee shops K&Co and Curb. Kristy says just about everything about food excites her. “I love to travel and get ideas from the inspiring cafes and restaurants that are out there – it’s just really creative what you can do with food, it excites me and makes me happy! Coffee is also a big focus for us at the moment, and looking at how you can delve into that world.” Kristy seeks local produce for her fare where she can. “We use Freckle Farm, honey from Bee2U, and lettuce that I absolutely love from Alison and Dean at New Reefs Hydroponics. For me it’s about supporting locals, and what they do is really good.”


9th Lane Grind Shop 4/43, Wood Street Mackay Curb Northpoint Retail, Mackay K&Co Home Consortium, Cnr Mackay-Bucasia & Holts Rd, Mackay Catering contact Kristy on

Life on withthe limes land Farming is in the blood for Steven and Shannon Ferraro. Steven’s family have been farming for three generations, with his grandparents migrating from Italy in the 1950s to farm tobacco, lychees and small crops. Shannon’s family were primary producers with her grandparents settling in Australia and farming sugarcane and tobacco after migrating from Holland.

Oaky Creek Limes

When the couple made the move to Mackay from the Atherton Tablelands 13 years ago, it was to take jobs in the coal industry. Now, they are back in their element and following in the family footsteps. “In 2016 we purchased a property in Oakenden, about 20 minutes south west of Mackay,” said Steven. “When we moved to Mackay, we could see there could be more diversity in the region, which at the time predominantly featured a strong sugarcane industry. “After we watched a segment about the Australian native finger lime on Landline, we did some research into the different varieties of limes that would grow well in our conditions. After conducting soil tests we were confident that the conditions best suited finger limes and Tahitian limes.

”After being raised on the land, it was important for us to return to it and for our children to be raised on the land and experience all it has to offer.” Today, the pair run Oaky Creek Limes, a family owned and operated citrus orchard. The farm has 1000 Tahitian lime trees and 300 finger limes, which produced their first harvest in late 2018. “We supply wholesale and direct to the public, with weekly deliveries to Mackay and surrounding areas; and a pickup option from the farm also available,” said Steven. All orders are handpicked and packed by the family within 24 – 48 hours of delivery. “The local market has reacted really well – places like Vegies Unlimited, IGA and Mifsud’s,” Steven says. “Likewise the reaction from locals has been strong – people want to buy local, it’s just getting our name out there associated with fresh, quality produce.” Oaky Creek Limes also offer farm tours for interested members of the public and retailers.

To find out more, go to

0417 613 875 or

Connect with them on social: Facebook: Oaky Creek Limes and Instagram: @oakycreeklimes

Mouth-watering Mummahood For Finch Hatton resident Michelle Camilleri, a passion for cooking and local produce all came together when she was on maternity leave in 2015. “After 15 years my husband and I finally had our second child! Once the shock wore off and while on maternity leave, I had time to enjoy not only my newborn baby, but also my flourishing vegetable garden. Initially it was not my intention to start a business. I just began doing what I love most – cooking.”

One Hungry Mumma

“Both my mother and my father loved cooking. I took out my late father’s recipe book (written in an old bank deposit book) and tried to decipher his handwriting and measurements – quite a feat! “Thankfully we still had a bottle of his local rural show prize-winning Worcestershire sauce that we could compare against. My husband and I began to replicate and make it as close as we could to his deliciously delightful and well-loved sauce.” Then Michelle created her own original Spicy Charred Capsicum Sauce. From there, she hasn’t looked back. “My friends and family went crazy for it and before I knew I had a couple of sauces, relishes and chutneys, a council licence, insurance and off I went to my first market.” One Hungry Mumma’s product range has since expanded to include both retail size and bulk café size sauces, relishes, chutneys, mustards, jams, spice mixes, flavoured salts and pickles, with a gourmet condiment hamper aspect to the business and a newly formed website. Michelle’s products are already receiving accolades on a wider scale. In 2019 she took home two gongs at the Australia/New Zealand Mr Chilli award. Her spicy charred capsicum sauce wowed the judges, taking out the blue ribbon in the best medium heat category. She was also awarded third place in hot heat for her ‘One Hot Mumma’ sauce. Entries in the 2020 Mr Chilli awards were also fruitful with first place for the spicy chilli jam, second for both her spicy charred capsicum sauce and hot ‘n’ spiky sauce, and third place for the smokey chilli rub. Michelle is passionate about supporting the local industry. “I pride myself on trying to use as much fresh produce as I can source locally and supporting fellow local businesses within our region to achieve success. Food should be kept simple, fresh and delicious and be shared with those we love,” she says. “I’m very excited about the future of my little rural business.” shipping all over Australia The One Hungry Mamma love is spread from Mackay to Bundaberg: MBW@Marian / Master Butchers Whitsundays / MBW on the Barbie Whitsundays / Mifsud’s Fresh Fruit / Vegies Unlimited / ElPapas Mexican Andergrove and City / Vintage Kiss Marian / Prickly Pineapple Whitsundays / Mick’s Meats Yeppoon / Zarby’s Cafe / Woodman’s Axe / La Crema Cafe Moranbah / Mackay Wholesale Meats / Sinclair Meats Mt Pleasant / Mackay Mega Meats Canelands / Mackay Hospital Foundation Giftshop

Note Park Grazing Company

A paddock-to-plate


Steak lovers now have an opportunity to dine on grass-fed beef at the very farm where the cattle are raised.

Joe Attard runs Note Park Grazing Company in Eton, and holds paddock-to-plate dining experiences on a regular basis. “I have dinners out on the farm, where I take guests on a tour of the farm, a walk up to the yards to see the cattle, then we come back and sit down to a three-course dinner with live music. I showcase my beef, then people can see exactly where it comes from and then have a taste of it. “I hold functions out on the farm as well, so I hire my venue out for weddings and other functions. We do farm tours and also lunches.” Note Park is a family farm. Joe grew up there and is the third generation on the farm. It was originally sugarcane and cattle, but now Joe is taking all the sugarcane out and changing it over to just cattle.

“I just want to sell my beef to the public. It’s top quality and I know where it’s come from. It’s all grass-fed, no hormones, I breed F1 Brangus and Brahman beef cattle. They get rotated every three to four days so they get a new paddock with fresh, green grass. I have irrigated pastures which allows me to keep top quality and consistency in my beef. Joe runs about 160 head of cattle across 200 acres of pasture, and works to take care of the land. “I’ve had grants through Reef Catchments to get a lowpressure irrigation system put in and moisture probes put in the ground as well. I only water when I have to, so I’m not wasting water. We get soil tests done regularly to make sure the soil and the pastures are performing to the best of their ability.”

Note Park beef can be purchased on Wednesdays Eton Homebush pads from 11am to 5:30pm, on Fridays opposite racecourse mill from 10am to 5:30pm, on Saturdays at Mackay Showground Markets, 6am to 10am, at Eton general store, at Seaforth and Sarina markets once a month and from the farm by appointment only. Note Park Grazing is located at 267 Barrie Lane, Eton

Joe can be contacted on 0418 720 373

”I just want to sell my beef to the public. It’s top quality and I know where it’s come from.”

Sea Breeze Lychees

MONSTER LYCHEES appear in Sarina A farm at Sarina Beach is introducing locals to a king-sized variety of lychee. Adam McCarthy and Kobie Price run Sea Breeze Lychees at Sarina and they are growing the jumbo Erdon Lee variety on their farm. Erdon Lee lychees grow up to four times the average size of other lychee varieties with a weight of up to 100g per fruit. According to Kobie, said they have been selling their produce directly from the farm: “We’ve been selling mainly from our farm. We’d be out picking all morning, then the locals would come down and get them while they are fresh.” Adam said they took over the farm from Sarina identity and “lychee god” Tibby Dixon. “This is our second year of farming land and we have some exotic varieties that Tibby imported from China. “Lychees these days have come so far, they are getting smaller and smaller seeds, the flavor is there, there’s a lot of difference between varieties. We both work on the farm, we’ve just planted about another 500 Erdon Lee, so we are continuing to expand. Our property was the first in Australia to have the Erdon Lee variety.” Sea Breeze Lychees grows about a dozen varieties of lychee, including a seedless strain. Adam said that with the help of Reef Catchments, they are investigating the possibility of sustainable agriculture practices. “We are looking into rotational grazing with cattle. It definitely is within our scope to run rotational grazing on the rest of the property to keep grass down. We back on to the Sarina inlet and Sarina Beach went through some bad fires and towards the end of the year, when those fires are more likely, everything’s dead and it’s hot, it can pose quite a risk to our orchard. Instead of burning every year, we’d like to rotational graze.”

”We’ve been selling mainly from our farm. We’d be out picking all morning, then the locals would come down and get them while they are fresh.” Sea Breeze Lychees is located at unit 5/47 Owen Jenkins Drive Sarina Beach and sells direct to the public when lychees are in season.

Reef Catchments — Working with Farmers

little changes,


Reef Catchments is the Natural Resource Management (NRM) group for the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region. Our region is rich in diverse natural resources, from cane to coast. These important natural systems provide our community with a lifestyle we love, and the industries we rely on. We believe a healthy environment, engaged community and well-managed ecosystems provide the basis for a strong region and healthy economy.

Reef Catchments currently works with more than 250 farmers in the Mackay, Whitsunday and Isaac regions. We are talking to our farmers and agricultural industry leaders on a daily basis and play a lead role in delivering projects aimed at improving water and land quality.

Reef Catchments has an intrinsic link with our regions’ farmers. We support local farmers who are looking to move toward more sustainable, efficient production, including in the cane, grazing and horticulture sectors.

We also run workshops and events to help our farmers up-skill and continually gain knowledge in the areas that matter to them.

The little changes our farmers make can have a big impact on our region! Positive changes made on the land then flow through to our environment, waterways and eventually to the Great Barrier Reef. We actively facilitate land management and technological adoption to reduce fertiliser and pesticide runoff to the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon.

A range of mechanisms are utilised to accelerate change including extension and planning, workshops and field days, demonstration sites, training days, forums, grants, and regional industry working groups. Reef Catchments is proud to provide our farmers with the support and resources they need to take action.

Reef Catchments is not-for-profit. Our role is made possible thanks to our funders, including the Australian and Queensland Governments. Recent major funding programs in our region include:

with thanks to our funders

• • • •

The Australian Government’s National Landcare Program The Australian Government’s Reef Trust The Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program The Australian and Queensland Governments’ Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements, post Tropical Cylone Debbie

Meet our Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator Meet Juliane Kasiske, Reef Catchments Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator! Juliane works to connect and inform landholders across our region. She coordinates field days, workshops and events that help farmers gain the insight and information they need on sustainable practices that can benefit them. The RALF program aims to support our region’s agricultural producers and Landcare groups to adopt sustainable farm and land management practices. Events cover innovation and technology, erosion and soil health, improved nutrient and herbicide efficiency, weed and pasture management and much more.

What our farmers say

“We would like to thank the Reef Catchments’ staff who have supported and assisted us. We take our responsibility as landowners seriously and endeavour to continually balance the activities on our property and the preservation of the ecology of our area. We’ve been fortunate to have had the on-going support and guidance that Reef Catchments has provided. We genuinely appreciate this assistance.” - Dave and Cindy Ellis, landholders, Koumala (grazing and horticulture)

“We have worked with Reef Catchments over many years, and most recently after Cyclone Debbie to fence our creek lines. After Debbie we lost nearly every fence on our property and without help I don’t know what we would have done. As farmers, Reef Catchments have always provided us with support and resources to take action, and I’m very thankful for that.” - Glenys Mansfield, Mansfield Park (pork producers)

“I first partnered with Reef Catchments as far back as 2005. As the saying goes, there is no point being green if you’re in the red. But we have found in our experience that it comes down to doing things more efficiently – when there is an economic benefit, nine times out of ten, there’s an environmental benefit as well. So why wouldn’t you try something different? I want to leave this farm for my son and the next generation in a better condition than when I took control. I think that’s in every farmer’s heart.” - Tony Bugeja, cane farmer

Agriculture looks back to secure

OUR FOOD FUTURE As weather records continue to be broken globally, Australian farmers are reviewing their practices to become more resilient under an uncertain climate future. Through industrialisation and the globalisation of food markets in the early 1900s, farmers began to grow commodity crops that existed around monoculture. Growing a variety of rotational crops gave way to single species to meet market demand, but returning to natural systems is proving beneficial.

With depleted soils and rising costs, many farmers are turning to systems that mimic nature, minimise inputs, increase water efficiency and regenerate soils. Being ‘sustainable’ is not enough, giving back what you take doesn’t address the greatest long-term challenge farmers face – climate change. There’s a genuine interest in the ‘life’ of soils, increasing biodiversity, improving hydrological cycling and supporting biosequestration. Coined in the US, Regenerative Agriculture focuses on conservation and rehabilitation in food and farming systems, ‘promising to create new resources (carbon) and restore the land to pre-industrial levels or better’. In the Mackay region, Nuffield Scholar Simon Mattsson has spent the past five years studying and implementing proven farming practices from the all over the world. Planting mixed-species crops in the inter-rows of his

sugarcane, Simon has been able to reduce inorganic inputs, remediate compaction and increase water retention. Sunflower crops have also provided Simon with an alternate income stream. It was working with North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown that Simon realised he had to keep his soil covered all year round. “I returned to my farm to try and adapt what I’d seen to my own practices, I’d seen brown water run out of my paddocks and now in heavy rain that water’s clean. There’s also been a significant reduction in synthetic fertiliser use, particularly nitrogen and phosphorous.” Traditionally, many crops are harvested and paddocks are left in bare fallow following cultivation of the soil and planting preparation. Simon now reduces cultivation and covers his ground with a multi-species crop, harvested by cattle that produce rich manure. Introducing dung beetles

Regenerative Agriculture

”Soil is the most important asset on a farm. It has to be kept in good condition to grow healthy, productive crops and pastures.” has enabled the cycling of carbon and nutrients into his soil, that is now alive with microbes and mycorrhizal fungi. Leading Australian Agroecologist David Hardwick consults with farmers from North Queensland to South Australia, witnessing an explosion of interest in methods to achieve improved outcomes for all sectors of agriculture. “Soil is the most important asset on a farm. It has to be kept in good condition to grow healthy, productive crops and pastures. There are three main

parts to consider: it has a physical structure, a biology and chemistry, which all need to be in balance to work effectively in production.” Organic matter, healthy diversity in biological microbes and organisms, bioavailable minerals and nutrients, along with crumbly or friable soil texture is achieved through a variety of methods to support soil health: permaculture, syntropic farming, biofertilisers, biodynamics, organic farming and keyline design.

Golden Yolk

A free-range hen is a

Happy Hen

When it comes to free-range eggs, Golden Yolk Whitsundays at Mount Pelion goes the extra mile to keep their chickens happy.

All the farm’s hens are pasture raised in paddocks, and provided with shade and shelter. This arrangement means they are truly free-range, living outdoors as nature intended.

“The chickens are moved weekly to allow the pasture to regrow through a soil bed enriched with natural fertilizers from the cattle and hen manure.”

Owners Alison and Garry English founded the business in 2015. Alison said the farm is run using bio-dynamic, organic farming methods.

Golden Yolk is proudly PROOF (Pasture Raised On Open Fields) certified. In order to gain PROOF certification, all livestock must be raised outdoors with continuous and unrestricted daytime access to paddocks that are suitable for grazing and are provided with shade and shelter.

“Our hens are pasture raised, meaning they nest and sleep in moveable ‘caravans’, ensuring they always forage in fresh pasture. “Although naturally a chicken’s main diet is grain, the insects and leafy greens from the pasture provide them with a bonus abundance of micronutrients. “These micronutrients not only give our eggs a beautiful golden orange yolk, but also a delicious flavour and higher nutrient content than a standard free-range egg. “We rotate our pastures with soil-improving crops acting as feed for cattle which are then moved on to allow the hens to forage the ground cover, spread the cow manure and re-fertilize with their own droppings.

All animals must use the paddocks each day, unless they choose to shelter because of inclement weather. Animals are kept at a stocking intensity that will ensure forage is always available in an actively managed rotational grazing system.

Golden Yolk eggs can be found in many stores and IGAs between Sarina and Bowen. For a full list of stockists, visit

”Our property is farmed using organic, biodynamic farming practices which treats the soil, plants and animals as an inter-related system.”

Fresh As Sweet As

a sweet & fresh

SPECIA TY Freshness and quality are the driving forces behind Fresh As Sweet As, a husband and wife team growing produce on their family cane farm at Sandiford. Karl and Mars from Fresh As Sweet As specialise in growing sweet corn, heirloom tomatoes and watermelons.

“Our sweet corn is grown in the winter cycle and we continue to try different strategies to increase yield and cob quality.

Mars said the majority of their produce is sold to the public direct. “We rely on freshness and quality of product to sustain and increase our customer base. While social media is a great way to communicate to our customers, being visible and accessible to the public through roadside selling and the Greater Whitsunday Food Network is the best means to increase our base.

“We also grow heirloom tomatoes in the winter cycle. We use a couple of tried and tested varieties but enjoy trying new types each year. Our watermelons are grown for the summer period leading up to Christmas, we grow seedless and other specialty watermelons.”

“Whenever possible we do not use nasty chemicals to control potential pests and diseases. However, if faced with significant crop loss we will resort to chemical use.

Fresh As Sweet As produce is available at the Wednesday Greater Whitsunday Farmers Market.

“It’s important to have the GWFN. It’s a great way to meet other farmers in the region. Having the network in place is a great way to make people aware of the region’s capabilities and what is grown locally vs what gets trucked into the region.

Find out times for their roadside stall on Holts Road, Beaconsfield by checking their Facebook page for details @FreshAsSweetAs


Mumma’s go-to

Tuscan Tomato Pasta

One Hungry Mumma

This pasta dish is my go-to weeknight meal. It’s also perfect to serve a large group for Sunday lunch or even to serve cold as a BBQ side dish.

• 500g pasta

• 50g capers

• 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

• 100g black olives

• 1 onion, finely chopped

• 700g fresh farmers market tomatos chopped (approx 4)

• 3 cloves Eungella chemical-free garlic, crushed

• 350gms Freckle Farm bacon chopped

• 2 - 3 TBS One Hungry Mumma tuscan tomato seasoning

• Extra virgin olive oil and grated parmesan to serve

Method Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and reserve a little of the cooking water. Pour a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil over pasta and stir through. Meanwhile heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add bacon and fry for a few minutes. Add onion and fry until bacon is slightly crispy, being careful not to burn the onion. Add garlic and Tuscan Tomato seasoning and cook for 1 minute trying not to brown the garlic. Add a little extra Olive Oil if needed. Add tomatos, capers and olives. Simmer for 5 minutes or until tomato has broken down, add a little of the reserved salted pasta water or red wine to create a sauce and help tomato break down (approx 4 TBS). Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix pasta through sauce and top with a little more Extra Virgin Olive Oil and lashings of shaved parmesan cheese.

Enjoy with a nice glass of wine, fabulous friends and delicious garlic bread. Love Mumma xoxo

Issy’s Woodfired Pizza Café & Buffstars Coffee

recipe Nik Flack

The Rainforest


Native to NSW and subtropical regions of QLD

Usage To eat the fruit straight off the tree probably would be the last time you would ever try them as the fruit is extremely SOUR! I have found the best way to use them is to make a stock out of the fruit that can be used to set into a gel, reduce into a jam or to season cold water on a hot summer’s day! To make the stock • • • • •

150g Davidson Plum (cut in half) 500ml water ½ cup sugar 1tsp lemon Myrtle powder (Whitsunday Myrtle) 1tsp forest anise Myrtle (if you cannot find Forest Myrtle, just add ¼ tsp more lemon myrtle) • 1 star anise • 1 lemon peeled (use peel only) Method Place all ingredients into a pot and bring to a simmer, turn right down to a very gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes. Take off the heat and allow mixture to steep on the bench for 1 hour then strain mixture through an extra fine sieve. You will be left with a stock that can be used to set into a gel or to season cold water like a cordial with an amazing balance of sweet and sour and a hint of floral and spice.

#foodtrucklife Melt-in-your-mouth bacon and egg muffins using Freckle Farm produce and their own specially crafted coffee blend are just two things to love about Issy’s Woodfired Pizza Café and Buffstars Coffee. Regulars at the local Wednesday and Twilight markets, the business doesn’t have a shopfront, but their mobile food truck is a well-known sight at festivals and events. Issy Vogiatzis goes out of his way to source local where he can. “Basically, we support the locals and they support us in return. You know what quality you’re getting with local, and you can just taste the produce difference. “A bacon and egg muffin from Freckle Farm produce is like nothing else you’ve had. Banana muffins using Dave Hunter’s bananas are pretty good too!” Issy is helped out by son Dimitri, age 12, who has been serving customers and assisting with the business since the age of 7. The team have recently sourced a new blend of coffee. Skybury grow, roast and blend their own coffee in the Atherton tablelands. This is where Issy’s cafe’s tasty blend is sourced.

Find them on Facebook (including weekly planned locations) at @Buffstarscoffee or head to the food truck at the Wednesday and Twilight farmers markets.

Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market

Join the local produce revolution and

support local farmers! The Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market is a dedicated local produce only market, held every Wednesday from 7am to 11am at Bluewater Quay on River Street in the Mackay City Centre. These markets are an initiative of the Greater Whitsunday Food Network with support from our funding partners Mackay Regional Council and Mackay City Centre. The Farmers’ Market gives locals and visitors the opportunity to buy direct from farmers in our region. The market is a showcase of our regions amazing produce, giving farmers and value adders an opportunity to help grow our local food culture. Kirra Tully, Marketing & Events Coordinator Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market says “Our Greater Whitsundays Farmers’ Market is a place of love and passion for great food. It’s vibrant and grabs your every sense as you are invited into fresh air and sunshine, within a friendly community space. As you fill your basket every week with local produce, you are able to converse with the actual farmer or producer. I believe this experience is fundamental in strengthening life’s connections between flavour, family, fun and friendships”. With waterfront views and ample space just at the entrance to the Mackay City Centre, Blue Water Quay is a great place to meet friends and family. Grab a quick morning coffee together and a bite to eat while ticking your fresh local produce from your shopping list.

Market Shopper: Louise Corry “I really love the local food movement and I think Mackay has a lot of potential there. The biggest thing I can do as a consumer is to support what is happening in the region. I do love to cook and eat, and I find the best quality produce and other items can be found here at the markets. A lot of the food I buy here does last longer - not only does it taste better, I’m buying things that I can store for longer. I know it’s really seasonal and I work with that. In summer we don’t get all those beautiful vegetables but there is plenty of fruit to make up for that. Other Mackay grocers are supporting local producers, so I can fill the gaps during the week that way. The way I can support the local food movement is to buy the produce and support this community. I actually know a lot of the farmers by name and they know me now which is really nice. When you have those contacts you’re in the know. I like being able to just communicate with people like they’re a friend. I try to make it a weekly routine. Every night is a special event, we just like the local food.”

The farmers’ market is a weekly ritual of food, friendly faces and a place for the community to access the best seasonal produce produced in the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday Region. Check the Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market Facebook page for seasonal produce availability and our website events page for workshops, demonstrations and special events. Email:

River Street Twilight Market

Get into some Mackay

Local Vibes down by the river Once a month, the Mackay community come together for a celebration and showcase of local food, farmers and artisans. The River Street Twilight Market provides a beautiful riverside experience for families, couples and singles. Bring a blanket and relax on your Friday night under the stars and by the river. Tune out to the vibes of local music and enjoy a delicious food experience. Visitors to our region and the market will get to experience local food straight from the farmer and taste locally grown produce at our River Street Eats area that is lined with food trucks and trailers all using local produce. The curated market stalls will introduce you to the finest artisans, bakers and creators from the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions. You will find everything from sustainable and ethical to home, garden and living products, along with community groups and services. Experience Mackay Local Vibes and be entertained with live music, dance and play — all by the river and under the stars! “The River Street Twilight Market is an all-inclusive event that brings our community and visitors together to really experience

something special, not only food experiences but also meeting some very clever local creators from the Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions. What I love best is the vibe — it shows our community spirit but in a new fresh farmer-meets-urban vibe.” Christine Wilson – former Marketing & Event Coordinator, Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market. After wandering through the artisan market stalls, head into the Mackay City Centre to explore more and dine at local cafes, bars and restaurants. The River Street Twilight Market is held the second Friday of each month (except January) and provides a wonderful experience for both locals and visitors to our region. New additions are made to the market each month. Follow Greater Whitsunday Farmers’ Market on Facebook to get all the details on the River Street Twilight Market events. When visiting the region why not find out what else is on over the weekend of the Twilight Markets and invite your relatives and friends to see and experience the diversity of our region.

Sharing stories that build provenance


Greater Whitsunday Food Network

The rise of the local food movement across regional areas of Australia has been influenced by many factors, predominantly a feeling that urbanisation has somehow created a ‘disconnect’ between food and farming. In 2008 the “Paddock to Plate” concept was developed by TV presenter, food writer and educator Louise FitzRoy, as part of a national school resource to teach students about food and has since expanded to include an App, recipes and more. The idea of reducing food miles and connecting farmers to consumers is not a new one, in the US the ‘Farm to Table’ movement was backed by the postal system between 1915 and 1920. Today, with access to more information than ever before, consumers concerned about climate change, their health and the impact of agricultural practices on animals and the environment, are seeking avenues to support local farmers, businesses and markets. Mackay, Isaac and Whitsunday regions are blessed with rich soils, temperate climate and a wealth of agricultural diversity. The Greater Whitsunday Food Network was established out of a groundswell of support from local farmers attending a series of workshops designed to encourage investment in and development of the farm to plate value chain and agritourism products. Since July 2015 the organisation has successfully facilitated connections between producers and local consumers, through their ‘Food Dating’ networking sessions, Farm to Plate Dining Experiences to showcase the vast flavours of the regions and range of products, along with the agritourism initiatives. By providing opportunities to investigate and implement practices towards a more sustainable and resilient farm or food production business, the Network continues to support its members and the wider community.

Tours of farms, restaurants, cafes and producers have increased thanks to the overwhelming support from local people. At a highly anticipated ‘day out’, participants get to stand in the paddock, see the colours, smell the ripe fruits, taste fresh produce, and get up close to animals. Local foodies experience mouth-watering mango and strawberry treats, succulent seafood, a day in the clouds of Eungella, grazing operations and the best brewing. Representing caterers, retailers, community supporters and producers, it’s the growth of the Farmer’s Market and associated products offered that’s a real indication of the growing demand. Every Wednesday from 7am to 11am, there’s a bustling crowd at the Blue Water Quay in Mackay. From humble beginnings in 2016, we now have representation by more than 20 local food purveyors, the variety of which is always evolving and expanding. The Farmers’ Market range of produce and products on offer now includes a range of ethically grown foods, condiments and locally brewed drinks. Everything from tropical fruits and flowers, a vast range of vegetables, pasture raised pork and beef, chutneys, jams, sauces, pasta, eggs, honey and hive wax products, dairy, brewed drinks and award-winning liqueurs. The Greater Whitsunday Food Network actively seeks new members who wish to support agritourism as a local farmer, producer, retailer, caterer or consumer. For more information visit our website.

For more information about upcoming tours, Farmers’ Market vendors, getting involved or simply attending a food lovers’ event, go to The Greater Whitsunday Food Network has provided partial funding for the reprint of Provenance magazine volume 1, jointly funded under the Commonwealth/State Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements CQ Bushfires – Category C Flexible Funding Grants Program. Although funding for this product has been provided by both the Australian and Queensland Governments, the material contained herein does not necessarily represent the views of either Government.



Ange Jaffray

Kim Kleidon

Photographer Moments By Ange

Story Consultant

Ange is a local photographer in the Mackay region operating since January 2011. The best aspect of her work is meeting new people and learning about them. “Everyone has their own story to tell and I find each and every one unique and just as important as the next. I am dedicated to providing the best quality images to my clients while capturing their life story. “I have a soft spot for farming, having been raised in Outback Queensland. I can appreciate the hard yards and the dedication our farmers have. I find them admirable. Being a part of this campaign excited me. “Meeting Eungella local farmers and producers was a wonderful experience. All the hard work they endure to provide us with quality and unique products is exceptional. It is important to acknowledge these hard working people who do it so tough but love what they do and what they can deliver to their consumers.” Ange is committed to supporting local producers through and through.

“Reaching a turning point in 2015 and identifying my values in education, health, people, environment and animals, it was no surprise that I have spent the majority of my time since then with farmers. From growing food to sustain the nation to nurturing animals and surviving many natural disasters (drought, fire and flood), it was my intention to share their stories. “Their stories will evoke a sense of pride, humour, triumph and elation as you begin to understand why it is so important for them to share fresh produce and lovingly crafted products with you and your family. While writing them, I was struck by the common connections - minimal impact on the environment, a love of nature and a desire to share knowledge to encourage others. “Provenance has become more important than price, availability and convenience to well-informed consumers. My hope is that through an understanding of how your food is produced, you will feel a deeper appreciation and connection to those who are dedicated to delivering it.”

Cherrie Hughes

Amy Sherlock

Photographer & Social Media Consultant Cherrie Hughes Social Media

Graphic Design Black Owl Design

Cherrie likes to find ways to document her community and the people in it. She primarily does this with her camera but this goes hand in hand with contract social media work and project documentation. She does this across fields including arts, music, events and supporting local business initiatives. She finds her creative outlook very useful for finding a new perspective to look at her work.

Amy has been working in the design and marketing world for the last 11 years after graduating with a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design at the Wanganui School of Design in New Zealand in 2007.

Cherrie has proudly called Mackay home for 16 years. During that time she has been an active community member who likes to offer her creative voice to projects and events.

BlackOwlDesign Don’t be the same, be better.

Amy founded Black Owl Design in 2013, an award-wining design, website and marketing studio based in Mackay that has since expanded with a new office in Townsville. She proudly supports local businesses in the region and has a passion for helping them succeed by telling their story through creative design and clever marketing and feels she leaves a little bit of her creative mark in every design she does. Growing up on a farm in NZ she appreciates the amount of hard work and dedication that these farmers put in to produce their products. “I’m always drawn to projects like this that are there to showcase the amount of local talent that is in the region and love it when a community gets together to share their stories, knowledge and passion. I knew there were a lot of talented local produce farmers in our region but I didn’t think there were this many and being a bit of a foodie, I can’t wait to support them all.”



Jac Kotzé Cinematographer / Photographer Flow Motion Media Jac first came to Mackay as a Cinematographer from South Africa. After 2 years of working with a commercial team, Jac started his own business, Flow Motion Media – with 15 years’ experience specialising in high quality event videos, corporate creations for advertising, training and websites, Jac has a passion for visual storytelling. “It takes a lot of passion, dedication and love to grow your own food. To make it successful you need to apply a lot of positive energy and knowledge. These are some of the philosophies I apply in my own business to develop and grow.” Filming stories with farmers, from lush coastal cane farms to drought-stricken NSW and western QLD since 2017, the opportunity to meet locals producing fresh food and contribute stunning images for this magazine was something he couldn’t pass up. “You can taste the love the local producers put into their food and I believe that nature will provide you with what you need, from the region you live in. This is why it is so important to me to buy locally grown produce.” From Jac’s experience with local producers he sees the holistic and permaculture approach to growing their food not only benefitting us but the land as well. “They’re not always doing it for the money, but rather to share their knowledge and love of growing food. These are the fundamental principles we as humans should teach our younger generation and start actively applying in our daily lives.”

Damien Carty & Hayley Hemsworth Photography team Minco Photography

“We are a local commercial photography company who aim to provide clients with creative, high quality, innovative work using a range of techniques. Services include real estate, commercial, mining and industrial photography as well as drone video and time lapse photography. We place a strong focus on meeting our clients’ needs promptly, efficiently and professionally. Samples of our work can be seen at “Personally, we are passionate about local food and supporting local producers and were really excited to have the opportunity to visit some of our region’s farms firsthand. The producers themselves are dedicated and hardworking, often working another job while running the farm. Their commitment provides the community with a diverse range of quality products including honey, jams, wine, tropical fruits, pork, eggs, beef and stock feed. Supporting local growers keeps money in the community, increases food security and reduces food miles. We are still at a stage where we may need to look around and go out of our way to find these products but with continued support of local people and organisations we could see the range and distribution of these products grow. These are exciting times!”

Tegan McBride

Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer Reef Catchments Tegan McBride is a marketing, behaviour change and community engagement professional who has turned her powers of persuasion to encouraging farmers to grow ecologically produced food and convince consumers of the benefits. Tegan has committed over 10 years to regenerative agriculture; growing certified organic market garden produce, participating in the Greater Whitsunday Food Network Management Committee and leading farm to plate experiences, where consumers can immerse themselves the stories and flavours of local food. “Farmers are the caretakers of vast amounts of our beautiful land and water. As consumers, every time we purchase food we have the opportunity to support the farmers that protect the ecosystems that support our lives”. “It is an absolute privilege to work alongside producers who are adapting to the new knowledge about holistic ways to manage their land through producing increasingly nutritious and life giving food”.

Jaime Newborn

Jonathan Reichard

Jaime has worked in journalism, media and communication for the past 15 years. With a background in communications for the agricultural sector (focused on sustainable and organic agriculture), she is passionate about bringing our producers’ stories to life, and using the written word to share the thoughts, actions and ideas of some of the truly inspiring people in our region. She holds a double degree in Business and Journalism (QUT, Brisbane).

Jonathan was raised in Mackay and started in journalism in the late 1990s after completing a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies at Griffith University and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism at James Cook University. He has worked as a reporter and editor in various newspaper roles.

(former) Communications and Media Officer, Reef Catchments

Communications and Media Officer Reef Catchments

Jonathan is part of the communications team at Reef Catchments and his duties include providing the local media with stories about the work the company is doing, designing printed promotional material, and photography including taking aerial images and video footage using the latest drone equipment.

Bowen Gumlu Growers Assoc


WE GROW ‘Collectively we grow’ is the motto of the Bowen Gumlu Growers Association (BGGA) and it has certainly turned out to be the case. The district currently sends fruit and vegetables with a $460 million farm-gate value to both domestic and export markets around the world. The BGGA represents Australia’s largest winter vegetable growing region, located in the Whitsunday region of North Queensland. The association utilises on-ground grower and key industry stakeholder connections to serve as the first point of contact for producers looking to market. “The BGGA provides a presence and a voice on horticultural issues while facilitating and promoting key industry events and information,” says the BGGA’s President, Carl Walker. “We want a strong, sustainable future for growers and the horticulture industry in Bowen and Gumlu.” Currently, a wide range of produce hails from the region including tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, sweet chillies, egg fruit, pumpkins, watermelons, rockmelon and honeydew, cucumbers, zucchini and squash, sweetcorn, beans, mango and bananas.

“We want a strong, sustainable future for growers and the horticulture industry in Bowen and Gumlu.”


Largest winter growing region in Australia

3200 Employs around 3200 skilled and unskilled workers a year

In 2018, the region produced:

9070ha Area of farmland under production

253,955 Tonnes of produce harvested in 2018

$460 million

Farm-gate value of fruit and vegetables produced and distributed to domestic and export markets around the world


tonnes of tomatoes


tonnes of capsicum


tonnes of beans

Reef Catchments would like to thank all the farmers, stewards of the land and waterways in the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac Region who have participated in enhancing our natural resources for future generations.