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The South Burnett in 2017: A Year in Review

The plan for what Kingaroy Hospital will look like in 2021, when the new hospital is finished.

The South Burnett in 2017: A Year in Review

South Burnett

FROM wind farms, to Bunnings, politics and more, a lot happened in the South Burnett region in 2017. Here are some of the most significant moments.

Rebuilding our pork industry

Swickers is looking for extra staff in the boning room and the ham processing center.
Swickers is looking for extra staff in the boning room and the ham processing center. Katherine Morris

RECOVERY at Swickers Bacon Factory exceeded expectations this year.

After a massive fire destroyed the factory's boning room last year, owner and operator SunPork had the factory back up and running within 12 months.

Now it hums along with a full contingent of staff.

In September the Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government would contribute $50million towards expanding the factory's capacity.

The money is part of a $100million expansion that will see staff numbers rise to 770, create another kill floor and increase ham production to 2.3million kilograms per year.

Energy sources

Artist Impression of Wind farm at Coopers Gap.
Artist Impression of Wind farm at Coopers Gap. gyn9038


AFTER 15 years of negotiation, planning and study the Cooper's Gap Wind Farm moved into the construction phase.

The power station will host 123 wind turbines on farmland at Cooranga North.

It will cost about $850million to build and will produce 510,000 MWh of renewable energy annually.

This is enough to power 260,000 homes.

The project received funding from the Powering Australia Renewables Fund in August and had its Environmental Impact Statement approved around the same time.

Work crews have already started mapping the site and planning for the construction and we should see the first turbines erected in the new year.

In other renewable energy news, plans for a solar farm in Kingaroy have been announced.

Stay tuned for updates in the new year.

Big retailers eye off Kingaroy

Bunnings Warehouse Lismore in South Lismore.
Bunnings Warehouse Lismore in South Lismore. Marc Stapelberg


BUNNINGS Warehouse officially announced its plans to build a store in Kingaroy in June 2017 when it lodged a development application with the South Burnett Regional Council.

The retailer wants to set up on Walter Rd and expects the store will cost about $15million to build.

Once its doors open it is expected to employ 60 casual and full time staff.

While the region's shoppers welcomed the low-cost hardware giant the business community was less than enthusiastic.

A small group of retailers, lead by Mitre 10, circulated a petition asking the council to push for a smaller store for fear that Bunnings would drive them out of business and force staff reductions.

In the end the Council was prevented by state law to take matters of commercial competition into account and the development was approved.

Construction is expected to start in the New Year.

Postcode dramas

TOWN HALL: Australia post Queensland State manager Angela Creedon and area manager Cole James address Blackbutt residents over postcode issues.
TOWN HALL: Australia post Queensland State manager Angela Creedon and area manager Cole James address Blackbutt residents over postcode issues. Jack Lawrie


A DECADE-long fight for common sense came to a close in November.

Residents in and around Blackbutt shared the same postcode, 4306, as western Ipswich, almost 130km to the southeast.

This caused all sorts of dramas with mail delivery and insurance contacts.

In late November Australia Post bent to the will of the people and changed Blackbutt's post code.

As of February 2018 the new code will be 4314.

Local member becomes party leader

Nanango MP and Deputy LNP Leader Deb Frecklington
Nanango MP and Deputy LNP Leader Deb Frecklington Tobi Loftus


NANANGO'S state parliamentarian, Deb Frecklington, was elected leader of the Liberal National Party on December 12.

This happened after a hard-fought state election.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation failed to secure many of the seats it expected to win and didn't succeed in splitting the vote.

When the next election rolls around Mrs Frecklington will be in a prime position to claim the title of premier.

If her party wins it will mark the second time Queensland has been lead from South Burnett.

Better health services

South Burnett, Aerial, Kingaroy Hospital
South Burnett, Aerial, Kingaroy Hospital Heath Pukallus


IN THE 2017-18 State Budget, Annastacia Palaszczuk's Labor Government announced a massive redevelopment for the Kingaroy Hospital.

The State Government will spend $62million building a hospital to replace the current one that was built in 1938.

In announcing the project Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it would take a few years to finish the job.

"The new 66 bed hospital will treat its first patients in 2021 and improve the facility's role as a hub for trauma, paediatric, obstetrics, rehabilitation and mental health services," she said.

Putting Queensland to work

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced the second round of Works for Queensland funding for the South Burnett alongside Mayor Keith Campbell on September 15, 2017.
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad announced the second round of Works for Queensland funding for the South Burnett alongside Mayor Keith Campbell on September 15, 2017. Michael Nolan

EARLIER this year the State Government announced the Works For Queensland project that saw $400million given to regional councils.

The South Burnett received $9.4million to be spent on road upgrades, roof building repairs, new footpaths and general property maintenance.

About half the South Burnett's allotment will be spent on roads.

Major development for Blackbutt

Steven Maller is building the new shopping center at Blackbutt and he said it'll be open after Christmas.
Steven Maller is building the new shopping center at Blackbutt and he said it'll be open after Christmas. Michael Nolan

BLACKBUTT finally secured a new shopping centre though the finished product is much smaller than what was first proposed.

A key hurdle was finding a suitable location.

There was a great spot in the centre of town but the Memorial Hall was occupying the space.

Breezeway offered to move the hall at no cost to the council but in doing so revealed about $460,000 worth of maintenance and upgrades that were needed once it reached the new site.

The hall was moved and reopened to the public in October and the shopping centre will start trading in the New year.

Dairy giant buys iconic South Burnett business

The Kingaroy Peanut Silos.
The Kingaroy Peanut Silos. Tobi Loftus

IN BUSINESS news, Bega Cheese finalised its takeover of Kingaroy-based Peanut Company of Australia this month.

Bega announced its intention to bid for the company in November, ultimately buying PCA for around $12million.

Weather woes

Numerous lightning strikes.
Numerous lightning strikes. Matt Litzow


IT WAS a year of highs and lows for South Burnett weather.

An official drought declaration was made in March.

That same month, torrential rain hit the region as a result of ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

Tragedy struck when Mondure man David Heidemann drowned in the ensuing flood waters.

Severe storms also ripped through the region on Boxing Day, destroying homes and properties.

Rhonda gets justice

Rhonda Trivett.
Rhonda Trivett. Tobi Loftus


DECADES of fighting came to an end for Kingaroy resident Rhonda Trivett in October.

Ms Trivett received word from the State Government that she would receive compensation for the abuse she endured in Wolston Park mental health facility during the 1970s and 1980s.

The treatment she faced, along with others, was described by the government as the worst case of child abuse in Queensland's history.

Big ideas for tourism

South Burnett deputy mayor Kathy Duff, mayor Keith Campbell and councillor Danita Potter at the official opening of the South Burnett Rail Trail on October 1, 2017.
South Burnett deputy mayor Kathy Duff, mayor Keith Campbell and councillor Danita Potter at the official opening of the South Burnett Rail Trail on October 1, 2017. Will Hunter

TOURISM was well and truly on the agenda for South Burnett residents and government this year.

The year started with a social media push for a Big Peanut in Kingaroy.

The announcement that the South Burnett had been declared "motorcycle friendly" in May was welcomed by bike riders and the council.

A bacon festival was announced for Kingaroy in November, coming in 2018.

At the same time, South Burnett Regional Council worked to get tourism right, holding a number of workshops.

Farewell to our 'first lady'

30 Apr 2005 Lady Florence (Flo) Bjelke-Petersen sitting by the Bunya hoop pine tree at Bethany which will be Sir Joh's final resting place. picDavid/Martinelli aged woman
30 Apr 2005 Lady Florence (Flo) Bjelke-Petersen sitting by the Bunya hoop pine tree at Bethany which will be Sir Joh's final resting place. picDavid/Martinelli aged woman MARTINELLI DAVID

THE year ended on a sombre note when South Burnett icon, former senator and wife to Queensland's longest-serving premier, Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen, died on Wednesday, December 20.

She was 97 and died at Orana aged care home, where she had spent the last part of her life.

Lady Flo's life will be honoured at a state funeral in Kingaroy on January 4.