AUSTRALIA DAY: What's on across our region
WHILE the debate around when to celebrate Australia Day seems only set to intensify, organisers of events around the Gladstone Region are determined to make the celebrations themselves enjoyable for everyone.
More than a dozen different events will be held across the region.
Mayor Matt Burnett will be attending the council's main celebrations at the Tondoon Botanic Gardens, where he will be taking part in a celebrity barbecue cook-off against Cr Desley O'Grady, Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher and GAPDL chief executive Darryl Branthwaite.
"I am prepared to have my cooking techniques watched, judged and laughed at," Cr Burnett said.
"I am hoping that my challengers will either be intimidated by my skills, or laughing so much that I'll be able to claim the title."
The rest of the region's councillors will be spread out attending events across the region, ensuring most towns have a council presence during the day.
Cr Burnett said if people were not attending one of the regional events, they should consider attending the main celebrations at Tondoon as they were going to be "unreal".
"It's the first time it's been held at the Botanic Gardens for a long time," he said.
"If it's a hit it might be held there every second year (alternating with Tannum)."
Here are just some of the events on offer:
Lake Awoonga Boating & Leisure Hire is hosting celebrations at Awoonga Dam, with free barbecues under sheltered gazebos (first-come, first-served) and Aussie tunes playing all day. Make sure to book ahead.
A barbecue breakfast will be held at Bororen Hall from 7am, organised by the Bororen Hall committee.
A barbecue breakfast will be held at the Builyan Hall from 8am, featuring a varied menu, colouring competition and poetry and music.
The Calliope Country Club is hosting a two-man Ambrose par 3 golf challenge, with an 11am shotgun start.
Get dressed up in your best Chesty bonds, stubbies and thongs.
A sausage sizzle will run from 10am - 3pm.
The cost is $60 per team.
The Captain Creek Community Sport & Rec Club is hosting a barbecue at 1pm with pavlova for dessert. There'll be an Aussie bush band and Australiana prizes for games including thong throwing, a cane toad race and Best Australian Hat.
The main celebrations will take place at the Tondoon Botanic Gardens from 8am to noon. Don't miss the celebrity barbecue cook-off, giant slip and slide, pirate ship, sports, bush poetry and official flag-raising ceremony. Bring swimmers!
Gladstone Backpackers will also host a pool party, with live music from Bay Window and free entry, at Charlie's Bar from 2pm.
The Many Peaks Grand Hotel will open at 10am for raffles, a jumping castle, merry-go-round, and free kids entertainment.
The Miriam Vale Hotel is hosting a barbecue lunch, with a whip-cracking competition (BYO whip), thong-throwing competition, and woodchop and chainsaw demos. Courtesy bus from 11.30am.
The bowls club is hosting a free barbecue, barefoot bowls, children's games, face painting and jumping castle from 10.30am.
The Rosedale Royal Hotel will host celebrations all day from 7am, starting with a free breakfast. Billy kart races at 9am, barbecue at noon. The event will include sheep shearing, toad races and other novelty competitions. Show your skills on a bucking bull from late afternoon with a vertical bungee on offer.
A sausage sizzle and barefoot bowls will start at noon at the bowls club, with music and drinks until 5pm.
SOUTH END, CURTIS ISLAND
Curtis Ferry Services will depart Gladstone at 8am for South End, with the return service leaving at 6.30pm (cost involved). At Golding Park there will be a free sausage sizzle, water and softdrink for $2, a crab pot throwing classic, cricket, volleyball, tug-of-war, three-legged race and more.
Everyone is invited to start Australia Day at a relaxed, free Aussie Day barbecue breakfast in the comfort of the Turkey Beach community centre from 7am.
An Aussie Day dinner will be held at the Boyne Valley Community Discovery Centre from 6pm (though catering reservations were set to close yesterday). The event will start at 4.30pm.
RIO Tinto has signed on to co-sponsor Australia Day celebrations organised by the Yarwun Grow Group at the Yarwun Reserve.
The event will include a free barbecue breakfast, live music, jumping castles, face painting and balloon animals, as well as a thong-throwing competition organised by staff at Rio Tinto's Yarwun alumina refinery.
General manager Colin McGibbon said the company was proud to support the event.
"Local groups, including the Yarwun Grow Group, Yarwun State School P&C and West Stowe Rural Fire Brigade, have been integral to bringing the community together," he said.
"Last year, there was tough competition in the thong throw. We encourage everyone to come along (and) give it a go."
The celebrations will be held at the Yarwun Reserve from 9am to noon on Friday, January 26.
Yarwun Grow Group president Loral Jackson said the event was the perfect opportunity for the close-knit community to "celebrate our values ... (and) just have fun with our neighbours".