Phil Emmanuel on stage at Whitsunday SESsions.
Phil Emmanuel on stage at Whitsunday SESsions. Andrew Pattinson / Vampp Photogr

Community comes together for a cause

WHETHER it was Paul Fenech 'thonging' bogans, James Blundell smashing out some tunes or Steady Eddie cracking up the crowd - there was plenty of entertainment for everyone at Whitsunday SESsions last Saturday.

The cyclone recovery benefit concert held at the Whitsunday Sailing Club was broadcast around the world via the Festival TV crew from Brisbane, including top live performances from some of the best comedians and artists in the world.

Tourism Whitsundays also established an arrangement with flight partners Tigerair to provide free flights for visiting media to come to the region and cover the event.

Six journalists took up the opportunity to take part in Tigerair's Recovery Benefit Famil.

The initiative attracted Courier Mail's QWeekend Magazine, Newscorp's 'Escape' travel supplement, the Brisbane Times, Out and About with Kids magazine, the Gold Coast Bulletin, News local and two Tigerair representatives.

Tourism Whitsundays chief executive Craig Turner said the added media exposure would spread a positive message around the world.

"Pictures speak a thousand words and we can all talk about what it looks like (post cyclone) but to have people view it for themselves across a range of mediums and having journalists writing about it as well is another opportunity to really show what the Whitsundays looks like and the reality is it looks great,” he said.

Mr Turner praised the organisers for setting up an event that catered for people of all ages and tastes in entertainment.

"I think the fact that the acts all catered for different markets and that the event was inclusive for everyone was one of the most important things,” he said.

"We needed to make sure kids were catered for and other people were catered for with music tastes.

"Butto and his team did an excellent job putting on the event and should be commended for the initiative.”

There were a range of kid friendly activities available including a jumping castle and face painting to enjoy.

Gold Coast band Mistram kicked off the musical performances for the day at 10.10am, followed by an array of talent including Andrew Cousins, Kieran McCarthy, Steady Eddy and more.

Self-described semi-Whitsunday local Steady Eddy received an overwhelmingly positive response from the community for his sharp and honest wit.

"It's no frills and no bulls*** humour that's all it is, there is no great mystical thing that inspired me,” he said.

"People of Airlie Beach always bounce back and unfortunately (cyclones are a) part of living here. If you want to live in paradise then every now and then you will have a cyclone.

"I'm just glad no-one was killed and everything else can be repaired as it has been done before.”

Festival of Music legend and Airlie Beach icon Kieran McCarthy said it was a privilege for him to be part of the line-up.

"I think the whole community went through post traumatic stress syndrome for a number of weeks once the adrenalin finished and this is one of those afternoons that can be completely uplifting,” he said on the day.

"So many people are here to come down and relax and forget about their broken homes and have a good time.

"It's always an experience for me, I feel very much a part of Airlie Beach and I'm happy to be a part of it.”

Fresh off the stage and dripping with sweat, Legendary artist James Blundell said he felt right at home performing at Airlie Beach.

"This is one of my favourite venues in Australia, it's nice to see it in day time mode and I always prefer to be hot rather than cold on stage,” he said.

"It can often take a natural disaster for us to remember that we are a tight knit-community.”

Organiser Gavin 'Butto” Butlin said around 2000 people had attended over the course of the day, with the event running smoothly.

"People are taking pictures with stars and artists which is great because people remember those things,” he said.

"In 10 years time people will be thinking 'I took a photo with Steady Eddy at the Sailing Club' and it is etched in people's memories'.”

Around $40,000 was raised from Whitsunday SESsions, with proceeds for the State Emergency Services.

Mr Butlin said a major "thank you” was due to all businesses and organisations involved in the event.

"Thanks to all the businesses that donated their time their products and their energy to make the whole thing work,” he said.

"If it wasn't for all of them it wouldn't have happened.”

Major thanks went out to Whitsunday Regional Council, Tourism Whitsundays, Airlie Beach Festival of Music, ABC Tropical North Radio, Tiger Air, At Hotel Group, Whitsunday Transit, Festival TV, Graphic House, Kb design, Whitsunday Times and Teepee Events.

Businesses including Hertz Rentals, Reef Gateway Hotel, Figurehead Hair Salon, Elite Security, Proserpine Septic Services, Flexi hire, Airlie Running Club, Airlie Scaffolding, Airlie Party Hire, Dr 2 You, IGA Jubilee Pocket, Airlie Beach Music, Bacon Earthworks and Landscaping, Plants Whitsunday, VAMPP photography and Metro Petroleum were also thanked for making the event possible.

Accommodation thanks went out to Water's Edge Resort, Mantra Club Croc, Mirage Whitsundays, Mantra Boathouse, Colonial Palms, Whitsunday Terraces, Summit Apartments, Mango House, Island Gateway Resort, Airlie Court Holiday Units.

Thanks also went out to Anchor Bar, BCF, Airlie Beach Swim Centre, Sirromet Wines, Pink Flamingo Resort Port Douglas, The Deck Restaurant and Bar, Bluewater Harbour Motel, Lotus Boutique, Better Body Cafe, Figurehead Hair Salon, Camomile Room, Goodness Gracious, Airlie Fitness, BWS, Intersport, Master Butcher, Just Tukking, Treehouse Cafe, Urban Village homewares, Repco, Global Hobo, CTC Tobacco Store, Adrian TLC chiropractic, Boom, Whitsunday Dive Academy, Sea Breeze Tourist Park, Glamour Box Hair Studio, Kinchant Waters Resort, Cafe one 3, Sorrento Restuarant and Bar, Pink Ribbon Charity, Beaches, Fish D'vine, Taylors Hotel and Metropolitan Hotel Mackay, Zambrero, Airlie Beach. Com, Paddys Night Club, Shickz Oyster Bar, Mama Africa, Wanderlust Bikinis, Cruise Whitsunday, Mighty Derwent Hunter, Porters Mackay and Whitsunday, Boost Juice, Lees Wow House, Pinnacles Resort, Skydive Australia, CQBBB, The Aqua Duck and Harvey Norman.

Better Home and Living also helped sponsor the live stream.

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