The most heartwarming Whitsunday stories of 2020
There’s no denying 2020 has been a tough year, but despite challenges the positive Whitsunday spirit shone through.
Here’s some of the most heartwarming stories that made headlines this year.
Seniors share their secrets to long-lasting love
The residents at Proserpine Nursing Home dated in the days when swiping and super-liking were not part of the vocabulary.
They delivered some tips for finding love and helping it last in honour of Valentine’s Day.
They shared their tips for finding love on Valentine’s Day.
Whitsunday community’s support ‘hard to comprehend’
A family who lost everything in a fire put out a heartfelt thanks to the Whitsunday community that rallied around them.
The Compton family’s two-storey home was gutted by a blaze that broke out in November.
Within hours, real estate agent PRD Nationwide had found them accommodation and a GoFundMe page, that raised $3000, was set up to help them get back on their feet.
Growing big pumpkins brings Whitsunday family together
For the second year in a row, Woodwark residents Monica and Lyle Falconer grew pumpkins so large Cinderella could use them for her carriage.
The pair never expected to become large vegetable aficionados, but after a 12kg monstrous pumpkin awarded them second place at the 2019 Show Whitsunday, Mrs Falconer said her husband wanted to go one better in 2020.
The results produced an impressively dense 14.5kg pumpkin, which Mrs Falconer said made her “overjoyed to look at”.
Collinsville’s ambitious plan to spread joy between towns
Collinsville residents embraced the ‘Chalk it Global’ movement, colouring positive messages and pictures on driveways across town, and one woman had an ambitious plan to take it a step further.
Collinsville Community Association service co-ordinator Heather Brown said the positivity of the messages was so uplifting she was inspired to think bigger and invited Bowen and Collinsville residents to “chalk the drive” between the towns.
Ms Brown encouraged residents to draw on trees and rocks on the road that people drive along between the two towns, leaving “pictures or inspirational messages” for the whole community to enjoy.
Community rallies behind Jimmy’s road to recovery
When the family of a man who fell two storeys from his Cannonvale apartment heard the news, they were expecting to have to plan a funeral.
Jimmy Gruitt was found by his neighbours when he fell from his Deloraine Cl balcony in October.
Despite all odds, Mr Gruitt is now on the long road to recovery.
But as the costs of treatment and lost income stack up, his loved ones launched a campaign in a bid to ease the burden of the medical bills.
Drive-by baby shower for Whitsunday couple
Drive-by baby shower isn’t a phrase used often, but with social distancing rules in place a Bowen family got creative to surprise a lucky couple with an experience they “won’t forget soon”.
Jamii Barlett and Ash Pandey were forced to cancel their baby shower to keep their two young asthmatic kids safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miss Barlett said she never expected there was an alternative way to celebrate.
Proserpine family shaves their heads in a touching tribute
Members of a Proserpine family shaved their heads in a touching tribute to one of their own, all while raising funds for a great cause.
Proserpine woman Sheridan Faletti “straight away knew” what she wanted to do when her family lost a loved member to cancer.
Her mother-in-law, Sandra Faletti had already fought breast cancer in 1999 and won the battle, and “things were going great” before her shock diagnosis.
More than four decades of dedication honoured
Norrien Hinds remembers when Meals on Wheels soup and dessert cost customers just $1.
Now, 42 years later, a lot has changed in the organisation, but Mrs Hinds has remained a steady force in the Collinsville Scottville branch and was recently recognised as a life member.
World-first nautical nuptials at Coral Sea Marina
The chance to sail around the world is rare, but a Victorian couple made the experience even more unique by becoming the first couple to tie the knot on board.
Hans Richter couldn’t wait until his now-wife Jacqui Webb finished the Clipper Round in the World Yacht Race to marry her, so the pair tied the knot on board the Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam yacht in Coral Sea Marina.
Why backpackers should thank this centenarian
At the age of 103, Thelma Porter said there was no big secret to making it to a century.
However, Airlie Beach and Proserpine would look very different today had it not been for this centenarian.
Mrs Porter celebrated turning 103 surrounded by family and friends in Proserpine in August.
Tearful reunions as first Melbourne flight touches down
Joan Bezzina couldn’t put into words how she felt as a plane carrying her daughter and two grandchildren hit the tarmac.
As tears welled in her eyes, “elated” was the only way to describe the long-awaited reunion.
Mrs Bezzina was one of many people who welcomed passengers on the first flight from Melbourne since April as it landed at Whitsunday Coast Airport on December 2.
‘We had totally written ourselves off as becoming parents’
With piercing blue eyes, it’s easy to see how six-month-old Korah Read won the hearts of Whitsunday residents to take out the crown of the region’s cutest baby for 2020.
However, this cheerful bub also has a heartwarming story as parents Rianna and Zach had almost written off the thought of ever having a child.
Mat rolled out to make Bowen beach more accessible
The azure waters of Horseshoe Bay can now be enjoyed by even more people thanks to the work of a group of self-proclaimed “grey nomads”.
Earlier this year, the Horseshoe Bay Social Club secured more than $20,000 in funding for four 10m lengths of Mobi-Mat and a floating mobility wheelchair through the Queensland Gambling Community Benefit Fund.
They were able to roll out the red, or in this case blue, carpet last month to give people of all abilities, including the elderly, those who use a wheelchair and mothers with prams, easier access to the beach at Horseshoe Bay.
‘FAIRYTALE’: Emotional reunion after Guthalungra crash
A four-week search ended in an emotional reunion for one North Queensland woman, finding her missing dog on a secluded beach.
‘A fairytale ending’ is how Jo Martin described the moment she found her bullarab x greyhound Izzy after her beloved companion ran away after a crash at Guthalungra.
A horrifying crash between her car and a truck on the Bruce Highway, 5km south of Guthalungra, flung Ms Martin and Izzy around inside her car as it rolled for more than 100m.
In the chaos that ensued, Ms Martin watched a traumatised Izzy run out of a broken window and away from the crash scene.
TALENT FOR TEDDIES: Knitting for those in need
As coronavirus restrictions forced many of the region’s residents inside, one keen knitter spent the time putting her skills to good use.
Long-time Proserpine resident Bessie Simpson spent months hard at work knitting trauma dolls used by ambulance officers and firefighters to help keep children calm during an emergency.
‘Really surreal’: Bowen’s own to make State of Origin debut
Every time the Maroons scored a try in State of Origin when Shaniah Power was growing up, she would run out onto the veranda with her siblings in Bowen and scream ‘QUEENSLAND!’.
She couldn’t quite believe it when she received the call up to pull on the maroon jersey herself in the NRLW State of Origin squad.
TRASHY FASHION: Cannonvale street embraces bin night
It is one thing to turn trash into treasure, but a street in Cannonvale took it a step further by turning bin night into the social event of the week.
Every Monday, the residents of Teague Tce dressed up to a theme for a social distanced soiree.
The theme was agreed on the week before and the majority of residents, dogs included, got into the spirit.
‘It’s the main day of the year for me’
The Aussie battler spirit shone through as residents across Airlie Beach gathered in their driveways to honour the Anzacs despite COVID restrictions cancelling official ceremonies.
Streets were adorned with candles and memorials and the last post echoed from living rooms.
Just as the sun pushed through the clouds, a 1941 Tiger Moth and a helicopter flew low over town, bringing back memories for Vietnam veteran Peter Roberts.
“It was quite thrilling to listen to the helicopter … the sound is very unique. It sends a shiver up your backbone,” he said.
THIRTY YEARS OF HELPING: Blank walls now a colourful haven
A familiar Bowen face helped to turn the blank walls at Murroona Gardens into colourful art that will not only look great, but help those struggling with dementia.
Local identity Jack Webster is one of Bowen’s hardest working volunteers and his efforts once again helped the community, with three large murals adorning the walls of the Hibiscus and Jacaranda wings of the Murroona Gardens Memory Support Units.
CREATIVE SPIRIT: Spectators flock to first arts festival
Spectators flocked to the Airlie Beach Foreshore for the inaugural Whitsundays Arts Festival.
The festival was the brainchild of a group of passionate volunteers who wanted to celebrate local art and give residents the chance to explore the potential of the Whitsunday art scene.
Little school that could: Army of helpers erase vandalism
When the phone rang and Merinda State School principal Ryan Gilmour found out the small primary school had been covered in graffiti, he was filled with disappointment.
He feared for the school’s bright murals and while they had thankfully been spared during the rampage, paint had been sprayed over walls, concreted floors and the sides of classrooms.
But Mr Gilmour’s deflation quickly turned into pride when the call went out to the school community and people turned out in droves to help reverse the damage that had been done.