Mareeba Community Afternoon Tea
Mayor, Cr Toppin; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen; girls and boys.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands and extend respectful greetings to Elders. I was very pleased to see the uplifting Indigenous heritage of the region so proudly on display in Mareeba’s youth, including through dance, at Mareeba State School earlier this morning.
When I was sworn in as Governor of Queensland in 2014, I made a pledge to visit the people of all communities within our State.
I am therefore delighted to be making my first official visit to the thriving town of Mareeba – to learn more about your Shire’s communities, and to thank you for the contribution you make to Queensland’s prosperity.
I am especially happy to see so many school students joining us, from so many local schools – you are all most welcome here this afternoon.
This part of the Atherton Tablelands – with its many smaller towns and settlements – is renowned for its fertile soils, open spaces, clear skies and bountiful produce, but it is also known for its admirable ability to adapt and innovate.
Indeed, back in May 1933, when Queensland’s then Governor, Sir Leslie Wilson and his wife Lady Wilson came to Mareeba, they spent most of their time here touring numerous tobacco farms and inspecting the tobacco factory.
The cessation of that long-term industry in the early 2000s necessitated a tremendous shift. This required incredible fortitude and hard work.
Now, just two decades later, we see evidence of the success of this transition in the many coffee plantations, tropical fruit farms and wineries dotting the region (I visited Golden Drop today) – earning Mareeba Shire the title “Food Lovers Paradise”.
It is an example of how the Mareeba community demonstrates a shared drive to see the region flourish, and it draws on traditions forged by a strong Indigenous heritage, and the beneficial influence of immigrants.
This also places your community in a solid position to manage the uncertain effects of the current COVID-19 crisis. The postponement or cancellation of iconic community events such as the Mareeba Rodeo, the Multicultural Festival and the Great Wheelbarrow Race are disappointing – both in terms of delivering tourist dollars, but also because they are important diversions for the community.
Yet, I am sure the famous Mareeba adaptability will once again come to the fore – indeed, you have much to look forward to.
Earlier today I met with Mayor Toppin and Councillors to find out more about initiatives planned for your region.
I toured the Mareeba Industrial Park, and visited the Lotus Glen Correctional Centre, and I turned the sod on the new Mareeba Airport hangar. There is certainly a lot happening here and more planned!
Before I conclude – and spend time chatting with you – I would also like to acknowledge and thank the business owners, charitable organisations, and community representatives here today – because it is largely through your efforts that Mareeba remains such a vibrant and enterprising regional hub.