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Serene spot for the Murilla Garden Group morning tea

By KATE BOSHAMMER

The 2021 Murilla Garden Group Morning Tea (formerly The Biggest Morning Tea) will be hosted in the beautiful garden of Ian & Susie Geldard, “Riverside”, 766 Fairymeadow Road, Miles, on Thursday 13th May, 9:30am-12:30pm.

The event will feature all of the fabulous elements the morning tea is known for – great company, beautiful food and coffee, amazing raffle prizes, the cent auction, plant and produce stalls, and more! 

Local coffee van Ludwig & Will are going to be brewing beautiful beverages, sponsored by Origin and Seven Miles Coffee Roasters.

FOR FULL DETAILS SEE THE FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE.

Please join us to raise funds for the Miles Hospital Auxiliary for the new Palliative Care Unit at Miles Health Services, and Queensland Cancer Fund – Accommodation.

This long-standing event in our community has raised valuable funds for important causes over the years, primarily Cancer Council Queensland.

Over the past 27 years, $160,000 has been raised through the morning tea in the Miles community.

We look forward to your support in 2021 to fundraise for our chosen causes this year.

How winners of the coveted BEEF2021 ‘Pitch in the Paddock’ competition will spend their prize

By HARRY CLARKE

Black Box Co COO Emma Black, CEO Shannon Speight and Northern Accounts Manager Sam Fryer, winners of the BEEF2021 Pitch in the Paddock competition.

FROM dozens of entries by Australia’s most innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs in agriculture, the data crunching gurus from Black Box Co have been crowned winners of the prestigious Pitch in the Paddock competition at BEEF2021.

Black Box Co is only 12 months old but is already fast becoming the go-to service for speedy analysis of mass data from across the cattle supply chain.

The product is a software interface that can quickly inform everyone from mum-and-dad producers to large corporate beef suppliers on how they could tweak their operations for better efficiency and profitability.

In a sign of the huge industry interest quickly generated by Black Box Co, CEO Shannon Speight customers started using their service at a “scarily early stage”.

A recent investment round that aimed to raise $1 million ultimately raised $1.5 million, all from Australian investors from within the beef industry.

Ms Speight and fellow co-founder Emma Black were pitted against eight other finalists for Pitch in the Paddock, who all delivered a pitch to an expert judging panel in competition for $10,000 in prize money from sponsor evokeAG.

There were developers of a blockchain transaction software for livestock, a smartphone app that helps to manage cattle trucking transport, and even a nifty scalpel attachment hailed as the world’s safest blade for cutting calves.

Judges were David Halpern, Sales Strategy and Operations Lead, from Microsoft, Bevan Slattery, founder of SUB.CO, Cloudscene, Superloop, Megaport, NEXTDC and Co-Founder PIPENetworks, Alex McCauley, CEO of StartupAUS, Luke Chandler, managing director of John Deere Australia & New Zealand, and Bruce Creek, agricultural business management from Thomas Elder Consulting.

Ms Speight said the team was thrilled to be declared the winner of the $10,000 prize.

“It feels absolutely fantastic. We were up against stiff competition and judging panel that was world class for ag-tech,” Ms Speight said.

“We have the possibility of making a big impact in the industry. There’s a lot of data out there that’s just sitting there, and that’s why we created this product.

“We worked with industry from the start and that’s been paramount to our success and our growth.

“We’ve all put in a lot of hours before and during the (BEEF21) week and I’m sure there’ll be a lot of long hours to come, but it’s been a fantastic opportunity to showcase our product.

“We plan on spending our 10,000 bucks on bringing our team together. We’re a remote team based across regional Australia and within some of the capital cities.

“So bringing everyone together for the first time, we’ll get to see each together, celebrate, and put our minds forward and sort out a strategy and roll out some more stuff.”

COO Emma Black added: “We’ve been very fortunate to win a lot of awards this year and I think that really highlights the need for our product in the industry. We saw an issue and decided that someone has to do something about it.

“It’s an easy, simple to use product that can generate so much value for the entire industry.

“We pool together data. We don’t just summarise it, we analyse it and link different pieces of that information together from along the supply chain.

“Some key examples of that are identifying calf loss or shifts in trends over time in a business. We look at historical data and current data. Producers can easily see the discounts and where they’ve fallen out of prime, and link that back to on-farm management.

“They can look at how they manage their cattle and optimise.”

Public invited to Surat Basin info sessions as Senex operations expand

ADVERTORIAL

TO keep residents informed about the company’s expanding gas operations across the Surat Basin, Senex leaders and technical experts are holding public information sessions in Miles, Wandoan and Roma during mid-May.

Senex recently announced an 8 percent increase in its gas production in the region over the last quarter as well as the beginning of its next drilling phase, which will see the creation of 50 new local jobs.

“As we continue expanding our operations in the Surat Basin, residents might start seeing some new activity in the area and we understand that there might be some questions people would like to ask,” said Senex community relations officer Trevor Robertson (pictured above).

“We want to hold these information session to keep the community informed. Anyone is welcome and we’re looking forward to catching up again with the locals.”

The drop-in sessions begin at Roma on Monday, May 10 at the Explorers Inn Function Centre from 12.30pm to 2pm and again from 4pm to 5.30pm.

At Miles, a session will be held in the Columboola Room of the Leichhardt Centre on Tuesday, May 11 from 12pm to 1.30pm

At Wandoan, sessions are on Tuesday, May 11, at the Senex office from 4pm to 5pm and again on Wednesday, May 12 from 8.30am to 10am.

Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea will be provided at the relevant events.

Senex Energy Managing Director Ian Davies said production of natural gas from its Surat Basin operations increased eight per cent over the past quarter with a target to triple production by 2025.

“Over the next couple of months, we will be starting the next stage of investment around Roma and Wandoan. We are ready to award contracts, we are ready to employ contractors.

“What does that mean? It means employment for the local community, means money going into the local community to support their local suppliers.

“It involves an expansion of our natural gas acreage. Drilling more wells, laying more plastic pipe for water and gas production. It means civils works around doing lease pads, roads etc.

“We’ve got a public target of tripling production by the end of 2025 what that means is continuing to invest in the local economy, continuing to invest in the sub-surface, the acreage that we hold around Wandoan and Roma and that is more jobs, more employment and more local investment in local people.”

Scomo swoops into Beef21 with $371m budget reveal

By HARRY CLARKE

AFTER spending hours mingling through an Akubra-clad crowd at BEEF21, Prime Minister Scott Morrison used his event press conference to announce a $371 million biosecurity package aimed to help protect Australian agriculture.

Impacts of the major budget announcement will help prevent disease such as African swine fever, khapra beetle and foot and mouth disease entering Australia, Mr Morrison said.

Among a raft of measures, the money will be spent improve screening facilities for international passengers, data and technology advancements to better identify potentially hazardous containers and 3D x-ray screening technology for incoming mail and passenger luggage.

The announcement brings the government’s biosecurity spend since October last year to $1.25 billion.

“Border security has many elements to it. A key aspect of border security is to protect our livestock industry and how we protect our grains industry around Australia.” Mr Morrison said.

“We’ve seen how important that is with Covid. Its the same when it comes to African swine flu or lumpy skin disease… which can be absolutely devastating when it comes to a agricultural sector and particular our beef and cattle producers”

Mr Morrison said from 2.5 million shipping containers which came into Australia last year and 60 million mail items, there were 35,000 pest and disease detections put in place by border agencies.

The Prime Minister was joined at BEEF21 by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, who said the funding was aimed to address recommendations made by the independent Inspector-General of Biosecurity.

“We are investing in technical solutions to keep biosecurity threats out of Australia, including through new screening technologies for people and goods at the border,” Mr Littleproud said.

“We will fund a series of ground-breaking trials to screen for biosecurity risks offshore and continue the development of modern, innovative detection systems.

“We are investing in better management of hitchhiker pest risk before they reach Australia, through expanding offshore management of risks and strengthened border interventions of shipping containers, while ensuring the safe, efficient clearance of low-risk commodities.”

Part of the money is about making sure that we can run a national exercise whereby we can simulate an outbreak across the country and make sure that our state counterparts are able to work with us to lock it down as quick as we can, we can trace it and we can protect as many producers as we possibly can

BEEF 21 welcome party: Ollie, Collie and John Hawkes

By HARRY CLARKE

SADDLING up at Rockhampton’s Heritage Hotel – nearly 700km from his home pastures – Ollie the loveable Brahman, his mate Collie, and his master John Hawkes will form a friendly welcoming party at BEEF 21.

The close-knit country trio hail from outback Longreach and are sure put plenty of smiles on faces as they parade through the Rocky CBD from 1pm on Sunday, May 2.

John Hawkes is a renowned country musician who’s raised 6-year-old Ollie since he was orphaned at only two days old.

The pair, along with Collie the border collie, have become a favourite attraction at country events – and are used to looking at little bit out of place at times.

The parade will begin on the riverbank outside the Heritage Hotel at 1pm and move along Quay Street, turn up towards the Oxford, then along East Street towards the Giddy Goat.

Their appearance is just event of many on Sunday when the triennial BEEF 21 cattle expo finally gets underway. A full program over events is available here on the Beef Australia website.

Beef Australia chairman Bryce Camm (pictured) said final preparations for the iconic event are now complete.

“This will be the largest event to be held this year in regional Queensland, and we’re very excited that it’s being led by the beef industry, right here in our great beef capital of Rockhampton,” Mr Camm said.

“There are cattle coming from right around the country, right from the depths of South Australia and up into the Northern Territory.

“It is the greatest cattle competion to be hosted in this country and many stud breeders and are very keen to take away the coveted interbreed championship on Thursday afternoon (May 6).

“The event embraces the entire supply chain of the Australian beef industry, which is an industry that is renowned around the world for its quality and consistency of product.

“Beef 21 will be a big event for industry trade and commerce during the week, but also very significant to the Rockhampton and Capricorn region.

“Over the five days of the event we expect that we’ll inject over $100 million into the local economy and that’s a huge shot in the arm for Rocky and our local community.

“It’s a great show of support to our host city for allowing us to come to town and host this great show.”

Dogs’ war cry Ringers out after victory over the west

Bulldogs winger Carney Rennick dives over a corner try against the Western Ringers.

By HARRY CLARKE

THE new generation of Bulldogs A-graders have overcome an early charge from the Western Ringers to reveal themselves as a young team well stocked with match-winning players and willing to lift when the chips are down.

There was an exciting atmosphere at Bulldog Park on Saturday night as players celebrated what ultimately became a convincing win over the Ringers in the third round of 2021.

Laura Gothmann performs The Last Post as players and spectators commemorate Anzac Day at Bulldog Park
A-grade Chinchilla Bulldogs and Western Ringers players observe a minute silence to commemorate Anzac Day

Earlier that afternoon, game announcer Luke O’Dea summed up a grim situation by saying the hosts were “caught napping” when they let in two converted tries within 10 minutes of kickoff.

Coming off a home ground loss to the Michell Magpies the previous weekend, a 12-0 deficit so early in the game was a sign the Bulldogs might not be turning things around in a hurry.

But in front of hundreds of supporters out to relish perfect football weather, the young team bounced back.

Fullback Brandon Paerau soon dived on a clever grubber from five-eighth Declan Bell to put the Bulldogs on the scoreboard, setting off a try-for-try tussle with the Ringers that went well into the second half.

Fullback Brandon Paerau scores for the Bulldogs.

Imposing Ringers prop James Brennan broke through three tacklers and scored under the posts moments before the half time break.

The try might have damaged the Dogs’ morale, but instead it didn’t appear to faze them.

Defence noticeably improved in the second 40 minutes. Props Dan Nothdurft and Harry Smith, captain/hooker Hayden Bender and lock Matt Eising all racked up a big tackle counts.

Nothdurft also displayed some powerful ball running, replicating his opposite number when he burst through the Ringers’ defence for a four pointer under the posts in the second half.

Bulldogs prop Dan Nothdurft. IMAGE: LINDA STEINOHRT

New to the Roma rugby league competition this year, the Western Ringers team comprises players for the outback towns of Charleville, Quilpie, Cunnamulla and Thargomindah, meaning some players made a 14 hour round bus trip to play in Chinchilla.

And the team’s reserve bench would have been empty were it not for three Chinchilla River Rats rugby union players, Dan Seator, Damian O’Brien and Nick Gordon putting on a blue jumper.

The Bulldogs soon started to capitalise on the Ringers’ fatigue. Bell and halfback Lachie Smith directed some creative football, mounting the pressure on with chips, grubbers and bombs close to the tryline.

The hosts were soon finding plenty of ways through the Ringers’ defensive. Smith darted through for a try of his own to the cheers of supporters in the ‘Dog House’ can bar.

Bulldogs halfback Lachie Smith scoots through for a try

The Bulldogs continued stretching out their lead. The scoreboard read 36-24 come full time.

“We’ve still got a fair bit to work on. They’re a young fella team but there were some good performances today,” said coach Tim Keating, who also praised the efforts by halves Bell and Smith in particular.

TAROOM-WANDOAN BATTLERS CONTINUE RESERVE GRADE DOMINATION

Battlers halfback Matt Howse. IMAGE: LINDA STEINORHT

CONTINUING to mount the case that they’ll remain the team to beat this season, the Wandoan Taroom Battlers blitzed the Bulldogs in Reserve-grade.

Dominating across the park in fitness, discipline and consistency, it was hard to pick holes in the Battlers’ performance.

The return of veteran Bulldogs halfback Nick Mutch gave spark to the Bulldogs’ attack, but Mutch was opposed by an equally incisive Bulldogs pivot in Matt Howse (pictured above).

The Battlers went for the legs all afternoon. Any time Chinchilla broke through the defence it seems either fullback Ashley Harth or centre Kyle MacLachlan were there stop them in their tracks.

Down the middle, too, Chinchilla’s big forward pack featuring the likes of Matt Townsend, Ian Exnell and Geln Wicks were continually shut town by tough Battlers tackling, led by dummy-half Blake Ronfeld.

Battlers dummy half Blake Ronfled tackles Chinchilla’s Nick Mutch

And as the Bulldogs began to tire, the Battlers’ backs seemed to be diving over the try line more and more.

Captain Jayden Baker put the Battlers’ big 32-6 win down to fitness.

“This is the fittest we’ve ever been as a club, so that’s our biggest advantage,” he said.

“We’ve got plenty of young fellas turning up to play. We’ve got plenty of mistake in us, but a lot of strong points as well.

“We don’t really have many big fellas this year, but that’s kind of one of our better attributes – we’re a lot more agile.”

Young Chinchilla A'graders overcome early Western Ringers scare in convincing third round win.

WATCH: Action from the polocrosse State of Origin

By HARRY CLARKE

Running since 2008, the 2021 Barastock Interstate Polocrosse Series held at Warwick’s iconic Morgan Park delivered all the thrills, spills and equine action players and spectators have come to expect from the top class event.

See the video wrap below, and a gallery of happy snaps from Day 2.

SLIDESHOW

Mobile app a symbol of BEEF 2021’s focus on AgTech

By HARRY CLARKE

CREATING your own BEEF 2021 itinerary from the scores of events, attractions, seminars and social functions happening throughout the expo is now a seamless process thanks to a purpose built event mobile app.

Downloadable for free on IOS and Android phones, the Beef Australia 2021 app is the perfect platform to keep across all facets of the triennial event, to be held in Rockhampton from May 2-8.

There are profiles on every one of the dozens of speakers, a list of all food vendors set up around the Rockhampton showground, a detailed program of events, and much more.

The Rockhampton Showground in full flight during BEEF 2018

Taking the program to the tech space is symbolic of a heightened focus on the booming AgTech industry at BEEF 2021.

The evokeAG Pitch in the Paddock introduced in 2018 will be returning, highlighting amazing innovation in the beef industry as entrepreneurs pitch their cutting edge new products to expert judges in the hope of winning a $10,000 prize.

Also this year will be the launch of the Ken Coombe Tech Yards – a designated precinct set up at Rockhampton State High School throughout BEEF 2021 to showcase the latest in cattle industry AgTech.

Beef Australia board director Jess Webb (pictured) said the pavilion will be a world first display of emerging Australian and international technologies.

“We noticed in 2018 that there was a whole range of new companies that hadn’t come on as exhibitors. It was a real indication of this burgeoning AgTech sector,” she said.

“Fast forward three years and there’s obviously been even more growth in this sector in Australia and internationally, so it was just a natural evolution for Beef Australia to try and encompass those developments and showcase the best tech to such a key stakeholder base.

“Anyone in the tech space looking to innovate and help improve the beef industry have been able to put their hand up to get along to our tech yards precinct.

“There are plenty of varied companies attending. We’ve got some of the most incredible free talks taking place throughout the week from some big names in AgTech.

“The whole precinct will be quite playful and challenging – think Google HQ meets the paddock, meets Beef Australia”.

The Ken Coombe Tech Yards honours the late Ken Coombe OAM, a beef industry identity and the Chair of the first Beef Australia event held in 1988.

The exhibit will feature booth spaces dedicated to market-ready tech and innovations, a demonstration area, and displays of “blue-sky” technologies that the beef industry can look forward.

Ken is recognised as a pioneer of on-farm computer technology, engaging with the CSIRO, DPI and others. He was an enthusiastic supporter of beef research, focusing on fertility, genetic selection, nutrition, and pasture improvement.

Cods cleaned up in Goondiwindi Emu parade

By HARRY CLARKE

A WEEK on from their 99-0 shellacking of USQ, the Goondiwindi Emus A-graders have again left their home town scoreboard looking more like one resulting from a cricket one-dayer than a rugby union clash.

In a season favourite rivalry for the two farming towns, Goondiwindi hosted the Condamine Cods in round two of Down Rugby’s Risdon Cup competition.

Emus captain Sam Tweedy commented after the game that the hosts were expecting an aggressive contest with the Cods, who were coming off a near upset of 2020 grand finalists the Toowoomba Rangers last weekend.

It was an aggressive contest indeed, played “in really good spirit” as Cods coach Nathan Bradley said.

But in front of dozens of extra supporters at Riddles Oval (as the Emus celebrated their annual Old Boys Day) the hosts were too strong for the Cods’ gallant effort.

It was only 10-0 to Goondiwindi at half time. In a sign the Emus realised the Cods weren’t backing down easily, they opted to strike for conversion points off two penalties.

Both penalty goal attempts (and a third from the Cods) were unsuccessful, and the half time scoreboard didn’t reflect what had thus far been a neck-and-neck contest.

In wet and soggy conditions the Cods were initially the team more willing to spread the ball. The boot of fly half Jack Hannah delivered good field position for Condamine, while centres combo Ben Geldard and Tom Sutton kept hunting for holes out wide.

Flanker Ben Carmichael was gusty all game in defence against the Emus’ huge forward pack, while props Justin Travers and (captain) Sam Warby also put in plenty of work.

But what might have remained a close game ultimately blew out in the second half. Emus forwards Joel Gilbert, Hugh Oliver and Sam Tweedy were relentless in attack. Number 7 Yoni Meron wouldn’t stop tackling.

The Cods had little choice but come in to defend and the Emus soon found plenty of scoring opportunities in the backline. Outside centre Lachlan Wade bagged a double.

The final score as 48-0.

“We always expect a physical game from Condy and that’s what we got,” Tweedy said.

“We’ve still got plenty to work on and we’re looking to improve but it’s definitely been a good start to the season.

“It was pretty quiet around Gundi last year with no winter sport on (because of Covid), but it’s good to be back, and the supporters seem to be loving it too.”

Cods coach Nathan Bradley said his team wouldn’t be perturbed by the heavy loss.

“Our aim today was to come to compete,” he said.

“When you play against a good side like Goondwindi, after 40 minutes they put you to the sword if you’re not quite there.

“We’re going to away, we’re going to work on it and we’re going to be competitive this year.”

B-grade was a closer game. Goondiwindi overcame the Cods 12-12, while in C-graders beat the Chinchilla River Rats 37-0.

Goondoowindi A-graders celebrate with the traditional axe trophy awarded to the winner of the annual Emus-Cods clash. The trophy is gifted by BurCutter Hayes from Hayes Spraying, which sponsors both clubs.

Palaszczuk’s $20m pledge for Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline

Annastacia Palaszczuk with Southern Downs mayor Vic Pennisi

THE Toowoomba to Warwick water pipeline project is a step closer after the Palaszczuk government’s announcement today of a $20 million package for longterm water security in the Southern Downs.

The package includes $8 million for preparatory works for the pipeline, $4.6 million in upgrades to groundwater infrastructure connecting the town of Allora and $4.5 million to increase Leslie Dam’s usable water storage capacity by 1,700 megalitres.

“In late 2019, in response to low supplies in the region’s dams, my government committed to plan for a new pipeline from Toowoomba to Warwick,” the Premier said.

“This commitment was in addition to $15 million in emergency assistance provided to cart water into Stanthorpe.

“It’s great news that water carting is no longer needed with Storm King Dam now at 100 per cent capacity, but our commitment to provide water security to the wider Southern Downs region still stands.”

Following the Palaszczuk government’s re-election in 2020 it was revealed during budget estimates that plans for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline had stalled at the feasibility study stage.

As well as foundational work for the pipeline, today’s announced “Southern Downs Drought Resilience Package” also includes $1.4 million to help the council move a range of industries from using urban water supplies to groundwater, and $700 000 to further investigate local groundwater supplies for Warwick, Allora and Stanthorpe.

“This will provide ongoing emergency relief to this community, as well as form the basis for long-term water security,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“The package provides immediate funding to unlock new water sources, upgrade critical infrastructure and lay the groundwork for the Toowoomba to Warwick pipeline and also create jobs.”

The Caller last week reported on irrigators in the upper Condamine River catchment pumping water for the first time since 2017, after years of drought culminated with falls of more than 100mm across the Southern Downs.

The Premier made the announcement at Warwick today alongside water minister Glen Butcher (pictured below), who said the “immediate” measures announced today could provide the Southern Downs with an additional 13 months of water.

He said the government was “absolutely committed” to building the pipeline, which would create more than 700 jobs during construction.

“Back in December 2019, Stanthorpe’s Storm King Dam was close to running dry and Leslie Dam was expected to run dry. Nearby, Connolly Dam was being depleted quickly with water being carted from the dam to supply Stanthorpe,” Mr Butcher said.

“Since then, we’ve been working closely with Southern Downs and Toowoomba Regional Councils to get those regions the relief they need.

“We’ve heard first-hand from people that the certainty provided by the carting kept people in jobs and in the region, so this work which includes laying the pipelines foundations, will provide even more certainty to the region.”

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