A bite out of Banana
Banana Shire Snapshot:
Mayor :Cr Neville Ferrier
Area: 28,577 sq km
The Region: 120 kilometres west of the port of Gladstone, steeped in agricultural and mining history.
The Banana Shire recently hit headlines around the country, and around the world, with their approach to feral cat animal control: their feral cat bounty bonus payment scheme.
When they’re not causing a furor around the world, the Banana Shire is actually a laidback area best known for its agriculture and mining industries, easy lifestyle and its hardworking, down-to-earth residents.
Situated in Central Queensland, Banana’s Shire’s largest town and Council’s administration centre is in Biloela, 120 kilometres west of the coastal industrial city and port of Gladstone and an easy drive to the beef capital of Queensland, Rockhampton.
Banana Shire covers a large geographical area, with a stable population of approximately 15,500 people spread over 28,577 square kilometers. Banana Shire has a diverse range of industries that help to sustain an enjoyable lifestyle for its residents. Of the 28,577 square kilometers, only 27 square kilometers are urbanised.
Steeped in agricultural and mining history, this resource-rich area was named in the 19th century after a dun-coloured bullock called ‘Banana'; nothing to do with the tropical fruit!
The Shire is a mix of larger service centres, quaint rural villages and farms. The main population centre is the town of Biloela, followed by Moura, Taroom and Theodore. The remaining townships, though much smaller, are popular places to visit and each with their own story to tell. While they are the smaller centres, Banana, Baralaba, Dululu, Goovigen, Jambin, Thangool, Wowan and Cracow are also desirable places to live and work for their sense of community and enticing natural surrounds.
The majestic and picturesque Dawson River runs through much of the Shire. The Dawson runs from Expedition National Park in the south west, to Baralaba in the north west, before it joins the mighty Fitzroy River further to the north. Not as large but equally important are the Dee and Don Rivers which run across the Shire. The Dawson, Dee and Don are popular with anglers and supply many a table with a fresh catch; 1.03 metre barramundi was caught at the recent Lake Callide Family Fishing Classic.
There is a diverse range of industries sustaining the Shire’s economic growth from gas, energy, coal, grain, herbs, cotton, and beef production to gold. The Banana Shire is one of the largest mung bean producing areas in Australia.
“One of our biggest challenges is the untapped reserve of resources we have throughout the southern end of the Shire; coal, gas and potentially gold,” Cr Ferrier said.
Numerous natural and man-made attractions make the Banana Shire and Sandstone Wonders region an ideal tourist destination and the Shire's position between the coast and the outback make it a destination not to be overlooked. Sandstone Wonders is the Banana Shire Council tourism brand which has a strong following and online presence. Sandstone Wonders has over 7,000 Facebook followers with their messaging and content resonating across the country. The Sandstone Wonders website - www.sandstonewonders.com - gives visitors a comprehensive rundown of all there is to see and do in the region.
CEO Ray Geraghty said the tourism industry was a growth area for the region.
“Tourism continues to be a major draw card for our region and we look forward to expanding into this area further,” he said.
Banana Shire Council recently opened the Lake Callide Retreat, an accommodation facility on the banks of the Callide Dam, on the outskirts of Biloela. After a successful opening the Lake Callide Retreat has proven popular, drawing more day visitors as well as longer-term holiday makers to enjoy what the Dam has to offer, allowing them a safe and central base to explore the Shire from.
Mayor Ferrier said the accommodation facility offers a new aspect to tourism in the area.
“We’ve been progressively developing the area over recent years and fishing, water activities and picnicking have been popular with visitors and locals alike,” Cr Ferrier said.
Mayor Ferrier said there was a lot to offer families and residents in the Banana Shire, particularly the purpose-built Community Resource Centre (CRC).
“We believe that we have facilities to support our residents,” Cr Ferrier said.
“We are extremely proud of our Community Resource Centre and believe it is something unique to the Banana Shire.
“The CRC provides access to resources and facilities for people who have an identified physical, psychological, intellectual or social need as well as for the professionals and organisations who support them.
“The CRC has been in operation for 14 years, and while it was initially created as a community project it has been an integral facility that has grown over the years and still has strong support from various government and non-government funding as well as public donations.
“It is another example of the community spirit which is alive and well in the Banana Shire.”
Last financial year the Banana Shire Council was granted $1.73 million from Works for Queensland program funding. These funds have contributed to the construction of the Moura Miners Memorial, in remembrance of the three mining tragedies in the town, as well as for the completion of a playground at the Callide Dam Recreation Area, and for the renovation of the Biloela SES headquarters.
CEO Ray Geraghty said the State Government Works for Queensland program funding enabled regional and rural areas to fast track community projects to the benefit of the community, while generating employment opportunities.
“Council has seen many projects undertaken recently and as a result the twelve towns in the shire are progressing,” Mr Geraghty said.
“Even the local shopping centre, Biloela Shoppingworld, has an expansion underway which will undoubtedly be a positive development for the town.”
The next 12 months look promising for Banana Shire, with Council continuing to grow and develop and take on further initiatives to allow improvement and economic growth within the Shire.