Category: CAIRNS


Want to know some things to do in and around Cairns this month? Our guest blogger, Cairns Regional Council’s Cathy Zieger shares her top choices.

Once school starts back again, so will many of Cairns highly popular activities.


What: Gordonvale State School is the venue for our free FaFT (families as first teachers) program.

When: Every Tuesday of the school term from 9am – 11am, outside the Prep room.

Active Games

What: Active Games is a hugely popular free program. Open to all families and children of all ages

When: Tuesday’s at Ravizza Park, Edmonton. 3:15pm – 5:15pm and Thursday’s at Bak Park, Progress Road, White Rock 3pm – 5pm

Baby Welcome Ceremony

What: The annual Cairns Regional Council Baby Welcome will be on 31 October when Mayoress Claire Manning will welcome our latest residents.

When: 31 October 10am at the Pier

Palm Cove (and other) Markets

What: Council’s markets on The Esplanade, at the Tanks and Palm Cove waterfront are a great activity for families. Wander the stalls, pick up a bargain of locally made produce, and enjoy a snack.

This month’s Palm Cove market will coincide with Reef Feast so get down to Williams Esplanade on October 11 for a great day out.

When: 11 October

Little Taccas Program

What: One of our most-loved programs, Little Taccas gets youngsters out and about in the Cairns Botanic Gardens precinct to get to know our fantastic tropical environment and use their experience to produce wonderful little masterpieces during the craft activity.

When: Once a fortnight starting 1 October starting at 10am

What are you and the kiddies up to this month?


You may not know his name, but you most likely know his idea. Charlie Cooper is the inspirational 10 year old boy behind the Buddy Bench, a concept that is taking Australia by storm and helping children create friendships and eliminate loneliness in the school yard.

The inspiration behind the Buddy Bench is one most of us know too well. I can still recall that awful feeling when no one wanted to play with me at school. And, as a mum, there is nothing worse than having this same sinking feeling remerge when your child comes home feeling disappointed and discouraged that he didn’t make any friends.

Trinity Beach State School student Charlie Cooper knew this feeling all too well. But, unlike most kids, after months of feeling lonely in the playground, Charlie decided to do something about it.

The Buddy Bench started with a simple request. “Charlie came home one day from school and told me, ‘Mum, I didn’t make any friends again today’,” Charlie’s mum, Carly, tells PakMag. “The next day he went to his school principal with his idea for the Buddy Bench.”

Charlie’s hope was that the Buddy Bench, which he read about while holidaying in the United States, would help children feel included in the school yard.

“If you feel lonely at lunch, you can go there and there will be someone waiting for a friend. So you can make a new friend,” Charlie explains.

After his initial request and with the assistance of Leigh Nelson from Choice Pools Safety Inspection, Charlie wrote a letter to the Cairns Men’s Shed and Bunnings to ask for help. Within a few months the first Buddy Bench in Australia was installed at Trinity Beach State School last September.

In one short year, Charlie’s idea has travelled across Australia. Buddy Benches are now featured in many schools in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales including local schools Edge Hill State School, Isabella State School, St Andrews Catholic College, Caravonica State School and Whitfield State School with plenty more in the works.

“We certainly didn’t think it would go as nuts as it has!” Carly admits.

Charlie’s Buddy Bench isn’t the only thing getting recognised. Charlie is proving to be quite the inspiration as well. Last year he spoke at James Cook University’s inaugural TEDx event where he shared his solution to bullying. The YouTube video of his speech has been viewed close to 100,000 times in less than 12 months.

“About one person views the video every hour,” Charlie explains proudly.

Charlie was also nominated for the Pride of Australia medal that recognises ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Carly tells us that her son, who she describes as thoughtful, compassionate and kind, is definitely a lot “less shy” and “more cheeky” and the recent public speaking events, conferences and radio shows are boosting his confidence.

With every Buddy Bench installation comes a lesson for the students. They are taught what the Buddy Bench is for and encouraged to approach those who are using it. Rather than seen as
a target, the Buddy Bench is seen as a solution and so far, the results have been nothing but positive.

“At the start, lots of people were using it,” Charlie explains. “But now, there are less and less kids sitting there because they are making friends.”

Charlie’s kind spirit, his unwavering commitment and his inspirational story are changing the rules of the school yard for the better, one bench at a time.

Stay tuned for more inspirational children in the community and check out our tips on managing stress and bullying.


A young girl is recovering in Cairns Hospital after being bitten by a shark in the waters of Russell Island near Babinda. The shark was reportedly up to one metre long and bit the girl in the leg while she swam in shallow water on Saturday, 26 September.

The seven-year-old was camping with her mother and several others when the attack happened. Someone who was with them was able to wrap the girl’s leg in bandage to help stop the bleeding until help arrived.

The girl’s mother used a satellite phone to call for help before the emergency rescue helicopter arrived and took them to Cairns Hospital. The girl has suffered a laceration to the leg and remains in stable condition and in good spirits in Cairns Base Hospital.

The shark is estimated at three and a half foot long. According to James Cook University shark expert Dr Colin Simpfendorfer, it is impossible to guess what type of shark may have been the culprit as there were up to 25 species which inhabit that area.

While shark attacks seem few and far between up here, Dr. Simpfendorfer states that the bite “is not an uncommon sort of response that we see.”

Located just twenty minutes by boat away from Babinda, Russell Island is a popular camping place for locals with excellent swimming and fishing. It is part of the Frankland Island group.


Sometimes a product comes into the market and you can’t help but think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” This is exactly the case with Adfresh Farms Easy Cubes, an innovative new product created by local farmers Sebastian and Cyrene Torrisi from Mareeba.

Adfresh Farms Easy Cubes make household cooking fun and easy. Using specially designed processing equipment, the Torrisi’s have created fresh herbs, spices and other cooking condiments into small mess-free, ready to use, frozen pop out cube portions.

Simply pop them into your cooking, marinades, dips, pasta’s, salad dressings and more. Adfresh Farms Easy Cubes come in garlic, basil, chilli and coriander with plans to expand the range in the future. A project five years in the making, the hard work has certainly paid off for the Torrisi family!

When it all started

“Since the launch of Easy Cubes in late 2014, we have had a great response from the local community and so much positive feedback. We have also had many travellers and campers say they have been using the Easy Cubes, when they head out on their adventures.”

Perhaps the best thing about these innovative little cubes is that they are grown in our own backyard, on a family-owned fruit and veggie farm 60km outside of Cairns in Mareeba.

“It all began when Cyrene struggled to find Australian garlic in the supermarkets. So she asked me to grow our own garlic here on our farm,” Sebastian tells PakMag. “So I did, and a bumper crop it was.”

“Faced with over supply of fresh garlic for ourselves, we decided to peal the garlic, put in the food processor, then poured the pureed garlic into an ice cube container. Once the cubes were frozen we emptied the container into a zip lock bag which was placed back into the freezer. So any time Cyrene needed garlic she would simply pop a frozen cube into her cooking. It was so easy!”

And from there, the idea for Easy Cubes was born. “We thought we could do this to all our herbs we grew on the farm and would make cooking time so much easier. No more pealing, chopping or herbs going off in your fridge.”

What makes it different

“Our product has further benefits compared to other herb products on the market as we use freezing to preserve,” the Torrisi’s tell us. “We are able to process the fresh herbs within two hours from harvest, maintaining the highest quality and freshness.”

“This allows us to produce a 100 per cent natural product packed with flavour which will lock in the fresh flavour for up to two years in your freezer.”

Easy Cubes are sold in Coles Supermarkets across Cairns and the Tablelands, Atherton Supa IGA, Cairns Bulk Meats, Jonssons Farm Market, Pease Street Discount Drug store and now Piccones Supa IGA Edmonton and Manoora.

If you’re constantly throwing out herbs after they go off, are tired of spending a fortune on spices and are sick of your kids complaining about your cooking being “boring” (I know I’m not the only one, right?) then Easy Cubes hold the answer.

Once you try them, you will realise just how easy it is to add flavour, freshness and fun into your cooking.


Edge Hill State School is one of three state schools in Cairns where the waiting lists are building up. Trinity Beach State School and Freshwater State School are also seeing an influx of applicants outside of the catchment zone.

Edge Hill State School principal Paul Campbell said families who lived in the catchment would have no trouble enrolling at the school, but a waiting list applied for those living outside the zone. “If we have vacancies, we do consider people outside of our catchment. Most people put their names down a year or two in advance,” he said.

Edge Hill State School has already reached capacity for the 2016 school year and Freshwater State School and Trinity Beach State School are filling up fast.

In fact, according to Trinity Beach State School principal Mark Allen, the school can no longer accept children outside of their northern beaches catchment.

“We have very limited space,’’ Mr Allen said. “Each year we are increasing our Prep classes by one. Next year we will have seven Prep classes (180 children).

“This year alone our Prep enrolment has increased by 41 children, which is ¬unprecedented.”

However, it’s not just the public school system that are seeing an increase in numbers. Executive director of Catholic Education Services admits that most catholic schools are already at capacity for next year, including the prep classes at St Joseph’s School at Parramatta Park, St Andrews Catholic College at Redlynch, Holy Cross at Trinity Park, St Gerard Majella Primary School at Woree, Our Lady Help of Christians at Earlville and St Therese’s Catholic Primary School at Bentley Park.

Regardless of whether you choose to go public or private, it would appear that parents need to get in those applications early!



Located at the Figtree Playground, directly opposite the Casino on the waterfront and just up from the Cruise Ship terminal is one of Cairns’ newest cafés.

Run by Caroline and Will who are both parents, this café has been well thought out and is a mecca for families!

As it is located on Trinity Inlet- the views are spectacular and my boys absolutely loved watching the boats going past. The kids menu for breakfast was sensational and from $3 it is so affordable – when you get the bill you will think they have missed an item.

For kids

The children’s menu includes boiled egg and soldiers, toast with spreads, organic baked beans jaffle, ham and cheese toasties or a fruit platter with organic yoghurt. They also have babycino’s for just 50 cents and milkshakes and banana smoothies which can be made lactose free. Once the kids decided what they wanted to eat, which was the ham and cheese toastie and baked beans toastie and a chocolate milkshake – they were off to play!

The café is waterfront with clear unobstructed views so parents with toddlers will still need to be mindful, as in most places. It’s a fantastic spot to bring scooters, however the kids will gravitate to the Figtree playground – an amazingly designed playground that seems to strike a chord with kids of all ages (and adults too!). This gorgeous playground provides a natural setting which partners perfectly with the café.

For adults

For adults the breakfast menu is sensational. With items from $4-$14 you will find some great options like Wood Fired toast with spreads, Eggs Benedict with Ham, Tropical Fruit Plate with honey crusted nuts, lime and yoghurt and lots more. I had the Smashed Avocado with Misty Mountain Quark and lime on ciabatta bread, plus an added an egg and Plantin Rosti. Trent had Poached eggs with local cane cured salmon. We were very happy with our choices. We are a family that normally doesn’t dine out much due to being very fussy on the quality of food we eat and our youngest son Sean being lactose intolerant. But now that there is an affordable place with quality food using local produce, and the fact that I can take Sean for a milkshake – that is going to change!

Wharf One also has a great lunch menu and caters for functions on or off premises. They are hoping to get a liquor license soon and will start doing dinners. Their Madella Coffee from Mourilyan is amazing. Trent consumed three of them and even got another for the road!

All in all, I can highly recommend Wharf One for breakfast, lunch or a morning or afternoon catch up with friends. We really enjoyed the food and location and can’t wait to go back.