Tag: COVID-19

Mackay Libraries and Pools Opening with Restrictions

Mackay Aquatic and Recreation Centre as well as Pioneer Swim Centre will reopen Wednesday 20 May.

The centres will be open to the public however there will be restrictions to ensure the safety of those who use them. Swimmers will need to book in advance and only 10 people per pool will be allowed. You can book a morning swim session by phone from 6:00am to 11:00am or an afternoon session from 3:30pm to 7:00pm, seven days a week. On Saturdays and Sundays, the centres will open from 8:00am to 1:00pm. Changerooms and communal showers will be closed, so people are encouraged to change at home.

Each pool can have one swimmer per lane however no spectators are able to enter the centres, unless it is one parent per child, where necessary. Swim classes will stay suspended for now.

The Aquatic Recreation Centre’s athletics complex will also be opening to the public. You can book, by phone, from 6:00am to 11:00am and 3:30pm to 6:30pm on weekdays and 8:00am to 1:00pm on weekends.

Sarina Swim Centre, Mirani Swim Centre, Memorial Swim Centre and Bluewater Lagoon are remaining closed due to winter maintenance.

To Book: Phone 4847 5400 for Mackay ARC bookings and 4957 5767 for Pioneer Swim Centre.

Mackay Libraries

Mackay’s libraries have began opening in stages from 18 May, with Dudley Denny City Library and the Mobile Library currently open to the public again. The State Government regulations allow up to 10 customers inside at once but this number will be limited further for the Mobile Library to ensure that the social distancing rules can properly be met.

There will be a 15-minute limit to make sure people can get fair access to the Libraries, especially as the opening hours have been reduced, but the Click and Collect service should make it easy to pick up the books you want in that time frame. Unfortunately, the library computers won’t usable, particularly as 15 minutes is not enough time for proper access.

Virtual programs are still going ahead, until at least mid-July.

All other libraries will remain closed to walk-ins however the Click and Collect service can be used. You can find more information on opening times and possible restrictions here.


COVID-19 Restrictions Will Be Eased Further on May 16

COVID-19 restrictions are being rolled back gradually as cases of the virus dwindle throughout Cairns. From May 16 a number of public facilities and venues will be reopened, but there will still be conditions in place in order to ensure public safety. Signage will be placed around public places so that the guidelines on the new restrictions are easy to find and follow.

These public spaces include dining at restaurants, clubs, cafes and pubs, with a maximum of 10 patrons allowed at one time. There should be no more than 10 people in a gathering that takes place in any public place. Gaming and bars will remain closed for the time being.

Bob Manning, Cairns Mayor, understands that it’s exciting to have popular facilities and venues reopened, however he reinforces that people need to follow the rules in order for restrictions to continue to be eased. “Council officers will be monitoring facilities, and if the rules are being blatantly disregarded, we will close the facilities again. In the interest of public health and safety, people are asked to maintain appropriate social distance and practice good personal hygiene at all times.”

Other Council services, facilities and venues that will be opening from May 16

Cairns Libraries – All eight branches of Cairns Libraries will open from Saturday however this is for borrowing only. They will operate within their normal hours and will also have the 10-person limit. Continue to use their online services where you can, but if you do go to one of the libraries then you should expect some level of queues outside and extended waiting.

  • Muddy’s Playground (wet and dry areas)
  • Centenary Lakes Nature Play
  • Fun Ship playground
  • Bouldering Park
  • Botanic Gardens Conservatory
  • Barlow Park (open for casual athletics only)
  • Public basketball courts
  • Public tennis courts
  • Lake Morris
  • Outdoor gym equipment
  • Playgrounds, skate parks and bump tracks.
  • Green Space Our Place program will resume from Tuesday 19 May.
  • Public barbecues at Cairns Esplanade, beaches, Babinda Boulders, Lake Morris. Other public barbecues will be opened by Sunday


  • Smithfield, Woree and Gordonvale pools will open with restrictions.
  • Babinda pool will open on Monday.
  • Tobruk Memorial Pool remains closed at this stage.

Further Social Distancing Restrictions to be Vigilant of:

  • You can travel within a 150km radius from you house for fun. Feel free to get out and take a road trip, day trip, have a picnic or go for a hike!
  • Some nail salons and beauty therapies will be open for up to 10 people at a time.
  • The number of wedding guests you can have has increased to 10 people – funerals can be attended by 20 people inside, or 30 people if the service is outside.
  • Open homes and auctions can be attended by 10 people at any time.

For more information you can visit the Cairns Regional Council’s website.

To stay informed on the latest health advice and coronavirus updates, visit the Queensland Government’s coronavirus page.

Careseekers Partner with Camp Australia to Provide Support for Families

COVID-19 has changed a lot of things this year, including the way that families go about their day-to-day lives. Many parents are still homeschooling their children while still trying to work from home. This is a very unique and challenging position to be put in. Juggling these two things as well as household duties is no easy task. Luckily, Careseekers and Camp Australia understand just how crucial it is to offer more support for families and parents who may be overwhelmed. Now, they have partnered together to do so.

The partnership aims to connect families in need with care workers that can help them. It also gives Camp Australia employees the opportunity to use their skills in other work places.

In-home and digital support for children with home school lessons, music, crafts and more, are now available. They can also provide assistance for parents outside of the home with essential tasks, such as shopping or staying home with the kids while these errands are run. The goal is to reduce the stress of parent’s new routines, which is a direct result of COVID-19. Not all families are able to adjust as easily as others, so this support provides a much needed helping hand.  

“At Careseekers we are determined to support parents who are simultaneously working and educating their children at home. We understand that this disruption to the regular routine is an adjustment. Some families aren’t able to cope as well as others. We are actively working with Camp Australia to provide parents with access to high-quality care from workers that otherwise would have been engaged with OSHC programs” said Careseekers CEO, Marissa Sandler.

Safety still remains a top priority of the organisations, for both clients and workers. All employees go through registration, are background checked and must complete training on infection control which is delivered by the government.

You can find out more, register, or find care and support at www.careseekers.com.au.


How much does missing school due to COVID-19 matter? Here’s what happened to student results in New Zealand after the Christchurch Earthquake.

Isolation is in full swing. School in Term Two is only going to be open for children of essential workers and students considered vulnerable. Overall, everyone who can learn from home should do so.

Many parents worry about their children falling behind, but more so now than ever before. They’re worried that subsequently, their kids will struggle to get back into their education when schools reopen to all students. But John Hattie, education expert, says parents shouldn’t “get stressed about it”.

After the devastating 2011 Christchurch Earthquakes, Professor Hattie was the adviser for the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. Their job was to manage school exams, and they found interesting results despite the disaster. Despite schools being closed for weeks and the majority of students unable to take part in online learning, results did not suffer. In addition, there was NO increase of students dropping out.

He said the difference was that teachers began focusing on the things that students actually needed to learn. They did this instead of going through a large amount of curriculum, as they would usually. 

“The students’ performance actually went up in the final exams”. He also says that Australian students could miss up to a whole term of school without there being a significant fall behind international counterparts.

In 2005 Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans. Unfortunately, this saw students miss up to seven weeks of school. But Hattie says that similar to the earthquakes in Christchurch, students saw a gain in test scores after recovering quickly.

Students should embrace every opportunity they get to learn online while they cannot attend school as usual. That being said, parents shouldn’t feel pressured to make sure their child is learning everything that they would be in the normal setting. According to Hattie, “When we get back to the old normal the recovery will be reasonably quick”.

Find more COVID-19 information and blogs HERE. 

Commemorating ANZAC Day during the COVID-19 shutdown: Now, more than ever, we must remember them

In World War II, my grandad was stationed in Tobruk in Libya, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Papua New Guinea and in Egypt, where he underwent an appendectomy in Alexandria, surviving the bombing of the hospital ship he was on. While in Egypt, he also crossed the Sinai Desert six times. On those journeys, he shared his water rations with his mates.

My mum recalls the lasting impression the war left upon his life. Every morning, grandad would look in the mirror as he shaved, watching himself grow older. As he did so, he would recite the Ode of Remembrance:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

He was grateful to have survived the horrors of war. He always, always remembered those who were with him during that time, who didn’t make it back home. 

It is unfathomable for me to imagine what life must have been like during that time, but it is important to try. All of my grandparents knew and loved people who gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War II. It was important to them that those people would be remembered. Now that my grandparents are gone, I feel it’s my duty to continue honouring the people they cared about.

I believe it’s also important to stand with the people who are serving right now. Some are overseas fighting to protect the vulnerable. Some are providing aid to those in need. And some are serving right here in Australia, right now, risking their health for us, during the Coronavirus pandemic. Their suffering and hardship look different from my grandad’s, all those years ago in World War II. However, they sign up for it and face it, courageously, just as he did. I want them to know that their community supports them.

This year, it will be harder for us to commemorate our ANZACs, harder for us to stand in solidarity with Australia’s servicemen and women. But, I believe that, now more than ever, it is so important for us to come together and remember. While most of us, thankfully, will never fight a war in our time, we are facing our own battle right now, journeying together through suffering and hardship. As Australians, we always reach out for and draw upon the spirit and strength of the ANZACs, the spirit of mateship and community, in our country’s toughest moments. And we can still do that this year, even through isolation and the safety of our own homes.

This is how I will be remembering and paying tribute to the soldiers past and present this year:

1. At 6am this Saturday, I’ll be standing on my driveway, streaming a short, online service by the country’s RSLs. From the safety of my home. I will continue to honour those who have and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for us all. It will be so special to know that I’m standing in solidarity with people across the country, keeping the ANZAC spirit alive. Join me in remembering our ANZACs from home. Search “RSL – Light Up the Dawn”. Pledge your commitment online to holding an at-home commemoration.

2. Baking ANZAC biscuits. This is a simple way to commemorate the hardships our ancestors endured, both the soldiers who ate them and the wives who baked them.

3. Taking a moment to be grateful for the life I lead because of the sacrifice those before me made. In the shower or over a cup of tea, it’s important to reflect on history and how those before us who helped safeguard our future.

4. Pass on the spirit of the ANZACs by checking in with a friend. Many people are struggling with self-isolation due to the current pandemic. Touch base to see how your loved ones are going and lend an ear to listen. Aussie mateship is everything.

Even from afar, we can share love, kindness and positivity, the very same qualities that helped our ANZACs face the horrors of war together. When I see the way that our community is coming together now, to face the unprecedented challenge of our times, it fills me with hope. It is clear to me that the spirit of the ANZACs has never gone away. It has simply changed with the times. In 2020, the spirit of the ANZACs still lives in all of us, in those small, precious moments when we are there for our friends and neighbours, helping them through a tough time.

About the Author

Nicole Rowles is the Nine News North Queensland Weather Presenter, reporting the local forecast updates.   

Practising Healthy and Hygienic Habits

With cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) now in Queensland, it is a timely reminder for all members of our community to practise hygienic habits to reduce the spread of illnesses. It is well documented that this assists the slowing down of the coronavirus progression.

In fact, think of all the shared items we touch daily; doors, trolleys, counters, eftpos machines, playgrounds, or the number of times we shake hands or hug someone. Then, without knowing, we touch our face – hundreds or even thousands of times each day, potentially spreading viruses to ourselves. Generally, viruses such as COVID-19, spread through close contact with people and via those who are coughing or sneezing. The virus then enters your body via your eyes, nose and/or mouth. This is why it is important to avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Practising good personal hygiene and passing these habits onto your family and friends is the best way to prevent infection for most viruses. Here some great habits: 

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or antibacterial liquid before and after eating and going to the toilet . Also do it upon contact with public items
  • Cover your cough and sneeze. Dispose of tissues and use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  • If you’re unwell, avoid contact with others (touching, kissing, hugging, and other intimate contact)
  • Do not attend workplaces, schools, aged care facilities, childcare centres or high concentrated public spaces if you’re unwell. This will only spread the virus to others
  • Self-isolate for 14 days if you have travelled internationally

And don’t forget to look after yourself by eating a healthy, balanced diet, getting regular physical activity, sleeping well and reducing your stress. On top of this, the community also plays a huge part in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

If you, or someone you know has symptoms of fever, shortness of breath, headache, a cough or respiratory illness; self-isolate and make phone contact with your local GP or Hospital. Then you can discuss with them your symptoms and treatment options.

Overall it’s extremely important to be alert, but not alarmed with regards to this pandemic. Rest assured the public health authorities are well prepared and the Townsville University Hospital (TUH) is well equipped, should the virus hit North Queensland.

Please call 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for health advice if you have any concerns. The Federal Department of Health has also set up a 24-hour COVID-19 health information line which you might find useful – 1800 020 080.


Read more health blogs HERE