The Sunshine Coast community is passionate about turtles, but many people may not know about the Mary River Turtle – often referred to as the punk rocker turtle, thanks to the mohawks of moss that sprout from its head.

The Mary River Turtle is an endangered species found nowhere else in the world but the Mary River catchment.

Sunshine Coast Council has now implemented a program designed to protect this special creature from predation by feral animal species.

The Mary River Turtle is listed as the 29th most endangered reptile species on the plant by the Zoological Society of London EDGE program (Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered) and is listed as endangered under the Queensland Government Nature Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Government Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

Since it began in 2016, Horizon Festival has cemented itself as the premiere arts and culture festival for the Sunshine Coast, and council today (January 31) committed to supporting the festival for another three years.

The 10-day festival sees the region comes to life in a celebration of arts and culture, engaging locals and attracting visitors from across the country.

Council has committed $665,878 to the festival each year until 2022.

Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said Horizon Festival had provided significant benefits to the community, arts sector and economy on the Sunshine Coast.

“I’m extremely pleased at what the Horizon Festival has achieved and excited by the festival’s future possibilities for our region,” Cr Baberowski said.

“The first three years of the festival have proven the value of having an arts and cultural event on the Sunshine Coast, for both the arts sector and for audiences.

“Delivering the festival wouldn’t have been possible without the commitment and passion shown by our local and visiting artists – they are the reason people choose to attend festivals.

“Winning a 2018 Australian Event Award, for the Best Achievement in Marketing, Communication or Sponsorship is also testament to the great team we have working on the festival behind the scenes.

“This is not only an event for our region but also for South East Queensland and it ticks the social, economic, community and cultural boxes, reflecting our vision to be healthy, smart and creative.

“We aim to put the Sunshine Coast on the map nationally and globally and we are well on the way to achieving that goal.

 “Horizon Festival is a key deliverable of the Sunshine Coast Arts Plan and I look forward to seeing the festival continue to grow over the coming years.”

Festival facts

·         More than 128,000 people have attended the festival since it began, with 22.3% of those from outside the region.

·         2235 artists engaged, including 370 First Nations artists and 330 artists with a disability.

Supporting the future festival delivery, council has developed the Horizon Festival Development Plan 2019-2023.

The plan will aim to establish the festival as a premier arts event on the national calendar, provide pathways for local artists to develop content, skills and networks, provide locals and visitors with unique arts experiences that engage and inspire, showcase the Sunshine Coast as a sophisticated cultural destination alongside spectacular geography and deliver direct economic impact and tourism benefits.

Horizon Festival 2019 will be on from August 23 to September 1.


Sunshine Coast Libraries will celebrate their community this Library Lovers Day, February 14 with live music at all libraries and free morning refreshments.

Community Programs Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said libraries were the best match-makers – they’ll help you find the information, book, program, author or just about anything else you’re looking for.

“People really do love their local library. It’s a great place to unwind, catchup on the latest news, learn more about technology or meet up with friends,” Cr McKay said.

“Libraries also host a range of exciting events that showcase national and international authors and speakers.

“This year’s Library Lovers Day is all about connecting and honouring the relationship between libraries and like-minded community members.

“There will be live music in the morning from a line-up of exceptionally talented Sunshine Coast musicians including Hayden Hack, Pepper Jane, Jai Bevan, Ollie Murk, Rachel Ellen, Nyssa Ray, Lauren Hutton and Rodger Bradshaw.

“It’s all free and no registration is required, so come along and enjoy the celebrations.”

Library Lover’s Day is a great time to join the library. There are more than 1300 new members joining the service each month.

Members are borrowing, downloading and streaming books, films, magazines and music.

You can borrow and return items at any of our eight libraries and two mobile libraries across the region.

Sunshine Coast Libraries have more than 385,000 items in their collection available for library card holders to borrow for free.

In 2018 more than 2.3 million items were borrowed from Sunshine Coast Libraries.

For more information visit council’s library website.

Nationwide entries are now being sought for the Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2019 – one of the most prestigious regional 2D art prizes in Australia.

The Art Prize offers a major cash prize of $25,000 sponsored by Sunshine Coast Council.

Arts Portfolio Councillor Rick Baberowski said the Sunshine Coast Art Prize was the flagship contemporary art award for our healthy, smart, creative region.

“The Art Prize is an award with a growing national reputation and is highly respected by the arts industry, art collectors and the broader community,” Cr Baberowski said.

“Continued investment by council, combined with eminent judges and the valued sponsors, has seen the Sunshine Coast Art Prize grow to become one of the nation’s leading regional art awards.

“The quality of submissions we receive each year culminates in one of the signature exhibitions for the region and I very much look forward to seeing this year’s entries.”

Caloundra Regional Gallery curator Hamish Sawyer said the high-profile award was expected to attract entries from some of Australia’s best contemporary and emerging artists.

“The national profile of the award is continuing to grow, as was proven by the calibre of entries received from across the country last year,” Mr Sawyer said.

“Our 2019 judge, Alison Kubler, who has more than 20 years’ experience working as a curator in museums and galleries across Australia, will have the enviable task of selecting a winner from what I’m sure will be an exceptional list of finalists.”

Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2019 finalists will be announced in April and will be showcased in an exhibition held at Caloundra Regional Gallery from July 24 to September 15.

The winning work will be acquired into the Sunshine Coast Art Collection.

Prize details

The Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2019 offers a prize pool of more than $30,000 in cash and prizes including:

·      an acquisitive major prize of $25,000 cash sponsored by Sunshine Coast Council

·      a non-acquisitive Highly Commended prize of $5000 sponsored by the De Deyne family

·      a non-acquisitive People’s Choice prize of $2500 sponsored by Caloundra Chamber of Commerce

·      a Sunshine Coast Art Prize Residency sponsored by Caloundra Regional Gallery and Montville Country Cabins.

Sunshine Coast Art Prize 2019 online entries are now open and will close at 5pm on Monday, April 8. Entry is open to any Australian resident.

For more details, including terms and conditions of entry, visit the Caloundra Regional Gallery website.

View a gallery of previous Sunshine Coast Art Prize winners on the gallery website.

Owned and operated by Sunshine Coast Council, Caloundra Regional Gallery is located at 22 Omrah Avenue and is open Tuesday to Friday 10am – 4pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am – 2pm.

You can now follow Caloundra Regional Gallery on Facebook and Instagram @caloundraregionalgallery

About the judge

Alison Kubler has a double major in Art History from the University of Queensland, Australia, and a Masters in Post-war and Contemporary Art History from Manchester University, England.

Alison has more than 20 years’ experience working as a curator in museums and galleries in Australia, including full-time curatorial positions at QUT Art Museum and Gold Coast City Art Gallery, and has also developed programs for Art Gallery of South Australia.

Alison is a Member of the Council of the National Gallery of Australia, a Board Director of the Museum of Brisbane, an Ambassador for the Institute of Modern Art, and an Ambassador for the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art. 

Alison is a regular contributor to art journals and magazines such as Art Collector, MUSEUM, Manuscript, Neue Luxury and the Australian Financial Review Magazine on the subjects of art and fashion.

Alison worked on the 2018 fashion and art program for the Sherman Centre for Culture and Ideas (SCCI) and was appointed editor of VAULT Australasian Art & Culture magazine in May 2018.

Much-loved Irish troubadour Luka Bloom will take to council’s Venue 114 stage with passion and playfulness for one performance only on Friday, March 1 at 8pm.

The very embodiment of the folk singer, Luka Bloom has that deep sense of social justice with an uncanny ability to distil contemporary life into the pithiest and most alluring combinations of lyrics and melody lines.

His latest album, Refuge, put a finger on the fractured nature of so much of what’s happening in our world today, from homelessness to war to climate change.

His voice is still as open and honest as it was over 30 years ago, and his guitar finds chord combinations that are all his own.

For 40 years, Luka Bloom has been making records and travelling the world singing his songs and since 1992, Luka has toured Australia 12 times.

His first Australian show was at a packed Enmore Theatre in 1992. 

“Although this was my first ever concert in Australia, already it felt like a homecoming,” Luka said.

“I knew I instantly loved this country and hoped I would return many times. 

“Apart from Ireland, Australia is a country I actually miss when I am away too long.

“Like Ireland, Australia is clearly not a perfect place, nowhere is. But it is a home away from home for me. I miss my friends there, I love the shows and the festivals.  But that is a given. 

“I love my job and I am utterly blessed that my songs bring me back to Australia again and again to sing with people I love to see.”

Tickets are $59.90 per person. To book, visit or call 5413 1400 (phone charges do apply).

Event parking is free and public transport is available nearby.

Venue 114, formerly known as Lake Kawana Community Centre, is located at 114 Sportsmans Parade, Bokarina.


“What a hard working national treasure this artist is, equipped as he is with the wit, storytelling, musicianship, singing and songwriting genes this magical country of ours seems to have by the boatload.” The Irish Examiner

The Official Closing: Friday 18th January 2019, 1-3pm
Location: Artspace, Maroochydore Library
Exhibition Dates: 17 December 2018 – 25 January 2019

Caloundra Regional Gallery and Sunshine Coast Libraries present the next exhibition for the Maroochydore Library Artspace. Local artist Marvene Ash explores the hinterland of Maleny and wide plains of Goondiwindi, exposing the beauty of both regions. A closing event for the exhibition will take place on Friday 18th January 2019, at the Maroochydore Library Artspace.
Cash bar at the closing event provided by Friends of Maroochydore Library. All welcome.

The protection and promotion of our heritage and our stories was in the spotlight when Sunshine Coast Council was a finalist in two categories, including achieving an award victory, at the annual Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards.

The event hosted by Museums and Galleries Queensland was held at council’s Mary Grigor Centre in the Bankfoot Heritage precinct which featured in the award win.

Council’s Cultural Heritage Services team received the Sustainability Award for the Bankfoot House Preservation Housekeeping Project and was a finalist for the Project Award for the From the Mountains to the Sea exhibition that was a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast celebrations.

Past individual award winner and Heritage Portfolio Cr Rick Baberowski said the awards provided industry recognition of council’s ongoing commitment to the region’s cultural heritage,

“The responsibility for protecting and promoting local heritage is one our council takes great pride in and we are thrilled to receive Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards,” Cr Baberowski said.

“Receiving one award and being a finalist for another is the icing on the cake in what has been a wonderful year of 150th anniversary celebrations for Bankfoot House and the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast last year.

“I would particularly like to commend our Cultural Heritage Services team and the Friends of Bankfoot House volunteers who, through their common dedication to protecting and promoting our local heritage, made us a contender and then winner of the Sustainability Award.

“This award reflects their collective hard work, passion and expertise.”

Made possible through the Cultural Heritage Levy, the Bankfoot House Preservation Housekeeping Project involved a major conservation clean of the entire house and the introduction of preventative conservation practices.

Both items were essential for the longevity of Bankfoot House and to improving the sustainable practice of caring for the precinct’s heritage buildings and collections.

Cr Baberowski said the award for the From the Mountains to the Sea exhibition recognised not only a great program but the benefits of a collaborative approach to interpreting the region’s heritage to current and new audiences.

“For the first time, our heritage team was able to pull together an exhibition that focused on broad Sunshine Coast historical themes with pieces and stories drawn from multiple museum and private collections,” Cr Baberowski said.

“It included First Nations People and the development of the region to where it is today, stories told through social history, artefacts, didactic and digital interpretation, interactive displays and contemporary art.

“This collaborative approach which included gallery space at USC, enabled our heritage to become accessible to a broader audience in a more interesting and exciting way.

“We aim to continue to facilitate this collaborative and partnerships approach so that our heritage becomes an even more valuable and fascinating part of our perpetual journey to the future.”

The 2018 Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards judging panel comprised Emma Bain, Director, Redland Art Gallery, QLD; Judith Hickson, Curator, Social History, Cultures and Histories Program, Queensland Museum; and John Walsh, Consultant, All Art Services, QLD.

For more information about the awards visit the Museums and Galleries Queensland website.

For more information about Bankfoot House and the Cultural Heritage Levy program visit

New gallery exhibition features award-winning artists from the Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre

Opening on December 13, Caloundra Regional Gallery is proud to present Manggan – gather, gathers, gathering, the first national touring exhibition of contemporary works by award-winning artists from the Girringun Aboriginal Arts Centre.

From the Far North Queensland town of Cardwell, the 19 Girringun artists’ superbly handcrafted works, displayed alongside historical from the South Australian Museum and ephemera, including photographs, provide a unique opportunity for gallery visitors to view and engage with the distinctive Aboriginal rainforest art traditions and culture from the Girringun region.  

The artists’ ancestral tools, Bagu (body) with Jiman (sticks), were traditionally used to make fire, but today have been transformed into an iconic art form by the Girringun artists.

Made from clay, timber and string, and painted with ochres, these artworks evoke the spirit of the old people. 

The contemporary objects are instilled with newer values which reflect aesthetic taste, authenticity, economic pressures and an element of nostalgia.

Displayed side by side, the new and the old, the objects create a dialogue of contrast and of change.

Artists featured in the exhibition include Daniel Beeron, George Beeron Snr, Maureen Beeron, Theresa Beeron, Nancy Cowan, Nephi Denham, Sandra Escott, Tonya Grant, Judith Henry, Clarence Kinjun, Doris Kinjun, Abe Muriata, Alison Murray, Debra Murray, Emily Murray, John Murray, Ninney Murray, Sally Murray and Eileen Tep.

The exhibition will be on display until January 27, 2019.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson

The Sunshine Coast continues to deliver the right ingredients for a healthy, smart, creative region according to Mayor Mark Jamieson, who delivered his annual State of our Region address today.

Speaking to an audience of community representatives at the Sunshine Coast Health Institute, Mayor Jamieson said if there was a theme for the Sunshine Coast in 2018 it was “connecting our community”.

“Here on the Sunshine Coast we are positioning ourselves as a unique region, distinct from the rest of South-East Queensland, but connected with the world,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“We have a balanced commitment to supporting and connecting our community, preserving our natural assets, maintaining our lifestyle and developing a stronger economy.

“And reinforcing the links and opportunities between them all.

“Latest economic data shows that our region’s annual employment growth of 5.3% is well ahead of the State’s jobs growth at 3.6%.

“Household incomes have also improved significantly since 2011 from being 22% below the State average to approximately 9% below the State average.

“We won’t rest there – I want to see us at least level pegged with the State average within the next 10 years.

“Improving the average household income level is the real social dividend for our community.

“It means more money in the pockets of our residents which is good news for them and for local businesses.”

Mayor Jamieson said other highlights of the year included the success of the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm, launching a 20-year arts plan, record tourism figures and investing a record $7 million to add a further 405 hectares of environmental land to our conservation estate.

“Since it was commissioned in July 2017, the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm has generated around 38,000 megawatt hours of electricity,” Mayor Jamieson said.

“This has resulted in a saving for council of $2.5 million on its electricity costs.

“Our Sunshine Coast Arts Plan will enrich our region’s cultural identity, providing endless possibilities and experiences for locals and visitors.

“With the additional properties council has acquired through our Environment Levy, our region’s conservation estate is now nearly 6200 hectares.

“Our international tourism figures continue to grow and our domestic tourism expenditure eclipsed what the Sunshine Coast achieved in the previous 12 months.”

Mayor Jamieson said the region’s game-changing projects continued to take shape during 2018, paving the way for international connections that would strengthen the region’s economic resilience and social fabric.

“The new runway at the Sunshine Coast Airport is well underway, plans for an International Broadband Submarine Cable have become a reality and the new Maroochydore CBD is really starting to take shape.

“There are many more highlights from the year and I look forward to continuing the success of 2018 through 2019.”

For a full list of highlights visit council’s website or watch the State of our Region 2018 video.

Sunshine Coast stars at smart city awards

The Sunshine Coast has been recognised as the nation’s leader in smart cities at the inaugural Australian Smart Cities Awards in Sydney.

Council won the coveted Leadership City category for its commitment to smart cities through its “Smart City Implementation Plan – not rhetoric” which encompasses data sharing, investment in loT technology and free public Wi-Fi.

Council collected the ‘Regional Leadership Award’ for the 15-megawatt Sunshine Coast Solar Farm – the first to be built by a local government in Australia – which offsets more than 100% of council’s total electricity consumption. Council’s Smart City co-ordinator, Michael Whereat, also took out the ‘Smart Cities Leader – Government’.

Council’s Smart Region Management Platform, which shares disparate data to provide a bird’s eye view of the smart solutions and systems across the region, also won a highly commended award.

Economic Development Portfolio Councillor Stephen Robinson said it was a tremendous honour and a great achievement for the Sunshine Coast to win three awards, including the top prize, at Australia’s first Smart City Council Awards, which recognise leadership and best practice in the smart cities movement.

“This is an outstanding feat for our region and especially given that we were up against two capital cities in Brisbane and Adelaide for the top prize ‘Leadership City’ award,” Cr Robinson said.

“We believe that adopting smart city technologies will provide real opportunities to build a stronger economy, develop a stronger and safer community, improve service delivery to residents, businesses and visitors.”

“Significant progress has been made in our region since council launched the Smart City Framework in 2015, which was introduced to help create a smart and digitally connected Maroochydore City Centre.”

“Council has harnessed a host of technologies to create a more liveable region, including the first whole-of-region smart Wi-Fi, smart bins and water meters, street lighting as well as sensors for parking and to monitor wildlife and waterways.

“The Aura, Palmwoods and Landsborough developments also have smart city solutions either installed or planned for the future and council’s Smart Centre in Bulcock Street, Caloundra has welcomed more than 2,500 visitors since opening in 2016.

“The Smart Centre also became Australia’s first smart city urban streetscape demonstration and testing facility in 2017 and in July this year it hosted the first public demonstration of light fidelity (Li-Fi) technology in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In 2017, Sunshine Coast Council became the first local government in Australia to build a utility scale solar farm at Valdora (14km west of Coolum Beach). It’s the largest solar farm built in South East Queensland and the first in Australia to operate at 1500 volts for greater efficiency.

“The solar farm has enabled council to offset around 107% of its electricity consumption and in its first year since opening has generated more than 30GW hours of energy with resulting carbon savings of more than 24,000 tonnes.

“So, it’s absolutely terrific that council has been recognised for its hard work and foresight in the smart cities space and we can now proudly say that we’re a national leader for smart city technologies.

“These awards come hot on the heels of the Sunshine Coast again being named one of the Smart 21 communities of the world (2019) for the fifth time in the last six years. This is another tremendous result for the Sunshine Coast and recognises council’s work in the delivery and implementation of the Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS), the Smart Cities program, as well as social and cultural development and quality of life elements which are all considered.”


Creativity, Community, Culture