WETLANDS WEEKEND: Chilli Mud Crab, sourced from St Lawrence local Ben Coyne, was just one dish in the sumptuous four-course Reef Catchment and GWFN Farm to Plate Seafood Lunch, prepared by celebrity chef Matt Golinski and his team.
WETLANDS WEEKEND: Chilli Mud Crab, sourced from St Lawrence local Ben Coyne, was just one dish in the sumptuous four-course Reef Catchment and GWFN Farm to Plate Seafood Lunch, prepared by celebrity chef Matt Golinski and his team. KIRILI LAMB

How one weekend pumped $121,000 into rural economy

THE St Lawrence Wetlands Weekend has pumped more than $121,000 into the Isaac region.

Isaac Regional Council's sole tourism event brings people together once a year to celebrate the wetlands and the region's produce.

This year the event's economic benefit to the Isaac region rose by 68 per cent. More than $23,000 was made in ticket sales, compared to less than $5000 in 2018.

 

WETLAND WEEKEND: Reef Catchments general Manager Katrina Dent, left, catches up with celebrity gardener and biosecurity champion Costa Georgiadis, special guest of the 2019 St Lawrence Wetlands Weekend.
Reef Catchments general manager Katrina Dent, left, catches up with celebrity gardener and biosecurity champion Costa Georgiadis, special guest of the 2019 St Lawrence Wetlands Weekend. KIRILI LAMB

Mayor Anne Baker said the event was designed to stimulate the local economy with money from external markets.

"A strategic planning process was initiated in 2018 to transform the event into a viable tourism product delivering socio-economic benefits to the St Lawrence community," she said.

"The 2019 event continued to build on these foundations."

This year 724 people went to the event. Attendance was up 58 per cent on last year.

Cr Baker said visitors had come from all over Queensland, with 42 per cent from Mackay and 24 per cent from the Capricornia region. Others came from the Whitsundays, Townsville, Gladstone and southern Queensland.

WETLAND WEEKEND: From left Andrew, Ainsley and Rob McArthur, owners of St Lawrence cattle and pig operation Mystery Park, greet travellers on the Reef Catchments and GWFN Farm to Plate Lunch bus tour.
From left Andrew, Ainsley and Rob McArthur, owners of St Lawrence cattle and pig operation Mystery Park, greet travellers on the Reef Catchments and GWFN Farm to Plate Lunch bus tour. KIRILI LAMB

Key attractions, including the Welcome to Wetlands Evening, Greater Whitsunday Food Network's Farm to Plate Seafood Lunch, Bushman's Dinner and glamping, all sold out well before the event.

The council first held the Wetlands Weekend in 2008 to raise awareness of the importance of the wetlands to the broader ecosystem.

"Initially, the event focused solely on environmental factors and attracted an audience of approximately 50 people," Cr Baker said.

"Over time, the one-day event has grown to cover a weekend and other components have been incorporated into the event plan, including environmental art workshops, local produce showcases, markets, camp oven cooking demonstrations, fire sculptures, a photography competition and a cattlemen's dinner."

WETLANDS WEEKEND: Bucasia girl Lily Chambers, left, was thrilled to catch up with St Lawrence Wetlands Weekend special guest, celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis.
Bucasia girl Lily Chambers, left, was thrilled to catch up with St Lawrence Wetlands Weekend special guest, celebrity gardener Costa Georgiadis. KIRILI LAMB