With everything that’s happening around the world at the moment, it can sometimes feel as though we’re being weighed down with negativity. It can become easy to forget all of the great things happening across our region. With that in mind, I would like to use this opportunity to celebrate some of the businesses and organisations who are doing amazing things in Cairns and surrounds.
Now in their 50th year of operation in Cairns, Norweld is a phenomenal example of a company who transformed from a small local business to an international success. After starting out as a general aluminium fabricator, they have really found their niche in the 4WD market with their top-of-the-line trays and canopies. The design and manufacturing is all done right here in Cairns, and outside of a few fitters in capital cities down south, everyone from the directors to the welders are all living here locally.
In the past decade or so we’ve seen them expand not only across Australia, but also internationally to America, the Middle East and more.
It’s one thing to grow your business, but they’ve also built up a really strong reputation for quality manufacturing. The business is a great success story and a real testament to the fine quality workmanship that can be achieved in FNQ.
If we’re looking at positive things happening in the region then it’s also good to acknowledge that success doesn’t always have to be financial. Apunipima is a community-led Indigenous Health Organisation working hard to deliver healthcare to Cape York communities. They provide GPs, nurses and other primary healthcare to help workers better connect with the community, and to encourage people to seek medical advice and assistance.
It was originally formed in 1994 as a health advocacy organisation before starting to actually deliver health services in 2006. Since then, they’ve seen significant growth and hope to have a community-owned health centre in each of the Cape communities in the next few years. They’re also pioneering a range of programs that, if successful, could be rolled out nationally. Apunipima is one of the country’s leading Indigenous
Health Organisations and they deserve to be celebrated for the work they’re doing to improve health conditions across Cape York.
Rock Ridge Farming
Owned and run by Peter and Chelley Howe, Rock Ridge Farming is an excellent case study for the success of horticulture in the Tablelands. The couple started with one farm a decade ago, and they now have a dozen avocado and banana farms and employ more than 100 staff members. They’ve had to adapt and overcome a whole host of challenges, from recent lockdowns and COVID staff shortages to guarding against the Panama Disease that has the potential to decimate banana crops across FNQ. Rock Ridge Farming have developed industry-leading farming techniques and world-class packing and distribution facilities right on our doorstep.
Overcoming adversity is something all of our farmers have lots of experience with. Not many people know many Tablelands farmers had to find new crops after Tobacco, once the cornerstone crop of the Tablelands, was banned. Really, the entire horticulture industry should be an enormous source of pride for our region. They’re without a doubt some of the most innovative and resilient businesspeople around. For anyone interested in learning to grow avocados, bananas and more, there’s really no better place in Australia.
While we’re recognising success from around the region, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge a business who’s been doing very well in the beef industry. Ralco Holdings, located in North Queensland, has built up an impressive reputation for their world-class wagyu beef. Quality wagyu takes a lot of dedication to ensure you’ve got the right pedigree and right animal to get the highest-grade product, and they’ve done a great job with that to make them one of the best in the world. This is a great example of NQ produce making it into high-class restaurants right around the world.
Yagurli Tours is an Indigenous community-owned organisation that provides unique tourism opportunities in one of the state’s most remote locations, Burketown. The organisation wants to not only attract more tourism into the area, but they are also aiming to create more employment and opportunities for locals.
They have developed some innovative tours including stargazing experiences and river tours. Each experience features traditional storytelling. They have also just partnered with a company from Newcastle to provide hot air balloon tours over the Gulf of Carpentaria, allowing visitors to see this unique country from above. While Yagurli Tours is still relatively new, they’re doing some incredible things and I wouldn’t be surprised if they were soon recognised as one of the country’s leading Indigenous tourism products.
There are so many positive things happening within and around our region. We should all be proud of the amazing individuals, businesses and organisations that make FNQ such a special place. While we can’t mention each and every one of you here, just note that we see your contributions and the great work you’re all doing. I look forward to seeing the great achievements still to come.
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