Welcome to Ingham…

The place where there is more sticks of cane than people – yeah Ingham! My hometown, the place where the sugar industry is 8th largest sugar industry in the world and the place where if you stop to talk to every person you know in Woolworths, you will never leave! We have a population of 4,357 people in Ingham according to the 2016 census.

The world’s Sugar Industry

(2016 – in mln metric tonnes, tel quel)

My hometown is the best. We are located in the Herbert River Valley just north of Townsville and just south of Cardwell. We have an awesome 360 view and some of the best barramundi in the world. Our local beaches, the Great Barrier Reef, Wallaman Falls, Hinchinbrook Island, Mungalla Station, Tyto Wetlands, Mercer’s Lane Mosaic, Broadwater National Park, Tyto Art Gallery, Crystal Creek, the must-sees are endless! I have lived in this district my whole life and to date I have never seen Mungalla Station – But I hear Jacob Cassady is doing amazing things for our tourism industry!

I love Ingham, because it is a small town with a passion for all that is homegrown, sustainable and community-oriented. We are famous for our Sugar Cane Industry, our fishing (The brainwashing started in grade 5 from my teacher, Mr Gori), our wog culture, our amazing art and music scene. Ingham is actually home to some wonderful musicians – Joe Geia, Paul Tabone, just to name a few. It’s got a rich history and is also a bit rough around the edges.

I love where I live because of the combination of the laid back lifestyle and the amazing fishing spots. I remember somewhere at the start of 2013, I was asked to go fishing and the fish were going crazy! I was put in charge of making sure we stuck to bag limit. We were fishing for barramundi and mangrove jack that both have a bag limit of five – so ten of each fish… awesome I can do that! Yeah – no. One of the others checked when we got back to the hut and there were 10 jacks and only 9 barras! 9! You had one job missy!

You can drive 20-30 minutes from the main street of town (yes – we have one main street) to almost anywhere in the district. Pretty much any delays to the traffic in this town is due to a derailment (bins full of sugar cane come off the line – sugar cane everywhere!).

Certainly your attitude about where you live makes a huge difference. Ingham is the sort of place where you can walk up to a complete stranger up the street and ask them where anything is – if they can’t tell you, chances are they weren’t born here!

This is why I love where I live…

Aquo Xx

Struggles of a stay-at-home-mum during the Sugar Cane Harvesting Season

So I started writing this article on the 19th August 2019, when the Sugar Cane Harvesting Season had only been running for maybe two months in the Herbert River District, I chose to write a little bit about the lifestyle and the struggles I have as an impaired stay-at-home mum. But, the truth is, every mother, whether they are fully functional or not, whether they work or not, struggle.

My Nonno – Jack Aquilini…

I grew up in a household where it was the norm from the get go. The 2019 season will be my dad’s 40th season, I’m so ridiculously proud of him! I remember mum always taking us places or doing something fun with us – It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I started to understand that it wasn’t just for us, it was for mum too.

This season, my husband has had to push much harder to get things done. That means there’s little time for the boys and even less time for me. This season I’m not handling it very well, which makes me angry because I always knew what the season was all about. I knew that it was going to be hard, I just didn’t expect it to be this bloody hard!

I guess what I’m struggling with most is the lack of communication and conversation between my husband and I. By the time my husband gets home at night, winds down, spends some time with the boys, helps put them to bed, I’m tired…. Nobody likes a tired Aquo… She’s a snappy (for lack of a better word) b.i.t.c.h!

This has been a way of life for generations…

From right back when I could first understand the world, I knew that when the season runs, the wives become single mums. I don’t mean that in a bad way, the season is long hours, mixed with a lack of sleep, mixed with frustration, and the list goes on. The wives do everything with the kids, and that’s really hard work. Hats off to all the single mums out there! I don’t know how I would pull it off – and I have an absolutely amazing support system!

Yesterday I tried something I never had before – I took both boys to Mission Beach with my sister, I just thought about the boys, how much they would enjoy it – I didn’t think of myself and how much a big day like that isn’t the best thing for me. Today, I’m in so much PAIN! I also have the blackest rings under my eyes – My eyes have never been that black before! I’m just lucky my big boy went up to spend the day with Zia and I have an Au Pair here helping with the baby (who was up more than I would like to let on last night) who is teething next level.

I start to wonder what it would have been like if I didn’t have my accident, then I stop myself – Because deep down I know my accident was a blessing in disguise. It has made me appreciate my family and friends so much more as well as life in general. Who knows, living life in the fast lane, I may not still be here to tell my story if my accident didn’t happen.

Our big boy loves harvesting with his Nonno…

It’s not personal, on any level, but more times than not, that’s the way we let ourselves think. I’d love to think, ‘Oh there’s only 8 weeks left’ – haha I wish! not for us! Harvest finishes then the spraying starts. So really, a 6 month season turns into 9 or 10. I do love my own company, but there comes a time where those little voices in my head start to play off each other. Those feelings make me scared, angry, confused, defensive, negative – and I really really dislike being negative.

Sugar Cane Harvest is the only way of life I know, I have always loved it. I really don’t want something I’ve been so passionate about for so long be something I begin to dread. You know that song – wake me up when it’s all over… yeah that’s where I’m currently at and I don’t like it one bit!

I might have to go see the girls at Ingham Travel and plan a well overdue honeymoon – alone, on a secluded island, with unlimited bundaberg rum!

Bring on the 2020 season! Here’s to a more positive, successful, flourishing season in the Herbert River District.

Aquo Xx

Dear: – The Residences of Hinchinbrook Shire…

Photo by tyto.com.au

It has recently been made apparent that there are literally so many small and not so small things we can do to improve our beautiful little rural shire. I’ve decided to make a list, as my limitations are currently preventing me from pulling them off – CURRENTLY. Give me a bit and I’m a million percent positive that I will be able to accomplish everything that is put in front of me in one way or another.

One of the biggest problems this shire faces is how the kids aren’t receiving the stimulation they require so they are creating havoc around the place because they are bored. That’s not to say it’s 100% their fault, I believe as a parent you should want to know the whereabouts of your kids – It’s instinct for all parents isn’t it? My two year old goes next door but I follow him until he goes inside – it’s maybe, maybe 10m. They need more to do in this shire, I’m more than happy to work with any Hinchinbrook Shire committees to pull this off.

I have the best idea for a carpark party – for the grown ups! I’m thinking ‘the races’ without the horses – the atmosphere is awesome! – Every year. Setting the scene:- A casual mixer for business houses to network. Imagine the car park behind JK’S Deli, with a stage and run it as a professional event, laid back, but professional. Have a dj, a barbecue and drinks. It would be great to have more events a year for the business houses to attend. Possibly hold a workshop focusing on advertising their own businesses?

We could host a neon party in Rotary Park. Include a sausage sizzle and a little canteen. Focus on attracting the youth of the town (10-17) to reduce the crime that occurs because there’s nothing in place to provide them with the stimulation they require. We need to be able to make things exciting, to give the youth in our shire something to look forward to – but if they misbehave, get into trouble with the police etc, these events we plan for them get taken away. The youth in the Hinchinbrook Shire need to respect that these events are planned for them and we’re not going to waste our time if they can’t do the right thing. That’s not ‘the bottom line’ however… THE PARENTS also have to be accountable for their children.

Photo by Crossfit Sanitas

The rest of these ideas, they’re just ideas – I have no plan or clear direction for them, but I believe they can be developed into something great!

  • Businesses could run drawing competitions that children can enter and the prize could be that they could be in charge (within reason) of planning a community event. The best thing about this idea is it’s free.
  • Have a movie marathon in a different park around the shire monthly.
  • Start a group of Ingham kids that meet once a month and brainstorm different ideas to improve the town – Sometimes, kids have some really interesting ideas we would never come up with.
  • We could easily use amazing scenery photos from around the shire to have printed on shirts and sell them at the Tyto Information Centre. This is a project we could possibly get the secondary schools art departments involved – this would cut costs whilst teaching the kids a different skill.
  • Make use of our empty store fronts. I know this is already being done but is there any way to improve this???
  • We could start our own car free day. Where there are no cars to be driven down lannercost street. It’s a great way to fight pollution, if only for a day. I think this could even bring fun back into business.
  • Get to know your neighbours – I know, it’s the Hinchinbrook Shire but there are so many new families that have relocated to the shire. we all need to look after each other and stop being so complacent – we do live in a small town but it’s not the same place as it used to be in the early 2000’s. That’s not a good nor bad statement, it’s the honest truth.
  • Set up a ‘community table’ something like speed dating but have it monitored and have rules about keeping it strictly community based conversation. I could see this being a proactive event that could be the early stages of some great ideas to boost our shire.
  • stage a scene – like they do on the movie ‘friends with benefits’. This could be a fun creative activity.
  • Shop local – Simple! Support local businesses so we all win! Possibly have a workshop teaching people how to budget their money properly.
  • Mobile produce market – kind of like the home ice cream truck.
  • Write a letter to council – If you’ve got a good idea, share it. If you want to change your neighborhood, start building a coalition. Explain your plans and help build grassroots support.
  • Smile – Smile all the time, about everything, at everyone – you could just change someone’s day!

This town needs more proactive, like minded, young adults, young parents like myself that want to see a better future for our kids. I want my boys to have the option to want to stay here when they grow up. People are probably thinking “bet she’s getting paid to boost her shire.” My response to that is “I’m not getting paid a single cent. If the opportunity one day pops up to make some sort of income – great.

I refuse to run affiliate marketing for something that doesn’t exist in our shire. I’m here, doing this, using my time that could be used playing with my boys, but – I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


Aquo Xx

A bit about Hinchinbrook Shire…

I was having a chat with a really good mate the other night and he has always been very passionate about Ingham. He told me that three years ago the median age in Herbert Shire was Fifty, three years later it was fifty-seven. The median age in Ingham went up by seven, SEVEN! in three years! There are many of us who want to see a bright future for the Herbert Shire but at this rate it is becoming quite concerning. It is hard to put a ‘good’ spin on this – but I will try my hardest!

So – a bit about the Hinchinbrook Shire:-

  • We are located 29 km from the mouth of the Herbert River and 14 m above sea level.
  • The town is the administrative capital of the Hinchinbrook Shire.
  • Surrounding areas support beef cattle but sugar cane predominates all other industries.
  • We have the largest sugar mill in the Southern Hemisphere – Victoria Mill.
  • The town was founded in 1864 and was gazetted as the local government area Hinchinbrook Shire in 1879.
  • The Ingham Post Office opened on 1st January 1871 as the Lower Herbert Post Office and was renamed Ingham in 1882.
  • A gaol opened in July 1886; previously there had only been a police lock-up.
  • The town has a strong Italian and Spanish history – as back in the 1920s and 1930s there was a large inflow of immigrants from these countries.
  • The Black Hand Gang, La Mano Nera formed in the 1930’s terrorised the town with bribery and corruption, forming a dark chapter in the town’s history.

I googled ‘Job vacancies Ingham 4850’ as that’s the area that I live in, and there were two, two positions vacant where a school leaver could possibly snag a position with little experience. We need to create more job vacancies for the young people of Ingham to stay here, either provide them with the training they need or possibly go away and study – but then want to come back and make Ingham their permanent home, with a job that pays well.

I then googled ‘Real Estate Ingham 4850’ as that’s the area that I live in, and ‘realestate.com.au’ came up showing 473 results. I’m sorry, but that’s not good enough. For there to be job openings through our town we need to boost our tourism industry. There are a few businesses on board trying to help increase the traffic flow through the Hinchinbrook Shire of people who come to buy – places like JK’s Deli and Bossi Boots, there are others, but these are the businesses I see actively promoting the Hinchinbrook Shire. It’s definitely a smart way to boost your business, because promoting the Hinchinbrook Shire rather than your own business, more people will come to the Hinchinbrook Shire and spend money.

Some ways we can boost our town is to have as many businesses as possible jump on the social media train. Facebook and Instagram are the main ones to focus on as they are the more popular social media platforms amongst businesses. Educate yourself – there is so much you can learn on the net for free, all you have to do is want to find what you are looking for. Best thing about it – IT’S FREE ADVERTISING PEOPLE!

People want to go to nice places – well there are many b.e.a.utiful places surrounding our amazing town. Take Wallaman Falls, Broadwater, Lucinda, Forrest Beach for example; just to name a few.

I know many people before me have tried to pump life into the Hinchinbrook Shire, but that doesn’t discourage me – not even the slightest! It’s my turn to have a go, take a slightly different approach and prove to the world that the Hinchinbrook Shire is one of it’s not so hidden treasures. I believe with my impulse and determination I can achieve something pretty spectacular – I don’t know what yet… but wait and see!

Aquo Xx

Cyclones and floods in the Hinchinbrook Shire since ’92’…

Video by Drone Guy – YouTube

I was born in 1992, since then, there have been 6 or 7 disaster events in the Herbert River District – being either a flood or cyclone. We have little tornados here, but their little wirley winds in cane paddocks once the cane has just been cut, but their not actually major disasters… Until it blows crap in your eye! Am I right!

Growing up, there was nothing more exciting being at school on days when it starts to flood – when the kids who go on the busses get to go early – First Abergowrie and Mutarnee kids, then all the beach kids – Taylor’s Beach, Halifax, Lucinda and Forrest Beach kids, than the kids whose parents pick them up in the same order.

Cattle Creek bridge – photo off news-mail.com.au

I was one of the last kids at school as we lived just out of town, on the south side of Ingham. The kids these days wouldn’t be able to get up to half the stuff our generation got away with. Riding motorbikes & quad bikes, driving cars and tractors up the highway as the highway is cut at Andy’s Roadhouse and Cattle Creek. It was the most exciting thing ever.

United Servo beside Honeycombs – Photo off cairnspost.com.au

I don’t think many kids understand how serious it could be, Cyclone Yasi in early 2011 was nothing compared to the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami – Not one, but two natural disasters in one hit! Those poor bastards! Yasi was a party compared to that. The story goes that a magnitude-9.3 temblor struck undersea off the west coast of Sumatra on December 26, 2004, creating a massive tsunami that killed people in 14 separate countries. The death toll is said to be somewhere between 230,000 and 280,000 people. I can’t even be able to think about something like that happening here.

Click here to check out the top 11 deadly natural disasters in history…

Welcome to Ingham sign on Townsville Rd – Photo off couriermail.com.au

There’s nothing like a good ‘safe’ flood party, where all the people in your area get together at a chosen house, kids play on their toys and stay up until they drop – literally. The adults drink till their heart’s content or until they are up on the table singing! Hey! there’s nothing wrong with that… Don’t judge if you haven’t tried it and don’t judge if you have! Because you know it’s awesome being the life of the party… That outgoing soul who’s hopefully here for a long time and they’re here for a good time!

Halifax bridge – Photo off bom.qov.au

The drive through and BWS must love that time just after a flood warning has been issued… I swear they would sell as much as they sell in six months if more! Make sure you go to woolies first but… there may or may not be any bread or milk. I’ve only lived in the center of town for one flood, I don’t know which I like better. We ended up at our neighbours and I had a ball! I guess you just need a good atmosphere surrounding you, a carton of Northerns and some country music! – Like the Spotify playlist Chillin’ on a dirt road…

In our district, it’s not unheard of for people who live near creeks or waterways, or anywhere really, to come across a crocodile or two! They are everywhere now! But… that’s another discussion – an anger fueled discussion we will have on a later date.

Video by Gaia Deliciosas – YouTube

Ingham’s the sort of place where the world stops… not often, but when it floods we reset. Businesses close down as many business people A break from work, you become a more laid back parent, you become lighter.

Aquo Xx

How sugar cane grows and how much fun growing up on a cane farm is…

Video by Farming Media – YouTube

In our house – our big boy when he turned one would carry on until we turned harvesting videos on and he would sit on one of his tractors or his harvester and would not move! Probably the reason why he drove nonno’s harvester last season. Dad was playing around with his GPS – next minute the harvester started moving. It was hilarious! Our German Au Pairs were amazed how he could tell them exactly what was happening and what everything is.

Sugarcane has been my life – since the day I popped out. Essentially sugar cane is the main industry that fuels our town. I’ve recently been researching the production process and things like that… I’ve got an idea, but I can’t explain it – so I teach myself, the internet is the most powerful tool in the world you just need to know what you’re looking for.

sugarcane is a tall tropical perennial grass that grows to between 2-4m high. It’s used to make heaps of different processed foods, drinks and things like molasses and golden syrup. The biofuel ethanol can also be produced from sugarcane which can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form but is usually blended with gasoline to improve vehicle emissions.

Sugar cane has heaps of nicknames like sugar bush, sticks, there are so many different things we call it. Sugar cane needs 1.5 m of rainfall each year if not more or access to irrigation to survive. Sugar is made in the leaves of the sugarcane plant through a natural process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs when a plant, using energy from the sun, transforms carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20) into oxygen (02) and glucose (sugar).

The plant absorbs water through its roots and oxygen from the air through the pores in its leaves. Sugar is created when this process is combined with the help of a substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is green and gives plants their colour. It allows plants to absorb the sun’s energy more readily. In the same way that animals store fat, the sugarcane plant stores energy that is doesn’t need. This extra energy is sugar and it is stored as sweet juice in the plants’ stalks.

When ripe, sugarcane stalks are harvested (the fun part!) and taken to a sugar mill and converted into raw sugar. In the Herbert River district we have two sugar mills – Victoria and Macknade Mill. Victoria mill produced 3330 million tonnes of sugar in 2007 being the mill that produced the largest amount of sugar in Queensland.

In Australia, sugarcane can be seen growing along 2,100 kilometers of coastline between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in northern New South Wales. Because of their proximity, many cane growing families spend their weekends outdoors riding motor bikes/quads and fishing. Cane growers go out of their way to manage the land so it is still in excellent condition for their children and grandchildren to enjoy for many generations to come.

I miss the days were we would burn cane in the Herbert. Black snow (ash) everywhere! I still remember the smell… I wouldn’t let mum wash my shirt for a week after it… #Farm kid. There is nothing better than growing up on a farm! I remember finishing my homework so quick so I could go mowing, ride the quad bikes/motorbikes or go and chat to dad in the shed. I remember my old headland bomb – cheers uncle Micky! My cousins and siblings helped me paint it – I strolled off to the shed – noone there, it’s all good, a drum of John Deere green paint, i’ll take that! We painted it with rollers and ended up banging it up pretty bad.

I can’t remember if I got away with murder or I just didn’t listen… You know – a regular teenager! I made friends with the kids that lived out my way and we used to run amuck. I remember one had a go kart OMG – so. much. FUN. Dad still has the same quad that we have had since 1997 – It’s never been rebuilt and it still has the original tires. I don’t know how it’s still alive – we flogged that thing… Good ole Honda.

Here are some of my favourite photos:-

My nonno (Jack Aquilini) back in the day with a python he killed – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My nonno – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My Nonno & Dad down in the Burdekin – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Dad & Douggie – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Cane fire south of Ingham – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxis first came on the scene – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxihauls were new and dad still had the ’97’ Cameco ‘Pac man 2’ – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
The transporter ‘Fat Boy’ in action – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
One of the days I went hauling back in 2012 – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Dad ‘Big Al’ – Photo by Amy Aquilini
During my recovery, this is where I loved to be – with my daddy! – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Sunrise at our farm – Photo by Amy Aquilini
My sister-in-law Katy Irvin and I at the field day – Photo by Allen Aquilini
John, Andrew & Jack and Allen & Amy Aquilini, Irvin – Photo by Amy Aquilini
The day my boy drove the harvester – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Our wedding day – Photo by Rachelle Angela
It’s in our blood – Photo by Andrew Irvin
My big boy and I – Photo by Amy Aquilini

Aquo Xx