Clipper Round the World Fleet racing into tropical Whitsundays

The Clipper Round the World fleet will sail into Australia’s tropical Whitsunday islands next week, completing Race 6 of the Asia-Pacific Challenge leg of this world-famous sailing event.

On arrival at Abell Point Marina in the popular port town of Airlie Beach, the crews will be greeted by family, friends and fans for a few days of well-earned rest, before heading off across the Coral Sea to the next port in Vietnam.

In this spectacular region on the Queensland coast, 74 islands are nestled among the warm aqua waters and abundant marine life of the Great Barrier Reef.

A world class sailing destination, the Whitsundays offers an irresistible combination of warm climate, steady breezes, clear turquoise waters, fringing reefs and secluded coves to explore.

A series of free events will be taking place in Airlie Beach between Friday 15 and Monday 18 January 2016 to celebrate the crews’ arrival and welcome them to the Whitsundays.

Climb on board the Clipper Race yachts, relax at one of the many lively restaurants and bars in Airlie Beach, join in the 5km Park Run or Outrigger Paddle Challenge, and listen to live music while watching the sky light up with fireworks.

Whitsundays Marketing and Development’s General Manager of Tourism, Rebecca Nicol, is thrilled to welcome the Clipper Race fleet to the region.

“This is a fantastic event with a long and prestigious history, and such a huge following across the world,” she said.

“The Whitsundays region is the perfect spot for a sailing stopover or a cruising holiday, and the arrival of the Clipper Race will showcase our excellent facilities and breathtaking scenery.”

Departing from Hobart in Tasmania on 2 January 2016, the ‘Henri Lloyd Hobart to Whitsundays Race’ is well underway, with the fleet currently passing Newcastle on Australia’s eastern coast.

Currently in the lead is Da Nang Viet Nam, skippered by Wendy Tuck, a 50-year old from Sydney who has been granted the distinction of being the first Australian female Clipper Race winner after her success in the fourth leg.

An accomplished sailor, having completed eight Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Races, Ms Tuck’s crew is a favourite to win and all eyes will be on the Da Nang Viet Namwhen it enters port in the Whitsundays mid next week.

To find out more about the Clipper Round the World Race and the free events on offer in the Whitsundays, visit or book your stay here


PHOTO: Whitsunday Islands by Joanne Hennessy, courtesy Whitsundays Marketing and Development Ltd.


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Traveller turns to nursing Down Under

WITH careers in South Africa, China, Vietnam and Thailand already under his belt, James Bruce of Hervey Bay has set his vocation compass in a new direction Down Under.

The 46-year-old former military man, salesman, restaurateur and English teacher is starting the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Bachelor of Nursing program with plans to work in aged care.

Down Under

James Bruce has set his vocation compass in a new direction Down Under.

Mr Bruce was among the 100 new students who attended the first day of Semester 2 Orientation at USQ Fraser Coast in Hervey Bay yesterday (July 13).

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, at 20 years of age Mr Bruce was conscripted into the South African Defence Force and served with the Navy in ocean mine warfare.

“Back then we had to do national service. I’ve got no regrets. You make good friends and it gives you time to decide what it is you want to do with your future,” Mr Bruce said.

“I ended up going to university but not enjoying what I was doing so went into the workforce as a sales representative with Panasonic.

“In 1995 I moved to Hong Kong which was still a British colony.

“My father was British so I had an English passport and was able to go straight to Hong Kong where I got a job with a South African company at what was then the new airport. We built the runways and aprons in 1996 and ’97.

“After that I backpacked around Australia but I didn’t actually live here.

“In 2000 I started teaching English in Hong Kong. I was working for a language training centre and they asked me to go to Beijing because they were moving into the mainland Chinese market and wanted to open a school.

“I moved to Beijing, set up the new school and lived there for three years before moving to Thailand where I continued teaching in government secondary schools.

“The past 10 years I’ve been living in Vietnam where I owned and operated two restaurants, not at the same time.

“In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) I opened a bar and grill in 2009. Two years later, with an Italian partner I opened a wine and pizza restaurant that ran for another two years.

“It was a very competitive market with a lot of multi-national companies coming into Ho Chi Minh City making business very difficult for us.

“So I went back into teaching for three years and came to Australia last August.”

Mr Bruce said he had been thinking about making another career change when he met an Australian friend who now lives in Hervey Bay.

“His wife had completed an aged care certificate and suggested I move here and do the same course because the health industry was growing.

“My mother was born in Bathurst so I’ve always had an Australian passport. In August 2014, I came out here and did the Aged Care Certificate III.

“In December I got a job at Baycrest Retirement Village in Hervey Bay. Colleagues there encouraged me to further my studies in nursing at USQ.

“So that’s how I ended up here at USQ Fraser Coast.”

USQ Fraser Coast Orientation activities continue this week, allowing commencing students to get to know University leaders and future classmates.

The USQ Market Day will be held in the campus at 161 Old Maryborough Road, Hervey Bay, on Wednesday (July 22) from 11am until 1pm.

For more information, visit



Photo:  A variety of international careers have led James Bruce of Hervey Bay to study nursing at USQ Fraser Coast.

Old-but-new shed on military trail

A SHED destined for the Vietnam war is now basking in the Queensland sun after 45 years in storage at the Wallangarra Army base on the New South Wales border.

The shed that was to be used as a soldiers’ mess hall on the battlefields of Vietnam now stands proudly at the beach-side town of Toogoom located 16km from Hervey Bay.

Toogoom and District RSL Sub Branch president Ken Higgins said the shed was among hundreds manufactured for the Australian Army during the Vietnam conflict that ran between 1962 and 1972.

“These sheds were widely used as food and recreation halls,” the Vietnam Veteran said.

“At Nui Dat  we had one the same as this with a veranda at each end. We played darts at  one end and at the other the corporal ran the bar.

“By 1971, Australia was starting to pull out of Vietnam. These sheds were still being manufactured and stockpiled at Wallangarra. Many became surplus.

“We got onto this one through military contacts and just before last Anzac Day (2014) the army built it as an exercise, sending a dozen soldiers, an engineer and a cook up here.”

The Toogoom Community Hall became an small army base where the soldiers showered and ate while camping nearby during the construction period.

Local volunteers painted the building and lined it with the hardwood tongue and groove packing cases in which it came.

“The hardwood timber we put in added to the bracing. It’s so strong that it’s cyclone proof and authorities want to use it as an emergency centre,” Mr Higgins said.

“It’s self-contained and wired for a generator. If the power goes out we just turn the generator on and everything runs as normal.

“So if we do have a disaster such as flood or cyclone, people can at least come here, get a meal and be comfortable out of the weather.”

Officially opened on Sunday, June 14, 2015, the old-but-new shed is a tribute to the Vietnam War.

“The Toogoom sub-branch is proud of its new home,” Mr Higgins said.

“It is expected to be on the proposed Fraser Coast Military Trail from Maryborough to Hervey Bay and Toogoom.

“This is not about talking war; there’s nothing glorious about war. We want to make this a pleasant, enjoyable place to come to and be used by all and sundry.

“Cadets will use it and we plan to run community health programs and have speakers come here to talk about such things as rural fire fighting and first aid.

“Since we got our shed, men’s shelters, sporting clubs and Scouts have been putting them up in other places across Australia.

“It’s amazing that in 2015 as we commemorate 100 years since the Gallipoli landings and 50 years since the middle of the Vietnam war, these sheds built by Lysaght then are now seeing daylight and that company is still one big family.

“It’s a pretty impressive performance. The steel came out of the packing in good nick – there was no rust. Almost everyone who comes in says: ‘Just look how thick that steel is!'”

The Vietnam memorial at Toogoom is expected to be a highlight on the proposed Fraser Coast Military Trail that also takes in Maryborough’s military museum, cenotaph and memorial gates, airport, air raid shelter and Duncan Chapman Memorial as well as the Z Force training ground on Fraser Island.



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