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5 November, 2021

Mareeba celebrates business excellence

A FAMILY farming business that employs more than 200 people has taken out the top gong at the 2021 Mareeba Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards held on Saturday night.

By Robyn Holmes

Peter and Chelley Howe of Rock Ridge Farming were named the 2021 Business of the Year on Saturday night

From their beginnings on an eight-hectare avocado farm in 2004, Rock Ridge Farming founders Peter and Chelley Howe and family have developed a successful horticulture enterprise which grows avocados across six farms and bananas on three properties, spread throughout Mareeba Shire and the southern Tablelands. 

Rock Ridge Farming was also named the winner of the Excellence in Rural-Agriculture Award winner. 

Addressing the function on Saturday night, Chamber president Joe Moro said the bi-annual awards were important to acknowledge the professionalism and excellence of businesses in the Mareeba region. 

He said the calibre of nominees was outstanding and all should be proud of their achievements and contributions to their respective industries.

“Like other regional and rural communities across Queensland, the Mareeba business community has faced the challenges posed by the COVID health pandemic,” Mr Moro said.

“Generally, our business community has embraced the challenge, adapted how they’ve done business and continued to offer and deliver excellent customer services and products to the public. 

“Being in business is not easy but Mareeba is fortunate to have a vibrant, successful business community. 

“For anyone who is nominated, it is an acknowledgement and recognition by your peers.” 

Mr Moro also took time out to recognise the passing of longtime chamber member Sam Musumeci who died in August after a horrific car crash on the Kennedy Highway. 

“He was a very passionate man about Mareeba and he worked hard to make sure that the town developed and prospered through a lot of his activities,” Mr Moro said.

“I miss Sam, his counsel and very sound advice to me and the whole chamber committee.” 

Around 180 people attended the awards dinner held at The Orchids at the Mareeba Wetlands to witness the presentation of the nine awards which attracted a total of 37 nominees representing tourism, retail, new business, rural-agriculture, service industry, revitalised business, customer service and the community group or event of the year. 

Mr Moro thanked the award sponsors for their commitment to reward business excellence.

“The Chamber is only able to do the work it does thanks to our member base, corporate sponsors and special event sponsors who recognise the important role we do as a business advocacy group.”


  • Excellence in Tourism – Ida Portella Travel and Business Services – Comedy Tours 
  • Excellence in Retail – Northern Suppliers; Highly Commended – Mareeba Garden Centre
  • New Business – Signature Pies; Highly Commended – Pilates with Katrina 
  • Excellence in Service Industry – Black Star Radio/QRAM 
  • Excellence in Rural-Agriculture – Rock Ridge Farming 
  • Best Revitalized Business – Sorella Hair and Beauty Studio 
  • People’s Choice – Customer Service – Kyren Cater, Bendigo Bank 
  • People’s Choice – Community Event or Group of the Year – Rotary FNQ Field Days 
  • Business of the Year – Rock Ridge Farming

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