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5 July, 2022

Market moves puts community in uproar

A DECISION to shift the monthly Mareeba markets from Centenary Park has caused outrage in the community, with some organisations in the park fearing they may have to close their doors.

By Rhys Thomas

Mareeba Art Society president Faythe Keogh, Mareeba Historical Society secretary Helen Kindt and president John Hammond are all worried the decision to move the Mareeba markets could force them to close their doors.

Managed by the St Thomas’ Parents and Friends Association, the markets will move to the Mareeba Turf Club in Fenwick Street from 13 August.

But the move has rippled through the community and raised fear amongst dependent organisations who raise essential funds at the markets to cover their expenses and keep their lights on and doors open. 

The market’s current location is central to all roads leading to and from Mareeba and is easily visible to travellers who may want to park and spend some money, prompting suggestions from some residents that directional signs will be needed on the main road so visitors can find their way to Fenwick Street. 

The Mareeba Historical Society, Mareeba Art Society and Heritage Centre Café all trade out of Mareeba’s Centenary (100) Park and while they are open other days of the year, they all say Mareeba’s market days are their best and busiest of the year.

The organisations say the markets have a direct flow-on effect to their trade, and without the regular visitation the events bring, the groups will feel the impact on their bottom line, with some already warning they may have to close. 

Mareeba Historical Society is a nonfor-profit group that provides detailed historical information, photographs and documents, and sells second-hand books on market days. 

Society secretary Helen Kindt says without the monthly revenue from the markets, the society will not be able to pay their electricity bills and they will have to close their doors. 

“People come and look at our photographic display and we sell second-hand books – we are self-funded, nobody funds us at all and that money basically pays our electricity bill,” she said. 

“If we are losing that money, we cannot pay our electricity bill which means it gets cut, basically meaning we will close. 

“That is the actual bottom line, the worst scenario.” 

The Mareeba Art Society has a gallery at the 100 Park where they display and sell local paintings, sculptures and woodworks, and have been a part of the markets since 1997 when they built the gallery. 

While the society makes money through their gallery, they too rely on the market days to cover their costs and pay their bills by running a morning tea food stall. 

“Art sells but it doesn’t sell consistently so we run the morning tea that we do on market day because that helps us cover our bills,” society president Faythe Keogh said.

“If we relied on just what we sold through the gallery we would be like everybody else and be unable to keep the power on.

“We need that extra income to come in, plus by having that extra income we can try and run workshops that at least break even so we keep the arts in the shire. 

“Our whole mantra is encouraging arts in the shire and that is why we built the gallery so that people had somewhere to hang their art.”

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has told The Express it was not involved in any decision made by the council or the St Thomas’ P & F association to move the markets. 

With the markets at the turf club, patrons will no longer be allowed to bring their dogs to the events, with the only exception being assistance dogs.

The next Mareeba market day will take place at its new location at the Mareeba Turf Club on 13 August.

What did the community say?

LOCALS turned to Facebook when the decision to move the markets was announced by the Mareeba Shire Council, some were supportive of the move while some opposed it. 

  • “Markets with our information centre, historical centre and local craft makes sense. Extend in that space. What happens when race days and markets coincide?”
  • “I think it's a great idea, so much more parking area without it interfering with the main traffic flow” 
  • “It's crazy for safety where it is, people running across the road double parked in road reserve and babies in pram being walked along the main road? Love where it is but maybe it is not suitable?” 
  • “I'm sure the traffic issue isn't anywhere as congested as Yungaburra markets? I think it's a major loss for the current area of town, the art centre and it's little tea room, the historical society and the heritage centre and cafes. It's a visual location to attract passing traffic. Plus, there's fantastic play grounds for the kids.” 
  • “With no passing traffic this move will seriously affect the stallholders. What a shame the current site couldn't be reconfigured to allow more stalls and better traffic flow. It will mean the end for some stallholders so the flow on will mean less money for the P and C.”

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