TOWNSVILLE A SHINING LIGHT FOR SPORTS EVENTS
WHAT with last weekend’s doubleheader rugby union Tests and NRL games including State of Origin 1 at Queensland Country Bank Stadium, Townsville has been Football Central this year as far as regional Australia is concerned.
Mackay, Toowoomba, Redcliffe and Rockhampton have also hosted NRL games.
Bundaberg was offered a game, but with two weeks’ notice the local council declined the offer. The Bundy rugby league fraternity will neither forgive nor forget their council’s call to knock back the game.
One prominent Queensland city that hasn’t had a slice of the football pie is Cairns and aren’t the folk up there dirty about it.
Cairns is sort of used to eating humble pie where Townsville is concerned. Townsville has the Defence base and is host to the Singapore army at Greenvale. It has the North Queensland Cowboys, the Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Great Barrier Reef Marine
Park Authority. The Lansdown EcoIndustrial Precinct looms on the horizon. It has Korea Zinc, a vibrant
port, manufacturing industries, and is the front door to the North West Minerals Province. It is the export hub for the Queensland sugar industry and is the nation’s number one live cattle export centre. And it has a marvellous 25,000 seat stadium in the inner city
that can mix it with the best in the country.
And it has a busy, but unassuming tourism industry. With its proximity to the reef, the rainforest and the Tableland on its doorstep, Cairns has a flourishing tourism industry. But, when the manure hits the fan and the tourists stop coming, you can hear the city’s economic gears grinding to a standstill. It happened in thew 1980s pilots’ strike and it is happening now with the pandemic.
Being flogged in the footy stakes by Mackay, Toowoomba the Sunshine Coast and Rocky, well, that just is just too much humble pie to digest in a single season.
Cairns never will get a major footy game, at least until it upgrades the kerosene lanterns that pose as ‘lights’ at Barlow Park, which is walking distance from the CBD.
It galls Cairns’ sport’s loving public that the city’s premier sport’s ground has literally been left behind in the dim, dark ages.
I contacted two footy lovers there who have both served in the political sphere. They blame the situation on a council that has failed to keep up with changing times.
Cairns, in many spheres of endeavour, has always played second fiddle to Townsville. Nevertheless, it is a city with international tourism stature and it is surprising it has allowed its sporting infrastructure to fall so far behind. Never before has it had to chew on sporting trail dust kicked up by Mackay and Rockhampton. It hurts. It hurts like hell. You can bet the pressure is building there now to get the lighting sorted at Barlow Park.