We knew Kim Hanson well as we'd attended local Mackay Councillor meetings at the Bloomsbury Soldiers Hall with her, and Kim had placed notices from time to time for us, such as seeking donated furniture needs for the Laguna Quays Respite missionary cottage.
When we heard that Kim Hanson was closing up the monthly 'The Chronicle' I approached Kim suggesting we go on-line and I'd have one of our young writers, Josh Hinds, on the Gold Coast, who runs a side line IT business, set it up, which he did.
Midge Point – Bloomsbury – News and Mews – was birthed and launched at the 27 July Midge Point Art Prize. (www.mpbnews.org)
The development plan was to give it a six month trial, especially advertising where we put up several courtesy adverts for those local tradies who had helped us with the improvements for the missionary cottage over the previous two years.
Kim Hanson, as a volunteer, came on board as the Bloomsbury news reporter with her own news page, Sue Spencer from Midge Point came on board for the Midge Point news with her own news page.
Over a period of time we gathered a data base of local Email addresses. These people were sent an Email each Wednesday and Sunday alerting them to the updates.
Statistics over a coffee
Josh Hinds and I met over a coffee in Coolangatta eight weeks after we launched the mpbnews to discuss the site and check out the stats. What was found astonished me. There is a voting roll in this area of only 1200 persons, yet in that first eight weeks 5227 individuals had visited site "once" had been and the grand total of multiple visit was around 22,120.
These raw statistics meant that many were viewing the site from outside the region, seemingly checking out the real estate and that many readers were returning time and time again to read the most recent news updates.
By November, four months after its launch, it was time to develop a long term advertising strategy. The three local real estate agencies came on board immediately. Then it became a slow but sure role of Kim Hanson's to track down those who advertised in her Chronicle and transfer that to this new on-line format which for many was still unfamiliar.
At this juncture it is important to appreciate the philosophy of this community project. This was not a business enterprise. Everyone is voluntary. It is a very small community population wise. Moreover it was a huge jump for such a community to now read their local news and mews reports on a monthly A4 stapled sheets to now, on-line.
At the time of publishing there are now three real estate adverts under "Real Estate", eight business adverts under "Business" and two accommodation's under "Accommodation" – as I noted, this is only a small community.
Baskets and Bows
There is only one "out of town" advert, that is Baskets and Bows. This Brisbane based business prepares gift baskets and was largely aiming at the mining industry for men to send gifts to their wives while away working. This was where I found their advert, in the newspaper Shift Miner.
When I Emailed Baskets and Bows, Jacqui Timms emailed me back and wanted to know more as after 10 months, I had been the only response to their hard copy advert but had been much more successful with military personnel. It was time to go on line and once on-line then it's available to anyone who is surfing the web for such a gifting mechanism.
Moreover Jacqui is a Christian and wanted to know more about Well-Being Australia and the manner in which we were supporting a local community in which many miners lived. Jacqui has since tweaked the advert in order that women are welcome to purchase baskets as gifts for their mums, daughters, friends and themselves (from their men folk).
The arrangement therefore with Baskets and Bows has become a win-win situation. Why not check it out in order to see how this has been achieved. (http://www.mpbnews.org/baskets-and-bows.html)
But it's been the local businesses who have come on board – Point Tavern, Bloomsbury Rural, Midge Point Electrical, Business Class and the like. Whitsundays Cabins under Accommodation.
I suggest a quick look as to how a mission, with effective volunteers, can assist a small community and then see that grow and expand into other areas.
Well-Being Australia for this area have developed a $2000 Art Prize (July), the on-line news and in 2014 a business luncheon (May) and a black-tie Awards Night (October). Now there is progress toward establishing a church. (www.mpbnews.org)
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at