ONES TO WATCH: The emerging leaders of Warwick
The Rose City is blooming with a new crop of emerging talents, people who defy expectations with innovative ideas, business sense and sporting prowess.
They are taking the hand of regional Queensland and leading it into a brighter future, powered by the versatility of the digital age.
These are the voices that have excited, educated and challenged Warwick over the past year, in no particular order.
Girl Scout Stella Leslie is fighting for the future of Warwick, one piece of plastic at a time. The young environmentalist teamed up with her sister Adele to launch Scrunchables, a business venture which recycles single use plastics in her neighbourhood. Their efforts gained national attention through Scouts and Stella was selected to represent Queensland at the National Plastics Summit in Canberra, earlier this year. “It’s my generation that’s going to inherit the Earth,” Stella said. “It will be pretty awesome to share my passion for the environment and find out what their opinions are and how we could help the environment even more.”
Sporting stardom awaits Warwick boxer Jake Wyllie, who is in the ring for an Olympics nomination. The lightweight fighter is set to make his professional debut on July 11, after he signed a sponsorship deal with X-Crete owner Brendan Jackson. Jake has racked up a number of notable wins over the last few years, winning the Queensland Championships in the 63kg elite open division, bronze at the Arafura Games in Darwin, and tying in the top spot for the Warwick Credit Union and Warwick Daily News senior sports star of the year award in 2018. Jake is preparing for Olympic selection, but in the meantime, has extended his glove to the Warwick community, partaking in the Fight for Farmers to raise funds for drought-affected producers.
Resident green-thumb Duanne Karle is the ultimate example of hard work and perseverance paying off. Duanne gave up his career in teaching to pursue his passion for gardening over 15 years ago, and after saving money and learning the ropes, he finally opened the Weeping Mulberry Garden Centre at the old Parmalat building last year. The beautiful addition to the Warwick business scene offered far more than the standard nursery, with equal opportunity employment, interior design, display rooms and a small library on site. But he’s not stopping there. Duanne has teamed up with Aaron Buttersworth to create a gin and whiskey bar, offering discerning drinkers a place to unwind without the trappings of the party scene.
Melissa Close Chalmers
A lifetime of research and storytelling prepared Githabul woman Melissa Close Chalmers to fight for the rights of her people in Warwick. Melissa, alongside her family and the Queensland Native Title Services, meticulously combed through her heritage and found strong connections to the land we’ve come to know as the Southern Downs. A formal application was lodged this year to register the tribe’s claim to Native Title, which acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ special rights over land occupied by their ancestors at the time of European settlement. Melissa says she’s doing it for her ancestors, and advocates strongly for greater education of indigenous culture and language in schools. “Schools teach the true history of other countries, so why not here?” she asked.
Farmer Stephen Schmidt is poised to provide a significant boost to the local agriculture industry when he develops the only sheep feedlot on the Southern Downs. Schmidt Grazing Enterprises is expected to propel the region into the national market when it opens Victoria Hill Lamb Feedlot, west of Allora. The project began construction earlier this year after it was partially funded by a state government Rural Economic Development Grant. It is projected to create 150 new jobs and help the industry transition from wool to meat production.