The Machans Activities GroupS (M.A.G.S.) was initiated during the 1996 Christmas holidays in response to the concerns of local residents at an increase in petty crime and vandalism in Machans Beach and a perceived lack of activities for young people.
The Groups first project was in the form of music workshops initiated by several local musos on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. These fun song writing and performance skills workshops packed an instant hit providing an activity that appealed to a wide range of young people. All workshops were free to participants. The name MAGS was eventually devised by the young people themselves some weeks later at a well attended brainstorming BBQ. These young go-getters also expressed interests in expanding activities to include such things as sea skills, fishing, cooking and hygiene, constructing a BMX track, mechanics, dance and drama and pottery. A pool table was donated to the group and circulated between households on a rotational basis. The support base for MAGS grew over the pursuing weeks. The first scheduled major event was the Untalented Talent Quest held on May 4th 1997 at the local park. The event (like the name suggests) was aimed at participation and not the quality of acts as a draw card and drew over 30 acts and a crowd of nearly 500 cheering supporters.
In addition to talent quests, raffles, car washes, and other fundraising activities, MAGS eventually became the recipient of generous sponsorship from a host of local and broader Cairns area business’s and individuals. Sponsorship and prizes were backed by tour operators, cinemas, food and restaurant outlets, sports and music stores, accommodation places and various others, with Cairns City Council establishing itself as a major funding source. Funds were carefully allocated for the acquisition of musical, sporting and other leisure items such as trailers, marquees, canoes, bbq etc.
In February 1997 MAGS became a fully incorporated body providing ongoing activities and regular events in the community, and gaining an enviable reputation in the broader Cairns area. In a speech to Legislative Assembly Queensland, Hansard, July 1997, the then Member for Barron River, Lynne Warwick commented “positive events occurring at Machans Beach are truly community focused … which raise the self esteem of the young people and alert adults to the depth of talent of the local youth and the positive contribution that they are capable of making to the community”—a far cry from the perceptions of young people just two years prior. Neighborhood watch reports indicated a steep decline in petty crime and a definite pride was carried by our young people.
Today MAGS looks back on amazing periods of action as well as times of struggle. A significant revival of old times was witnessed in 2006 when 20 young males attended a community residents association meeting to voice their concerns to Cairns City Council representatives at the long awaited BMX track. To their joy, council took their approach seriously and made the project priority resulting in a now very popular and exciting community facility used virtually non-stop by boys and girls of all ages.
Machans Beach is one of those rare places left that can truly lay claim to being safe, friendly and high on creative energy. To read the full story of MAGS and the processes applied in becoming a highly successful community initiative read more in the following links.......