Burke Shire Mayor, Annie Clarke, would like to see a study into the use of rubber vine as a source of diesel.
THE tiny township of Gregory Downs would probably best described as a welcome relief to the rough and dust road through the drought affected area between Camooweal and Burketown.
The town does not have a lot to boast about apart from the spirit of the hardy souls that put up hardships most other communities don’t have to.
When the North Queensland Register arrived in the town, neither of the two public telephones was working and there was no mobile coverage.
Publican of the Gregory Downs Hotel, Jo Start, said the phones had been out of order for a week and her satellite telephone was the only one working in the town. So much for Telecom’s service to rural communities.
There is electricity to the town and every residence is powered by a diesel generator. With fuel prices at the level they are now, this costs an average household around $60 per day. Properties in the area are using over $100 worth of diesel a day and anything up to $600 if they are using diesel pumps for watering cattle or irrigating.
Ms Start said it costs her a minimum of $200 and up to $400 a day to run the hotel generator.
There is a power line to the Century zinc mine, 60km to the west, but the government has been reluctant to extend the line because of adequate supply concerns to the mines. This line is supplied from Mt Isa via the Gunpowder copper mine.
Mayor of the Burke Shire, Annie Clarke, said she would like to see an investigation into using the pest weed, rubber vine as a source for generating diesel. This high oil yielding plant had been classified as a feral weed and has infested tens of thousands of acres in the shire. Mayor Clarke believes this may be one way of controlling the pest or even eradicate it. The diesel would then be used to power an electricity generator.
“It would be great if James Cook University could do a study into the possibility of using rubber vine as a source for manufacturing diesel,” Mayor Clarke said.
But until and electricity supply to this township of 40 people is provided, Gregory Downs has little chance of any further development.