REVEALED: #31-37 of Gympie’s most influential of 2020
#37 THE TEMPLETON FAMILY
THE Templeton family has been growing ginger since the 1940s, and in 70 years and three generations, they have overcome war, drought and disease to become one of the world's finest ginger producers.
Second generation farmer John Templeton, his son Shane and daughter Kylie are now the directors of Templeton Farming Enterprises, operating ginger farms in the Mary Valley, Eumundi and Maryborough, producing around 2500 tonnes.
For decades they have worked to grow the ginger farm, from their humble beginnings at a co-operative in Buderim to now being stocked in shelves across Australia and overseas.
The family have also diversified into cattle and cane farming.
"I've been in the area for 20 years now, farming with my dad and sister," Shane said.
"My wife (Julie) and son (Zac) also work here, it's very much a family business."
Shane said a new purchase - the famed Bollier Homestead for a cool $11 million - had expanded their Mary Valley farms to more than 1200 hectares, with 20 employees, but during peak season (August to September) they could have up to 50 employees.
Templeton Farming Enterprises was awarded 2020 National Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year, for their work in combating a deadly root rot called pythium.
Leading the way in biosecurity measures, John, Shane and Kylie implemented extensive safeguards to eradicate the disease from crops and manage the risks associated with feral animals, weeds and diseases, to keep producing world class ginger.
#36 STEVE HOOPER
DEBUTING on the Power 40 list at #36 is Mary Valley Chamber of Commerce president and Imbil Railway Hotel owner Steven Hooper.
As president of the Mary Valley Chamber of Commerce, Mr Hooper is passionate about and promotes local small businesses in the region.
Mr Hooper and the chamber advocate for their 29 members at all levels of government, and have built an inclusive and "vibrant" network of Mary Valley businesses, helping the Valley recover from the devastation wrought by the failed Traveston dam which sent property values plunging.
Publishing a monthly newsletter, Mr Hooper and the chamber offer advertising for members, local business news updates and promote the Mary Valley as an ideal region to conduct business.
Mr Hooper also owns an iconic piece of the region's history, and one of it's largest tourist attractions, the Imbil Railway Hotel.
First built in 1914, the hotel has a proud past and claims to be the oldest building in the town.
Taking its name from the Mary Valley railway link, which was extended to Brooloo in 1915 prompting trade, prosperity and growth for Imbil, the hotel is cemented in Gympie history.
Under Mr Hooper's ownership the hotel continues to grow and remains a town and tourist favourite, known for its friendly country charm.
#35 NIGEL WORTHINGTON
RAINBOW Beach Commerce and Tourism Association president president Nigel Worthington comes in at #35 of the 2020 list of the Gympie region's 40 most influential people.
Mr Worthington has never been afraid to take action or speak out when he thought it was needed.
As a businessman, and president of the organisation representing almost all (about 50) Rainbow Beach businesses, he has helped the Cooloola Coast not only ride out the COVID-19 pandemic, but turn 2020 into a great success story.
The Association has had two big wins this year: knowning the challenge ahead, it commissioned advertising to promote the region the Queensland tourism market, and it turned an approach from the producers of television show Creek to Coast into a visitor bonanza.
After a full episode on the Cooloola Coast in July, and a follow-up episode in September, Rainbow Beach accommodation businesses have been at full capacity or near full capacity since before the school holidays, defying the grim possibilities the ongoing border closure could have brought.
Instead, Rainbow Beach is bursting at the seams with visitors - many of them for the first time - from the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, Gold Coast and western Downs; anywhere within the four-hour drive market.
Business is so good, the advertising campaign is on hold.
In addition, last year, when Mr Worthington was treasurer of the Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism organisation and a representative on the Teewah and Cooloola Working Group, he came out strongly against a proposal put to the State Government to slash the number of campers at Teewah Beach.
Earlier this year, he criticised the State Government's lack of clarity on Queensland's post-pandemic recovery for putting the region "on the back foot".
#34 RON OWEN
RETURNING to Gympie's most influential list after slipping out of the final rankings last year, outspoken firearms advocate Ron Owen still ranks as one of the leading local voices both economically and politically - whether you agree with his views or not.
The founder and owner of Gympie business Owen Guns, Mr Owen has built his life off the back of undying passions for firearms and the rights of law-abiding firearm owners across the country.
According to the Owen Guns website the business "began in 1974 in Victoria's Mountain Country, moving to Gympie Queensland in 1980", and has been dedicated to giving the "best advice and the best price for the best quality to their customers" in the 46 years since.
Owen Guns boasts a showroom adorned with 450 plus firearms, as well as an impressive gun museum opened in 2017, which features firearms dating as far back as the 1870s.
Always a prolific writer, past estimates had him sending more than 10,000 emails out every week on top of his efforts with the hugely popular reads Lock, Stock and Barrel and The Owen Guns Bulletin, which published its 172nd edition in September.
He has never been shy about voicing his political opinions, having this year slammed the Queensland Government's decision to classify gun dealers like him as "non-essential" under coronavirus control regulations.
His voice turns heads at election time, too.
Ahead of the Gympie Regional Council election in March, he implored all "those who intend to be councillors and mayors (to) make it known publicly, to all voters, how they intend to represent the firearm owners in our region, how are they going to support these shooters who have suffered 28 years of government betrayal".
Tireless he has also been in his fight to make a Gympie shooting range a reality.
His campaign made this a major piece for the Gympie region in the last round of state elections (it was an electoral promise put forth by One Nation and the LNP), and he has also pitched the idea of a European-style underground range in an ongoing effort to get Gympie Regional Council's feet moving on the issue.
That range may not have come to fruition yet, but whether it's for that or any of his other causes, you can always count on Ron Owen to keep fighting for his community.
#33 RUTH MODIN
MAKING her triumphant return to the Gympie region's list of lists after a two-year absence, the "unofficial mayor of Rainbow Beach" businesswoman Ruth Modin is heading towards 40 years as a fearless campaigner for the progress of the Gympie region's coastal community.
Mrs Modin has been a leading voice for Rainbow Beach businesses since the 1980s, when she moved to the region with late husband Milton from Alberta, Canada.
It was in Milton's memory that Mrs Modin orchestrated one of the family's best and most famous achievements, the enduring Rainbow Beach Family Fishing Classic - an event that typically draws hundreds of entrants and thousands of onlookers to the coast.
A long-time owner of the local newsagent, early morning convenience store and cafe, yet another example of Mrs Modin's inspirational character came when her business not only survived but bounced back strongly from a devastating October 2016 fire that burned down the cafe and the store.
The phoenix that rose from the ashes of that "very, very difficult time" took the form of Mrs Modin's final Rainbow Beach venture, The Deck at Sea Salt - a tapas bar, restaurant and beer garden all in one.
The Deck at Sea Salt has built an impressive reputation since its opening in 2018, routinely attracting visitors in droves and boasting almost 2000 likes on Facebook.
She had cause for celebration earlier this year after the long-awaited removal of "ugly" and potentially dangerous power poles from the main street, a cause she had championed for eight years.
If all that wasn't enough, Mrs Modin was awarded the first ever life membership of the Rainbow Beach Commerce and Tourism Association for her outstanding work as committee president between 1986 and 1996.
It has been largely thanks to Mrs Modin's enduring efforts that Rainbow Beach has earned its reputation as one of Queensland's best tourist destinations.
#32 TINO FA'ASUAMALEAUI
ONE of the youngest members among this year's movers and shakers, the 197cm, 107kg hulk from Widgee has enjoyed a blockbuster 2020 season for his beloved Melbourne Storm, well and truly announcing himself on the NRL stage and fast becoming one of the most exciting prospects for the game's next generation.
Since making his NRL debut late last year, the talented second rower has appeared in Craig Bellamy's side in all but one game this season, scoring seven tries and taking his career games tally to 26.
The 20-year-old's season of dreams will culminate with an appearance in this weekend's NRL Grand Final, when the Storm take on the Penrith Panthers for premiership glory.
His bulldozing, bullocking style of play has also caused persistent rumours to swirl about a possible State of Origin debut for Queensland after the league decider.
And Tino is no stranger to representative football, with caps already earned in Queensland Under-20 and Australian Under-23 set-ups.
Following all that, the wunderkind is set to take his talents north on a three-year deal with the Gold Coast Titans starting in season 2021, which is understood to be worth a little under $2 million.
It's still very early days, but Tino's fantastic career at top level so far already ranks him among the top sporting talents and biggest influences ever to emerge from the Gold City.
#31 STEVEN ELLIOTT
A CONTENDER for the most inspiring story to appear on this year's list, trailblazing Gympie basketballer Steven Elliott is the perfect example of what can happen when you never give up on your dreams.
A natural athlete all his life with plenty of talent in rugby and running, Elliott has never let the diagnosis of a debilitating neurological condition at the age of 13 stop him on his path to sporting glory.
The talented point guard saw perhaps his greatest achievement yet come to fruition in July, when he was selected to the Australia Rollers squad for the 2021 Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The 25-year-old previously represented his country at the 2018 world championships in Hamburg, where he and his fellow Australians picked up a bronze medal.
The long-time USC High Performance Student Athlete program member and Queensland Spinning Bullets representative has a little while to go before he learns more about his dreams of becoming a Paralympian.
He has also been an advocate for progress in the community, and was on hand to celebrate the opening of the Mary Valley Rattler's all access carriage just last month.
This list is a subjective talking point, not a scientific guide. We welcome feedback from the public.
It is about the 40 most powerful and/or influential people in the Gympie region. How strong and broad is their influence?
A special committee of community leaders from various walks of life have voted on who should be on this list and in what order.
Is there someone you think should be on the list?
Email your contenders to email@example.com or comment below and tell us why.