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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 714

Mr LITTLEPROUD (Maranoa) (13:38): This week marks the commencement, in my home town of Chinchilla, of the iconic melon festival.    The Chinchilla Melon Festival has a rich and proud history from its humble beginnings in 1994, when the community came together to lift spirits during drought. But the festival, even then, took on national prominence with live crosses from the then Hey Hey It's Saturday.

Many might find it surprising to learn that although the first commercially grown melon was produced in the 1950s, today the district produces 25 per cent of the 217,000 tonnes of melons grown in Australia each year. The melon festival is a huge week of melon themed events, where visitors get to participate in everything from melon skiing and pip spitting to melon bungee and melon iron man races.

From the 3,000 visitors back in 1994 to an expected record crowd this year of 15,000, visitors will pack into Chinchilla over the weekend. This will generate in excess of $3.3 million coming into the Chinchilla economy. Of that, the retail sector will benefit from an additional $1.2 million of revenue.

The Chinchilla Melon Festival has become one of Australia's most iconic festivals but is also a prime example of the value of our dedicated and passionate community volunteers, like Doug McNally and his team, who provide a program full of fun and laughter—all for free—that will contribute significantly to the morale and economy of Chinchilla.