January 28, 2017
The South Burnett turned out in force on Thursday to celebrate Australia Day, despite the hot weather.
The South Burnett Regional Council contributed to eight community events in the region’s major towns and villages, and there were just as many informal celebrations running at local hotels and RSLs.
southburnett.com.au visited several Australia Day celebrations, and this report shows how Australia Day was celebrated this year at Kingaroy, at Proston and at Boondooma Homestead.
A large crowd of several hundred packed the Kingaroy Town Hall forecourt on Thursday morning for the town’s annual Australia Day celebrations.
Activities kicked off at 7:00am with a free community breakfast followed with a range of family fun activities including face painting and a jumping castle for children; bush poetry; live music by Jordy Green and Erica Henderson; whip cracking; and Steve Hood on button accordion.
Around 9:00am, things took a more formal turn with a flag-raising ceremony performed by Army cadets, and a recognition of Australia Day Award winners from the Kingaroy area.
This was followed by short talks from guest speakers Dr. Emma Leu-Marshall (Taabinga Family Practice) and Russell Thompson (Principal Kingaroy State School), and then the perennially popular lamington and pie eating competitions and cane toad races.
As usual, the lamington eating competition was very popular with children. They quickly discovered that lamingtons aren’t quite as easy to scoff down as most people think.
This was followed by the pie-eating competition which attracted a more adult and largely masculine audience, though things were not as they may have at first seemed, either.
Two women – April Trace and Christine Haydon – took seats at the long competition table, and both exuded a quiet confidence.
April had won the pie-eating competition a few years ago, and Christine had been part of an all-woman team that had demolished all previous records some years before that when the event used to be held in Memorial Park.
As things turned out, April took out the winner’s sash and Christine tied for third while most of the other competitors were still struggling to start on their final pie.
After this, Will Johnson unpacked cane toads in the cane toad racing ring and explained to the crowd that each one had been named after a sitting Councillor and could be identified by a coloured ribbon tied around their necks.
The smallest toad – sporting a bright yellow ribbon – was named in honour of Cr Danita Potter, and it scooted away to a rapid win in the first race of the day, much to everyone’s amusement.
A small crowd of around 20 people joined the Proston Scouts at their den in Rodney Street on Thursday afternoon for the town’s Australia Day celebrations.
While larger centres may have put on bigger events, Proston’s annual Australia Day get-together was quiet and happy despite the heat.
It began with a flag-raising performed by the troop, followed by an affirmation and a singing of the National Anthem.
After this, Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff recognised this year’s Australia Day award winners and nominees from the Proston, Hivesville, Durong and Boondooma areas, before Barbara Hockey read out Member for Callide Jeff Seeney’s Australia Day message.
Cr Duff reflected that Proston had many Australia Day award winners over the years, stretching right back to pre-amalgamation days when they were awarded by Wondai Shire Council.
Then this year’s winners – Noela Ardrey (Proston-Hivesville Local Achiever Award), Jan Barsby (Citizen Of The Year nominee) and Proston Community Nurse Kathy Crane (Community Organisation Of The Year nominee for the Murgon Area Community Health Nurses) – were presented to the audience to gave brief talks.
Afterwards, guests enjoyed a relaxed afternoon tea of tea, coffee, damper and syrup followed by a spirited tennis ball cricket match outside in Railway Park.
A crowd of about 100 made the trip to Boondooma Homestead on Thursday evening for a dinki-di Australia Day celebration at one of the region’s oldest farming properties.
Approximately half the guests arrived at the Homestead on a bus that picked up travellers at Wondai, Hivesville and Proston. The rest either lived locally in the Boondooma and Durong areas, or made it there under their own steam.
Boondooma Homestead manager Buddy Thomson took early arrivals on an extensive guided tour of the grounds and the principal buildings, explaining the many historical artifacts that have been preserved thanks to many years of hard work by the Homestead’s volunteers.
Buddy told the tour group he grew up on the property and hoped one day to be buried there, but also hoped that wasn’t likely to be any time soon.
At 5:30pm, the formal celebrations got underway with a flag-raising, a singing of the national anthem and a talk by a guest speaker.
Afterwards, guests unpacked their eskies and sat at tables in the Homestead’s cavernous main hall for an evening of talking, laughter and relaxed bush balladeering music.