October 28, 2013
There was lots of yarning, memories, photos, line-dancing and “Murri-oke” when about 350 “Golden Oldies” returned to Cherbourg on Saturday for the Yhurri Gurri (welcome) weekend.
The “Golden Oldies” weekend may have had a new name but it’s been running for more than 15 years, and is one of the town’s annual highlights.
It’s exclusively for Cherbourg residents – and former residents – who have turned 60.
Most are the descendants of the original people who were removed and relocated to the former mission.
Historian Lesley Williams, from the Ration Shed, said there are descendants of 55 different language groups represented at Cherbourg and this is reflected in the theme chosen for this year’s reunion.
“The focus this year is ‘Many Tribes One Community’,” she said.
Former Cherbourg residents who returned for the reunion came from Brisbane, Sydney, Beaudesert, Hervey Bay, Rockhampton, Mackay, Longreach … in fact, from all over Australia.
Each was presented with a commemorative tea towel to mark the event and a DVD of last year’s Golden Oldies.
They gathered in the Welfare Hall on Saturday for lunch and to listen to live music, including country superstar Roger Knox who was accompanied by Cherbourg’s own Muddy Flats band.
Different members of the audience also took turns on stage behind the microphone.
But that was nothing compared with the huge evening of Murri-oke (karaoke with a Murri flavour) on Saturday night.
A very special “golden oldie” at the celebrations was Eva Collins, mother of Cherbourg Council CEO Warren.
Eva, who lives at the Ny-Ku-Byun Aged Care Hostel in Cherbourg, will turn 91 on Christmas Eve.
She was just nine years old when she was sent to Cherbourg from a Church of England hostel in Charleville.
She knew no one at the mission when she arrived.
After leaving school, she worked at Cherbourg Hospital for many years and was then appointed in charge of the Girls Dormitory for 20 years.
Eva was also a foundation member of the first Cherbourg Community Council and served as a JP in the town for six years.
Along the way, she married and had six children.
She loves the “Golden Oldies” weekend: “You meet people you haven’t seen for a long time,” she said. “There are a lot of visitors.”