October 6, 2017
Visitors who use Proston’s new free caravan parking area will soon be able to enjoy something truly unique in the South Burnett.
They’ll be able to sit around an open barbecue pit on wooden benches that carry the brands used by cattlemen in Proston and its districts, sheltered by a tall wooden fence that will also carry the brands once it’s built.
The first three ironwood benches and six fence palings already carry 69 brands, and they were completed at a special “Fire The Brand” community celebration last Saturday night.
The unusual project is the brainchild of the Proston Round Table community group, and the wood for the benches and palings was donated by Nick and Nikita Hockey of Hivesville Timber and Fencing.
“Fire The Brand” kicked off close to sunset at the free parking area, which is located opposite Proston Rural at the northern end of Railway Park.
Local graziers who wanted their brands included produced them at a registration desk set up for the night; once checked, each of the brands was transferred to a secure area for the next step in the process.
Organisers brought along two gas-fired branding ovens to heat the metal red-hot, after which the glowing brands were carefully moved to the waiting benches and palings to be immortalised in wood.
Lance Frahm and Dale Murray used steel templates to ensure the brands were evenly spaced, and took special care to ensure brands which used multiple rods all lined up correctly.
Burning the 69 brands into the wood took the two men a little over three hours to complete.
The oldest brand immortalised on Saturday night belonged to Bonny and Fay Banks, and was first registered in the early 1900s.
Many other brands stretched back to the 1920s, and had been in local families for generations.
While they waited to get their brands back, their owners could enjoy a barbecue dinner prepared by the Proston Men’s Shed, listen to live music provided by Charles Neville, watch the branding process being carried out, or simply sit around the campfire and chat.
In all, an estimated 100 people attended Fire The Brand, which wrapped up a big day for Proston.
Earlier in the day, the Round Table had also organised a rededication of the Reinke Scrub Conservation Park and a heritage trail walk around Proston’s CBD.
Reinke Scrub Conservation Park is a parcel of untouched dry vine scrub covering almost 50 hectares on The Weir Road, and was donated to the state in 1992 by brothers Doug and Arthur Reinke.
The Reinke family have been farming in the Proston district since the 1920s, and Doug Reinke’s sister Dot Bauer and her two daughters were special guests on the day.
The rededication ceremony attracted 70 visitors and got underway when Proston State School student Lorna Smith gave an Acknowledgement of Country, which was followed by the National Anthem.
Dr Rhonda Melzer (nee Grundy) from Queensland National Parks and Wildlife and Dr Paul Forster, Principal Botanist at the Queensland Herbarium, spoke at the ceremony.
Dr Melzer had recommended the land’s gazettal as a conservation park a quarter of a century ago, and Dr Forster had studied it over many years.
Ironically, both have family connections to the Proston district and were very pleased to return and have the opportunity to provide insights into how the park came into being and why it was such a valuable natural resource.
Following the ceremony, many guests walked a circuit track of about 300m through the scrub, then enjoyed a welcome cup of tea and damper provided by the Proston Scout Group.
Later in the day, 15 adults and half a dozen children braved the strong mid-day sun to take a three hour Heritage Trail Walk around Proston’s business district.
Peter Doessel shared the history of his late father’s Fix-it Shop in Rodney Street which burned down in the 1980s, and at the former Uniting Church Mrs Coralie Fox gave a talk about the trials and tribulations of being of a minister in the early days of Proston’s settlement.
Phil Powell also opened up his former garage for the group.
Footnote: Interest in the branding project has been so strong that a second Fire The Brand night is likely to be held for the benefit of graziers who couldn’t attend the first one. The Proston Round Table will announce a firm date for it early next year.