NOTE: Sad events have overtaken this editorial with the recent deaths of both Percy Iszlaub and Bill Roberts.
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February 2, 2018
by Anne Miller
When I arrived in the South Burnett, it seemed to me there were invisible borders around each Shire: Rosalie, Nanango, Kingaroy, Wondai, Murgon and Kilkivan.
Each seemed to have its own personality, history and quirkiness, and, of course, own Council.
At the apex of these Councils were the Shire Chairmen (not mayors in those days) who seemed to be the Earls of their own little fiefdoms. They were all fiercely proud of their own areas and residents, and their word was law.
These Shire Chairmen also seemed to have been in the job for a long time and knew everyone and everything in their patch of turf.
In Murgon, there was Bill Roberts who had a wealth of knowledge about the history of Murgon and Cherbourg and loved to share the area’s comings and goings – as well as many National Party reminiscences – in his weekly column “Hub Rattles” which was published in the South Burnett Times where I then worked.
Every week Bill’s copy would land on my desk. Bill loved alliteration and playing with words. His personality shone through every paragraph.
In Wondai, there was Percy Iszlaub. Percy had won renown in the region in his youth as a tough rugby league player as well as a keen tuba player with the Wondai & District Band. Along with his Town Clerk at the time, Alan Keates, he also had the reputation of being a wizard with funding applications, wheedling many dollars out of Federal and State governments for his beloved Wondai Shire.
In Nanango, there was Reg McCallum, also an authority on local history. He weathered several Council controversies in his time – none of which are now remembered – and always came out on top and smiling. Reg and his horse stories were legend …
In Kingaroy, there was Bob Downes (d. 2014) who could have walked out of a Drysdale painting of a cattleman. Always calm, Kingaroy Council seemed to an outsider to be ticking over slowly like a well-oiled machine.
Rosalie Shire was headed by Alick Williams (d. 2011) who led the Council for 24 years. Alick was the dairyman who never drank milk …
Kilkivan Shire was the domain of Alec McIntosh who had been in charge since 1970. Another leader fiercely proud of his area, he was already fighting off amalgamation proposals way back in 1990.
This brings me to the reason for sharing these memories …
A few milestones have occurred over the past few days.
Firstly, Kilkivan’s long-serving Chairman Alec McIntosh OAM died in Gladstone on January 18. His funeral service was held at Boyne Island on January 31 but a memorial service will be held for him in Goomeri on Monday (February 5). This is truly the end of an era for Goomeri and Kilkivan.
Secondly, Bill Roberts OBE has put down his pen and retired from writing his Hub Rattles column, usually described as the longest running column in any Australian newspaper. Another end of an era!
And Percy Iszlaub OAM, now a resident at Forest View in Wondai after a series of health issues, has finally put down his tuba and retired from the Wondai Band after more than 70 years.
These days, the invisible borders are disappearing and the South Burnett is slowly coming together as a unified area of common interest.
But we should never forget the people who brought us to this point …