November 26, 2018
Drivers passing through Nanango were treated to a rare spectacle on Saturday afternoon as a parade of 50 zombies shambled slowly along the side of the D’Aguilar Highway.
The South Burnett’s first-ever Zombie walk – an unusual fundraiser for Nanango’s all-inclusive playground project – drew appreciative honks from motorists as the undead shuffled along the Ros Gregor Walking Track beside the roadway.
The idea was the brainchild of Seren Ahlquist and it now looks set to become a novel addition to Nanango’s annual events calendar.
Seren stumbled across a Zombie walk happening in a Brisbane park when she first moved to Queensland.
She was surprised to learn it was a fundraiser for the Brain Foundation, a charity that raises funds for brain injury research.
Over the next few years she watched Brisbane’s Zombie walk grow from 400 to 12,000 people, and Zombie walks spring up in other towns.
“I shared this idea with (my friend) Stella Wade and our other friends, and everyone just loved it,” Seren said.
“So we set up Zombie Invasion Nanango as a group, and started promoting our first-ever event.”
Seren said Heritage Bank Nanango had quickly come on board as a sponsor, and Crs Roz Frohloff and Danita Potter donated $200 each from their discretionary funds to help pay for signage and other materials.
The Nanango Lions and many other people also volunteered to help.
The event was endorsed by Cheryl Warner, the Nanango mum who first brought the need for an inclusive playground to public attention in May.
Cheryl’s seven-year-old son Jai has special needs, and the lack of local facilities has been forcing her to drive to Yarraman, Ipswich or the Sunshine Coast so her son can play.
Cheryl issued a public plea to build an inclusive playground for special needs children and adults in the South Burnett.
Her idea has now won widespread support from the community and South Burnett Regional Council has designated Nanango’s Butter Factory Park as the preferred site for the facility.
Zombies began gathering at Tipperary Flat from 3:00pm on Saturday, slaking any lingering thirst for blood or brains with soft drinks and sausage sandwiches from the Lions food van.
Then at 5:00pm – with the sun beginning to move lower in the sky – the zombies assembled for the long shuffle to Hannibal’s Bucket.
After pausing to be splattered with artificial blood near the finish line, they dragged their feet the last 100 metres to the Bucket for a group shot snapped by half a dozen keen photographers.
They then returned to the starting line to dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
Later that evening, many zombies rounded off the day at a Zombie After Party held at Nanango’s Palace Hotel.
On Monday, Seren told southburnett.com.au she was very pleased with the roll-up.
“For a first time event in a town the size of Nanango, I think we did much better per capita than the 400 people who took part in the first Brisbane zombie walk,” she said.
“Another thing that impressed our committee was that so many people put such a big effort into their zombie costumes.
“Emma Perkins, the winner of the Best Zombie Costume category, really went above and beyond with her outfit, and so did the team who took out the group prize.”
Seren said it would be a few days before the group could work out how much money the walk raised.
This was because donation tins and the Palace Hotel’s after party donations also had to be collected and counted,.
“The wonderful thing about this project is that Heritage Bank Nanango will contribute $3 for every $1 raised, so whatever we raised will quadruple,” Seren said.
“We’ll be presenting a cheque for the proceeds to the Nanango Tourism and Development Association (the association collecting money for the inclusive playground project).”
Seren said she hopes the Zombie walk will become an annual event to raise funds for good causes.
“It’s a fun day out for people, it’s not expensive and how often do you get the chance to dress up like a zombie and do something for the community?” she said.
“If Butter Factory Park’s fundraising target hasn’t been reached by this time next year we’ll do our second walk for it, too.
“But if it has been reached – and we all hope it will be – we’ll find another good cause to help instead.”