A bit of imagination

A couple of months ago I bought into the Maryborough vs Hervey Bay debate on the Fraser Coast Chronicle’s website. I have to admit however, I can’t even remember the issue under discussion. Traditionally I avoid comments on online news sites as so often they’re full of parochial regulars who can be exceptionally nasty.

I’ve rarely commented myself. I was a government employee for yonks so didn’t feel I could back then and only now I’ve left a comment if I feel particularly chagrined or passionate (which is rare).

In my comment I said I thought it was fair that I buy into the Mbro vs Bay argument, having grown up in Maryborough (until heading off to Uni at 17 years of age) and coming back here to work in the Maryborough Council for a few years; before eventually returning to live in Hervey Bay last year.

I won’t go into my thoughts here, but… I can kinda see both sides and with a foot in each camp I understand everyone’s frustration.

Having said that, I have to admit I find it very confronting to head into the Maryborough CBD. The empty shops and lack of vibrancy is palpable. It wasn’t a thriving metropolis when I was a youngster back in the 70s and 80s, but it was ‘town’ and a place to go.

I know that many blame the advent of shopping centres for the death of the CBD itself, but I’d like to think there’s some way ‘we’ could all live in harmony.

I loved today’s piece by the Chronicle’s new Editor John Grey (recently returned after many years away), who sees Maryborough’s potential.

Like John I find the Gatakers Precinct impressive. I attended the recent Relish Food and Wine Festival and several of the Mary Poppins Festival activities. It occurs to me that there’s some life left in the old girl yet.

“Imagine this city” is the Fraser Coast Council’s initiative to give Maryboroughites and others, a chance to have a say in the town’s future. As I understand it, Council’s in the midst of developing its 2013-2018 Strategic Plan and this is YOUR / OUR opportunity to inform that process.

Check out the consultation process and downloadable survey here, or head along to the workshop this coming Wednesday in the City Hall. (Note that RSVPs are required.)


I have worked in community development, community engagement, regional development, local government and planning services agencies and roles, but I have no answers. Others might. And, it will be interesting to know what ideas and suggestions people might actually have.

I don’t mean to be rude, but I say the same thing to my mother if / when she ever groans about stuff happening / not happening. Put up or shut up. I know that our voices are not always (or often) heeded and then there are the squeaky wheels… yadda yadda yadda; but it’s harder to complain about an outcome if you don’t even try.

I’m thinking of heading along to the session of Wednesday, so perhaps I’ll see you, or hear from you, there.

Asbestos Manor

It’s not officially a Fraser Coast tourist attraction, but it’s certainly hard to miss. Indeed, anyone who’s driven along the Esplanade at Hervey Bay could not have overlooked the eyesore-on-purpose that is Asbestos Manor.

I don’t actually intend to offer any comment or judgement on the issue here. Indeed I have no opinion either way and I certainly have never personally experienced this level of passion. About anything. But kudos to those who have and continue to do so.


Asbestos Manor in all of its (somewhat conspicuous) glory

All I will say is… and I thought my first apartment building – painted pale yellow with turquoise trim – was the stuff of nightmares….

If you build it…

Many MANY moons ago – well, in the early-mid 1990s I spent 3-4 years working for the Maryborough City Council. It was at a time when local governments were realising that their responsibilities were broader than roads, rates and rubbish. The Bond Store Museum had just been completed and it seemed (to me anyway) that communities and governments were starting to think on a ‘regional’ basis with planning reflecting cooperative efforts and opportunities.

Oft-discussed at that point in time was the desire for the region to have a theatre to replace the ageing Maryborough City Hall and (hopefully) draw national and international acts to the region.

Screen shot 2013-06-06 at 1.58.07 PMIt took some time and the fundraising barometer – on occasions – moved quite slowly… but the (then) Maryborough City Council eventually received funding from the State and Commonwealth and the Brolga Theatre was opened in July 2000.

I wasn’t around at the time but over the years have been regaled with updates of the myriad of shows and acts finding their way to the Fraser Coast. Indeed, my mother (also a “Friend of the Brolga”) at times seemed to attend almost anything and everything. The Queensland Ballet, Thursday Morning Melodies, local dance concerts and big bands… it almost doesn’t matter. Mum and her friends seem to be there.

I’d only been a couple of times before this week when I accompanied my mum and her neighbour to see Guy Sebastian. I’ve long been a Guy fan, although not overly rabid, as far as ‘fans’ go. In fact the only entire album I have is his first when – like gazillions of Aussies – I saw him as a most deserved winner of the inaugural Australian Idol.

I love that he’s viewed as a legitimate musician and has proved he’s FAR more than a reality TV show wannabe.

In fact, he seems to be quite the musical genius and I’ve enjoyed watching him as a judge of The X Factor.

collage guy

I was stoked to hear he was coming to The Brolga, and aware (of course) that he has/had a house in nearby Toogoom… so the Fraser Coast was – at least once upon a time – his home away from home.

At almost $80 tickets were reasonable in a world where one pays HUNDREDS for a show. And Guy did not disappoint.

His support act (and friend), David Ryan Harris was friggin’ amazing. So much so that I even bought his CD… something I don’t tend to do (and I cannot remember the last time I bought an actual CD rather than individual songs from iTunes!). His mesmerising talent was matched, of course, by Guy’s.

I know SFA about music and am not an avid concert goer. Indeed I was almost tempted to follow my mother’s lead – who was so startled by the noise of the band when it began – that her hands flew to cover her ears!

The band – though bloody loud – was tremendous. The back-up singers were great and Guy was majestic.

My fave song was probably Get Along, which he played on the piano; and his mostly acoustic partial version of Angels Brought Me Here was friggin’ spine-chilling.

Guy was surprised at how few of the audience had seen him previously and I suspect many of those present had NEVER been to a pop / rock concert. Indeed it was my 69 year old mother’s first concert of that sort. She was gobsmacked at the array of people there – from the grey haired to A LOT of kids.

I realise we’re lucky to have a venue which can house bigger shows (although even at 900 seats I gather the show sold out quickly and had a waiting list of 300+) and we’re even luckier that people of Guy’s talent take the trouble to tour regions and share a bit of their magic.

Oh… and I was kinda chuffed that Guy retweeted one of my tweets on the night.


The pink balloon

I have an embarrassing confession. Actually I have many I could offer up, but today you’ll only get the one.

A few weeks ago I was on my almost-daily pier walk.
As an aside… I live in Urangan and have long loved the pier (my love affair with the Urangan pier actually deserves its own separate post!). Indeed, I am able to ‘lose myself’ every time I navigate the old timber boards.

large fishAnyhoo, I love that each walk will bring something new… a guy who caught some massive fish, wedding parties and photographers, or (as I saw last week) dolphins frolicking.

However… this tale of completely understandable confusion took place a few weeks ago.

As usual I was out on the pier and lost in my own little world when I saw a pink balloon drifting along the surface of the ocean.

I had to look twice, or perhaps more, to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. I kept expecting it to burst or drift off, but it floated along the water as if being pulled along by something unseen beneath the ocean.

So taken was I with this innocent pink balloon that I stopped a passerby to point it out before it drifted from view. As this had required me to remove my headphones and garner the fellow walker’s attention (ie. involving much effort on my behalf), I was a bit shirty that he merely grimaced uncomfortably – as if he was being harassed by a lunatic – and continued walking.

I pondered on this pink balloon for a day or two.

Where had it come from?
Where did it go?

And then… on my next walk I saw this.

pink balloon

Oh. Dear.

So much for my balloon-from-nowhere-magically-drifting-about-the-ocean theory.

I asked a friend and was told that the balloon-on-fishing line trick is used to keep the hook floating near the surface of the water, ostensibly for a certain type of fish.


No wonder the passerby looked at me as if I was a lunatic.

Note to self: Learn more about fishing before next commenting on anything involving the ocean!


It’s Show time here on the Fraser Coast again, which naturally means we’ve all been expecting rain.

Although I have absolutely no intention of setting foot anywhere near the Maryborough Showgrounds over the two day period, I’ve allowed myself a little walk down memory lane.

This first pic is of my nanna and poppie with their oldest child and my dad as a baby. As he was born in April 1939 this photo dates back quite a bit.

cook family show 1939

I’m (quite frankly) a bit disappointed that the dress standard has now slipped and think that a bit of class could be reinstated with a new dress code.

And… I’m pretty sure my dad wouldn’t have made the height restrictions on any of the rides… being 1mth old and all!

* In unrelated news, isn’t my poppie a handsome man?!

PicMonkey Collage show1These could be my first two visits to the Maryborough Show (obviously when it was still being held in the Pallas Street Showgrounds – now home to peeps who dressed like those in the first picture).

I just hafta say though… WTF is with the guy in the second picture?! Perhaps my mum, taking the picture, was a bit dishy back then.

PicMonkey Collage show 2

Obviously by 1973 I’d been able to ditch my older brother who – I must add – was a bit of a wuss when it came to showrides. We have a home movie of a pre-teen me getting off a ride called The Zipper, with one of my brother’s best friends. My brother was nowhere to be seen.

PicMonkey Collage show3Although I remember my velvet phase fondly, I’m a tad embarrassed about the other pics. I was a bit of a basketballer back in the day and started getting bored with scary fast rides around the same time I realised I was good at the basketball game – despite its rigged weighted balls. Fortunately this coincided with the realisation the laughing clowns and their ping pong balls were a waste of friggin’ time! Suddenly it was all about the spoils!

The Show had moved to its current location by the final pics and although I was a HUGE lover of the show in my younger years, I gave the whole thing a big miss in my final year of school. In retrospect, I moved through all of the phases:

  • hooking things with fishing lines, merry-go-rounds and kids’ school displays and competitions
  • scary rides like the whizzer, zipper, octopus and matterhorn, showbags; and as much fairy floss and waffle thingys as you can manage (without them making a return appearance after the aforementioned rides!)
  • wearing new clothes, hanging out with friends and hoping to see the cute boys (which coincided with my fluffy toy fetish!)
  • too bloody old and concerned about human error!

The last time I attended the Maryborough Show was in the early – mid 1990s. My aunt was in town (for a family funeral) and we wandered about with my parents looking at boring stuff animals, cooking, cars and the like. We skipped the dagwood dogs in favour of a steak sandwich and left before the fireworks. But what I most remember, is that my aunt, mother and I decided to go on the matterhorn. For old time’s sake. 

And. Oh. My. God. The fearless me of my childhood had long departed. I felt ill and found my eyes glued to the ride’s machinations (nuts and bolts ‘n’ stuff) wondering who’d screwed them together. Plus… I was almost sick afterwards.

I realised that the Show of my childhood had long disappeared. It was someone else’s turn.

Just as I suspect there are teenagers and young adults ‘dissing’ the Fraser Coast Show this year, I’m sure there are as many five, six and seven year olds out there whose Christmases have all come at once!

*Actual info about the Fraser Coast Show can be found here! There is – as usual – heaps on for those with kids or an interest in livestock, cooking and a myriad of other events.