A tale of two cities

It’s a tale as old as time, said someone other than Charles Dickens about love and hate and everything in between. It’s also what comes to mind when I read letters to the editor or online comments about the Fraser Coast’s duelling siblings—Maryborough and Hervey Bay.

I’m in the unenviable position of having a foot in both camps. I grew up in Maryborough, worked there briefly after University and continue to visit my mother there to this day. However, as a child I spent weekends and holidays in Hervey Bay, which became my home after I made a seachange two and a half years ago.

Via rainbowbeachaustralia.wordpress.com

Via rainbowbeachaustralia.wordpress.com

I was working for the (then) Maryborough City Council at the time Hervey Bay first really started to outgrow Maryborough. It was the early-mid 1990s, the tide was turning and a rivalry developing between the two councils. We’d always been lumped together as a region for State and Federal Government purposes but the sleepy satellite city of Hervey Bay was suddenly on everyone’s map. I had no problem with this and worked closely with my counterpart in the Hervey Bay City Council. Opportunities to collaborate and garner economies of scale were a no-brainer.

Fast-forward twenty years and Maryborough really hasn’t grown at all. It’s far from the bustling city of my youth. Hervey Bay on the other hand, continues to grow exponentially. Unsurprisingly, services and facilities gravitate to the more populated area. That was once Maryborough. It is now Hervey Bay. And that’s the cold hard fact that many struggle to accept.

I had a conversation with a long-term Bay resident recently and they reminded me that Hervey Bay-ites once had the same issue—just in reverse. It wasn’t exactly a lightbulb moment but I was forced to remember my Urangan-based grandparents travelling to Maryborough to the supermarket, for medical appointments and to visit government offices.

hervey-bay-39058_001

Via seahavenbeachvillas.com.au

I don’t remember them whining about it and I think that’s because it was all they knew. Anyone over 35-40 can still probably recall Maryborough in its heyday. They remember when it was hub and Hervey Bay the toddler gadding about and babbling incoherently. They’re the ones who feel Maryborough’s changing fortune more than others. Younger people have no idea and struggle to believe Maryborough was once bigger and better-serviced than Hervey Bay.

Like I said, I understand where Maryborough peeps are coming from and its dying CBD devastates me, but I also understand the logic in services, facilities and shops gravitating to where the people are. And – sadly – that’s not Maryborough. It’s a vicious circle because it means people subsequently move to where the services are located.

So… is Maryborough doomed? I hope not. Perhaps things will turn around again. Who knows?

I just believe though in the meantime, rather than bicker about ‘who’ has ‘what’ we should accept reality and work together and at least try to get along.

I submitted this to the Fraser Coast Chronicle a few weeks ago (but think it's too long and a bit convoluted!).

A busy weekend in the Borough

It’s that time of year—the festivals start and the whales make their way up the coastline. And it all kicks off this weekend in Maryborough, starting with my favourite event on the Fraser Coast….

Relish Food and Wine Festival

I first went in 2013 and was pleasantly surprised by the event. My expectations were very high second time around, and although there were more food options in 2014, there didn’t seem to be as many stalls and I really struggled on the gluten-free front. My friends were delighted with what was on offer, but I asked at place after place for coeliac-friendly meals to no avail. In the end I bought a bag of organic gluten-free corn chips from someone selling salsa.

relish

Nonetheless I’m looking forward to this year’s event with a stack of new sessions available. Not only can you attend the wine or beer and food matching options (for $25), but there’s also a Wolf Blass Master Class on board the Hervey Bay Boat Club’s boat travelling on the Mary River (for $30) and a long lunch featuring some great local chefs (for $85). I did think about offering my services to live-tweet the lunch (in exchange for a sumptuous repast), but….

On the beer and wine tasting front: Wolf Blass, Vintner’s Secret, Kingsley Grove, Crane’s Wines (a fave of mine from 2013), Clovely Estate, Uncle Bob’s Estate Organic Wine and Yenda Craft Beers will be in attendance.

Of course there’ll be food on sale (and I’m crossing my fingers re GF options) as well as music, stalls and the crowd favourite—foodie talks and cooking demos.

The event stretches from Queen’s Park right around the Portside precinct to the lovely Gatakers Artspace.

Tickets are available online for $12 or at the gate for $15. The gates open at 11am with things wrapping up at 6pm. Check out the Relish site for more info, including a map.

For social media fiends, there’s a Relish Twitter account, Facebook page, and Instagram account.

The hashtag du jour seems to be #relishfrasercoast.

Horsemanship Spectacular

If horses and people riding them are more your thing, local (renowned) horseman Guy McLean will be doing his thing at Susan River Homestead on Saturday evening.

In addition to Guy, his liberty horses and some bush poetry, there’ll be refreshments for sale. Gates open at 4.30 and the show starts at 6pm, so you can pop along after Relish. For more information check out the Susan River Homestead Facebook page.

World’s Greatest PubFest

What better way to recover from overindulging in wine and beer tasting than by drinking more?! Yes indeedy, it’s time for the annual PubFest.

Most years we’re champing at the bit (hee hee, notice how I slipped that in given the above event…. #sorrynotsorry) to regain the world pubcrawl record we won at some point in the past. I haven’t heard a lot of talk about the record this year so I suspect we locals are starting to find the event a bit passe. Who knows? We do have a short attention span and get bored kinda easily.

pubfest-header-logo-2015I didn’t even know what the theme was until I looked up the website (yellow Superheroes incidentally) and… the site’s got ‘Information coming soon…’ type text still there, so….

I’ve never been and have to admit it’s not really my thing; however I know you can get PubFest passports and have access to buses to take you from pub to pub and I suspect it’s great fun if you’re part of a group.

For more info check out the World’s Greatest PubFest website.

Sunday Riverside

It’s that time of the month. Yes really! Sunday Riverside is on again at (outside) the Brolga Theatre near the Mary River. Red Betty will be playing on the River Stage and a dinosaur will be dropping by. As they’re wont to do. #gatecrashingdinosaurs

Pics from FB page

Pics from FB page

I’m ashamed that I’m yet to get to a (first Sunday of the month) Riverside event, but hoping to make it this time. There are some chairs and tables around but you may want to BYO chairs and blankets etc. Food and drinks (including the alcoholic kind! 😉 ) are available for purchase, there are kids games and activities, and entry to the event is free.

The afternoon kicks off at 3pm and check out the Facebook event page for details.

Oh… and most importantly… Monday is a public holiday for most of us so we have a heap of time to recover.

Enjoy!

Making the most of what’s on offer

Last week I submitted my first ever article for publication and amazingly the Fraser Coast Chronicle printed it. Because I am *ahem* somewhat verbose, it was much longer than required and had to be culled. A friend suggested I put the entire thing on this blog, given that it’s got a local flavour, so here we go…

My biggest fear on returning to the Fraser Coast after a couple of decades was that that I’d find the region a cultural wasteland.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly the opera-going type, I dislike most stage shows and don’t hang out at music festivals every second weekend. But Brisbane, like most large cities, always had something on offer. So even if I was happier at home watching DVDs and recovering from my working week I knew I could go to trendy markets, a local festival or catch a comedy show.

Which is why I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve found on offer since returning to the Fraser Coast.

I’m not normally a ‘joiner’ but have been busier here than I was in Brisbane. In fact, in my first year back I was kept so busy I even suffered from event-going-fatigue.

IDA

Maryborough Regional Arts Council – foreign film night. May 2015

Many people I meet complain there’s nothing to do and yet when I ask them if they’re heading to Relish Festival, Paddle Out For Whales, Sunday Riverside or Flickerfest they screw up their collective noses.

“I can’t be bothered,” they might say.

Interestingly, it’s not the out-of-town shows or big names performing at the Brolga Theatre catching my attention; it’s the Council and community events I most appreciate.

While I’m more than happy to bag the Fraser Coast Regional Council when (I believe) it deserves it, I love that it’s making an effort to entertain its residents and foster a sense of community and culture. Purists and traditionalists may argue for a focus on roads, rates and rubbish but people won’t stay here if there’s nothing to do. We’re not all great at entertaining ourselves and for many—pubs, clubs and weekend sporting fixtures just don’t cut it.

The first time I attended Gatakers By Night I looked around wondering where this eclectic group of people usually hid. Even my mother who knows half of Maryborough saw a lot of different faces.

Gatakers by Night in March 2015. More popular than ever!

Gatakers by Night in March 2015. More popular than ever!

Although you’d have to drag me kicking and screaming to a museum, I also recently visited the dinosaur display in the Maryborough City Hall, hoping the Friday night pop-up bar attracted other likeminded Fraser Coasters keen for something different. (Spoiler alert: it didn’t!)

I’ve started attending the foreign film nights run by the Maryborough Arts Council and will be at upcoming events like the Mary Poppins and Whale Festivals with bells on. Or at least with a vague sense of enthusiasm.

Of course not all events are free, but many are and most offer something for everyone. I don’t always appreciate the music on offer at Gatakers by Night but Iove its festive feeling and take the opportunity to have a couple of wines and visit the art gallery each month.

And although (quite frankly) I hate crowds, it’s wonderful to experience the energetic atmosphere of Relish or the Seafood Festival and celebrate with other Fraser Coasters.

Most importantly however, I’m just turning up. I’m making the effort to support what’s on—conscious we may ‘lose it, if we don’t use it’.

Although I’m a well-seasoned whinger it’s not enough to sit back and complain if you can’t be bothered making the most of what’s there. And that’s something even I need to remind myself every so often.

Duncan Chapman: an accidental hero

This first appeared in my Debbish blog on 25 April 2015 
but I thought it apt to share it here as well.

One hundred years ago today, the first ANZACs landed on the beaches of Turkey to engage in a battle they would not win. Twenty-six year old Queenslander Lieutenant Duncan Chapman was the first ashore.

“To me was given the extreme honour of being actually the first man to step ashore on this peninsula, to lead a portion of the men up the hill in that now historic charge.

What a living hell it was too, and how I managed to go through it from 4 o’clock in the morning of Sunday, the 25th April, to Wednesday, the 28th, under fire the whole time, without being hit is a mystery to me.”

Part of a letter from Duncan to brother Charles.

I’m sure Duncan had no idea when he set foot on the soil at Gallipoli in the early hours of 25 April 1915 that a century later he’d be immortalised in bronze in the town of his birth.

However at dawn on Friday 24 April 2015 a statue commemorating his achievement was unveiled in Maryborough, Queensland.

Duncan Chapman statue

Source: Fraser Coast Chronicle

Duncan Chapman was my great great uncle. Born and raised in Maryborough, he was my father’s great uncle and my grandfather’s (maternal) uncle.

Duncan was living in Brisbane (in Albion) and working as a paymaster when he left to serve his country in the war to end all wars.

Maryborough peeps have worked long and hard over recent years to confirm Duncan’s achievement and raise funds for the $60,000 statue. I have to confess I’ve struggled a little with the occasionally OTT fanfare.

Although chosen to be in the covering group; it was pure chance his towboat was the first ashore and that he happened to be in the bow at the time. For this reason I’ve felt* a little uncomfortable with the hero-status afforded him and… I suspect he would be too.

Source: Anzacsightsound.org

Source: Anzacsightsound.org

Indeed, comments on the local newspaper’s website indicate others are a bit frustrated that Duncan has attracted so much attention, when MANY young men from Maryborough formed part of his 9th Battalion.

Naturally however, I’ve wondered about Duncan the man. Although he wasn’t married I wondered if he left behind a girlfriend. Or two.

I’ve read some of his letters and found myself thinking I’d like this man who lived 100 years ago. His letters are well-written. I can only assume he was relatively well educated and articulate. He’s obviously overly fond of punctuation and the occasional adverb… so I feel I can blame my genes for my own predisposition in that respect.

I attended the dawn service yesterday for the unveiling of Great Great Uncle Duncan’s statue. Extended family from interstate had travelled and formed part of the official party. Given my mixed feelings I was happy to stay in the background rather than meet his other great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.

I was relieved when the service itself however, while honouring Duncan, paid tribute to other Maryborough men who fought alongside him. Many of whom (like so many Aussies) died on Turkish soil.

Despite my natural cynicism I found myself tearing up when I learned that rocks and sand had been provided by the Turkish Government (from the beaches and cliffs of Gallipoli) which were used in the surrounds of the statue. In fact, the sand was fashioned into footprints and set into the concrete to reflect those who followed Duncan across the beach at (the now) Anzac Cove. *sob*

I realised—perhaps for the first time—that it wasn’t really about Duncan or a town desperate for some fame and fortune. The celebration was about what (and who) Duncan represented. It was the war which coined the term ‘digger’ and—although we didn’t walk away victorious, our fighting spirit became part of our national identity. Sure we’re larrikins who sometimes have little concern for authority, but we’re tenacious bastards.

Duncan was promoted to Captain the day after arriving at Gallipoli. Unlike so many of his fellow ANZACs Duncan survived the Dardanelles, serving in Gallipoli until the evacuation in December 2015.

He did not, however return home. Serving with the 45th Battalion and promoted to Major, Duncan died on the battlefields of Pozieres in August 2016, like so many of his countrymen.

** You may recall the clip I shared recently of this tragic episode in our military history—during which time we lost 23,000 soldiers in just seven weeks. Only to gain 10km of ground. If you haven’t watched that video I’d recommend you do**

In that previous post I talked about the futility of war. I realise today is not a time for such discussions and I have great respect for those who’ve fought and/or died for our country. I do believe it’s an opportunity (however) for some reflection.

The local TV news interviewed a former WWII soldier a couple of nights ago. He doesn’t attend ANZAC day ceremonies, he said. He believes the day should be spent educating young people. His lesson: “There’s no glory in war.”

Lest We Forget.

* I’ve also inherited my father’s EXTREME sense of ‘fairness’.

Foreign films & Flickerfest on the Fraser Coast

Foreign Films in the Federation Room

It’s only taken me three months but I finally accompanied my friend Ruth to see one of the foreign films on show at the Brolga Theatre this week.

The selection of movies, hosted by the Maryborough Regional Arts Council, have been shown on the second Wednesday of the month since February.

From Fraser Coast Scene. And I'm not sure why April and May are around the wrong way.

From Fraser Coast Scene. And I’m not sure why April and May are around the wrong way.

Because of my *ahem* discerning taste (read: laziness) I’d checked out each of the films on offer and planned to attend the final three. This month’s movie, The Lunchbox, was a lovely film from India featuring Mumbai’s very orderly lunchbox delivery system. That alone was easily worth the $12 admission cost. But in case you were wondering, it was also very quirky and moving.

Next on the agenda (on 13 May) is Ida, about a nun in 1960s Poland. It won the Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars and is apparently heavy going but amazing. And… I. Cannot. Wait.

And finally in late June, I’m off to see Force Majeure from Sweden about an avalanche and its impact on a family on a skiing holiday.

Tickets are $12 for non members or $10 for Maryborough Arts Council members and include wine and nibbles after the film. The movies start at 6.30pm and—a note for newcomers—are shown in the Federation room which you enter from the rear (river side) of the Brolga theatre.

 

Flickerfest at the brolga

Maryborough is one of only nine cities in Queensland to play host to the popular Flickerfest. The festival of short films began almost 25 years ago and is the only international  ‘Academy’ and BAFTA-recognised competitive film festival.

FLICKERFEST fraser coast

The 2015 Flickerfest, ‘License to Thrill’ kicked off in Sydney in January before touring the country. Films will be shown across two sessions at the Brolga theatre on 22 April 2015.

The first session, commences at 6.30pm and features the Best of Australian Shorts. After intermission you can get your giggle on with the Short Laughs Comedy – On Tour, starting at 8.45pm. (NB. Links in this paragraph link to information about the films on offer.)

Visit the Our Fraser Coast site for info or bookings.

Tickets for single sessions are: $12 or $10 for friends of the Brolga / members of Maryborough Arts Council; or $20 / $18 for both sessions.