Clermont Community Leaders Afternoon Tea Hosted by Isaac Regional Council
Mayor Baker; other distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen. I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands around the region, and express respect to Elders past and present.
As we drove into town this afternoon, I couldn't help but notice the piano up in the tree.
This was a first for me, and I salute those who devised the memorial. History is important, and Clermont has rather more of it than most towns.
As the first inland settlement in the tropics, Clermont is one of the most historic towns in Central Queensland, something we were wonderfully reminded of during our visit to the Clermont State High School earlier today in this 150th anniversary year.
Clermont is also very important to Queensland in an economic sense.
When one of my early predecessors, Governor Lamington, visited Clermont in 1899 he was greeted by the Clermont Municipal Council with the wish that he would, "become acquainted with two great factors of our natural wealth – the mining and pastoral industries".
The people of Clermont have been wonderful stewards, and it is still for mining and agriculture that Clermont is known.
Although the Gold Rush days are long gone, mining remains at the heart of the economy, and agriculture is still the second largest employer.
Together they make a very significant contribution to the Queensland economy, and have done so for over a century.
Over that time Clermont has had its share of tribulations.
Only a short time ago you commemorated the centenary of the 'one-in-500-year' flood that tragically took 65 lives in 1916.
That flood resulted from a cyclone crossing between Bowen and Mackay. This year you have had to endure the impact of another cyclone, Cyclone Debbie.
But every tribulation has its moments of whimsy.
What a magnificent sight it would have been to see the buildings and hotels being towed by steam tractor to higher ground when the town was relocated in 1917.
And how rare and extraordinary it was to have a red-tailed tropic bird come to visit this year, swept up in Cyclone Debbie and brought such a long way from its usual coral island home!
Such events remind us of the strength and fragility of our world, and the resilience of its people.
At times the people of Clermont have had to call on that resilience, and it is testament to your strength and tenacity that the town continues to thrive today.
You are to be heartily commended on your civic and business accomplishments.
Thank you for the opportunity to visit your wonderful town. I will take away with me an enduring memory of your hospitality.