Jimbour House Sunset BBQ Dinner
Western Downs Regional Council Mayor, Councillor Paul McVeigh;
Jimbour House Custodian, Mr David Russell AM RFD KC; President of the Jimbour State School 150 Celebrations, Mr Neil McVeigh; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Jimbour, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here this evening.
Earlier this afternoon, Graeme and I joined many of you, along with the teachers, parents, and past and present pupils of Jimbour State School to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the school, right here on Jimbour station in the simple timber Chapel built by Thomas Bell in 1868.
It is wonderful to be able to continue the celebrations here tonight and how fortunate for this community that the Chapel has been so beautifully preserved.
I say ‘fortunate’ because, exactly a hundred years ago this year, this unique property was acquired by the Russell family, and it is thanks to their dedication and investment of funds, time and care, that the Chapel, the other remaining 19th century outbuildings, and Jimbour House itself have survived for 155 years.
In 1923 when Wilfred and Millicent Russell arrived, the house was in a sorry state. Its rooms were empty, many of the ceilings had fallen, the original furniture had gone, and Mother Nature had taken back the landscaped gardens.
But a century of effort by successive generations of the Russell family has returned the house and garden to its former magnificence and ensured its preservation.
History has also contributed to Jimbour’s good fortune.
Until 1992, there was no heritage protection under Queensland law, but in that year, the Queensland Heritage Act came into force and Jimbour House, its gardens and its outbuildings (including the Chapel) were entered on the State heritage register in that same year.
It was a great moment for everyone with a connection to Jimbour, but the Act alone is not enough to ensure the preservation of this marvellous stone building with its 24 rooms, four chimney stacks, and roof of Welsh slate; for that, Jimbour House and its gardens have needed passionate and committed advocates. Fortunately, since 1923, it has had just that in the Russell family.
For the past century, the family has also established and maintained a tradition of sharing the heritage of Jimbour with the community. As the current Custodian, David Russell continues this tradition, and it is thanks to his warm hospitality that we are all able to enjoy tonight’s celebration of 150 years of education on this very site.
On behalf of everyone here tonight, I thank David for hosting this delightful evening and once again extend my best wishes to Jimbour State School on their sesquicentenary.