Nanango’s 175th Anniversary Celebrations Official Opening of Pioneer Festival
Representing the Premier, Member for Maryborough, Mr Bruce Saunders MP; Member for Nanango, Mrs Deb Frecklington MP; South Burnett Regional Council, Mayor, Councillor Brett Otto, CEO, Mr Mark Pitt PSM and Councillors; Nanango Tourism and Development Association President, Mr Alan Still and Committee; Founders Award recipient Mrs Eileen Horne; volunteers; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.
I am delighted to be in Nanango for today’s Pioneer Festival and I begin by acknowledging that we are gathered today on the lands of the Wakka Wakka nation, the original owners who lived on and cared for this land for thousands of years. In doing so, I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people here today.
Nanango’s 175-year story as a European settlement is a great tribute to hard work, perseverance, and enterprise.
From Henry Stuart Russell, who came here in search of good sheep country, to the enterprising Jacob Goode and his wayside inn; from the prospectors seeking their fortune to the timber-getters and dairy farmers; from the workers who arrived with the railway to those who built Tarong Power Station – every phase of the Nanango story has been integral to the growth and development of the Burnett region.
The richness of that history is commemorated today, just as it was in 1950, when the six shires then in the South Burnett region combined for a week-long celebration of their shared centenary.
In Nanango that week, a public holiday was declared, a book was published, ANZAC Day was celebrated, the streets were festooned with flags and bunting, a huge decorative archway was erected over Drayton Street, and the Nanango Centenary Show was officially opened by one of my predecessors as Governor, Sir John Lavarack.
The historical pageant was watched by an estimated 10,000 people and even Queensland’s very first Vice-Regal couple, Sir George and Lady Bowen, were represented in the parade – with Mr Will Fresser wearing ginger side-levers, and Mrs Tuite wearing a poke bonnet and mittens!
Such was the interest generated in the centenary that the four hotels in town took in three times their normal number of guests, with people accommodated in hotel lounges and on balconies. No fewer than 500 beds were borrowed from the RAAF station at Amberley with 500 mattresses supplied by the Forestry Service.
Local families generously took in guests, too, with one family reportedly billeting an astonishing 16 visitors! What emerges from this story is that, despite the challenges, Centenary Week was a proud and highly successful celebration of heritage and community for Nanango.
Today’s Pioneer Festival echoes that pride and success, and it has been my genuine pleasure to visit the displays, speak to members of the community, and to present Mrs Horne with the Founders Award as a descendant of one of Nanango’s founders, Mr Benjamin Walters.
I thank the generous donors, volunteers and exhibitors who have made today possible. I also congratulate the Nanango Tourism and Development Association and everyone else involved in planning today’s events, and now, with the grand cavalcade of transport about to begin, I am delighted to declare the 175th anniversary Pioneer Festival open.