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THE OFFICIAL SUPPLEMENT TO OUR SPECIAL SENIORS 2017. A Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum initiative in partnership with The Gladstone Observer and Ergon Energy.

Contents NOEL & BEV BOWLEY ..................................4 RON STREETER ............................................... 5 GRAHAM BRUCE ............................................ 6 PAT BRUCE ......................................................... 7 BARRY GRIFFITHS .......................................... 8 RON & DOLLY ROBSON .............................. 9 GRAHAM FENTON ......................................... 10 PAULINE NEWMAN ........................................ 11 ROBERT BEALE ................................................ 12 BERYL BEALE .................................................... 13 MERLE SPANN .................................................. 14 NELL MCEACHRAN ........................................ 15 JEAN MATTSON ............................................... 16 HERITAGE PHOTOGRAPHS......................... 17-19 ART GALLERY & MUSEUM COORDINATOR DIANNA PADDICK OBSERVER COORDINATOR LIBBY CATTERMOLE PHOTOGRAPHY MIKE RICHARDS PRINTED BY NEWS CORP YANDINA, 54 PIONEER RD, YANDINA QLD 4561


Tino Pfidze worked as assistant photographer to produce these images. PHOTO: MIKE RICHARDS Page 2

Celebrating the year of the older person THE annual Our Priceless Past community project is one of the most anticipated events on the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum’s calendar, welcoming a fantastic opportunity to document and celebrate the unique character of the Gladstone Region. Initiated in 1999, in conjunction with the Year of the Older Person, Our Priceless Past has now reached its 19th year providing a glimpse into the lives of those residents who have helped shaped the place in which we live. Not only that but, importantly, adding a vital chapter to the social history collection at the Gallery & Museum. As you read this year’s collection of stories, you’ll discover the vibrancy of a very busy generation of locals who are linchpins in our community. Actively participating, these special seniors are maintaining hectic lifestyles, providing support for their families and volunteering for community groups, as well as vitally engaging in many local crafts and sporting activities. Partnering this year, Tannum Sands State High School selected talented students from Year 9 to take a walk in investigative shoes, to interview the seniors. Following a journalism workshop with The Observer’s editor, Jon Ortlieb, the students interviewed confidently, exchanging anecdotes amongst a flurry of recording and note taking. The students and seniors continued their time together, sitting for portraits with The Observer’s chief photographer, Mike Richards assisted by student Tino Pfidze, for the wonderful images you enjoy here. Consolidating their notes, the students worked with their teachers, Kirsten Kane and Sonya Comrie. They also participated in a writing

masterclass with local history researcher and published author Paulette Flint, adding a vital dimension to students’ experience and their writing skills. This special lift-out is your catalogue to the 2017 Our Priceless Past exhibition, an annual highly sought-after collectors’ item, with an eager audience adding to their growing collection. The ongoing project partnership of Ergon Energy, The Gladstone Observer and the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum, is delighted again to present to you the latest Our Priceless Past instalment. Officially launched by Cr Matt Burnett, mayor Gladstone Region on Thursday August 24, the Our Priceless Past exhibition of stories, memorabilia and photographs will continue on display at the Gallery & Museum until Saturday September 23.

Jo Duke, Curator, Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum







ERGON Energy places a high value on partnerships with the communities in which we operate and our staff members live and work. Few partnerships have been as successful or enduring as our relationship with The Observer and Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum to produce Our Priceless Past annually for 19 years. We know how keenly the community looks forward to each new instalment and how much joy it brings to the students and seniors involved in the project. This is something unique to Gladstone. Other locations have tried to emulate the format, but it has not captured the hearts and minds of the community in the way it has been embraced in Gladstone. So this 19th instalment of Our Priceless Past is something to be celebrated and we’re delighted our involvement has helped to make it possible. We acknowledge the contribution of The Observer and Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum that has again made this year’s project a reality in print here and in the exhibition at the gallery. We especially thank the participating students and staff of Tannum Sands High School and the profiled seniors for their involvement. We’re sure the bonds that have been formed and the understanding fostered between generations is the ultimate reward for all participants. Fortunately, through this supplement and the exhibition, all Gladstone residents can share a sense of the special relationships developed between our seniors and students. Enjoy Our Priceless Past 2017.

THIS year, Tannum Sands State High School had the pleasure of hosting the 2017 selected seniors for the Our Priceless Past project. What a joyful experience this was for both the students and staff involved. For many of our students, this was their first experience at journalism, and these skills have since been put to good use as our Year 9’s create their own digital “life stories” of somebody significant in their own lives this term. The opportunity to implement part of our curriculum in a “real life” setting is rare, and we are certainly reaping the benefits in the classroom, which has been one of the most significant academic outcomes. However, the real advantage of being involved in the project was the chance for the students to speak to the seniors themselves, and witnessing their wonderful realisations that although life was very different in the Gladstone region when the seniors were growing up, that some things never change! We witnessed lots of laughs and “lightbulb moments” as the groups shared experiences about schooling, sport and recreation activities, and the realisation for the students that they had more in common than they thought with the older generation was apparent. Thank you to Ergon Energy, The Gladstone Observer, Tannum Sands State High School P&C Association and may more ... for inviting us to be part of preserving our Priceless Past.

WHAT an inspiring set of Gladstone Region stories are shared here, during the 2017 Our Priceless Past project. Each year, two very different local generations come together to compare life experiences of this dynamic region. Once again, we are all able to experience the stories of our past as told through the written words of our future. Unfolding the publication, you’ll discover the nineteenth year of this valuable project and gain greater insight into the enduring, resilient nature of the vibrant place in which we live. Attending Tannum Sands State High School, for interviews and morning tea provided by the School’s Parents and Citizens Association, the Special Seniors spent time exchanging narratives with selected Year 9 students. To arrive at the this exceptional collection of local stories, is a great credit to the students who were guided by local history researcher Paulette Flint, as well as their classroom teachers Kirsten Kane and Sonya Comrie. With an ongoing commitment to Our Priceless Past, Gladstone Regional Council will again look to the community in 2018 for Special Senior nominations, continuing to seek out and document the unique stories of the region. Additionally, thanks go out to the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery and Museum team of staff and volunteers, for coordinating the project and preparing the exhibition of memorabilia. It is with great pleasure I invite you to join in with us, along with project partners Ergon Energy and The Gladstone Observer, in celebrating Our Priceless Past 2017. Congratulations to this year’s Special Seniors and Tannum Sands State High School’s participating students. Great work everyone!

Principal, Tannum Sands High School

Ergon Energy, Customer Delivery Manager

Our Priceless Past

Photographs of Our Priceless Past seniors and their oral histories, as recorded by Year 9 students at Tannum Sands State High School Our Priceless Past partners include the Gladstone Observer, Ergon Energy and the Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum

Oral histories and memorabilia exhibition Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum

Exhibition dates: Thursday 24 August to Saturday 23 September 2017 Gladstone Regional Art Gallery & Museum Cnr Goondoon and Bramston Streets, Gladstone Admission is FREE Open 10am – 5pm, Monday to Saturday Public holidays as advertised Ph: 4976 6766 E: W: A community cultural initiative of the Gladstone Regional Council

A community cultural initiative of the Gladstone Regional Council Tannum Sands State High School’s Year 9 students Zoe Hurst and Kailyn Smith with Mr Noel and Mrs Bev Bowley, during oral history interviews at the school.


An exhibition of treasured memorabilia, belonging to 2017’s Our Priceless Past seniors, celebrating their life experiences in the Gladstone Region

Mayor Gladstone Region

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Zoe Hurst, Bev and Noel Bowley and Kailyn Smith.


Mr Noel and Mrs Bev Bowley By Zoe Hurst and Kailyn Smith Life has changed dramatically in the last few decades. The technological advancements and scenery adaption is impossible to keep up with. Over the past 50 years, Noel and Bev Bowley have enjoyed an eventful life together. From volunteering for countless organisations to travelling around the globe, their lives have been nothing short of an adventure. Noel was born In Brisbane in 1940, to George and Millicent Bowley. Bev was welcomed into the world in 1946 to parents Albert and Joan Peterson. Noel is the eldest of four siblings: Graham, Trevor, Glenn and Claire. His trips to school consisted of tram rides, which show major differences to today’s popular commutes. He was heavily involved in scouts, and reached the highest level of achievement, Queen Scout. Noel has experienced a number of different occupations. Some of these Page 4

included construction of a rail bridge over the Calliope River, single-handedly constructing a sailing boat and worked at the Port Authority for a staggering 37 years. Noel also trained in the National Service for three months. One of his many accomplishments was working on the survey to locate Hanson Road. Growing up, Bev enjoyed the company of her cat. This was a result of her sister Dell being older than her. Her fondest memories revolve around the house her father built following World War II. It is located at Mermaid Beach on the Gold Coast. The family spent most holidays at the house before eventually selling it. Even now, it still stands. As a child, Bev enjoyed netball and embroidery, leading to her becoming a founding member of the Embroidery Guild in Gladstone. Her skills include ten pin bowling and results were published in the newspaper each week. Bev went on to work at Evans Deakin in the Computer Department, which

coincidentally is where she first met Noel. "We met over a photocopier," Noel said and from that moment onwards, it was destiny. After being transferred to work as a civil engineer in Gladstone, Noel left Brisbane behind, along with his beloved in 1965. Months later, they were engaged to be married in 1967. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Just two years after tying the knot, their first child Leanne was welcomed. Their son Ian came in 1971. After attending Rockhampton University, Leanne now works as an accountant in Brisbane with three children of her own. Ian lives in Gladstone and has completed an apprenticeship at QAL, as well as obtaining an associate diploma in electrical engineering. In their 50 years of marriage, Bev and Noel have seen the wonders of the world. As part of the Royal Geographic

Society of Queensland and the National Seniors Australia, the pair has travelled to locations such as Great Britain, Europe, Canada, USA, Africa and Sri Lanka. They completed their first caravan trip around Australia, in 1994. They particularly enjoyed Cape Hillsborough. After retiring in 2003, Noel joined the Maritime History Society, working as secretary and Bev now volunteers at the Anglican This ‘N’ That Shop in Gladstone. Noel and Bev’s plans for the future consist of some more travelling, as well as being actively involved in their grandchildren’s lives. They truly do prove that age is just a number.

We met over a photocopier. — Noel Bowley

Mr Ron Streeter By Werner Momberg and Joshua Sheridan

Joshua Sheridan, Mr Ron Streeter and Werner Momberg.

Working on his family tree, with more than 3000 names, Ron found the first of his family to come to Australia was his great grandfather, William Streeter, who emigrated from England during the Australian Gold Rush. He literally struck gold, a 97 ounce nugget at the Cania Diggings. Ron also has a passion for music. He plays keyboard, favouring rock and roll and country music. He also loves old time dancing. Ron plans to keep going to heritage machinery shows, as well as to caravan and travel right around Australia. In his opinion, he is a lucky man and believes he could not have asked for a better life.


You have to know everything about your trade, or you get left behind.” — Ron Streeter

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Coming from a small locality with three houses and three dairy farms, Ron Streeter had a dream to own his own motor business. Born in Bundaberg on August 8, 1946, Ron grew up in Makowata, a small locality 14 miles south of Miriam Vale. He was always interested in fixing any broken thing he found. Ron’s mum Joyce was the station mistress at Makowata Railway Station and his dad Mannie, the ganger of No17 gang. Ron had one brother Ian and four sisters Cheryl, Delys, Diane and Wendy. He and Ian were inseparable, always sticking close in the bush, fishing, swimming and riding bikes with their mates. Working at a local dairy farm milking cows in Makowata, for his first job, Ron was paid £3 a week, which is $6 today. At 15, he started an apprenticeship with the Miriam Vale motor mechanic, with Taylor and Madsen, staying for another five years, until moving to Bundaberg, then Sydney, Broke, Forbes and Gladstone. After being in the motor trade for most of his working life, over 55 years, Ron has recently retired from his own business, Future Ron Streeter Motors. He said he was still learning more about vehicles to this day and was also a partner in the Future Auto Services franchise. “You have to know everything about your trade, or you get left behind.” Training about 26 apprentices during his career, Ron is very passionate and is very proud that he can pass on his knowledge to a younger generation. “Train, train and constantly train,” he said. “The reason for that is, someone gave me that opportunity, and it’s taken me through my life. It’s something that I’ve been able to give back to our younger generation.” Ron is married with children, sons David and Neil, daughters Binney, Candi, Kellee, Keri and Tracey. Neil manages Future Ron Streeter Motors, in Gladstone. One of Ron’s main interests is collecting vintage motors and anything related to motor sports and vehicles. This passion started in 2002, and, he has since collected more than 40 vintage motors, seven vintage tractors and four trucks. Some of them are working and some are not. The oldest engine Ron has collected comes from 1927. It is more than 90 years old and it still works!

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Niah Brook and Mr Graham Bruce.


Mr Graham Bruce By Niah Brook A PERFECT example of a true local, Graham Bruce has lived in the Gladstone Region his entire life. Born in Gladstone, 23 January 1941, to parents Jack and Kathy Bruce, he has two sisters, Patricia and Margaret. Living at Taragoola, on the Woodlands dairy farm, Graham first studied by correspondence, before attending Grade One at Riverston, a small one teacher school with only 15 students in all grades. He would ride ten kilometres to school by horse, leaving it in the paddock. At the end of the school day, all the horses would move from the paddock up to the school, waiting for their owner to go home. On non-school days Graham’s chores included getting the cows, morning and afternoon, to the dairy for milking. Riverston’s school is now under Awoonga Dam. When Graham’s parents moved to

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Gladstone, he attended school at the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School. Punishments were very harsh at this school. When students misbehaved, they would receive a whipping from the dreaded cane. “We haven’t since had a destructive cyclone like the one in 1949, when my school got blown down,” Graham said. “We had to go to school in the showgrounds for two years, until it was rebuilt”. “The most important person in my life, outside of my family, was Mr M.A. Busteed. He gave me the Carpentry and Joinery five-year apprenticeship.” Graham’s trade is significant to him as it is what his life was revolved around. He even owned the building business Graham Bruce Builders. In the Gladstone area, he built approximately 500 houses, the Tannum Sands Caravan Park, as well as two Catholic Churches, one at Tannum Sands and

one at Agnes Water. He is very proud his trade earned him a Master Builders House of the Year, in 1999. Graham and Pat were married in 1968. It was a memorable wedding with Graham fainting at the altar and Mr Whippy playing his song outside the church. On their honeymoon, they were sitting in a Brampton Island bar when a hand came onto Graham’s shoulder. A booming voice said: “Are you old enough to be drinking in here?” It was “Big Andy” the Gladstone policeman, who had said this many times to them, when they were drinking in local pubs. Graham remembered when he used to capture wild brumbies in Clinton, breaking them in so they were ready to be ridden and he would sell them. One of Graham’s fondest memories of their young children, Michael and Anthony, is when they would swim into the Gladstone Golf Club course pond and collect golf balls. They would then

sell them back to the golfers. “My favourite thing about Pat is her ability to think things through logically to come to her conclusion,” Graham said. “It also helps that she is an excellent cook.” His success in life was made with Graham’s hard work and dedication. In his retirement, he joined the Gladstone Men’s Shed, an organisation that raises awareness for men’s mental health and makes things for charity.

My favourite thing about Pat is her ability to think things through logically to come to her conclusion, it also helps that she is an excellent cook.” — Graham Bruce

Mrs Pat Bruce By Lialize du Plessis WHEN the majority of us see the influential adults in our town, we smile and wander on but to Pat Bruce, she sees a past student. Pat was born in Brisbane, March 3, 1944, to parents May and George Irving. She was the youngest of eight children with her oldest sibling 22 years older than her and the next sibling above her six years older. Growing up Pat attended All Hallows Catholic School in Brisbane. During Grade 11 and 12, Pat also attended night school three nights a week, to achieve a senior result in commercial studies that her school had taken from their syllabus that year. She recalls her home life being similar to that of an only child because all of her seven siblings were adults by the time she was 12. Pat knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher, so after school she attended Teachers Training College to become a High School commercial teacher. Her teaching career led her to be transferred to Gladstone. Even today, Pat sees adults that she’d previously taught, including previous Mayors, Gail Sellers and Peter Corones. A workmate of hers set her up on a blind date with Graham Bruce at Easter time at the Port Curtis Sailing Club. “We can’t tell you how the date went but we fell in love,” said Pat. They were married at the St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Kangaroo Point, December 28, 1968. There were complications during the wedding including the groom fainting at the altar and an ice cream van which blasted its tune as it parked outside. They tied the knot and are very happy together. Pat and her husband Graham had two children, Michael and Anthony, who they love very much. At different times in her life, Pat lived near where the Gladstone cemetery and golf course is today. “But back then, we lived far out in the bush”. It has certainly changed today, as both of these areas are a buzzing part of Gladstone City. After being a teacher for about eight years, Pat started up a building company with her husband. She did all the bookkeeping and financial work of the business. This type of work was a great option for Pat, as she had developed arthritis and now preferred to work from home. Nowadays, Pat still lives in Gladstone with her

Mrs Pat Bruce and Lialize du Plessis.

lovely husband Graham. They have two children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who she loves very much. Pat now spends her time happily in retirement. “In retirement, you get to enjoy more things because life isn’t rushed”. Pat enjoys volunteering because it makes her happy that she has aided someone and believes that everyone owes it to their community. One day a week she volunteers at the Gladstone Literacy Centre. She loves seeing kids after six months go from being a shy basic reader to being able to deliver a speech to an audience. Pat also volunteers at the Mater Hospital. Every year she and her husband go on a caravan trip to a location in Australia. They really enjoy this annual experience.


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In retirement, you get to enjoy more things because life isn’t rushed”.

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Mr Barry Griffiths and Paige Gibbins.


Mr Barry Griffiths By Paige Gibbins From being put in a children’s home from age seven to living in a flat with his 14-year-old sister at the age of 12, Barry Griffiths grew up here, there and everywhere. Born July 13, 1940 to mother Lorna Griffiths and father, the late John Griffiths, Barry was the youngest of seven kids and lived in Melbourne, Victoria. He had one brother, John and five sisters, Leonie, Joan, Valerie, Judith and Jennifer. Born not knowing his father, all Barry knew was his name was John and he was tragically killed, just before Barry’s birth. Living with his family until age seven, Barry was placed in a children’s home at Stawell, in country Victoria, for five years as his mother struggled to take care of all seven children on her own. His sisters were also put into different children’s homes in different parts of Melbourne. Unable to talk, Barry had a difficult

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time growing up. His favourite memory was the most enjoyable time spent every Christmas when they had a “home picnic” at the Grampians National Park. When aged 12, his sister Judith (aged 14), moved to Queensland taking Barry with her. They lived in a flat by themselves on Goondoon Street, Gladstone. Barry attended Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School but didn’t attend high school. After Judith left at 21, he had to provide for himself. Gladstone Meatworks was Barry’s first workplace in 1956, where he worked until it closed in 1963. He claims “it was his favourite job” working in the hides. Starting early in the morning he would finish mid-afternoon, taking the bus to work and home. Barry stated, “The blood in the slaughterhouse was slippery and hard to work on”. He

worked with cattle and sheep mostly, saying there were no pigs in the slaughter, at the time. From December 1965 until 1969, Barry worked in the Port Curtis Dairy Butter Factory. He then worked for Queensland Rail for 31 years, earning a Golden Pass to take the train anywhere in Queensland for free. Monto’s Valma (Val) Myles came to meet Barry in Gladstone. They wrote each other letters, before dating for six months and finally getting married, in the Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, January 19, 1980. They’ve been married for 37 years and are very happy. They have lived in their Barney Point home for their whole marriage and “wouldn’t have it any other way”. Val and Barry didn’t have any children unfortunately, although they would have liked them. Playing sports wasn’t part of his childhood, but as Barry got older he

developed a talent for darts. Barry played locally and for the Railway Interstate Darts Championship. He was picked for the Queensland team against New South Wales. Sadly, they lost the first game, but in the second his team pulled through with a victory. Barry played darts for over 20 years and still loves the sport. Barry has enjoyed life’s ups and downs and wishes to continue living in his house in Barney Point with wife Val for many more years.

Barry has enjoyed life’s ups and downs and wishes to continue living in his house in Barney Point with wife Val for many more years.

Mr Ron & Mrs Dolly Robson By Georgia Saatci and Siobhan Gosley “She looks like a doll, we’ll call her Dolly”, said her father when she was born. Ever since then, Edith has been known as ‘Dolly’. Born in Rockhampton on April 5, 1931 to parents William and Edith Barker, Dolly grew up on a property before moving to Rockhampton, where she lived for 17 years. With siblings Godfrey, Cecil, Norman, Myrtle, Ray, Jan and Dorothy, Dolly is the second youngest of eight children. Dolly remembers studying Year 7 by correspondence while living and helping two of her brothers at Rannes, Dawson Valley, on the Auburn Vale dairy and produce farm. They supplied milk and vegetables to the defence road workers. School lessons were delivered by mail, when the cream cans were collected. Students had no verbal contact with their teachers. Their lessons were marked and returned with comments. Her favourite subject in high school was english. Graduating Teachers Training College in 1948, Dolly was transferred to Gladstone South State School the following year. Moving to Gladstone she pursued her teaching career, which she continued for 40 years. Dolly loved teaching, with Year 7 her favourite grade to teach. She started at Gladstone South and taught at many other schools in the Gladstone Region, including Gladstone Central State School, Clinton State School and Gladstone West State School, as well as Rosella Park School. Dolly enjoyed sewing as a hobby and volunteered to help home craft teachers. She loved playing sport, as much as she loved teaching. Enjoying tennis and running, Dolly played netball as a goal shooter. She still watches netball on television. Dolly met Ron during a sporting excursion to Mt Morgan, where they’d travelled by train. Dolly represented Gladstone in netball and Ron represented Gladstone in rugby league. They were married at St Paul’s Cathedral in Rockhampton, in December 1953.

Georgia Saatci, Mrs Dolly Robson and Siobhan Gosley. Our Priceless Past 2017.

They have two children, Lynelle and Alan. Dolly and Ron have followed rugby league, as Ron played when he was younger, and they both really enjoyed sport. On some occasions, they spent time away from each other due to their busy careers, but this didn’t affect their relationship in any way. Ronald was born on August 21, 1927 to parents George and Eileen, with five siblings George, Eileen, Elaine, Brian and Des. He lived in Gladstone his whole life, attending Gladstone Central School and playing rugby league and cricket. He and his friend trialled for the Central Queensland cricket team but never made it. This didn’t matter much since they saw the fun in it and didn’t care about winning. Ron had a very successful career starting at the Gladstone Meatworks when he was only 13 years of age. Later, he moved to working on tug boats with Howard Smith Company, for 20 years. This was an enjoyable job for him as he loved fishing and crabbing.


“Ron always had heaps of stories to tell about his life during the meatworks off season, as he always picked up casual work, such as timber cutting, road works and fruit picking,” Dolly said. Describing Ron as a very relaxed and easy-going man, she said “He didn’t pick and choose. He always accepted what he had to do.” On retirement, they moved to their house at Farmers Point, Facing Island, before Ron’s health made it necessary to return to town. Sadly, Ron passed away recently. He will be remembered for the happy and successful life he led with Dolly, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Dolly met Ron during a sporting excursion to Mt Larcom…

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Lilly Vacher, Mr Graham Fenton and Sophia de Koning.


Mr Graham Fenton By Lilly Vacher and Sophia de Koning Born in Gladstone, November 15, 1940, to Mark and Doris, Graham has three sisters: Janice, Anne and Jill, and has lived in Gladstone his whole life. Graham’s grandfather, Robert Richard Tudman, was the town’s mayor 1920-21. The family had a house in Tannum Sands, back when there were no roads or a town there, just a beach. Graham believed it was good living in Gladstone, the population was only about 6000 then and it was a meat-working town. He experienced great change in Gladstone, especially to the Gladstone Harbour. Leaving school in 1956, Graham was called to national service in 1959 aged 18. He went to Brisbane for three months of compulsory military training, where he made many friends. After training, Graham returned home, becoming a member of the Citizen Military Forces, which was

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compulsory for five years. This was around the time the Vietnam War started and thankfully, Graham was not called up to fight, but he was not afraid to do so. Graham loves sailing and became a member of the Port Curtis Sailing Club. He’s always loved the salt water and got his first boat at age 16, owning many more throughout his life. Graham participated in the Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Race and the Sailing Queensland Championship, building one boat in 1961. “I wake up in the morning, I look over the harbour and that is the best thing; looking over the water.” With his passion for sailing, Graham met the love of his life, Anne McGhie at the Sailing Club. The couple then married on February 6, 1965, at the Presbyterian Church in Gladstone. They have four children: Toni, Lynda, Tricia and Mark, who were educated in Gladstone and are now all happily married. Graham and Anne are also very blessed with 10 grandchildren.

In 1966, Graham gave up sailing and focused on other activities such as golf and volunteering for the Apex Club of Gladstone where he served as a member, president and district governor. Graham joined the family business Fenton Motors Pty Ltd in 1971, at 136 Goondoon Street. The family sold the business to Queensland company Austral Motors Holding Ltd and Graham continued to manage the dealership for them until 1983. Graham accepted a position to represent the Queensland Government on the Gladstone Harbour Board, where he served as a member, deputy chairman and chairman over eight years. Major developments were achieved in that time: the harbour was dredged and the Clinton Coal Facility, now RG Tanna Coal Terminal, was being constructed. Graham travelled the world promoting Gladstone, going to places like Japan,

Turkey and United Kingdom. As a member of the Rotary Club of Gladstone Sunrise, a big part of Graham’s life is service to community. The Rotary International purpose is to bring business and professional leaders together, to provide humanitarian services. Aged 77 this year, Graham lives an adventurous and happy life with his wife, Anne. They will continue to travel, play golf and share their love for many healthy and happy years to come.

I wake up in the morning. I look over the harbor and that is the best thing, looking over the water. — Graham Fenton

Mrs Pauline Newman By Natania D’Sa and Bridie Whelan She had just finished her shift at the hospital, still in her nurse’s uniform. It had been a typical day, like any other, but this event was about to change that. “Driving home one night, we saw this ambulance on the side of the road with the lights flashing,” Pauline said. Suspicious, Pauline stopped her car and opened the back of the ambulance, revealing a nervous young ambulance driver about to deliver a woman’s baby. “His eyes lit up when he saw me in my nurse’s uniform, and he quickly got out of there,” Pauline reminisced. Within what seemed like moments to her, Pauline had successfully utilised her midwifery training for the first time. “I can vividly remember ending up at the hospital with the baby in my arms”, Pauline shared with a smile. This was only one of the pivotal moments experienced by an extremely talented nurse, Pauline Newman. Pauline was born December 2, 1939, in Fremantle, WA, at the time of the Second World War. She lived with her parents Con and Rob Schnaars, and her three sisters, Joan, Beth and Barbara, in a Christian home, heavily involved in the local Baptist church. Although they lived a happy life, the ever-looming threat of the war did have an impact on her family. Pauline’s father took an occupation as a signals officer in far northern Queensland, and luckily was not harmed during his service. Her mother raised their four young girls by herself, giving up her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse to look after the children. This inspired Pauline to pursue this career herself. After graduating from Princess May High School in Fremantle, WA, Pauline trained in general nursing at Royal Perth Hospital for three years, and this was the beginning of her incredible nursing career. Courses were intense and predominantly practical. She described it as similar to military training. Pauline explains that the hospitals where she worked many years ago were much more primitive; nursing was undoubtedly different to nowadays. For example, medical equipment such as syringes were made of metal and constantly re-used after attempted sterilisation. Her profession took her all over Australia and beyond, from the farthest corners of WA to Papua New Guinea. She was involved in many diverse medical fields, after completing multiple years of training. While


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she was attending midwifery training in Melbourne, Pauline met her husband-to-be, Ken, an accountant. After Pauline finished her final course, the couple were married at Attadale Baptist Church, Western Australia on February 2, 1967. Moving to Gladstone when Ken took up an accountant job at Queensland Alumina Limited, they started their family, and have two children, Carole and Robert. Pauline concluded her career working at the Gladstone Hospital and Ken continued at QAL, retiring in 1995 as shipping manager. After 35 years as a nurse travelling around the globe, Pauline has retired and now looks back on her eventful


life. Wholeheartedly involved in volunteer work around the community such as the Gladstone Eisteddfod Association and the Parkinson’s Support Group, she continues to make a monumental difference in her community.

I can vividly remember ending up at the hospital with the baby in my arms. — Pauline Newman

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Beryl and Bob Beale. Our Priceless Past 2017.


Mr Robert Beale By Micah Smart With memories of World War II, an interesting Marine Engineer career taking him across the Pacific and hobbies including cattle breeding as well as helping the community, one thing is for sure you can’t call Robert (Bob) Beale’s life uneventful. Born 10 May 1939, to Tom and Em Beale, at Matron Cairncross' Private Hospital Gladstone, where Lincraft is now located, Bob has both English and Scottish ancestry. His family had a long history at the meat works, "For sixty-eight years up to 1963 there was a Beale employed at the 'works'" he said, "They used to slaughter up to one thousand head per day." Attending Gladstone State School from five years old, Bob then attended Salisbury State High School, Brisbane, in 1954. As a child some of his favourite activities included spending time in the bush, gathering Kookaburra Shells, fishing and playing

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hockey, swimming, tennis and cricket. When asked about changes in technology, Bob reminisced when water supply was tank-only, before being connected to a central water system. He also remembered having a wood stove, a kerosene refrigerator and an ice-man delivering for the ice chest. In high school, Bob was an Air Force Cadet but he never formally served in the military. During World War II, American soldiers often visited Gladstone and he remembers the rationing. The most memorable event in his childhood was when the war ended and an American Flying Fortress flew over the school ground. Two years into high school, after the Junior Public Examination, Bob commenced a Fitter and Turner apprenticeship. This would eventually get him a career as a marine engineer. To become a marine engineer he had to go through many stages of training

lasting several years. As a marine engineer he worked in many places all over the world, including New Zealand, South Korea and Japan, as well as others. "Swings" on the job were six weeks on and six weeks off. He met his wife Beryl in 1958, during a Police Boys Club dance at Brisbane's Lang Park. The couple were married 6 January 1962, at St James Anglican Church, Toowoomba. In 1977, they bought a property and with their four children moved to Rodds Bay. Now, their children’s professions are Builder, Master Mariner, Construction Manager and Paralegal Secretary. They lived on the property until 1993. Bob enjoyed breeding Brahman cattle to sell and eat. He also did mechanical work repairing gear. One of Bob’s favourite activities is giving back to the community. Over his lifetime he has been a member of many groups like the Tannum Sands Progress Association, The Lions Club

of Gladstone Port Curtis and the Boyne Tannum Men's Shed. In 2013, Bob retired from being a marine surveyor. He and Beryl are currently enjoying a quiet life in Benaraby. They have twelve grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Bob retains a keen interest in cattle breeds and mechanics, as well as researching the history of the Gladstone town.

Bob has a keen interest in cattle breeds and mechanics, as well as researching the history of Gladstone town.

Mrs Beryl Beale By Mackenzie Grant Born in Toowoomba, August 19, 1939 to parents Fay and Stan Cuckson, Beryl Beale grew up on the family’s dairy farm at Cranley, near Toowoomba, surrounded by a loving family. The eldest of three, with siblings Gail and John, Beryl was close with all of her family and often spent holidays with her cousins jumping from house to house. She attended Toowoomba’s Rockville State Primary School, then Toowoomba State High School before moving to Brisbane to attend Gregory Terrace Home Science Teachers College. After graduating, Beryl taught Home Science at Toowoomba North State School, Crows Nest High School and Macarthur Girls High School, Parramatta, Sydney. Later, she worked supply teaching at Gladstone State High School and Chanel College. Beryl met her husband Rob, nearly 60 years ago and they celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on January 6, this year. Beryl made her own wedding dress and all the bridesmaids’ dresses, as well as the bouquets, buttonholes and horseshoe place cards for the day. Married at St James Anglican Church in Toowoomba, they honeymooned in Sydney and two weeks later, they were both back at work, Rob at sea and Beryl teaching in Sydney. With their four children, Steven, Royce, Julie and Kyle, Rob and Beryl now have 12 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Beryl said, “It was good to have such a large family as family gatherings were always an entertaining time.” During Christmas 1969, Beryl and Rob moved to Tannum Sands, when there were only 12 residential families. “Once the bridge was built more people started coming to live in the area as it is very pretty,” she said. “It was very quiet, but when everyone came to live there, it was such a change, from the quiet to the noisy. That’s why we moved to live on our farm at Rodds Bay.” They also owned the Benaraby General Store and started working at the shop at 55 years of age. She says, “It was difficult going to work at 55.” They like travelling and have been to England and Austria, as well as visited some friends in America. They have also travelled around Australia by caravan and enjoyed these trips immensely.

Beryl and Bob Beale with Micah Smart and Mackenzie Grant.

“We have had a lovely retirement, travelling,” Beryl said. In 1974, Beryl’s mother passed away, her father and grandmothers having passed away in earlier years. Beryl said, “It hasn’t affected my life and decisions that I have made, as I can deal with these things because of my faith in God and I know it’s a part of life.” In her retirement, Beryl has found that she loves fashion, art, poetry, gardening and felting. She spends her time nowadays playing with fabrics, fibres and making wearable art. Beryl is looking forward to the Southern Hemisphere Felt-Makers

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Art brightens everyone’s day. — Beryl Beale

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Samarah Belton, Mrs Merle Spann and Lydia Nisbet.


Mrs Merle Spann By Lydia Nisbet and Samarah Belton Born on September 21, 1928, to Irene and Arthur Staples, in Maryborough, Merle was six weeks old when brought back to Mt Larcom, where she and her siblings, brother Alan and sisters Lorna and Joan, grew up and spent their schooling years. When her father and brother Alan left to serve during the Second World War, Merle was 13 and worked the farm jobs at 4.30 each morning, before school. Looking after the cattle, she made sure they had rotational grazing. “There were no vets back then so we had to learn our own way to look after the animals,” Merle said. A recipe she and her sister used for cows that ate too fast and began to bloat, was to “mix Epsom salts, powdered ginger, sugar, baking soda and warm water” she said. Tying the cows’ horns back to a solid timber post, so their heads tilted backwards, the sisters would stick the mixture to the inside the cow’s mouth, Page 14

from a long necked beer bottle. When Merle was 15, it was compulsory to work during the war and she began working at the Maryborough Library, setting out the papers every morning. She was soon working at Woollies (Woolworths), selling and working her way through the different sections, ending up in the men’s section, where she learnt about fishing gear, matches, string, shoe polish and laces. Growing up Merle had a very busy schedule, enjoying many activities, including badminton, choir, dancing and tennis. She recalled when her mum would play the Pianola and she would dance. No matter who she danced with, she would always have a good time. Merle remembers spending weeks practising for debutante balls in Ambrose and recalls the nights as beautiful. As a fundraiser for the Country Women’s Association, Merle had a mix of outfits sent from a couple of Brisbane stores to sell.

She sourced local models and hosted parades in Ambrose, Mt Larcom and Marmor areas. Merle and her husband Bert had three sons; Peter, David and Phillip. Merle’s husband passed away from a stroke, in 1996. This was a difficult time, but Merle said she was now quite content living by herself. Having travelled to many places with her late husband Bert, including Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Communist China, Norfolk Island and South Africa, she recalled: “The best experience I had was being able to pet a tamed cheetah in South Africa, it was just like a cat, it purred softly and its tail gently went up and down when you would pet it. Along a footpath in Durban I walked behind a witch doctor, who had calf tails, knives, pretty shells, tobacco in leather pouches, dried snake heads and plenty of beads all hanging down from a belt around her waist.” In 1982, Merle travelled to China,

one of the first groups to visit for some time. She remembers the people wore dull red and brown clothing and “they would stare at my friend’s colourful, floral dress,” she said. “They hadn’t seen anything like it before.” Some valuable advice from Merle about life is to “Keep your head screwed on, don’t do drugs. Think twice before doing anything, because you will have to live with it and care for parents, family, neighbours and friends.”

The best experience I had was being able to pet a tamed cheetah in South Africa. — Mrs Merle Spann

Mrs Nell McEachran By Laura Grummitt and Cooper Newitt After 100 years of living through wars and watching the world change, Mrs Nell McEachran has accomplished and seen many amazing things. Born November 5, 1916, to Harry and Helen Johansen, Nell was the eldest of four, with siblings Norman, Nita and Merle. She started school at the age of six walking two miles to Chelona State School. After leaving primary school she went to Fairholme College, Toowoomba for two years. As a child, Mrs McEachran lived at Rosella where her dad was a sugar cane farmer. The family's mode of transport was a horse and buggy, until their dad purchased a car in 1924. After schooling, Nell wished to become a nurse, but she was needed at home to help her mum. Most of the young people stayed in the area. Tennis was very popular and three farmers had tennis courts. Nell met her future husband, Arch, playing tennis. In September 1939, the Second World War was declared and many young people joined the armed forces or the land army. Petrol was rationed, as well as butter, tea and material. On June 6, 1942, Arch and Nell were married at St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Mackay. Arch was in the army at Townsville. Nell moved to Townsville and was there for nearly two years, living at Stanton Hill. Whilst there, an air raid siren sounded. When they came out of the shelter they saw the bomb explode near the Townsville wharf. The Japanese flew over at night but Nell did not see any more bombs dropped. From having free time to do whatever needed to be done, to then giving full attention to a baby 24/7 was the challenge of her life. Arch and Nell have three children: Helen, Ray and Jennifer. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren are also wonderful interests for her. During Nell's life she experienced many things that not many people got to do. The invention of the washing machine and fridge were the best inventions for a household. The McEachrans went back to Mackay after the war. In 1950, Arch accepted a challenge to open a store in Biggenden,

Laura Grummitt, Mrs Nell McEachran and Cooper Newitt.

which was successful. In 1954, Arch joined the staff at Friends Pty Ltd, in Gladstone. Queensland Alumina Ltd and the Power Station were built and Gladstone began to attract many more residents. The harbour city has improved over the years, with the Tondoon Botanic Gardens and many other parks, as well the beautiful marina and foreshores. It is hard to believe that children used to catch crabs with silk stockings at the end of Roseberry Street. Nowadays, Nell attends a sewing bee and enjoys doing her craft. She also enjoys going to church most Sundays. The Presbyterian Church has always been part of her life. Nell looks after herself and


lives in a Queenslander home. She is pleased to see family and friends. After idolising the Royal family since she was a child, Nell received her very own letter from the Queen for her 100th birthday last year.

Nell received her very own letter from the Queen for her 100th birthday last year…


tHeSe are the stories that need to be shared.

they are the stories of our senior citizens – and this is a record of their history. tHeSe are the stories that need to be shared. they are the stories of our senior citizens – and this is a record of their history. these are the men and women who have lived in our region for many years, whose memories of ‘the good ole days’ are still fresh in their minds. there is nothing more humbling than sitting down with someone who is willing to share their story, their experience and knowledge. its an opportunity we should all grab with both hands, and this year the Year 9 students from tannum Sands High School did exactly that. as you will read on these students have done a remarkable job bringing these rich stories to life. the Gladstone Observer is proud to bring you Our Priceless Past, in partnership with ergon energy and the Gladstone region art Gallery & museum.

Print | Online | MObile | SOcial 6657095aa

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Bridie Whelan, Mrs Pauline Newman and Natania D'Sa.


Mrs Jean Mattson By Meli-Lisa Eayrs and Alexandra Daboul JEAN Mattson has lived through many years of adversity and good times. Her life and the world around her changed drastically, from picking bluebells with her sisters, to seeing the results of World War II. Born on August 4, 1937, to parents Brian and Dorothy Barnes, Mrs Mattson was the eldest of three children born in England where she lived for her first 13 years. Later, her brother Chris was born in Australia. Jean fondly recalls her best memory of England being her time in the Bluebell Woods. “My sisters and I used to go for walks in the Bluebell Woods and we would come home with armfuls of bluebells for Mum. I don’t know what she did with them.” In 1951, Jean, her parents and two sisters, Ann and Janet, moved to Australia. A six-week long ship voyage took her through the Suez Canal and to Brisbane, where she stopped for a

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week before catching a train to Gladstone. Her family set up in China Bay, Curtis Island for a better life. “Some friends in England owned three properties on Curtis Island without even seeing the land,” Jean laughed as she recalled the absurd thought. “The only thing I remember was one day seeing Dad ploughing the field in a cloud of red dust. The farm didn’t work out.” In England, Jean had attended three schools, including a Grammar School. In Australia, she continued her schooling by correspondence. “Our lessons were sent twice a week by boat and straight after school we would go to the beach for the rest of the day.” While her father provided the family’s main income, Jean’s mother contributed by dressmaking and she later taught Jean the art. Then, this became Jean’s hobby, remaining so to

this day. As the farm failed, the family moved to Sun Valley. In every way possible Jean detested this lifestyle compared to the one she had experienced on Curtis Island and so, when her father found work building a jetty, the family moved back to South End, Curtis Island. “It is just a beautiful place,” Jean said, describing it “more beautiful than China Bay.” During their time on Curtis Island, she and her sisters taught themselves how to swim, went fishing and took night time walks to watch the turtles. “It was one of the best times of my life.” Jean’s first job was at a local milk bar cafe where she worked for a few months, until she was employed as a receptionist at the Gladstone Sawmill . The work consisted of book keeping and typing. Following this, Jean was employed at the Gladstone Meatworks.

At the age of nineteen, Jean gave birth to her first child, Sharon and four more were to follow; Jennifer, Tim, Steve and Larissa. Since losing her husband Steve to cancer four years ago, Jean volunteers at the local Cancer Council and often assists in fundraising. She happily lives with her dog, Mr Rhee and visits her family as much as possible.

My sisters and I used to go for walks in the Bluebell Woods and we would come home with armfuls of bluebells for Mum.” — Mrs Jean Mattson

Pat and Graham Bruce Wedding, St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, December 28, 1968.

Barry Griffiths (centre), Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Primary School, Year 3, in 1953.

Merle Spann (seated) with her siblings Alan, Lorna and Jean c.1941 at the property, Oakhill, Mt Larcom


Pauline Newman, (inset) with her daughter Carole, graduate nurses.

Noel Bowley aged 18.

Beryl and Bob Beale taken at a pre-ball party for the Home Science Teachers Ball, July 29, 1958 Page 18

Ron and Dolly Robson on their engagement, the couple were married in 1953. PHOTOS: CONTRIBUTED

Bev Bowley aged four.

Graham Fenton at the 1948 Gladstone Show, sitting on a grey TE20 "Fergy" tractor,

Nell McEachran, Debutante Ball Church of England, Mackay, 1935,

Jean Mattson, 1977 member of the Sun Valley Country Women's Association (CWA), won Queensland CWA Knitting and Crochet competition, as well as her local, divisional and state sections. (Machine knitted wool frock).

Ron Streeter and Elizabeth Toohey at the Gladstone Show.


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Our Pricesless Past - Gladstone Observer  

Seniors 2017 official supplement