The town of Charleville in south-west Queensland had been preparing to celebrate its 150th anniversary, only to discover it missed the major milestone by three years.
The Murweh Shire Council was making plans to celebrate 150 years since the gazettal of Charleville in 2018, when it sought external help to identify precisely which day the celebrations should be held next year.
Council CEO Neil Polglase said information from various historical societies indicated 1868 was the year of gazettal but the Department of Natural Resources ultimately had a different story.
The department searched its archives and delivered the party-pooping blow.
“It clearly states that the town was actually gazetted on the 11th of January, 1865,” Mr Polglase said.
The news came as an unwelcome surprise to Shire Mayor Annie Liston.
“We were working towards the 150th in 2018 and then to hear that it had already gone, that wasn’t very good I can tell you,” Cr Liston said.
Local resident Leonie Edwards said it was disappointing.
“They’re normally pretty onto stuff — I don’t know what happened, not really sure — I didn’t even know that and I’m a local,” she said.
Another resident, Laurie Parker, said in some ways it was understandable.
“There’s other things we’ve been concentrating on here and we’ve been wanting to get rain and pick up the economy and things like that, but certainly those sort of birthdays are important to celebrate,” he said.
Charleville will celebrate regardless
The new information has sent the council back to the drawing board but it was still determined there would be a celebration.
“We have heard that there might be a number of instrumentalities that do have a particular celebration in 2018,” he said.
“For instance there is some speculation that the railway may have a 130-year celebration in 2018.”
Local historian George Balsillie has confirmed the railway celebrated its centenary in 1988.
“We got a PB15 out from Brisbane and we had it out here for the Easter weekend in 1988 and we made quite a bit of money out of it because it was a wet weekend and nobody was going anywhere in their vehicles and things like that,” he said.
“So we decided to have some excursions down to the first stopping place at Westgate.”
Plan to combine bilbies and trains
Mr Polglase said the council did not think it was appropriate to celebrate 153 years since the gazettal, so the railway anniversary might be the answer.
“There’s plenty of excitement in the town and I think if we can coincide it with the National Bilby Day [on September 9], which has been a great event over the last couple of years, and we want to build on that,” Mr Polglase said.
Local MP Ann Leahy was untroubled the significant date went unmarked.
“I think people work very hard on trying to find some of this historical information and if they missed it by a couple of years well, so be it,” Ms Leahy said.
She thinks a combined celebration could encourage people to come back to the community.