28/07/17 Apartment living has many advantages. Parking space for a caravan isn’t one of them. So, to get it ready for the trip, we had a couple of days at the caravan park just up the road from home to clean the Kruiser and pack it up. Di’s LISTS came out, the gear went in and the dust came off. With every box ticked, we spent the second night in the van.
Given the long break at home, we had to recall some of those things we routinely did in the Kruiser that used to be second-nature. “Now, what was that inverter setting again?” Thank goodness I labelled everything when we first got the van or over time as we worked out how a particular something worked in it. There are labels everywhere, on the inside of cupboard doors and next to control switches, to assist with the vagaries of memory. Those little label makers are worth their weight in gold. But, pretty quickly we got into the swing of things (Read the labels!), headed out of the park and north to Marg McIntosh Reserve, a nice little free camp west of Gympie with a small creek on one side and horse paddocks over the back fence, two one-lane bridges from the small town of Widgee.
The Landy needed a little tweak so two days later we ended up in Gympie at Gold City Land Rovers for some TLC from Allan and the boys. The guys back home at MR Automotive were terrific for advice about what was happening, and shipped parts up overnight so they were there in Gympie first thing the following morning when we called in. When you’re travelling, it’s great to have reliable people you can call on when needed. By lunchtime, the re-tweaked Landy was heading on to Maryborough.
Both my parents’ families, the McFarlanes and Connells, have long roots in Maryborough going back to the mid-1800s. I’d been looking forward to spending a few days there doing some ancestry research and catching up with relatives. The local Family Heritage Society provided a wealth of information and we spent some time at the old cemetery where a few ancestors were buried, including my paternal great-grandparents, William and Martha McFarlane, who emigrated to Maryborough from Ireland in 1863. As this was their first landfall in Australia, they are considered to be among the group of Pioneers of Maryborough.
Maryborough is a lovely town with many original old homes and commercial buildings. The Maryborough I remember from my childhood is now relegated to being almost a satellite of Hervey Bay, the nearby community that has grown enormously since its sleepy beach village days. The quiet little beachside Hervey Bay where I spent most childhood Christmas holidays is long gone, overtaken by progress; developed and homogenised to now look like everywhere else. I guess that’s why Maryborough appeals to us. It’s been bypassed by the developers’ wrecking ball and retained its individuality and heritage.
We caught up with my uncle who we hadn’t seen for quite some time, and afterwards went exploring to find the site of the Dundathu sawmill, just outside of Maryborough beside the Mary River. This was where great-grandfather William was employed as a sawyer after arriving in Australia. To the casual eye, nothing now remains at the site, having long ago reverted back to bushland, but with the aid of GPS coordinates, we were able to navigate to where the sawmill had existed and locate some signs of it in the bushscape.
We also visited the house of my maternal great-grandfather, and were delighted to meet the current owners who turned out to be my second-cousins. The house has remained in the family since 1916, and I have a wonderful photo of my mother as a young child sitting up with her parents and grandfather in a horse-drawn buggy outside this house, circa 1928.
Maryborough is a place we’ll definitely be coming back to. There is so much family history yet to be done.
When there is a very long road upon which there is a one-lane bridge placed at random, and there are only two cars on that road, it follows that: (1) the two cars are going in opposite directions; and (2) they will always meet at the bridge. – Murphy’s Law of the Open Road