Rally wrap-up

Central Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

HE’S known as “the Voice of the Out­back” and he’s been speak­ing up on be­half of ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties for the past 30 years.

But up un­til this month, ra­dio host Neale Stu­art had never been to Biloela.

The veteran broad­caster sounded as sur­prised as any­one when he told The Cen­tral Tele­graph it was his first time in town as he hosted the Queens­land Her­itage Rally at Her­itage Park last week­end.

Mr Stu­art acted as MC, pro­vided com­men­tary and in­ter­viewed par­tic­i­pants at the mas­sive rally, which saw al­most 1000 ex­hibitors from across the coun­try pack them­selves into Queens­land Her­itage Park, along with their as­sorted bits and pieces of his­toric ma­chin­ery.

Among the at­trac­tions were an­cient steam en­gines, a black­smithing work­shop, classic cars and even a team of horses pulling a plough.

“The rea­son I be­came ‘the Voice of the Out­back’ was be­cause no­body was giv­ing much in the way of at­ten­tion to ru­ral peo­ple or th­ese kinds of ru­ral events,” Mr Stu­art said.

“It’s tough at the mo­ment, gra­ziers in some of th­ese coun­try towns are go­ing into their fourth year of drought.

“Events like this are an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to speak to a neigh­bour they haven’t seen for 12 months.

“To see them at an event like this, while they might be look­ing at the ma­chin­ery, it’s also a good way for them to blow off a bit of steam, have a few beers and a chat.”

The event was a tri­umph for or­gan­iser Craig Cooper, a Biloela lo­cal who was in­stru­men­tal in bring­ing about the first Queens­land Her­itage Rally in 2004. “It’s fan­tas­tic,” he said. “You see a lot of par­ents bring­ing young kids to show them the way things were.”

PHOTO: AN­DREW THORPE

COUN­TRY HIS­TORY: Or­gan­iser Craig Cooper (left) with ra­dio host Neale Stu­art.

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