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