Gerry O'Connor at the 50th anniversary of the Monto Historical Society.
Gerry O'Connor at the 50th anniversary of the Monto Historical Society. Sam Turner

GALLERY: 'Monto sticks to you like a second skin'

A BITTER feud over a council split, a WorldWwar I painting, and numerous flocks of emus.

This briefly sums up the whirlwind history of Monto, retold by former Monto Herald editor Gerry O'Connor at the 50th anniversary of the town's Historical Society.

Residents gathered to revel in the rich history of the town at the celebrations held at the Historical and Cultural Centre on Sunday.

Crowds were treated a day of nostalgia featuring a showcase of vintage cars, antique machinery and exhibitions from society members.

While opening up the event, Mr O'Connor recalled how his family history was "anchored in Monto's past,” and said the town still remained important to them.

"Monto sticks to you like a second skin, and you can't scrape it off,” he said.

A journalist for most of his life, Mr O'Connor worked at the now closed Monto Herald, ABC Rockhampton, then the Central Queensland University.

Mr O'Connor preferred the lure of the bush in comparison to his days as a city journalist, and told the crowd he'd rather report "on a pothole in regional Queensland,” than something happening within Brisbane city.

He started his life in the old wooden hospital 80 years ago, thanks to the help of Dr Spalding.

Mr O'Connor recounted his early beginnings, his father Charlie Webb's city contributions, and some classic stories along the way.

Whether it was the Eidsvold/Monto shire split, the Menin Gate painting feud, or flocks of emus "owning the town”, there was never a dull moment in Monto.

Mr O'Connor said "all the fighting seems meaningless now,” before discussing some of his fonder memories.

He recalled happier tales of riding home from school and admiring the work of the local blacksmith, to seeing the winter balls.

While reflecting on the founding of the historical society, Mr O'Connor said he decided to call the first meeting at Sunshine House behind the Shire Hall all those years ago.

"I felt that a lot of local history was being lost, and perhaps we could set up a place where organisations could leave their minute books, or other records so they wouldn't become lost,” Mr O'Connor said.

The society grew from there, and Mr O'Connor commending those who had contributed to its growth and success.

"They should feel proud of what they have achieved,” he said.

"This is a wonderful memorial to the astonishing people who have made Monto what it is today.”


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