'It's time Monto had a break': How town's fighting to get it
MONTO residents Carly Burnham and Melinda Jones have different stories connecting them to the country town.
Mrs Burnham's great grandparents rode a horse-drawn cart to Monto from Brisbane in 1927 - she's a fourth-generation resident.
Mrs Jones, meanwhile, moved to Monto 15 years ago, and now her children and grandchildren also call it home.
Two different back-stories, the old and the new, but united by a common goal: to see the ailing town, wracked by industry closures and natural disasters, survive and thrive into the future.
"It's just about time Monto had a break,” Mrs Jones, president of the Monto Magic Tourism Action Group, said.
Mrs Burnham, chair of The Rex Monto Ltd, a not-for-profit group created in 2016 to purchase and revitalise the former Rex Picture Theatre, agreed.
"We have these ups and downs, ups and downs, and we are resilient, it's quite amazing, but I think it is time for something new and fresh and (for) hope,” she said.
"If we can improve our infrastructure, our beautification, our community will have that sense of pride and that will just ooze out into anyone that comes and visits.”
Thanks to these two women, and the groundswell of community support behind them, Monto might just get its break.
Yesterday, community members gathered in the Rex to put the town's best foot forward in an application video for Rural Aid's 10 Town Makeover Initiative.
The 10 winning towns will receive a minimum of $100,000 over five years and an army of Rural Aid volunteers (50-100 people) will spend a week in the town working on a range of identified infrastructure projects.
The Rex is one such project: Mrs Burnham wants to return it to its glory days of being a leisure and cultural hub for the town.
Mrs Jones' focus, from a MMTAG perspective, is on beautification projects within Monto, from entrance signs and a revitalisation of the railway precinct into a leafy green park space, to dusting off old Monto Landcare projects which have lapsed for want of manpower.
"It's building on the existing and creating some new and interesting, it's really not one or the other, it's both and all. I think that's the key to a really energised, successful future,” Mrs Burnham said.
"It's about lifting the energy, raising the spirits and not only in struggle street times, but keep it consistent, keep the focus and really be providing a really amazing community for our youth so they stay and feel proud of where they come from.”
Mrs Jones said, in addition to the video the town had created, MMTAG had liaised with Burnett Catchment Care Association to provide data and statistics on the impact of drought and industry closures to Monto, to add weight to their application to Rural Aid.
"When I first moved out here, there had been 10 years of drought, and it's gone from drought to flood to drought to flood, plus a number of industry closures,” she said.
"But we're such a resilient community because we're still here and there's still so many passionate people who just want to see it progress and move forward.”