Former Mount Isa residents networking in Bundy
MOUNT ISA must be about as far as possible as you can get from Bundaberg, while remaining in Queensland.
There is something about the beautiful Bundaberg region which attracts former Mount Isans.
Up to 50 ex-Mount Isans meet up at the Spotted Dog Tavern every three months, recalling stories of the people and places they knew.
When you Google for images of the mining town in the heart of Kalkadoon country, what appears is a hard looking, desolate place of industry.
But there must be more to the place, if a group of strangers can gather together 1600 kms away.
Lorraine Briffa said she was always excited to attend the gathering, even though she left in 1969 and had only visited twice since then.
Mrs Briffa had been born in Mount Isa. She was working at a pharmacy at 21 when she met her husband Paul, who had moved from Brisbane to work in the mines.
They met at the local St Josephs dance, and she remembered they both danced well.
They had been married five years when they left.
“It was hard at the time because we had a very sick daughter,” Mrs Briffa said.
“We moved to Townsville and we lost her in Townsville, but the move was there, gone then, and we had never gone back to live.
“We often talk about it, and think if we didn’t have our sick daughter, how long would we have stayed in the Isa?
“Probably years, because all my friends were there and we just had to make a new start and move to Townsville.”
Organiser Annette Crowther said the regular gatherings had began almost three years ago.
There was an annual event which was held in alternate towns, but many locals that wanted to attend were ageing.
“Mount Isa was just the town everyone spoke about and once they retired they moved to the coast,” she said.
“People would come with their children and say “we’re only here to make money and leave”, and 20 years later they were still there.”
Mrs Crowther left the Isa in the mid ‘90s and was drawn to Bundaberg as she had a cousin that lived in the area.
“It’s four hours from Brisbane, you couldn’t ask for anything better,” she said.
There are many other Bundaberg residents who used to live in Mount Isa who do not know of the regular gatherings. At least one of them is a real estate agent, there are several working in emergency services, and prominent Kalkadoon artist Chern’ee Sutton and her family are also from the north west.
Ms Sutton was amazed to learn of the regular meetings.
“Wow, that’s really nice,” she said. “I didn’t know that actually.”
Her parents made the move to Bundaberg, after living in Brisbane, and loved it because of its accessibility, and weather.
“It ticked all the boxes really,” she said.