Just some of what makes Maryborough great.
Just some of what makes Maryborough great. Alistair Brightman

Why town doesn't deserve ignorant city bashing

IT WAS enough to make us all cringe and unfortunately, a city journalist froth with delight.

Somewhere in country Queensland, far away from the confines of a concrete high rise, a local councillor had been captured on camera excitedly spruiking a new roundabout in Maryborough.

Any reporter who has cut their teeth on regional rounds would be aware these kind of stories aren't actually out of the ordinary.

Things got a bit awkward however when, thanks to some misguided information, Cr Daniel Sanderson spoke on camera about this being the city's first roundabout in 113 years.

 

Councillor Daniel Sanderson with the roundabout which caused all the fuss.
Councillor Daniel Sanderson with the roundabout which caused all the fuss. Carlie Walker

Not only was that not quite right, the claim was celebrated on the evening news and quickly did the rounds of social media.

He copped a fair bit of stick (that's how we country folk apparently talk) and it soon made its way into the national headlines.

Now, there's nothing wrong with a bit of fun-poking, even if it is at our expense, but what was served up next was a pretty ignorant piece of town bashing on the country's number one news site.

Published under varying headings about Maryborough being "savaged" and "hilariously mocked", the site's tech editor opened by saying the Heritage City was once voted one of Queensland's "must-do" experiences, "which proves the bar for the Sunshine State is pretty low".

He used the roundabout story as "Exhibit A".

He went on to take swipe at Cr Sanderson who he described as wearing his "finest pink shirt, tie and grey jumper" for the big announcement.

It was shared across the web and, at a time when our Heritage City is slowly clawing its way back from the decimation of its proud manufacturing industry, did some pretty unnecessary damage.

Ironically, as these slurs were splashed all over the internet, much of the city's population was sitting in the riverside parkland, enjoying high-end dining experiences at Relish - fast becoming one of Queensland's best food and wine festivals.

 

Relish Festival - Amber Tucker (Fraser Coast Tourism & Events) and chef Gavan Chin (The Federal Hotel) with produce and food to highlight this years Relish Festival.
Relish Festival - Amber Tucker (Fraser Coast Tourism & Events) and chef Gavan Chin (The Federal Hotel) with produce and food to highlight this years Relish Festival. Alistair Brightman

If only some of the knockers had ventured out of the city limits and seen it for themselves.

They could have wandered down the stairs of an old warehouse to the The Gin Joint and basked in the comforting familiarity of matching hipster beards and slouched hats while sipping insta-worthy variations of the spirit currently enjoying a revival in kitsch cocktail bars across the country.

They also could have bumped into Cr Sanderson and quickly realised he doesn't just dress up for roundabouts.

He's a pretty stylish lad thanks largely to his wife Sotik.

 

Sotik Sanderson
Sotik Sanderson Contributed

An entrepreneur and fashion retailer with enough sass and smarts to take her anywhere in Australia but who instead chose to stay and raise a family here because, well, it's pretty damn fabulous.

Yeh, being made a national laughing stock is a bit much.

But it doesn't mean we're not ready and willing to embrace our quirks.

After all, there's not many country towns where you're still greeted by these guys:

 

Maryborough's Town Crier and Mary Heritage.
Maryborough's Town Crier and Mary Heritage. Valerie Horton

We're unashamedly Mary Poppins mad up here.

In case you missed it, we recently made international headlines for becoming the first town in the world to install Mary Poppins-themed traffic lights.

 

Mary Poppins themed lights at Kent and Richmond Sts in Maryborough.
Mary Poppins themed lights at Kent and Richmond Sts in Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

Every winter we feature 10-days of Poppins magic culminating a street party complete with nannies race each other pushing prams, chimney sweeps and other loved characters come to life amid street theatre performers, sidewalk artists, jugglers, roving Penny Farthing and rides.

You'll find nods to the story's author PL Travers, born in boring old Maryborough, throughout the riverside city's historic precinct where costumed characters roam and boutique bars offer live music and fried chicken waffles (yep).

With a pub on every corner of our CBD, we're home to the World's Greatest Pub Fest, where keen teams from across the country turn out in force in an effort to claim the Guiness World Record for the largest number of people taking part in a pub crawl. It's been ours several times...we're working hard to get it back.

 

Pub fest winners - Little Miss Sunshines Robyn O'Brien, Andrea Rossiter, Allison Massingham, Natalie Murtagh and Emma Puntney.
Pub fest winners - Little Miss Sunshines Robyn O'Brien, Andrea Rossiter, Allison Massingham, Natalie Murtagh and Emma Puntney. Robyne Cuerel

We're also in the process of building a world class war memorial built around the bronze statue honouring Maryborough son Duncan Chapman - the first man ashore at Gallipoli.

Once complete, it will take visitors on a journey from Anzac Cove through to the Western Front battle theatres.

 

 

 

Duncan Chapman in front of the new memorial taking shape in Queens Park, Maryborough.
Duncan Chapman in front of the new memorial taking shape in Queens Park, Maryborough. Alistair Brightman

 

If none of the above appeals to our tech editor we have some good news:

Maryborough is also home to the annual Technology Challenge where students, teachers, parents and industry leaders work together to design and construct a variety of human powered vehicles, solar powered machines and innovative robots representing the collaborative energy of teams across Australia.

 

Vehicles on the grid at the start of this year's RACQ Tech Challenge.
Vehicles on the grid at the start of this year's RACQ Tech Challenge. Hayden Johnson

Not only are we still a "must do", we've also been previously named the friendliest town in the state.

If you travel from Brisbane and step off the Spirit of Queensland train (where you've been sitting in reclining leather chairs, drinking wine and enjoying and wait for it... your own personal touch-screen tele), you'll spot the big sign saying just that.

We'd hate for anyone to think we don't live up to our rep.

Our humble coastal region is even home to an airport where real jets fly direct from Sydney right into Hervey Bay, the best place in the world to see humpback whales up close and the gateway to world heritage listed Fraser Island.

 

Lake MacKenzie at Fraser Island
Lake MacKenzie at Fraser Island Sarah Manning

So please, Matt, gather your city colleagues and anyone else who shared in a bit of social media shaming and consider swapping the miserable southern winter for our idyllic climate.

We'll all put on our best pink shirts, roll out the welcome mat and show you why mocking Maryborough isn't nearly as fun as coming to experience the Fraser Coast for yourself.



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