Maryborough's Revitalisation of CBD

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Posted 2016-01-25 by Susan J Bowesfollow
The Fraser Coast Council has recently finished a $3.2 million revitalisation program for the CBD of Maryborough in Queensland . The works involved the sections of Kent and Adelaide Streets and the aim was to improve pedestrian amenity, increase visual awareness and to highlight the "telling of the story of Maryborough".

Existing pathways were removed and replaced with exposed aggregate concrete and the kerb and channel was upgraded to barrier kerb. A raised cobblestone shared zone at the existing zebra crossing with bollard and overhead lighting makes an impressive sight at night when the lights that change colour flood the whole street. New street furniture, bins, seats, artwork were installed while the existing bollards and garden beds were removed.

The final design was signed off in December 2014 with the entire works completed in December 2015.

Being my home town, I love Maryborough and its historic buildings and pioneering companies of the past. The team who designed this fascinating concept did so with the theme in mind for remembering those businesses and the people who made Maryborough what it is today. No one can take away the fact that Maryborough is the birth place of PL Travers , writer of Mary Poppins and a small bronze statue of Mary Poppins can be found on the corner of Richmond and Kent Streets, close to the building in which she was born.

When you think of Maryborough and its pioneering companies, you think of firms like Walkers Limited engineers and shipbuilders, Hyne & Son , timber merchants and the Maryborough Sugar Factory now renamed MSF Sugar.

Walkers Limited history began in Ballart in 1863 when John Walker and three friends set up the Union Foundry of John Walker & Co. He opening a branch in Maryborough and in 1888 the company become known as Walkers Limited. The company was well-known both domestically and internationally as a sugar manufacturer, constructed patrols boats and ships for the Australian Navy and other commercial companies and the company's first locomotive was built in Maryborough in 1873 for William Pettigrew's Cooloola Tramway . It was called " Mary Ann ". Walkers Limited was sold in 1980 to Evans Deakin Industries and then included in the purchase of Evans Deakin to Downer Group in 2001. Today the company operates as part of Downer Rail .

Hyne & Son's story starts back 1864, five years after the separation of the State of Queensland from New South Wales . Richard Hyne arrived in Moreton Bay with a family and a box of carpenter's tools. He originally settled in Gympie but moved to Maryborough in early 1860 and started the National Sawmill on the banks of the Mary River in 1882.

Richard Hyne moved for the formation of a Department of Forestry and the replanting of forests. He supported the 8-hour day believing that both the employer and employee would benefit and introduced the 8-hour day into his Maryborough Mill in 1890 even though his competitors were working nine hours plus.

Operating today from 11 sites throughout the Eastern Seaboard, Hyne Timber leads its way in technology implementation, product development, quality control, environment standards and has world class manufacturing capacity.

MSF Sugar is today one of Australia's largest sugarcane farmer, second largest raw sugar exporter and third largest miller. The factory has a 124 year heritage with other mills manufacturing in Gordonvale, South Johnstone and Atherton Tablelands . The Maryborough mill began in 1886 as a juice mill in the Island Plantation area ; however following major flooding in 1893 the mill was relocated to a site 2klm from the Maryborough CBD and was upgraded to produce raw sugar. The first production started in 1893 and has continued each year since.

The Fraser Coast Council has also remembered the unique characters and shop owners that paved Maryborough's history through the 20th Century and painted scenes and other artwork is depicted on walls in the CBD as part of the revitalisation program. Some of those I remember from my childhood are -

King's Cafe was a favourite of locals where patrons could sit in a booth for lunch or a milkshake. My memory of the cafe was their signature ice-creams, which were square in shape perhaps four inches (10 cm) and approximately three-quarters of an inch across. They were filled with a square slice of ice-cream that fitted neatly in the cone. No way could you not have sticky fingers after pressing the ice-cream up from the bottom to the top of an eventually soggy cone. I have never seen cones made in a square shape again.

Then there was Arnie Twigg, Lighter of the Lights. Seen at night going for shop to shop, Arnie would turn the shop lights off using a stick with a hook on one end. The lights of the shops in those days were outside the shop front and sometimes had a cord hanging from them. Arnie's story is depicted in art on a wall in Adelaide Street.

Mr Anderson and his horse and cart were famous for delivering items from the railway to business owners. I remember this well as Mr Anderson delivered many items to my Father's business in upper Adelaide Street. In relatively, this would only have been around 45 years ago and was a novelty in Maryborough then.

Major stores were Boys & Son , Stuparts Drapery and G. Horsbugh & Co. Boys & Son was established by William Issac Boys who was apprenticed in one of Brisbane's major department stores. Stuparts Drapery owner George Stupart sourced local manufacturers for many of this clothing items rather than importing from overseas. At one time Stuparts employed over 100 people. The first George Horsburgh established the Maryborough Tinplate and Zinc Works in 1863. The G Horsburgh & Co store I remember as a young person was basically a hardware store; however also sold crockery and I lay-by'd piece by piece of my Mikasa Dinner Set from my weekly pays.

I love what the Council has done to the CBD in the much needed revamp. It's a pity that so many shops remain empty; however, this is a sign of the times in many country towns across Australia.

There is numerous amounts of reasons to visit Maryborough with events such as World's Greatest Pub Fest , Mary Poppins Festival , Portside Precinct , Relish Food & Wine Festival , World-class Queens Park Gardens, Maryborough Open House (where you can even visit George Horsburgh's original home), Ghost Tours , Gatakers by Night , an artspace with great music, Sunday in the Park , where model steam engines give children rides on a railway track, RACQ Technology Challenge and Thursday Markets where vendors sell and a cannon is fired in the newly developed CBD. And if that is not enough, Maryborough is only 30minutes drive to Hervey Bay and onwards to Fraser Island.

Check out the Fraser Coast Council website and lock yourself in for a visit.

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