Friday, June 24, 2011


Well, if you visited a town called Wonglepong, you'd want a photo to prove it, wouldn't you? It is a small town only about 70 km south-west of Brisbane, but to visit it is almost to step back in time. The name of the town seems so unusual, yet I have been unable to trace its origins. It is probably aboriginal, but maybe not. Someone has posited that it means "forgotten sound" in an indigenous dialect. How could you forget the sound "Wonglepong?" What I did find out is that the population of Wonglepong is just under 400 and that 93% of them speak English as their first language. If my maths is correct (no certainty, that!), then 28 people from somewhere else in the world have ended up in Wonglepong! I wonder why?

And I did find a building to photograph - here it is. It's not exactly in the centre of Wonglepong - it was erected in a paddock just outside the town. In fact, it is hidden from view just off the main road, but although the weather was atrocious and the gate was locked, I proceeded with my artistic endeavour to bring you this picture.

(Photo: © 2011 the foto fanatic)

Well, I hear you ask, what is it? It is the Wonglepong QCWA Hall, purpose built in 1935 to hold meetings of the district's Queensland Country Women's Association. You can see the Association's logo over the front door. The QCWA is the Queensland branch of a significant organisation of rural women - just ask the contestants from last year's Masterchef!

But the story of the construction of the hall indicates how rural people are so community-minded. After holding meetings for some years in the home of member Ann Franklin, the Wonglepong Association decided to raise money to build their own hall. It has been erected on land provided by the Franklin family on a 99-year lease, and the timber for its construction may have come from the Franklin's property. The wood was milled at Franklin's sawmill in Canungra, and the hall was built by volunteer labour supervised by Ann Franklin's son. Members donated the furnishings for the hall, and although I could not see the interior, there is a photograph that shows some delightful timber work.
(Photo: DERM)

According to the people at the Queensland Heritage Register, the building is virtually unchanged since its completion, apart from re-painting, re-roofing and re-stumping. (That reminds me of the yarn about the old bushie who had kept the same axe for twenty years. He only had to fit twenty new heads and ten new handles :-) Boom Boom!) The minutes of every meeting have been recorded and are still in existence, and although membership in nearby QCWA branches has declined, this one apparently still meets regularly.(Photo: Courtesy

Wonglepong cemetery contains the grave of local artist Edwin Bode (above), who travelled through Queensland painting homesteads in return for food and lodging. He lived locally for the last decade of his life, and after he died in 1926 the people of this area donated this sandstone tombstone in the shape of an artist's easel, brushes and palette.(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #60672)

As a born and bred city boy, I marvel at the rural community. We city folk complain about the lack of rain because our front lawn turns brown, but for these people it affects their livelihood. We complain about potholes in the road while they don't even have paved roads in many places. We have hospitals, doctors and dentists within easy reach, but many country towns do not have any of these essential services. Many of us, I am sure, still identify Australia with the romance of the bush, but we have absolutely no concept of what that actually entails. I dips me lid, Wonglepong.

Click here for a Google Map.


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