Tip your top-hat to turning back time



THE Gladstone region will celebrate 150 years of statehood by having a long look at the past.

Fortunately, the celebrations here will be during winter which will be more suitable for the over-elaborate Victorian clothing the Gladstone Regional Council will encourage us to wear to celebrate the occasion.

So For the extra keen, it will be bustles for women, black broadcloth and top-hats for men, layers of petticoats for girls and knickerbockers for boys; all to mark our break with New South Wales in 1859.

At its meeting, the council decided to stage two functions to celebrate the occasion.

First, a formal commemorative dinner in early June with invited local dignitaries and descendants of original settlers of Gladstone, similar in format to the dinner staged in 1954 to commemorate the centenary of Gladstone.

The second, a Colonial Festival at the Calliope River Historical Village will have Victorian period theme, colonial crafts and involvement by schools and historical societies.

The proposal for the formal dinner drew some criticism from Cr Rick Hansen who felt it should be open to all and Cr Matt Burnett who objected to spending the money on the celebrations when it could be used in other areas.

Cr Craig Butler said he believed the celebration of the secession of Queensland from NSW "is a wise use of ratepayers' money".

Cr Maxine Brushe suggested funding be sought from local industry to have a tessellated plate made from aluminium to be decorated by local artists to also mark the occasion. This was adopted by the council.

As part of the celebrations, the 1770 Foreshore Redevelopment Project which the council has received Q150 funding under the Legacy Infrastructure Program; will be officially opened during the 2009 1770 Festival.

The celebrations may have an extra meaning for Gladstone, and perhaps with a bit of irony.

If history had been a little different, Gladstone would have been the capital city of the new northern Queensland state which was to stretch from the coast to the Western Australian border.

That had been the intention of the then British Prime Minister William Gladstone and was only aborted only by his replacement as Prime Minister, Lord Earl Grey.