Hundreds of people came from near, far and wide on the weekend to mark a very special occasion in the Burnett’s history.
The official unveiling of the Biggenden Wall of Fame and Pioneer Walk took place on Saturday after months of discussion, planning, research and work from several devoted community members as well as the Biggenden Historical Society.
The Wall of Fame and Pioneer Walk has been constructed in Beiers Park to honour the early settlers who came to our district from the 1800s and after several long months, it’s finally open to the public.
Organiser Moira Thompson said the idea for a wall of fame and pioneer history walk first began back in April 2019 with a small committee and the support of Biggenden Historical Society.
“Construction of the Wall was a short process with the graphic work on the 70 plus photos and repeated editing taking several months to finalise,” she said.
72 early settlers are represented with photographs and brief biographies throughout the pioneer walk with financial contributions to fund the project coming from descendants plus funding from North Burnett Regional Council under Australian Government’s Drought Communities Program Extension.
Ms Thompson said the idea first started forming when she attended the Biggenden School’s 125 Anniversary.
“I learnt a lot about local history, as school chaplain at the time I found that relating stories about local history to students was a positive experience.
“So I started thinking about a Wall of Fame to honour those who came here in the early days, not because they were successful, but because they were among the first who “had a go”.
“As the idea grew we decided that the Wall would comprise a map and list of settlers, and in the shade of the park is a Pioneer Walk with all their photographs displayed.”
Ms Thompson said the project honoured 72 people who all played fundamental roles in establishing the Biggenden district, which encompasses Boompa to the Burnett River and Mount Woowoonga to Coalstoun Lakes
Some of these names including William Henry Walsh who first came to the district in 1864 with a few thousand sheep and set up a life for himself on Degilbo station, which ended up spanning 500 square miles. “The pioneer walk also explore the lives of John Rollinson first to settle Biggenden in 1887, James Trigger who settled Lower Lakeside in 1888 with a seventh generation still working on the farm today, Charles Allen who first discovered gold at Paradise 1889 as well as Jens and Sidsel Stephensen who built many businesses in Biggenden from 1891 including the blacksmith and funeral business just to name a few.”
Brandon Walsh – the great great grandson of first settler William Henry Walsh who was also the first white man to climb Mt Walsh – said he still loves looking at the mountain but has never climbed it.
He said the unveiling was a special moment for both himself and his wife Pam and was honoured to cut the ribbon to officially open the project.
“Henry was probably sitting up on top of the mountain looking down on us having a drink of water or a bottle of rum,” he said.
Mr Walsh was assisted with the cutting of the ribbon by Mickeelie Gouge and her 13-month-old daughter Amierah who are 7th and 8th generation of the early settlers, Reedman, Summers and Fowler families.
Member for Flynn, Ken O’Dowd attended the unveiling alongside Member for Callide, Colin Boyce and North Burnett Regional Council deputy mayor Robbie Radel.
“We as the Federal Government know country areas like Biggenden and the North Burnett have suffered through floods, drought, bush fires and now Covid,” Mr O’Dowd said.
“We wouldn’t be what we have today for those hard working pioneers who had to make do with what they had. The Wall of Fame is going to be the centrepiece of Biggenden.”
Deputy mayor Robbie Radel acknowledged the mountain of work undertaken by Moira Thompson and her support team to bring the project to fruition during the past 18 months.
“The Wall of Fame and Pioneer Walk proudly highlights 72 of our local settlers and will tie in nicely with our proposed streetscape project, with both projects bound to bring a boost in tourism to our region,” he said.
Biggenden Historical Society president Christine Holder said it had been a privilege for the society to be involved in the project.
“This is going to be a real tourist destination for people and a place for locals and tourists to enjoy for many generations to come,” she said.
“It was lovely seeing people just wander through Beiers Park, soaking up all the information about Biggenden and the people who helped make this town what it is today.”