SURVIVOR: The Waratah Hotel, Mungungo in 1932. It is still in operation today.
SURVIVOR: The Waratah Hotel, Mungungo in 1932. It is still in operation today.

Three generations take a walk down memory lane, visit namesake street

HARRIS St in the small town of Mungungo doesn't look like anything special, but recently three generations of the Harris family made the trip to this street, to see the sign that bears their namesake.

Jimmy Harris is a retired railway fireman and lives in Gladstone and he thought it was important that his son and grandson saw the sign in Mungungo, to remind them of their history.

The Harris's were once an integral part of the Mungungo community, when the town was bustling with activity thanks to the construction of the railway line to Monto.

It was Jimmy's grandfather, James William Harris, who started the Waratah Hotel, (which is still operating as a hotel today) in 1929.

He must have known a good opportunity when he saw one.

He started the hotel, Jimmy said, at the same time as the railway construction.

 

FAMILY TIES: James, Liam and Jimmy Harris at their namesake.
FAMILY TIES: James, Liam and Jimmy Harris at their namesake.

"The Waratah Hotel once sold nine eighteen gallon kegs of beer a week to the rail workers," Jimmy said.

"They once had 50 men for lunch on a Sunday.

"My grandmother said there were some wild men on the construction, and my grandfather used to say to her, never stop a good fight but make sure you get them out of my hotel."

Jimmy has kept the original safe from the hotel as a memento.

"It's pretty sick, but I got it," he said.

The Waratah Hotel is still standing, but Jimmy believes it's nowhere near as well-attended now as it was back in the railway days.

"All that's there now is two houses and the hotel is still there and the dance hall," Jimmy said referring to Mungungo.

Just beside the hotel his grandfather, James, built a store and he arranged for one of his daughters to run the store.

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"She was only 15, she ran the store until the 1950s...(her name was) Blanche Amelia Vera Harris," Jimmy said.

The store is gone now.

The first Harris from Jimmy's line who reached Australia came as a convict.

"He came on the last convict boat to Moreton Bay in 1850, he was a burglar and he got ten years," Jimmy said.

"(He) pinched some material and three silver spoons, my ancestor was sent to Gayndah, (about 100 miles south of Monto) west of Bundaberg."

A lot of time has passed since. but for Jimmy Harris, his son James William, and his grandson Liam, the sign for Harris St at Mungungo is a simple but potent reminder of their connection to the region.



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