ICONIC: Local historian Paulette Flint.
ICONIC: Local historian Paulette Flint. Paul Braven GLA220415FLINT

Meet the historian behind one of our most popular columns

PAULETTE Flint has been recalling history through the pages of The Observer since 1994.

Her regular column is one of the most popular segments in Gladstone's paper, showing how fascinated people still are with history, particularly their own local history.

From those early columns came a book, What's in a Name.

The book chronicles the stories behind Gladstone's street names, particularly the older streets.

"It began when I first started writing for The Observer, that was my first column,” Paulette said.

"(Editor) Ann Roebuck got me involved.

"The Observer was having an anniversary and she offered to pay the genealogical society for some stories.

"Because I had that interest first, I became interested in local history.

"I'd learned the research skills to research my own family, then used those skills to research other people's families.

"Newspapers are your major source of information, so it's got to be right,” she said.

Paulette's column became a regular in The Observer. It was published once a week and readers loved it from the start.

"I'd take bits out of the old Observers and also write about the street names, which took a lot longer to research.”

Paulette has spent countless hours pouring over old microfilms, which were stored under the steps in the old Observer building in Goondoon St, and hard copies given to the Genealogical Society.

In one of local history's biggest mistakes, a past editor threw the old microfilms away.

So now she largely relies on Trove, a free online database.

"I love Trove, I think it's the most amazing thing digitising all those newspapers,” she said.

"The columns just became part of the paper.

"Each era has a different style of writing and I don't edit at all.

"A 1930s wedding is a completely different write-up to a 1950s wedding.

"Some of them were 'pretty' weddings and some were 'quiet' weddings.

"I have a theory about what the quiet weddings were about... it was just their polite way of putting it.”

As far back as the papers go, there is evidence of the old rivalry between Rockhampton and Gladstone.

"It goes right back to the beginning,” Paulette said.

"Gladstone was settled first and then a few people settled the pastoral areas.

"O'Connell wanted to stay here.

"He was the government resident so he thought if we discover gold somewhere in the area then he could stay, because it would grow.”

But as history recalls, gold was discovered near Rockhampton, at Canoona.

In 1858, the gold rush started and the population left Gladstone for the gold fields of Rockhampton.

"And it's been on ever since,” Paulette said.

As a former primary school teacher and supply teacher, Paulette has always introduced history into her classes.

"People love history...everybody has history, it's part of everybody's lives,” she said.

"I find young people very interested to know what it was like growing up here.”

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