Boyne Valley: Its place in Gladstone's economic future
THE BOYNE Valley could provide the next big economic boost that the region needs - but the people who live there say they've been forgotten about.
Boasting surplus room for development, endless opportunities for tourism and a town full of dedicated personalities ready to get their hands dirty to make it happen, the Boyne Valley is just one hour's drive away from the Gladstone CBD.
And it's a complete ghost town, to anyone who has never made the trip out.
Residents of the Boyne Valley say in the past their region, which encompasses Nagoorin, Ubobo, Builyan and Many Peaks, has been left in the dark.
But the time has come to make some major moves to put it back firmly on the map.
Former Ubobo State School teacher and volunteer of the Boyne Valley Community Discovery Centre Margaret Pengelly said her and her family had lived in the Boyne Valley all their lives, and said the community was "pretty good" at making things happen themselves.
"We are a very independent community, if we need something, we just do it."
This includes the formation and construction of the Discovery Centre; a vision that swelled from the dirt in 2001.
The accommodation facility for caravanners and campers branches over three hectares; has laundry, toilet, shower and kitchen facilities and even WiFi.
And it was all built from the ground up, by the Boyne Valley community.
Mrs Pengelly said in its early days the group involved in the centre applied for every grant under the sun.
She said the need for a new economic boost in the Valley was paramount with the closing of the dairy industry after milk prices became regulated.
"All of the formers were put out ... we realised we needed something to keep this town thriving," she said.
"We received a applied for a $150,000 and received $90K, we didn;t care for the amount we were jus tso excited.
"We had the community and the council pitch in with donations to help it get off the ground."
Mrs Pengelly said instead of hiring labour to construct the grounds, the group decided they would use the money to buy all of the needed materials.
"And we decided we would just build it ourselves, with the help of volunteers," Mrs Pengelly.
"That way we wouldn't have to use the money to pay for workers."
Mrs Pengelly said the grounds had visitors staying from 2006 but was officially complete in 2010.
"The first group to come were the bike riders," she said.
"They would stop through on their big rides through the country and stay for a few nights.
"Now we have all sorts of travellers, grey nomads, elderly and youth stop through here on their way through."
Mrs Pengelly said the grounds also hosted a number of social events, meetings and community activities.
Despite its growing popularity, Mrs Pengelly said the centre could use more support from all levels of government.
"We worked hard," she said.
"We cannot allow people to stay for free like the Bush Camp at Boynedale can, because we don;t get the support and promotion it does.
"We survive of people travelling through, and if people see all of the signs for just one caravan park, they will go to that one instead of coming to ours.
"So, my question is, why stop people just outside the Valley with all of that promotion and signage, and prevent them from actually driving in and exploring?
"The Boyne Valley does not get the promotion and advertising it deserves."
Mrs Pengelly is now retired, but donates 100 hours a month to helping run the Discovery Centre.
"What we need, and what we are trying to do, is work with the council in pulling the Boyne Valley community together for tourism and promotional ideas to bring people here and keep them here.
"We want more signage to promote not only the centre, but all of the things you can do here in the valley.
"We would love to be able to offer tourism packages and guided tours as well."
She said majority of the Boyne Valley community were elderly, and "did not have the skills" to market the town as a tourist destination.
"Sure, we can build things; we are farmers," she said.
"But 16 years down the track, we are getting tired.
"We need the council and organisations like GAPDL to step in and help us ... We need support."