Monument erected at site of district's first hotel
INCHES of rain pounded against her flimsy tarpaulin, but city girl Mandy Cotman braved the terrible conditions to complete her important task.
Ms Cotman was commissioned by QGC in March to refurbish the headstones of Thomas (Jnr) and Catherine O'Reilly at the historic Rainbow Hotel site and she finished the job despite the torrential rain.
"I was genuinely worried for her," Banana Shire Historical Society's Don Longbottom confessed.
"Here was this young lady from Brisbane, out in the bush by herself, and it was teeming rain.
"But she was a real trooper and simply set a tarp up over the headstones to keep the water of them and kept working."
The refurbishment of the headstones was part of QGC's restoration project, which they promised at the site after their construction crew accidentally bulldozed part of the historic Rainbow Hotel ruins in October last year.
"When Central Telegraph published the story last year of the pipeline going through the area where the Rainbow Hotel once stood, QGC contacted me and arranged to meet members of Banana Shire Historical Society with an offer to erect interpretative signage to indicate the historical relevance of the former hotel," Mr Longbottom said.
"QGC not only offered to erect the interpretative signage, but also to have the headstones restored, and they also filled in an erosion gully that was threatening the graves and built a contour bank to divert the water.
"The headstones were damaged by vandalism about 1992 and were preserved by members of the historical society in 2002, at which time the council provided a concrete slab on which to lay the remains of the headstone.
"However, they were still in several pieces and needed to be put back together by a professional monument restorer."
Mr Longbottom said new signage was affixed to large rocks overlooking the site.
"The plaque includes a picture of the hotel in its prime, a map of the site and the story of the O'Reillys whose daughter, Margaret, was the first white child born in the Callide Valley."
The original Central Telegraph story generated a lot of interest from descendants of the O'Reilly family and a considerable amount of historical material was made available to the historical society.
It is now complete and an official unveiling is at noon on August 16.