Mount Morgan’s old school charm comes to the fore in many areas of its structure and in events held within the town boundaries. This is made even more prominent when people born here have witnessed decades of its growth and change. Much of the town has changed over the years but the feeling of pride and respect has stayed in the hearts of those having the good fortune of living through the changes over a long period of time.
Chris O`Leary, born Christina Cole, was born at the original Mount Morgan Hospital on the 4th of December, 1940. An only child, Christina remembers her childhood as being filled with love, respect, music and laughter.
“My dad was born here in 1906 at the Range Road, Poison Creek and his father was a timber cutter for the mine. Dad was born in a tent near poison creek bridge and it was always a laugh when people would ask if he was born in a tent after leaving a door open. They found it hard to believe he actually was.” Her dad was an honorary member for Rotary. “Back then only business people could be actual members but dad always played music for them.”
Her dad also had his own music band. Chris’s mum and dad were married in 1936. Her dad played championship tennis for many years and his last finals were played when he was seventy four years old. Bette Broom was one of her dad’s doubles partners.
Chris says she always liked school and English was definitely her favourite subject. “My essays were grammatically correct but I had no imagination,” she laughs.
Being an animal lover Chris always had dogs when she was growing up and got her first cat when she was thirteen years of age. Cats have been in her family ever since.
Chris’s grandparents moved to Moonmera then to a house in Baree. They then moved opposite the old railway station in Baree until they both died quite young (in the 1940’s). Her dad was either the fourth or fifth born of twelve children.“My great grandfather was a teamster for the mine so we were here basically when the town first opened,” she states with pride.
The family came out from England in 1888 on the last voyage of a vessel called The Quetta (an emigrant ship). As it was going through Torres Straight on the way back to England it hit an unmarked reef and was wrecked, drowning approximately one hundred and twenty people. Chris has an old cabin trunk at her home that actually came from the Quetta.
Chris is proud of her name Christina as it has now passed down through five generations that she is aware of. Her grandmother was called Tina for short, her mum was called Eena and her daughter and grand daughter both have Christina in their names. The name has carried through since 1884 when they came out to Australia. “My mum’s side of the family came out from Uig, from the Isle of Skye up in that area of Scotland in the mid 1840’s”.
Both Chris’s children (twins) were born in Mount Morgan and were educated in the town she loves so much. Her son Shaun, an officer for the Salvation Army, is married with two daughters. He loves music and is into computers. Her daughter Kerry, a marathon runner, used to be a hair dresser until carpel tunnel cut her career shorter than she would have liked. She is married with a son and a daughter. “She loves her marathons but isn’t into music except for listening to it” Chris chuckles.
Chris and her dad both went to Calliungal North in their primary school years and attended the high school in Mount Morgan as well. “Three generations of my family attended the high school here. All were born in the Central Queensland area. Grandma and grand dad Cole lived in Mount Morgan all their lives. Grandma Cole had her first child in 1893 and her last was born in 1923. She had twelve children. A lot of years to be having children,” Chris says with a grin.
Chris and her partner John both love Mount Morgan and couldn’t think of anywhere else they’d prefer to be. Their home is one hundred and seven years old and was built for the original owners named Reid, when they were married in 1906. Chris and John actually met when John was trying to find out about the history of the house and have been together ever since. “Frank Malloy was the postie back then and was helpful in finding the people who could assist with the information John was looking for.” Chris and John acquired many of the photos of the house from the time it was built and they are some of their most prized possessions. Before then Chris owned the old Tea House on the corner of the Razor Back turn off.
Being a music lover from a very young age Chris has enjoyed learning piano and singing. She is still involved with the Rockhampton Musical Union and the Bouldercombe Singers.
In future issues of People in Profile we hope to bring you more extracts from Christina’s interesting life. There is also talk of a poetry DVD being produced to capture more of her experiences through her life’s journey.
- Profile and photograph by Heather Quarry, supplied to the Mount Morgan Argus 2013 -