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Thallon seeks to recognise pioneering family

Clowns, cricketers, tourists and footballers have all made their mark at the Thallon Showgrounds and now the community is looking to honour the family that made it all possible. 

The Thallon Progress Association (TPA) has approached Balonne Shire Council to rename Thallon Showground the McGeever Recreation Grounds in acknowledgement of its rich history and early pioneers. The McGeever family not only donated the land where the grounds are located, but ran the town’s first post office for 50 years from 1912.

TPA secretary Leanne Brosnan said the idea for the renaming was first proposed by Thallon local David Hill and was endorsed by the McGeever family.

“William Henry McGeever was appointed as Thallon’s first postmaster, in 1912. He and his family, including son Bill McGeever and daughter Dot McGeever made a number of notable contributions to our community,” she said.

“While the Thallon Railway and township were established in 1911, postal and telegraphic services lagged behind, with mail continuing to be delivered by Cobb & Co coach to Bullamon Homestead, about 2km from the town. In an age of emails, Instagram and Facebook, it is difficult to believe that a horse and stage coach was the prime source of communication a little over a century ago. The establishment of a post office brought Thallon into the modern era.”

In the early years, the Thallon Post Office also served as a manual telephone exchange and telegraph office, which used Morse Code to transmit and receive messages.  With the death of Mr McGeever shortly before the outbreak of World War II and his wife Esther in 1942, Dot McGeever continued this vital service throughout the war and until her retirement in 1963. Dot was the first to receive word of casualties and had the grim task of informing the families. She rode her bicycle, often through the night, to many properties to deliver telegrams reporting the missing in action and killed in service.

William Thomas (Bill) McGeever enlisted in the local Light Horse troop and Australian Imperial Force in 1940. He served in Malaya and was commissioned in the field with the rank of Lieutenant. After the fall of Singapore, Bill spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of the Japanese, working on the Thailand Burma Railway and in Changi prison.  McGeever Store and Bakery was a fixture in the early life of Thallon.

The family’s donation of the land behind Thallon School for a recreation ground has provided a vital community focus with the grounds used for cricket, football, rodeos, gymkhanas and circuses.

The renaming of grounds is just one of many recent projects that have placed Thallon firmly on the map with the colourful silos mural and William the Wombat earning the town national renown.

Community members are invited to provide feedback about the proposed Thallon Showground name change by either emailing Balonne Shire Council at council@balonne.qld.gov.au or posting to Balonne Shire Council, PO Box 201, St George QLD 4487. Please mark: Proposed Renaming of Thallon Showgrounds, in the subject line or envelope.

Submissions close at  5pm on Friday, 14 December 2018.