Is Statue?


PL Travers
Maryborough’s P.L. Travers – Author of Mary Poppins

Folks, there are more statues of animals around Oz than there are of women. Except for here in Gladstone, where we’re equal opportunity ignorers; we don’t have any statues of animals or women.

In fact, we’ve only got two statues: the bronze soldier standing atop the ANZAC memorial in Goondoon Street, and the big sculpture of William Ewart Gladstone in the Art Gallery.

Will used to guard the Botanic Gardens and when our girls were little, I’d frighten the daylights out of them with gruesome tales of how Giant Billy would come to life each night and stomp flat Gladstone’s naughtiest children.

Years later, I’m still waiting for the ‘Parent of the Year’ judges to call?!

Anyway, for some reason, there are no local women represented in bronze, marble, concrete, wood or even watercolour. Happily, I’ve found one candidate who meets all the requirements: 1. She’s a woman. 2. She did something worthwhile for our village and, 3. She’s dead. Note: you don’t have to be dead to have a sculpture erected in your honour, but it’s sort of a tradition.

Her name was Mrs. Hetherington, and she became Gladstone’s first postmistress in January 1870. Unfortunately, the position had been terminally vacated by her husband who fell down a ships’ hatch while delivering mail one night.

History doesn’t record why he was out delivering mail at night, either he was very dedicated, running extremely late, drunk, or possibly having the ultimate cow of a day.

Either way, Mrs. Hetherington found herself widowed, and left to raise a large family of young children on her own. So, she rolled up her sleeves, then asked for the keys to the post office; and possibly a lamp to prevent another night-time, maritime, accident.

For the next twenty-two years she delivered the mail, ran the post office (which doubled as a bank), and dealt with the complex, new-fangled, Morse code, telegraph. In her spare time, she single-handedly raised her brood of children.

Folks, if that effort isn’t worthy of a statue in her honour, in a prominent place, then I don’t know what is?

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