Brolga Theatre gets its name

THE MONEY had been raised, the site found, the building designed.Brolga Theatre

The choice of a name for the district’s long awaited entertainment and cultural centre was given over to the public who had so strongly got behind the project.

A submission by Jocelyn Watts of Maryborough, Queensland, soared to the top of the list and the theatre had its name – Brolga.

Jocelyn’s award-winning Brolga entry

AUSTRALIA’S dancing bird, the brolga, is symbolic of what I believe the new Maryborough and District Entertainment Centre means to the Wide Bay Burnett and Fraser Coast regions.

Famous for its stately dancing displays and known as the “Native Companion”, the brolga is found mostly in eastern and northern Australia.

Maryborough naturalist Hugh Peddie said brolgas could be seen locally; in fact a small flock of brolgas has inhabited the Saltwater Creek area for about 40 years.

Brolga Theatre

Jocelyn Watts wins the competition to name the theatre. She is pictured at the opening in July 2000 with husband Don Watts. PHOTO: Fraser Coast Chronicle.

According to *aboriginal legend, Brolga was a beautiful girl who loved to dance. The evil magician, Nonega, wanted Brolga in marriage but when the elders refused him, he engulfed her in a whirlwind of dust.

When the whirlwind passed, there was no sign of Brolga but in her place was a tall, graceful bird. Her friends saw the resemblance and called “Brolga!” From that day forth, aborigines have named that bird Brolga.

Just as Brolga was transformed into a bird that dances on Queensland’s wetlands, the site of the once prosperous Wilson Hart Sawmill is now being transformed in a whirlwind of progress, to bear an exciting and lasting entertainment venue that will draw audiences from near and far boosting the local economy.

Earlier this year, 21 Wide Bay Burnett mayors joined forces to recreate the economic growth of the region’s heyday. Similarly, brolgas are rarely found alone. Being gregarious, they move in flocks sometimes numbering 1000 in the tropics.

These charming water birds are known to forage in the swamps and waterways of the Wide Bay Burnett. The entertainment centre standing majestically beside the Mary River, which was once the lifeblood of the region, represents the birds standing by the waterside.

Brolgas are most active at dawn when they can be seen “dancing” in pairs. They face each other, spread their wings, bow and shake as they advance and retreat, pausing now and again to give loud trumpeting calls.

As Maryborough enters the new millennium – the dawn of a new era – the city is spreading its wings with several new projects underway including the entertainment centre, the beautification of the city’s entrances and the Maryborough City Whistlestop rail museum in Lennox Street.

Brolgas are endowed with grey plumage signifying the sophistication and dignity associated with the Heritage City. Their red head symbolises the courage and drive it took to get the entertainment centre underway, the exuberance of youth and the excitement that each stage production will evoke throughout the years to come.

The image of a brolga is ideal for marketing purposes and would quickly become synonymous with the Wide Bay Burnett region – as the kingfisher is for Fraser Island. International visitors will recognise the Brolga Theatre as being located in Queensland as the brolga is the state’s official bird emblem and is featured on the Queensland Coat of Arms.

*The Dawn of Time, Australian Aboriginal Myths in Paintings by Ainslie Roberts with text by Charles P. Mountford, 1978.