Jeanne Borchert has to double check her watch, as she walks past Gympie’s courthouse clock.
Jeanne Borchert has to double check her watch, as she walks past Gympie’s courthouse clock.

Clock mystery baffles Gympie

THE mysterious force affecting Gympie’s historic courthouse clock has struck before – and has now spread to other centres.

Whatever it is, it is enough to stop a clock, literally.

No longer an isolated phenomenon, we now hear of similar effects at other public timepieces at Kenilworth and Goomeri.

Authorities insist we are not in the grip of a time warp. The evidence, however, is increasingly clear.

As time moves on at the normal rate in the rest of our world, it seems to have again stood still at the courthouse, where it is either 10.35 or 12.05 (depending on which clock face you look at).

Until recently, it had been 8.55 on the same day in Kenilworth, for two years.

And at Goomeri, the town’s landmark clock has been haywire for some time (if time can be said to be relevant here).

In Gympie, the time warp theory is supported by many legal professionals, witnesses and defendants, forced to spend some of the longest hours of their lives in the historic structure, as cases dragged on, apparently forever.

The last time the clock went strange, in 2003, another theory was introduced.

Painters renovating the 1901 building claimed to have seen a ghost, which may have interfered with the clock.

Others suggested, however, that the sightings were more probably caused by paint fumes inhaled in the confined spaces of the clock tower.

Clock expert Tony Klee, of the century-old firm that installed the clock, agreed that the tower seemed to be the vortex of an invisible force, but one more commonplace than cosmic.

“We think it’s picking up radio waves,” he said, with probable suspects being all the radio communications transceivers on nearby buildings.

“We had the same trouble at Robina Golf Course at the Gold Coast. The clock was fine until they had a big tournament.”

Apparently all the TV and radio broadcasts and mobile phones filled the air with so much electricity that the clock malfunctioned. Its wiring acted like an antenna and it overloaded, he said.

In Kenilworth one resident said the best thing about their town clock was that, for two years, it was exactly correct, but only twice a day.

There too, the culprit was an invisible and strangely unpredictable force known as mains electricity.

As Sunshine Coast Regional Council reports, the days of saying “meet you at five-to-nine” in the main street, no matter what time it really was, are gone.

Chamber of Commerce immediate past president Michael Pfeiffer said the problem was a power supply that was sometimes a bit “untimely.”

Then, when Energex upgraded power lines, the clock stopped altogether.

Now, after a big effort by the chamber and local councillor Paul Tatton, the town clock is more or less accurate and, being solar powered, costs nothing to run.

The Goomeri clock is also set for a solar future, but council Planning chairman Ian Petersen says the clock, a well known Goomeri landmark, is Heritage Listed and special permission will be needed to upgrade its mechanism.

Gympie Times

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