Farm boy at heart made a good life

ANTHONY John Symonds was born in St Mary's Hospital, Pittsworth, on November 5, 1947.

He was a twin and the sixth of seven children born to Alan George and Kathleen Vera Symonds, nee Dulhunty.

His first 12 years were spent growing up on a grain farm, Iona, between the railway stations Evensleigh and Bongeen, next to the Norilee Siding. Mount Tyson was the nearest main centre while Oakey and Toowoomba were the business centres.

Mass was offered once a month but the family went to Mass at Aubigny twice a month, being a part of the Oakey Parish. Tony and twin brother Ken were home-schooled by their mother and correspondence school.

The farm was accessed by black soil roads, so many a religious and social function was curtailed by wet weather. He didn't remember any of the missed church attendances being a problem to small boys.

Tony Symonds.
Tony Symonds. Deanna Millard

In 1960 the farm was sold and the family moved to Pittsworth, however Tony never lost his love of the black soil plains.

He and Ken attended the convent school.

The parish boundaries were altered so he made his first communion in Pittsworth. Then there followed four years at the Pittsworth Secondary Department.

After finishing school, Tony spent two years working in Toowoomba before taking on a farm hand job on Felton Station.

That was followed by two and a half years working in the Brookstead area, then two years working on a dairy farm at Athol.

He had his heart set on becoming a dairy farmer. Then there was a year of casual work, going fruit picking, vegetable picking and dam skiing near St George and around Pittsworth.

In June 1973, he was persuaded against having an early night and went to the Cambooya Catholic ball. Twenty minutes after his first dance with Frances Mary Bermingham, he knew he had met his future wife.

He always told his children that when he was 15, his mother told her boys they should say three Hail Marys every day for a good wife, but was leaving it up to them to judge if the prayers had been answered.

In 1975, with family help for which Tony was always grateful, he purchased a dairy farm between Pittsworth and Yarranlea.

He and Frances became engaged and were married soon after. The happy day was May 15, 1976.

Damien and Catherine were born at Pittsworth.

Tragedy struck in 1979 when his father-in-law died suddenly, aged only 62.

His mother-in-law died in 1985, two salt-of-the-earth people for whom he had a deep respect.

However, he was privileged to have his own parents live to a good age.

The small dairy farm wasn't really a financial picnic, so he and Frances decided to move on, and purchased a run down property at Karara in 1981.

They ran sheep and later cattle, as well as some cropping.

After an eight year gap, against medical advice, they welcomed Jane into the family.

Tony became involved in timber cutting, supplying fencing timber to southern Darling Downs farmers.

Being a typical Symonds, be became proficient at whatever he took on, loving bush work.

But Tony decided it was time for change and in January 2000, went to Brisbane and studied for his real estate licence.

He wanted a job that would provide a flexible lifestyle that would allow him to continue with farm life and remain in the small community of Karara.

He worked as a salesman until 2007, then purchased the agency he worked for with a business partner.

He became the sole owner of the agency in 2010.

A highlight for Tony in 2004 was when Damien took Lara Wharton as his bride in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Annerley.

Tony and Frances developed a wonderful relationship with Lara's parents and they were blessed to have two grandchildren.

Tony was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in July 2012, which claimed his life last week.

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