SURPRISE: Mira McNair was excited to find a unique gift for her son's birthday at the auction.
SURPRISE: Mira McNair was excited to find a unique gift for her son's birthday at the auction. Elyse Wurm

The sweet sound of success

BIDDERS were scratching their heads at the sight of a large, tubular instrument lying in line at the auction on Sunday.

"Is it a tuba?,” one bystander asked.

"I think it's a little bigger than that,” his friend replied.

It wasn't until Mira McNair got her hands on the piece at the fall of the hammer that the mystery was solved.

"It's a euphonium,” she said.

"My son used to play one when he was at Scots.”

Celebrating her 20th year visiting the auction, Mrs McNair attended the event without an idea in mind for her son's recent birthday.

Purely by luck, she spotted a gift that would do perfectly.

"I thought wow, that would look nice in Robert's place,” she said.

"He's going to put it up as decoration.”

She could immediately picture the piece hung on the wall at her son's log cabin style house, which had high ceilings and plenty of space for a fitting display.

Engraved with the name "Charleston” and insignia to match, Mrs McNair vowed to do some research to uncover the instrument's undoubtedly grand history.

"I like the rustic feel, it's probably from the turn of the century,” she said.

Mrs McNair said it was unlikely any polishing would befall the instrument once it fell into the hands of its true owner, as she believed the slightly tarnished exterior just added to its character.

Bidding started at $40 and crept quickly skywards, but Mrs McNair held her nerve right until the last nod.

"I thought I had it at $130 but then someone else jumped in,” she said.

Pipping all the other punters with a bid of $150, she claimed the prize with a grin from ear to ear.

"It's a good price for an antique,” she said.

"But it doesn't really have a value.

"You're never going to get something like that again.”

Originally from Allora but now living in Warwick, Mrs McNair makes the trip back each year to continue the family bidding tradition.

"If you come to one, you come to all of them,” she said.

"There are some really interesting things.”

The family has picked up all sorts of goodies throughout the years.

"Our first auction was a trailer load of petrified wood,” Mrs McNair said.

"After that it was mainly old cameras and there were a couple of cars a few years ago.”

Recent years have taken on a more musical theme.

"This is not as heavy as last year when they got a piano,” she said.

"Also a gramophone from the 1920s.

"We've got old records so you can really hear them.”

Not always staying behind the buying line, Mrs McNair has also donned a fluorescent vest as a runner at the annual community auction.

Starting when her son was in the Scouts, they would lend a hand running lists to the front office so punters could pick up their purchases.

She reminisced about long days spent at the showgrounds.

"It would take from early morning into the evening just to get through it all,” she said.

Buzzing from the success of her recent bidding battle, Mrs McNair had renewed energy to take on the rest of the auction.

Rubber plants were next up on the wish list.

But either way, with the euphonium safely riding back to Warwick on the back seat of her car the day could be deemed a surprising success.

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