Walls speak volumes of settler town with new hall unveiled
A SPARKLE of joy appeared on Douglas Coy's face as the doors of the Junabee Memorial Hall opened and history spanned before him.
In a moment, Mr Coy was transported back to the time when he was an athletic, young water joey who helped dig the posts for the original hall in 1945.
Now the building has been transformed from crumbling walls into a historic destination that takes visitors on a journey through the decades.
As Junabee's oldest living resident, Mr Coy cut the ribbon and re-opened the hall on Sunday.
"What an inspiring job that has been done here,” Mr Coy said.
Inspired by stories discovered while researching his family history, the project was initiated by Junabee descendant Neale Kemp.
A great-grandson of the man who opened the original hall, Mr Kemp wanted a place where people could stop by and learn about the significance of the little Southern Downs settlement.
"I noticed there was a lot of oral history, but there was no physical history of Junabee,” Mr Kemp said.
"There was no real centre of Junabee, there was nowhere you could go and find the story of the pioneers and the schools and the people that opened up the land.”
Over the years, the hall had also fallen into disrepair with one of the walls completely ruined.
Mr Kemp said the Junabee Memorial Hall Committee had decided to try to preserve the building and were closely involved in steering the renovations.
"It was a huge community effort, the input has just been phenomenal,” he said.
Along with the pioneer garden, children's play shed and war memorial, the hall forms an impressive historic destination.
More than 56 families contributed to the pioneer garden, which is dedicated to the region's settlers.
But Mr Kemp said the hall wasn't just for the residents and descendants of Junabee.
"I think the thing we want to get out is that Junabee Hall is open for business. We want people to start coming back out to these community halls, have their weddings and their functions out here.”
The new direction of the Junabee Hall hark back to its original intention, when Mr Kemp's great grandfather opened the hall.
"He said it would be a central area that would bring people together and form the nucleus of a new farming community,” Mr Kemp said
Seeing his life project come to fruition, Mr Kemp said he was filled with an astonishing sense of pride.
"It is beyond my wildest dreams,” he said.