Women in spotlight at airport open day
WELLCAMP Airport's ambassador Laura Geitz helped the Wagner family welcome nearly 16,500 visitors to the airport's first public open day.
Ms Geitz, who is originally from Allora, is the Australian Diamonds netball captain and was recently appointed ambassador to help promote the airport.
The first public open day was blown sky-high along with half a million tonnes of stone.
The Southern Downs Regional Council Economic Development Unit chartered a bus to the open day for interested people from Stanthorpe and Warwick.
From the moment the gates swung open, an unbroken chain of cars filed into the construction site of Australia's first privately built public airport.
It was a relentless procession, with nearly 16,500 guests having wandered the sun-drenched work site at final count.
The family behind the vast project has heralded the day as a categorical success, not least the woman usually quietly operating behind the scenes, Mary Wagner.
She was in demand from dignitaries and the general public alike, all approaching with the same question on their lips: "Are you proud of what your boys have achieved?"
Between the demands of mingling and watching the spectacular blast of 500,000 tonnes of rock - the largest non-mining blast in Australia's history - the Wagner family matriarch negotiated a short interlude to answer that very question.
She recalled a time when she worked night shifts just to afford the tuition fees for her eight children's education.
"I would pick up my pay packet and take it straight to Downlands (College)," she said.
How times have changed.
The Wagner family is now ranked as Queensland's ninth richest entity.
"There is no way in the world that I would have thought we would one day build an airport," Mrs Wagner said.