Originally written by Spectator-Observer Partnership
MACARTHUR finally buried its unwelcome tag of Victoria’s most boring town on Sunday.
The image – via newspaper articles that resulted from a competition in 1984 – were literally buried in a tombstone topped with a septic tank lid.
And on hand to oversee the official burial – and to launch Simone’s Dalton’s book on the town’s characters – were at least 600 people, many dressed in red.
As well as the book launch and burial of the boring town image, there were re-enactments about the bubonic plague standoff involving the town’s doctor, and an 1870s coroner’s court hearing.
Rohan Mortimer feels extremely relieved the tag has been lifted – a tag which he gave it 21 years ago.
His main wish for the day was realised – that he wasn’t buried along with the articles!
“It was something I didn’t think would go on for 20 years,” he said yesterday. “But I hope it’s well and truly buried.”
He was expecting some ‘negative reaction’ from some people still annoyed at his being the catalyst for the boring tag, but he was relieved at his reception.
He took pride in the words of Professor Weston Bate (who launched Ms Dalton’s book) who said Rohan had almost gone from villain to hero because he had put Macarthur on the map – and prompted Simone Dalton’s book in response, which showed what great characters Macarthur had.
From the hindsight of middle age, Rohan said he now understood how Macarthur people of all ages were upset.
“I know my own father was pretty upset at me – he was pretty angry because he loved the small town. I did write it very tongue in cheek about a few things that happened to me when I was younger – I think it was probably a entertaining article. I think there were large and smaller towns put in the competition but probably mine was the most entertaining.
“But it’s great that I have been officially forgiven – there were no dead horses in my bed. Me and Natalie (Macarthur Mafia) embraced and the minister (Norman de Silva) was very funny with his ceremony.”
Rohan works for Origin Energy and is starting a new job working with the State Ombudsman handling complaints about the company.
Simone Dalton was delighted whith how the day turned out.
“We couldn’t fit everyone into the hall during the launch. A lot of former Macarthur residents came back for the day. It was great catching up with so many people I hadn’t seen for years,” she said.
One such family was the Murphys. “I was writing about Jimmy Murphy who was here in the 1930s and 40s and a whole carload of them came up from Melbourne. It was just amazing the connections people still have with the town even though they have been gone for many years.”
She believed Rohan was happy to come back ‘and finally put it all behind him’.
“They (Rohan and Natalie) even stomped on the septic tank to make sure they (articles) were put down properly,” she laughed. “As they did that, the fire truck screamed in with all sirens blaring and we let off 100 balloons.