My daughter, Dr Gertrude Behan has asked me to write a few words as to how life has changed around the Girraween Country Inn (CI) over the last 30 years or so.

I have a simple answer: cheese and dual cabs.

Why cheese? We would venture into Woolworths, Stanthorpe at least once a week for supplies. There I’d see huge, round, uncut cheeses about 40 centimetres across and 15cm high, evidence of the Sicilian – Italian community. I think it was on a Thursday, pension day that you’d see on the street, small groups of matrons, dressed in calf-length black dresses lost in the Sicilian language.

For me they were emblematic of the debt owed to the Sicilians to todav’s

Granite Belt. You could get a taste of their food at Anna’s Restaurant, where individual matrons would prepare their dishes. Now matrons, cheeses and dishes are now, sadly, all gone.

And why dual-cabs?

When I first went to the property on 1793 Eukey Rd. I knew nothing about land, soils, water, nor chain-saws. But Kevin, and his mate Spud among many others did. I was taught by them how to manage the chainsaw, tractor and its implements by such “bushies”, knowledgeable men who did. I am owe a debt of gratitude to them. They would work the property, and after a quick lunch would lie down in a little shade, cover their eyes, sleep, get up and at it again.

Today, also capable young men (usually still all men) arrive in bright, shiny dual-cabs, pulling trailers loaded with every variety of tools to do any variety of job from plumbing and maintenance to landscaping and fencing. All invariably wearing american- style baseball caps (bad for melanomas) and promptly sending their bills.

How things have changed…