Muster is 'jewel in the entertainment crown'
“THE Prime Minister should see this Muster of yours,” an enthusiastic Kevin Butler said yesterday as he and fellow Victorian bushfire victims began to settle back in to their homes.
Mr Butler, who founded the Blaze Aid recovery program for embattled victims of this year's Victorian disaster, said it was impossible to measure the good will and hope generated by the Gympie Music Muster.
And the gift of good will has brought with it a much needed gift of hope for people still battling with the after-effects of the trauma suffered by residents.
It is a gift which Mr Butler hopes he and his companions can share with their friends and neighbours in the bushfire affected area.
“The survivors are still battling. We've had three suicides in the past 10 days, so people still need help,” he said.
Mr Butler formed the Blaze Aid organisation to help in the recovery effort after experiencing the good will of his own friends and neighbours when his fences were destroyed by the fires.
“I would have had sheep on the highway,” he said at the time. “It would have taken me months to do it on my own.”
But instead of doing it on his own, he found neighbours willing to chip in.
In the spirit of passing it on, he formed Blaze Aid and set about organising people to help others burned out or traumatised by the fires.
Blaze Aid was the recipient of this year's Rural Aid donation from the Muster, a tradition which began with help for drought victims and which continues now with every muster, helping regional Australians cope with disaster.
“The Gympie Muster has got to be the jewel in the crown of Australian entertainment.
“It reminds me of what Australia was like when I was a kid.
“The kids were safe, the adults responsible and it was all good times and good mates.
“I'm told there were 80,000 people through the gates, but there was no trouble. People just had a drink, enjoyed themselves and behaved themselves.
“Families can go along and know that they are safe, their kids are safe.
“It was wonderful to see how the community got involved, all those beautiful primary schools, with the kids and parents working together.
“It was like finding a whole new bunch of long lost aunties and uncles. We took the Rattler trip to Imbil. It was absolutely joyous to be on that train, going back in time and travelling at 25km per hour.
“We can pay $90 to see one entertainer here, but at the Muster, you get constant entertainment from breakfast at 8am right through to 2am, with up to nine venues at a time.
“The Muster should be treasured and preserved forever.”