Weekend Gary Guest photographer. St Patrick's Catholic Church, Gympie.
Weekend Gary Guest photographer. St Patrick's Catholic Church, Gympie. Contributed

Secret Gympie sites and passages you never knew were there

THEY are beautiful, historic and sometimes even a little bit creepy.

They are the Gympie region's most secret tunnels, passageways and landmarks.

Do you know the tragic tale behind a recently uncovered grave at Inskip Point?

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Would you take a stroll down the Smithfield St steps and examine the eerie wartime bomb shelter lying under Gympie's CBD?

What about a wander through the famous love tunnel's dark depths, with nothing but a torch to guide your way?

Have a browse through our list - you might discover something you never knew about.

 

Richard Walding at Emily Reilly's grave on Inskip.
Richard Walding at Emily Reilly's grave on Inskip.

1. Inskip Point Grave

ORIGINAL STORY: Historic grave restored

A tale of terrible tragedy took its rightful place in the history of Inskip Point in 2012 with the unveiling of Emily Jane Reilly's restored grave and memorial plaque near the spot where she died more than 120 years earlier.

Emily, just 17 when she met her demise, was dusting photos in the kitchen of the Reilly family home when she was accidentally shot and killed by her 13-year-old brother Will in mid-1891.

Will had grabbed their father Samuel's pistol from the parlour and pointed it at his sister, who stood less than five metres away from him.

He reportedly said "It ain't loaded" just before the pistol went off and hit Emily below her left breast.

The Gympie Times reported on the accidental death when the grave was restored by Emily's great nephew Dr Richard Walding in partnership with Queensland Parks and Wildlife.

"In Will's deposition to a magisterial inquiry the next day he said Emily immediately said, 'Oh Will, you've shot me,' and threw her arms out," the article read.

"She ran to the front gate and fell down, unconscious, and died a minute or two later."

Dr Walding, a "descendant of three generations of men who worked the Inskip Point light and signal station", told the story of the Reilly family arriving at Inskip Point in 1875.

"My great grandfather was Samuel James Reilly who joined the Queensland Lighthouse Service as the pilot and receiving officer at Inskip Point on December 1, 1875," he said.

"He arrived at Inskip with his wife Emily and five-month-old daughter Emily Jane, born in Maryborough."

"It was seen as a shameful episode and (Samuel) was most remorseful that he left a loaded gun in the house," he said.

"It only came to light in 1980 when my father drew a map of the area and marked 'grave' on it."

Dr Walding told the Times Emily died at the gate to her family's home, beside a palm tree at the bottom of the steps.

"That very same tree is still at Inskip, right in the middle of the roundabout outside the camping ground," he said.

Emily's grave remains at the same Inskip Point site today.

 

HISTORIC: The chapel of St Patrick's church in Gympie, where the first two parish priests remain buried.
HISTORIC: The chapel of St Patrick's church in Gympie, where the first two parish priests remain buried. Tom Daunt

2. St Patrick's Church Tombs

One of Gympie's oldest and most beautiful buildings, St Patrick's Catholic Church contains a rich and layered history.

The July 1923 funeral procession of Dean Matthew Horan, the church's first parish priest, included a burial on the church ground.

Dean Michael O'Flynn would also be interred on the grounds when he died 12 years later in November 1935, and both priests remain buried under the church today.

"Sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on our first two parish priests whose bodies lie here buried," a plaque on the chapel wall reads.

Archive reports of Dean Horan's burial describe a funeral procession making its way through Gympie before coming to a final stop at the church.

"Crowds of people viewed the procession along its line of route and at the burial ceremony the church and grounds were thronged," a July 1923 report in The Gympie Times read.

"The place of burial was on the Gospel side of the church near the Sanctuary.

"The coffin was placed in a grave which had been encased with 4 inches of cement, and the last resting place of the Very Reverend Dean Horan will be indicated by a marble slab suitably inscribed."

 

HISTORIC: The chapel of St Patrick's church in Gympie, where the first two parish priests remain buried.
HISTORIC: The chapel of St Patrick's church in Gympie, where the first two parish priests remain buried. Tom Daunt

3. Smithfield St steps, bomb shelters around Gympie

A WARTIME ROMANCE: love in dangerous times

UPDATE: War the biggest part of life in 1940s Gympie

A riveting piece of Gympie history was "briefly uncovered" last year when Gympie Regional Council revealed wartime bomb shelter steps leading under Smithfield St in the town centre.

Senior journalist Arthur Gorrie caught up with former local John Stark, who shared his recollections of weekly air raid drills and a love story in an unlikely setting.

"I remember the bomb shelter," Mr Stark said.

"Every Monday at 11am there would be an air raid drill. The old siren used to go off at the fire station.

"There was a soldier in town during one of the drills.

"A young lady taking part in the drill fell or something. So he carried her down the stairs.

"They kept in touch and corresponded for many years ... but over time they lost contact.

Amazingly, the couple were reunited 50 years later when the soldier "came back to revisit the town he had not seen since the war years", and "ended up getting married".

The stairs under Smithfield St were re-buried almost immediately after being uncovered in April last year.

Other shelters rumoured to be around Gympie include those at the Australian Institute of Country Music, somewhere around O'Connell and Monkland Sts, the ANZ branch, the Gympie Town Hall and "at least three under Memorial Park".

 

BURIED HISTORY: A long forgotten air raid shelter under Gympie's Smithfield St was unearthed and re-buried during recent street renovations.
BURIED HISTORY: A long forgotten air raid shelter under Gympie's Smithfield St was unearthed and re-buried during recent street renovations. Arthur Gorrie

4. The 'Love Tunnel'

LOCAL ICON: Love tunnel's kiss of life

30 reasons you know you grew up in Gympie...

A famous landmark for any long-term Gympie resident, the Love Tunnel "runs from the banks of the Mary River just upstream of Kidd Bridge, past Mary St and finishes across the road from the Senior Citizens' Centre".

Also known as the "Gympie Dome", the tunnel was the site of childhood adventures for generations of local kids brave enough to enter its dark depths. Given its cheeky name, the dome was undoubtedly also a regular meeting place for local teenagers.

The tunnel, serving as Gympie's "main storm water drain", received a "facelift" in 2014 after being extensively damaged in the 2012 floods.

 

The Liberty Theatre in Mary St.
The Liberty Theatre in Mary St. Contributed

5. The Coronation/Liberty Theatre

A relic of Mary St's old Cameron building, the "hugely versatile" old theatre complex began its life providing "nights of life and excitement" as the Coronation Glideway skating rink before first showing a movie in 1938.

Senior journalist Arthur Gorrie described the slumbering theatre as "a hidden dimension to the building, one that provides an almost ghostly false memory of a building humming with youth and life".

The first movie shown at the theatre was "a documentary on the amazing mass production technology which first gave the world the affordable family automobile".

The complex was sold to the current owners several years ago.

More about the history of Cameron's building here.

 

RIGHT: A sinkhole which opened up at a Bligh St property was repaired by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.
RIGHT: A sinkhole which opened up at a Bligh St property was repaired by the Department of Natural Resources and Mines. DNRM

6. Abandoned mineshafts

FIND OUT: Is your house sitting on a gold mine?

Unsurprisingly, the Gympie region was proven to be a honeycomb for abandoned mineshafts last year, when 2200 abandoned gold mines (or almost 15 per cent of the Queensland total) were discovered across the region.

Local hotspots in Gympie included areas around Perseverance St and Hilton Rd, north Monkland, around Alma St and Lady Mary Tce, and Chatsworth, Corella, Rossmount, Greendale and Kilkivan outside Gympie.

You can still check what old mines are near your home by logging on to My Mines Online.

Gympie Times


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