Gympie is a unique, regional city servicing the beautiful Cooloola region in South-east Queensland. It’s large enough to be well serviced and host to thriving primary and manufacturing industries, yet small enough to retain its historic identity and friendly, country town atmosphere.
Gympie began as a gold mining settlement in 1857. It was famously credited as ‘the town that saved Queensland’ when the wealth of the gold strike provided the means for Queensland to become an independent state. Forestry and farming industries soon added to the economy of the flourishing district.
Today the town that crept across the hills and hollows and covered a myriad of mine shafts and tunnels has charm, culture and natural beauty. Where else do you see lovely examples of historic architecture set against the brilliant blue and gold of the Jacarandas and Silky Oaks flowering side by side?
Well-known for its army of volunteers and its community spirit, Gympie has a heart of gold in more ways than one, and its charitable character sets it apart.
Perhaps it’s because large areas of the city are inundated by flood waters often enough that we don’t forget hardship or how important it is to help one another.
Perhaps it’s the many examples of generosity and dedication we see around us like Little Haven’s Palliative Care Team providing endless caring support for the terminally ill and their families, Pastor August Fricke’s Gympie-Laga Project of 1999 that provided help and hope in East Timor, or Linda Shum’s Chinese Orphans Assistance Team (COAT) who have set up a series of homes to give love and care to unwanted and disabled children in China.
Perhaps it’s the tireless work of our service clubs and community groups who come together each year to stage the Gympie Music Muster. A cultural institution which draws thousands and thousands of campers and music lovers to the Amamoor Forest, the festival generates profits that are all distributed back into the community.
Perhaps it’s the opportunity to learn an instrument and make music, offered to all ages by Gympie’s Australian Institute of Country Music or our unique ‘Heart of Gold’ Film Festival, always an uplifting experience with its focus on films that inspire, entertain and enrich the soul.
When Gympie girl, Amy Coates decided to volunteer her nursing and midwifery skills to help Sierra Leone in 2009, she created a series of circumstances that led to a lasting connection between Gympie and the people of Yiben.
Amy’s first trip involved training community nurses, updating and digitizing the course material and working with Mercy Ships to help establish a birthing centre in the capital, Freetown. During this time she met a British zoologist, Chris Ransom who told her about a very remote northern village where he had instigated a community school a few years earlier. Amy with her brother, Jay, later took up his suggestion to connect with Mallam and visit this village of Yiben.
Amy’s heart for Salone took her back in 2011 to focus on Women’s Health and Wellness as part of the community obligation of a British Mining Company. Her mum Jude, a Gympie teacher, visited her for the second time and was able to spend a week in Yiben helping with the school. Her response to the needs of the village, with the ongoing support of Gympie friends and family, has resulted in the establishment of SET4LIFE Australia.