ABC star farewelled after two decades
YOU could have been forgiven for thinking a rockstar had come to Rockhampton on Monday morning, as ABC Capricornia's foyer filled to the brim with adoring fans.
Clutching envelopes filled with personal sentiments or finely wrapped presents, and waiting for a chance to talk to the lady of the hour, loyal listeners of Jacquie Mackay came out to wish her farewell.
After 23 years working at the media station, Mrs Mackay announced she would be leaving ABC.
"I came here in 1996 as a young journalist from Perth and settling here wasn't my expectation," she said.
"I thought I would be here for two years and then go back to WA, but that all changed when I made my life here and I've never regretted it.
"I fell in love with the place and I fell in love with my husband (Peter), and then we had two children (Sarah, 20 and Alexander, 17) and we brought them up here.
"I just love the area and the whole of Central Queensland."
Being in such a diverse position, Mrs Mackay enjoyed the opportunities to visit many different communities and towns, get to know the "amazing people that live there", help share their stories, and experience the one-of-a-kind CQ culture.
"If I could find (Central Queenslanders' secret ingredient) I would bottle it because it would be sold around the world," she said.
"Everybody is just so willing to help out when the chips are down.
"They see their neighbour who can't get out of their property because the tree has blown down so they think 'I better chainsaw it so that he can get out'. That goes without question that people do that for each other.
"It's about seeing what needs to be done and getting in and doing it. There really are people who work so hard and have gone through so much and they're not fancy but they are good, decent people and that's what matters."
Mrs Mackay's colleagues, avid listeners and members of the community crowded around her on Monday to shower her with presents, praise and thanks.
"I understand now why people say that it is a very humbling thing because I feel very humbled," she said.
"I was just doing my job and I wanted to do my job well and I didn't think necessarily that people would take me to their hearts as much as they seem to have.
"I've loved making friends with people who are just very special and go about their lives in a very reserved and stoic way.
"They do amazing things in their own right and I wanted to share those stories because they deserve to be recognised."
Keeping up with the many levels of politics was a challenging part of the job, she said, as well as sharing bad news.
"You owe it to the friends and family to be very resepctful," she said.
Some of her career highlights included meeting inspiring, tough people affected by the floods, and when Busby Morou performed live.
Mrs Mackay plans to branch out and begin a fashion consultancy business focusing on colour.