The biggest stories we’ve covered in the past 60+ years
WHEN the Gatton Star rolls off the printing presses for the last time on Tuesday, it will be the end of an era.
While we’ll still be here to bring you the best news online, it’s important to look back at the near seven decades of news the Gatton Star has covered.
While our archives only go back to the early 1980s, there’s still been some huge stories in that time – both terrific and terrible.
Here’s the biggest front page stories we’ve covered:
Laidley High School Opens – 1985
Laidley High School was officially opened by the then Deputy Premier and local member Bill Gunn.
The new school cost $1,429,000 at the time, and to celebrate the opening, the deputy premier granted students and teachers a holiday.
Forest Hill Bomb Scare – 1987
It’s one of the Lockyer Valley’s biggest mysteries – who tried to blow up the Forest Hill Hotel?
In late August, police discovered a stolen Ford Falcon from Sydney parked outside of the small pub with two “incendiary devices” strapped to it.
Police at the time described it as a “professional” job.
But despite a thorough investigation, the case was never solved.
Laidley Shire Centenary – 1988
It seems like a lifetime ago when the proud shires of Laidley and Gatton merged to form Lockyer Valley Regional Council.
But in 1988, the Laidley Shire celebrated 100 years of existence.
The occasion was marked with a re-enactment of the first even meeting of the shire council.
Hawks crowned premiers – 1989
In September 1989, the Gatton Hawks A grade team capped off a stunning season to lift the Toowoomba Rugby League premiership trophy.
The final say, the Hawks soared to success, beating the All Whites 30-18.
Twenty years later, many of the members of the team watched on as three Hawks sides played finals at the 2019 grand final – but it was not to be a repeat, with all teams falling at the last hurdle.
Gatton State School Fire – 1991
Gatton woke on a May morning in 1991, to news the Gatton State School had been ravaged by a devastating fire.
Eight classrooms, and seven storerooms were completely destroyed in the blaze, causing $1.5 million dollars in damage.
Two youths were charged with arson over the crime.
Laidley District School opens – 1999
It was a controversial decision at the time, but Laidley District State School has become a fixture of life in the area.
But the school wasn’t opened until late November at the turn of the century.
The new $5.5 million state school opened in 1999, after the Laidley Central, Laidley North and Mulgowie State schools merged early that year.
Gatton turns 150 – 2005
It was a big party on the streets of Gatton in 2005, when the region celebrated 150 years since it was declared a town.
Then governor Quentin Bryce joined Mayor Steve Jones and 2000 revellers for a weekend of festivities.
Prime Minister comes to town – 2007
It was a big deal for Lowood residents when the then Prime Minister John Howard came to town on the campaign trail.
The Prime Minister was greeting with a packed hall of locals, and spoke about the horrific impact the millennium drought was causing on the region at the time.
Perhaps the most memorable part of the exchange came with a photo of the PM reacting to local Coral Larsen telling him about her family’s wholesale nursery business.
New era of council – 2008
The decision to merge many shire council into regional councils in 2008 was not a popular one.
But from the decision, two giants of local politics were once again elected to the top jobs in March that year.
Former Gatton Shire Mayor Steve Jones took up the mantle of Lockyer Valley Mayor, while Esk Mayor Graeme Lehmann was elected to lead the Somerset council.
Floods take horrific toll – 2011
2011 will forever be etched into the minds and hearts of the region.
The devastating floods claimed lives and livelihoods as water tore through the Valley.
12 people lost their lives in Grantham, the worst hit town, and some bodies have never been found.
Laidley hit by floods again – 2013
It was deja vu for Laidley residents, when floods water again tore through the region just two years after 2011.
While there wasn’t the tragic loss of life, the economic impact of the disaster was just as damaging.
Gone, but never forgotten – 2015
It’s a case that will forever haunt the Lockyer Valley.
Beloved Gatton teenager Jayde Kendall went missing on August 14, and after the community rallied in a desperate search – her body was discovered nearly two weeks later.
She was remembered as a bright and bubbly teenager with a kind heart.
Brenden Bennets was found guilty of her murder in 2017, and sentenced to life in prison.
History destroyed in blaze – 2015
The historic Imperial Hotel had been a fixture of the Gatton high street for decades.
But it was lost in hours when a blaze tore through the building in November 2015.
The hotel was reduced to rubble and nearby buildings severely damaged in the inferno.
The land where it once stood stands empty to this day.
Farewell to a legend – 2016
He was a legend larger than life.
Mayor of the Lockyer Valley Steve Jones had a passion for the region few could match, and this dedication was honoured when thousands attended his funeral.
The mayor died on February 19, 2016, after collapsing during a media interview.
The Gatton Star will continue to cover all these great, tragic and important stories as it continues in a digital platform.