Rothwell’s Paul Morris has finally had the chance to celebrate his 80th birthday – six months later than planned.
Paul had intended to take a dinner cruise on the Brisbane River with wife Lyn and children Brett, Darren and Kellie in May, but COVID-19 restrictions put a spanner in the works.
Instead, the family had to wait until November to gather to mark the milestone.
Reflecting on 80 years in the community, Paul says he is proud to have the family name committed to history with a road named in honour of his father, George, a park commemorating his identical twin Peter, who passed away in 1989 and another Rothwell park dubbed Morris Park.
“Dad was a Welshman – he came out here when he was 19 by himself in 1920,” Paul says.
“He and a cousin decided England was in the doldrums, and Wales was too, and they wanted to make a fresh start.
“The cousin went to Canada and Dad came here.”
Paul says it is testament to his father’s strength of character that he made a go of things in Queensland’s harsh conditions, which were in stark contrast to the cooler climate of Wales.
George made his way to Surat, where he soon found employment working on machinery and met May Thrupp, who would become his wife, before settling at Saltwater Creek, Rothwell in 1938.
George and May forged a life in Rothwell, raising Paul, Peter and brothers Bob and Doug, and establishing what would become an award-winning pumpkin and tomato farm.
George’s work ethic rubbed off on his sons, with Peter and Paul taking over the farm, Doug becoming a policeman and Bob a wardsman at Surat Hospital.
When Darwin was bombed in 1942, George – despite being exempt because of his age and because he was a primary producer – joined the RAAF, leaving May in charge of their four sons living in a house with no electricity.
“The bedrooms were upstairs, but the kitchen was downstairs and we’d have water up to the chairs because the creek would flood in the wet season when there was rain and a king tide,” Paul recalls.
He joined the Redcliffe Show Society when he was 16 – the next youngest member was in their 30s – and found himself appointed chief steward of poultry soon after.
“The person who was supposed to do it pulled out,” Paul laughs.
He decided to join the Army to gain some more life experience and spent three years in service, until a senior officer offered him a position in officers’ school.
“When I said no, he was irate. He wanted to know why I’d bothered joining. I said I was there for a holiday.”
Paul and Lyn remain firmly connected to the Rothwell community, having built their first home in McKillop St on part of the Saltwater Creek farm, where they raised Brett, Darren and Kellie.
They moved to their second home at Rothwell on part of Bayevue Farm off Morris Rd in 1994.
Brett established a home on the same property with wife Kirstyn and children Christian and Louise, while Darren and wife Sandra built a home on Bayevue for their family Ronan, Tecwyn and Gabrielle.
Kellie married Gary Bartkowski from Dalby and moved with daughter Kate to a new home in McKillop St, before building a home on Bayevue following the birth of their second daughter, Amy.