Celebrating official opening

Family, friends, and members of the community gathered to celebrate the official opening of the ‘Gary Mooney Crossing’ on Friday, 5 April.

Those gathered shared memories of a man, whose love for his family, farming and his community were paramount.

Gary’s daughter Jill Kenny began the day by welcoming those gathered for the special occasion, including distinguished guests Lachlan Shire Deputy Mayor John Medcalf OAM, Lachlan Shire General Manager Greg Tory, Lachlan Shire Director Infrastructure Services Adrian Milne and Lachlan Shire Council Executive Assistant to the General Manager Cherise Small.

“Today, we gather here, hearts full of pride and reverence, as we commemorate the opening of the crossing that stands as a testament to a remarkable legacy,” Jill began.

“We gather to celebrate the unveiling of the ‘Garry Mooney Crossing’, a fitting tribute to a man whose influence and dedication have left a lasting mark on our lives. “Gary was not merely a man of vision, he was a pillar of our community, a beacon of hope and a source of inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him.

“Today, as we dedicate this crossing in his honour, let us not only remember the man behind the name, but also the values he embodied.

“Let us remember his compassion, his resilience, and his unwavering belief in the power of unity to overcome any obstacle.”

Deputy Mayor John Medcalf OAM, then reflected on Mr Mooney’s contribution to the community.

Mr Mooney’s daughter Julie Romanelli then shared her precious memories of her dad and his life on the land, in an emotional tribute.

“Good morning, everyone. My name is Julie, and I am the very proud daughter of Gary. Thank you all for coming to help my family remember and celebrate Dad through this honour,” she said on the day.

“Thanks to everyone at Lachlan Shire who contributed to make this day possible. Special thanks to Cherise who worked closely with my very dedicated sister, Jill, in organising everything today. Thank you, Jill, for your tireless effort to Dad’s memory.

“Leading up to today has had me thinking about Gary’s life and all that he had in that life.

“There are so many things I would like to tell you about. How proud he was of his wife, my wonderful mother Paulene; almost always proud of his kids; chest swellingly proud of his grandkids, especially as they grew up and started university or got a great job and the younger ones, growing into great young people, especially when they had just spent the day in the ute behind the sheep with him. He loved us all as we did great things, he loved us all as we failed miserably. He was neverendingly generous to us all.

“The Mooney name was introduced into the Condobolin district when my grandfather, Dan, immigrated from Ireland over 100 years ago at the age of just 16. He went on to marry a local girl, Edna Kelle and settle on ‘Kentucky’. Gary was the oldest of their three sons. Mum and Dad started their farming life as share farmers, living in the middle of a ploughed paddock in a caravan before settling on ‘Boolaroo’ in 1962, raised their five children, bought a stock crate and moved to town in 1975 to expand the stock crate into what became known throughout the district as Monney’s Transport.

“Palisthan was added to the dynasty in the mid-1990s, then in the early 2000’s, Dad finally got his wish and started the transition back to being a full-time farmer.

“Gary spent his whole life in Condobolin and rarely felt the need to leave. “His life was fulfilled here, working hard and providing for his family. He was regarded as a bit of a local identity and known for his generosity and was always ready to help anyone in need.

“He carted wheat and wool out of town and our groceries and beer into town. He supported local farmers and businesses through drought and hard times, often carting and storing produce free until times improved. He employed many locals, from school leavers to family men. He was the first to offer help and support local charities and I can’t remember a town concert or event where there wasn’t a Mooney’s trailer or container sitting proudly.

“He was a dedicated member of the Rotary Club serving in many positions, including President, and receiving the honour of the Paul Harris Fellow award in recognition of his services to our community.

“I remember talking to people at Dad’s funeral and realising that most people recognised and respected him through his business in town, but that’s not really how we thought of him. It was out here in the dry, red dust and dirt he loved, and craved throughout the years he lived in town.

“I know if I could ask him what his best years were he would say the last 10, back out here with his dogs, sheep and wheat. When we lived in town it was a Sunday morning ritual in Orange Street. ABC blaring at 5am, up and off to the farm with as many of us kids squeezed into the ute as he could muster, ABC still blaring and Bundy on the back barking the whole way.

“Of all the stories I could tell you of Dad and his life out here, I have chosen one that sticks with me and made our families decision to sell up even harder. I was out at ‘Palisthan’ one time, not all that long before he died, and we were having lunch. I would assume it had been a while since it had rained – it was always a while since if had rained! I was flipping through The Land, and I said

“Oh, Dad listen to this!” and went on to describe an amazing property for sale up near the Barrington Tops, complete with historical sandstone homestead and acres of river frontage. ‘Come on Dad, let’s all sell up and buy that, it sounds green and beautiful all year round.” His horrified and rather baffling response was ‘Why in the bloody hell would I want to live up there in the middle of nowhere when I already live here in God’s Country?” Just goes to show ‘Boolaroo’ and ‘Palisthan’ were home to him, and he thought it was the best place ever.

“When Dad was sick, he often commented in his usual impatient way, that he didn’t have time to die, he had too much to get done out here, he really was not ready to go but God had a different plan for him.

“I cannot think of a more fitting place for a lasting memory of Dad, than crossing the paddocks of ‘Boolaroo’, so thank you Condobolin for the ‘Gary Mooney Crossing’. Everyone knows he is still here. Looking out for home.”

Mr Mooney’s grandson, Dan Romanelli, then recalled how Mr Mooney let his grandchildren explore the farms and develop their own sense of identity. He said he let them drive vehicles and get up to mischief. “We all really love and miss him.”

Deputy Mayor John Medcalf OAM, Jill and her husband Ray officially unveiled the ‘Gary Mooney Crossing’ sign.

The renaming process began in 2020, when Gary’s daughter Jill, with support from support from the residents of Palisthan Road, wrote to Lachlan Shire Council asking if the ‘Sandy Creek Crossing’ on Palisthan Road could be renamed ‘Gary Mooney Crossing’ to commemorate his life and work in the Condobolin community.

Jill wrote that Gary had resided in Condobolin his whole life, connecting Condobolin to the rest of the country through his transport business and doing what he could to support farmers and business through difficult times like drought. Jill also told of how he employed many locals in need of work and generously donated money and equipment to many local organisations and causes.

In asking for the name change, Jill said “Gary loved the land, and no doubt had the red dust of Boolaroo and Palisthan, properties which he farmed for over 50 years, running through his veins. He referred to the area as ‘God’s country’. Sandy Creek runs through Boolaroo and crosses Palisthan Road approximately 60 kilometres west of Condobolin making the crossing a very fitting landmark to commemorate his life.”

A report was prepared for the August 2020 council meeting and Council agreed to place the proposal on exhibition to gain community feedback.

Progression of the renaming was initially delayed during the pandemic lockdowns. However, in September 2022 Council took delivery of signs and started planning the unveiling with Gary’s family.  The unveiling ceremony was again delayed due to flooding in late 2022 and the aftermath in 2023.

“I cannot thank our distinguished guests enough, without their commitment and support this would not have been possible,” Jill said.

“Thank you for joining us, as we celebrate the life and legacy of ‘Gary Mooney’ and may this bridge serve as a lasting tribute to his remarkable spirit.”

Last Updated: 24/04/2024By

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