STORY OF: Bicentennial group changed Hervey Bay.
IN 1988, when $625 million was spent on hosting World Expo 88, Frank Matheson and a 15-strong committee decided to make sure Hervey Bay got its share of the celebrations.
They were determined to ensure the then-sleepy seaside town would reap the benefits not just that year but for many more to come.
Frank, a long-time Hervey Bay resident, along with businessman Peter Carey and passionate members of sporting service clubs, formed the Hervey Bay Bicentennial Community Committee in 1983.
Back then, Hervey Bay's population was only in the thousands and residents from Point Vernon, Pialba and Scarness had their own progress associations.
A block of land could be bought for about $4000 and Frank recalls renting his Cypress St home for about $40 a week.
It was the leadership shown by Frank and the committee during a six-year period that helped these smaller associations come together and work as one to complete about 13 projects in Hervey Bay, including the establishment of a croquet club, a community shed in Point Vernon and the Butchulla monument on the Esplanade near Taylor St, Pialba.
It was built facing Fraser Island, to pay tribute to the significance of K'Gari.
Frank was proud to have played a major part in bringing safety for youth to the forefront by campaigning for one of their biggest undertakings and most successful projects - a bike path built on the Esplanade from Point Vernon to Urangan, which is now used by hundreds of cyclists and walkers every day.
Frank recalls the upset of Point Vernon residents because a part of the path wasn't allocated for walkers, which is why the council initially placed white lines and a sign that read 'bikers must stay to the left'. The writing is still there today.
The committee worked for about six years with Main Roads, Queensland Railway and the Beach Protectors Society to get the job done and, at a time when government funding was low. They held many major fundraisers to cover costs, with the bicentennial year being the biggest.
Judy Rice was the Fraser Coast mayor and Expo 88 was the talk of the town.
Frank and the committee held an abundance of street stalls and colourful block parties where people would play piano in the street, have air races with small aircraft and - in keeping with the Aussie celebration - sell green and gold fund-raising ice creams.
He could be seen working tirelessly to raise funds at the Urangan Trade Fair, the 1988 Australia Day Celebration, Festival of Fun, Baycarna and the inaugural air pageant.
As the secretary of the committee, Frank was awarded Citizen of the Year in 1989 for his untiring efforts in the community and ensuring that the Bicentennial Year in Hervey Bay was one to remember.
He received a commemorative gold medal, a watch and a bicentennial tie.
One of Frank's own major personal accomplishments was securing a parachute mine from the US Navy to be used as a 1988 Bicentennial time capsule at the Hervey Bay Historical Village and Museum.
Frank had written a letter of request to the US President's office and the minster for the US Navy and the next thing he knew, there was a "bomb" waiting for him at the Amberley Airport in Brisbane with his name on it.
It was shipped from South Carolina and caused quite a stir with the town media when it was delivered to the Zephyr St museum by US Navy officials.
Frank said this was when time capsules were at the height of popularity.
The Hervey Bay capsule was filled with newspapers, school newsletters, local club booklets, photos and letters, and was sealed on March 19, 1988, by Peter Carey, who was the chairman of the committee.
The capsule, still located at the museum, is due to be opened in 2088.
Now 88, Frank couldn't believe the committee and all the projects came to fruition simply because he had retired from his long-time telecommunications job at the post office and he wanted "something to take an interest in".
Frank, who has lived in Hervey Bay since 1979, says there's no place he'd rather be.