Irene McKeirnan - the early years

Irene Daphne May McMillan was born in Aramac in 1915. Her father Dick McMillan had married a Barcaldine girl Annie Cliffe in 1914 (they were both 19), and settled in Kerr Street, Aramac. Nearby Dick opened the town's first "motor repair shop" with George Strutton. The business was transferred to Molineaux's new garage building in Porter Street in 1916. The young McMillan owned one of the town's first cars, a Nash. In 1917 he is recorded as becoming a founding member of the local Chapter of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows.

Dick McMillan had come to the district as a boy with his mother Catherine Louisa Bachmann about 1900. Two younger siblings had been placed in foster care in Rockhampton after their father Thomas John McMillan had "cleared out". Catherine "went into service" in the Muttaburra area, where she eventually met a local overseer Charlie Accola. They married in 1908. In 1911 Charlie selected portions 2 and 3 of the Boongoondoo reserve which was being opened for pastoral development. With a 3000 loan from the Bank of NSW, he fenced and stocked the property with sheep, building a primitive homestead and shearing sheds. He called his new home KISMET, and took up residence in 1912.

Jim and Connie Accola were the children of this marriage, and were around Irene's age. At some stage Irene was sent to live with her grandmother at Kismet -- maybe as relief for the expanding McMillan family in Aramac, maybe as company for the Accola kids and to be schooled with them by the Governess who lived at Kismet.

The McMillans moved from Aramac to Gin Gin in late 1924 after the birth of the twins Betty and Clare. There Dick McMillan opened a garage and picture show (having gained experience as a projectionist at Molineaux's Empire Theatre in Aramac).

In December 2003, Irene's son Ron visited the area to see what remained of those early years. He was directed by his 88 yr old mother's still sharp memories of her Aramac childhood. The following slides record what he found.