Vale Tony Barnett (1925 to 2021)

 Tony Barnett died in Brisbane on the 7th August, 2021, aged 96, after a short illness. It was a small Covid-restricted funeral where his family celebrated his life and said their farewells. However, many in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland will miss the opportunity to pay their respects and share their stories of one of Montville’s best: a farmer, a family man, a sportsman and a community man.

The Sportsman

Most of Tony’s sporting mates have predeceased him, but it is easy to envisage the funeral they would have given him. The guard of honour would have members from the Montville and Palmwoods Tennis Clubs, the Montville and Palmwoods Cricket Clubs, The Montville Lawn Bowls Club and the Nambour Golf Club presenting crossed tennis racquets, cricket bats, golf clubs and club pennants over the funeral procession. Tony was a passionate sporting person, a passion he shared with his family.

His love of sport went beyond playing the game. Tony mowed the cricket grounds, prepared the wickets, rolled and marked the old tennis courts and for a number of years was the groundskeeper for the Montville Bowling Club.

Early Life

Tony was born in Goulburn, New South Wales, on 25th April, 1925 and grew up on Ranmoor, a soldier settlement sheep property in the Richmond district in north Queensland. His early schooling was provided by governesses, and from the ages of 11 to 14 he went to All Souls College in Charters Towers as a boarder, leaving school at the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939. Because of the war, he was able to get a driving licence underage, and delivered goods to sheep stations around Richmond and transported their wool bales back to the rail head in town. He also began an apprenticeship with a Richmond mechanic, Jerry Merchant.

In 1945, Tony’s Dad, Jack, decided to look at farming in the Nambour district. Through a local real estate company, Day and Grimes, he looked at dairy farms and citrus farms before settling on pineapple farming in Palmwoods. He sold the family home and a couple of vacant blocks he had invested in in Richmond to raise money towards the purchase of the pineapple farm but needed Tony’s savings to meet the full cost, so Tony became a partner in the new venture. The men went first to establish the farm and the women, Jack’s wife Kathleen and Tony’s sister Trish, joined them after Jack and Tony had built their new home.

The Montville Connection

Tony met a Montville girl, Dawne Brown, at a social tennis game in Palmwoods and romance blossomed. He would frequently walk up the range to Montville (a distance of around seven kilometres!) to attend dances and movie nights at the Montville Hall, and to visit the Brown family at their pineapple farm and home, ‘Craglands’. In turn, Dawne would get a lift down to Palmwoods to stay with the Barnett family. After they were married in 1950, Dawne lived with Tony on the family farm in Palmwoods.

A fall in pineapple prices after the war coincided with Dawne’s brother, Pat, finally losing most of his vision due to diabetes. This left the Brown farms in Montville short-handed, so Tony and Dawne moved up to help run the family farms in Montville in 1952. Like many who moved to Montville, their first home was the Glover cottage at the western end of Mill Hill Road. There, they had two children, Gay (born 1953) and Margaret (1954). Dawne, Gay and Margaret then moved into ‘Craglands’ in 1955, after Tony had accepted a three-month contract to manage a Richmond sheep station, ‘Acton’, as a trial.

The Move to Craglands

However, Tony discovered that he preferred the Range life and returned to Craglands to manage the farm. Meanwhile, his father Jack, who had become quite ill as a result of injuries he sustained during World War 1 and had spent several months in Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, retired from the Palmwoods farm. He and his wife Kathleen then purchased a cottage on Balmoral Road, close to Craglands.

Tony, Dawne and the two girls moved in with Dawne’s parents at Craglands and, some years later, in 1960, Tony and Dawne’s son, Richard was born. Tony began building a new home for his family in the late 1960s and finished it in the mid-1970s. It was a home they were all proud of, and when the original homestead, now infested with borers, was dismantled in 1985, the home Tony built carried the nameplate, Craglands, and so the name lives on.

After Dawne died in 2018, Tony’s health and memory declined, but he was able to stay in Craglands with the assistance of his family and Range Care based at Flaxton.  However, his health deteriorated, and he moved to an aged-care residence in Brisbane where he could be close to Gay and Margaret. From there, he enjoyed regular family outings, including to an historic motorcycle exhibition at GOMA with daughter-in-law, Karen, where he was also able to admire an Indian motorcycle similar to the one he had ridden as a young man!

Karen and Tony visited an exhibition where his favourite Indian motorbike was displayed, 30 Nov, 2020.  

Tony Barnett and Family, 2013

Doug Patterson

Montville History Group