How the Roy Emerson Museum came about

Guest blog: Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association (BDTHA)

In 2011 the Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association was fortunate to be gifted the original Nukku State School. The Queensland Girl Guides Association had been using the building in Nanango until it folded.

Roy Emerson attended Nukku State School for his early education. The building is now dedicated the Roy Emerson Museum. Photo contributed by Blackbutt and District Tourism Heritage Association.

Roy Emerson attended Nukku State School for his early education. The building is now dedicated the Roy Emerson Museum. Photo contributed by Blackbutt and District Tourism Heritage Association.

With substantial help from the company Stanwell, and its Tarong Community Partnership Program, the building was relocated back to the Rail Head at Blackbutt only a few miles from where it originally stood. The committee has renovated the building thanks to financial assistance from community groups and additional fundraising. Some very successful events included the Nukku School Reunion; From Train Track to Walking Track -100 Years of Rail; displays and events to coincide with the Bloomin Beautiful Blackbutt Festival held in September each year.

The building is now home to many photos and articles relating to the history of Blackbutt, Benarkin, Taromeo, Googa Creek, Gilla and Nukku. The story boards tell of rail, timber, the Nukku State School and the outstanding Australian and International tennis player, Roy Emerson. Roy completed all of his primary school education at the Nukku State School.

BDTHA members Hazel Christie-Small, Iris Crumpton (2015 Vice President), Noeleen Bird (2015 Secretary) and Evelyn Feige view the Roy Emerson display at Nukku Nook, Blackbutt. Photo: BDTHA featured by South Burnett News

BDTHA members Hazel Christie-Small, Iris Crumpton (2015 Vice President), Noeleen Bird (2015 Secretary) and Evelyn Feige view the Roy Emerson display at Nukku Nook, Blackbutt. Photo: BDTHA featured in South Burnett News

Roy won an amazing 12 single Grand Slam titles and 16 double Grand Slam titles and was a key player in the many successful Davis Cup wins for Australia in the 1960’s.  When Roy and his wife Joy attended a “Back to Blackbutt” luncheon in January  2015, former Mayor of South Burnett Regional Council, Wayne Kratzmann, highlighted Roy’s many achievements and pledged $2000 towards a statue of this great man.

Phillip Morris representative James R. Fawke meets Carole Graebner, American representative in the Women's Federation Cup Competition, Maureen Brinker, and Australia's Roy Emerson at Mareeba airport for a sporting promotion with TGT Pty Ltd in Mareeba. Contributor: Tablelands Regional Library Service, State Library of Queensland. Image is in copyright.

Phillip Morris representative James R. Fawke meets Carole Graebner, American representative in the Women’s Federation Cup Competition, Maureen Brinker, and Australia’s Roy Emerson at Mareeba airport for a sporting promotion with TGT Pty Ltd in Mareeba. Contributor: Tablelands Regional Library Service, State Library of Queensland. Image is in copyright.

The Association believed it was time our district recognised and showcased Roy’s exceptional career with a life size bronze statue to be situated near the Roy Emerson Museum. We have an exclusive connection to the rest of the world in Roy Emerson and proudly want to share our stories of his early days growing up in the Queensland bush as well as showcasing his stellar career – a fitting legacy to a most humble man.

Artist and sculptor with the life-size clay model of Roy Emerson. Photo: BDTHA

Artist and sculptor with the life-size clay model of Roy Emerson. Photo: BDTHA, 2016.

It became the focus of the association to actualise this almost insurmountable project. Many, many hours have been spent trolling through archives, old video footage, organising functions, phone calls overseas, contact with Australian media and newspapers, editing the facebook page, introducing ourselves to famous people, asking for help and advice and establishing a petition to have part of the D’Aguilar Highway renamed the “Roy Emerson Way”.

Tennis player Roy Emerson immortalised as part of the redevelopment of the Roy Emerson Museum in Blackbutt. Photo by BDTHA, 2016.

Tennis great Roy Emerson immortalised as part of the redevelopment of the Roy Emerson Museum in Blackbutt. Photo by BDTHA, 2016.

We are very pleased to announce that the statue is in its final stages of completion and plans are underway for the establishment of the plinth. The projected unveiling will be 3 November this year, on the occasion of Roy’s 80th birthday.

Our recognition of Roy has revived interest in the game of tennis within our community and has seen the reestablishment of the Blackbutt Tennis Club (which began in the 1930s) after a closure of 8 years. The resurfacing of the two original courts is underway with everyone looking forward to a game in the not too distant future.

The statue, museum and courts will provide locals and tourists an extended insight into this talented player and his special connection to our small town in South East Queensland.

The Museum is open daily thanks to our small band of marvelous volunteers.  Follow our progress on Facebook or contact members by email.

Noeleen Bird, Roy Emerson Museum and Blackbutt and District Tourism and Heritage Association.