Political circus hits town in second quarter of 2012
This is the second of a series of stories on what made the news in 2012.
THERE were times in 2012 when the Fraser Coast resembled a circus: full of colourful characters who enthralled audiences with their shocking antics - and chief of these were the politicians.
From April to June they held centre stage, dominating head-lines and capturing the attention of readers.
By then voters had already gone to the polls across Queensland and elected the LNP to power.
But the contest wasn't so straightforward in the Fraser Coast, renowned for its own brand of circus.
Incumbents Ted Sorensen of Hervey Bay (LNP) and Chris Foley of Maryborough (Independent) had amused the region in the lead-up to the March vote, and had been billed as unbeatable.
So certain a choice appeared Foley that the Chronicle's election day front page featured him in a mock scene from Gulliver's Travels - where Gulliver is staked to the ground with ropes - and the newspaper's main headline read: Land of the giants.
As it was, Sorensen was re-elected and Foley was forced into a dog-fight that dragged on and on.
On April 12, two weeks after voters had cast their choices, that battle's victor was declared. Anne Maddern was the giant-slayer, and the circus continued.
Campbell Newman strode into town on his listening tour, Jessica Mauboy sang up a storm on stage, and Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott stripped off to a pair of red swimmers on a Hervey Bay beach and did a few laps.
But the intrigue was that a mere month after people in the Fraser Coast voted in Queensland elections they were due to also decide on a new council.
A merry band of candidates formed a group and toured towns throughout the region. They held public debates where they made their intentions known and talked promises.
However it was clear from the outset that people wanted change.
Three candidates were contesting the top job - a former pastor, a salesman, and a mayor.
In the end, Cr Gerard O'Connell claimed the throne, and left standing beside him was just one other from the previous group.
Together they welcomed nine new male councillors - aptly branded the Boys Club in the days that followed - and the circus had its new act.
But it wasn't all about politics.
In April, an Anzac Day gift arrived - a letter scrawled by Maryborough solider Lieutenant Duncan Chapman. It is believed he was the first Australian to land on Gallipoli's sandy shores on April 25, 1915.
Penned from a trench on a Turkish hillside to his brother, and released to the Chronicle by the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum, the letter revealed the heroics and the horror of those first moments in one of Australia's well-known battles.
"It is a peculiar experience and one of extreme suspense, to be crouched down in a small boat making towards a hostile shore," Chapman wrote.
While in another entry his words were dedicated to the bravery of soldiers: "The heroic advance of our fellows and the meeting with and subsequent counter attack by their main body, and the stolid resistance of our Third Brigade are now matters of his-tory."
It was a gift a region rich in war history graciously used to mark the 97th Anzac Day. It had been the act employed to stir emotion. It succeeded.
In May, a battle of a different kind begun to play out after a crocodile was spotted in the Mary River.
A national audience watched in earnest as rangers tried to trap the reptile, to no avail. Months later, that audience stopped watching.
But the animal theme continued. Lorikeets began to carve out a presence, attacking campers on the Hervey Bay foreshore.
Then the pigeons hit. The pigeons were being launched in tournaments at Bundaberg. But they were straying from their flight path.
One named Homer was eventually located and the pigeon and owner were reunited in Caboolture.
The circus then pulled back the curtains for its grand finale.
On June 28, Coast readers were greeted with the graphically disturbing image of a toothless mouth, in what was a trip to the dentist gone horribly wrong.
The Chronicle story that accompanied the picture told of how a Fraser Coast man visited a dentist to have one tooth removed and four others repaired.
It told of his surprise at waking from anaesthetic to find his mouth bereft of teeth, of humiliation and shock.
The story attracted more sneers than smiles, and audiences walked away from the circus eagerly awaiting the acts of July to September.