Line in the sand - Kerry O'Brien with Ginger Maryland in full support of the redhead festival.
Line in the sand - Kerry O'Brien with Ginger Maryland in full support of the redhead festival. Cody Fox

Voting closes for Maryborough's Festival of Redheads

VOTING wasn't going in our favour last night but the people of Maryborough might just put on a Festival of Redheads anyway.

And a legendary Australian with red locks has been invited.

Voting for the Festival of Wot? competition closed last night.

Maryborough was one of four finalists with its Festival of Redheads going head to head with the Festival of Snags in Mudgee, Festival of Mangos in Bowen and the Festival of Wheat, Wool and Wine at the Clare Valley.

Respected journalist Kerry O'Brien, former presenter of the ABC's 7.30 Report - and well-known redhead - spoke at the USC Fraser Coast Campus about his family's connection with Maryborough.

The idea came from Ginger Maryland, who approached Fraser Coast Tourism and Events with the suggestion for the Wotif competition.

Ms Maryland said on his father's side, Kerry's ancestor Charles O'Brien, emigrated with his wife and two children from Ireland to Queensland in 1850, having survived the potato famine that took a million Irish lives.

On his mother's side, Kerry's ancestors created one of the biggest pastoral holdings in the Wide Bay district, based on cattle, sugar and a copper mine with its own smelter.

Kerry's mother was born in Maryborough.

"Stories such as Kerry's provide the impetus for a gathering in Queens Park to continue the conversations and research into family histories," Ms Maryland said.

She said the festival would be based on all things red.

"Maryborough has many museums full of stories," Ms Maryland said.

"A visit to the Story Bank is high on the list, to learn about Maryborough's most famous story-teller, PL Travers, the author of the Mary Poppins books, and about the Butchulla people's story-telling tradition.

"The Story Bank is Travers' birthplace, and now provides an interactive experience where visitors can create their own stories.

"As an outstanding achiever and role model, Kerry would be very welcome at the Maryborough festival to speak about his family's association with the Heritage City, and to promote his book, A Memoir, in which he writes about his distinguished career, and being born a redhead."

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has pledged her support for the festival.

"There is no doubt in my view that redheads are pretty special, although I admit I might be a little biased," Ms Hanson said.

"It's great that a special and fun event might be held that makes all of us the centre of attention."

Martin Simons, Fraser Coast Tourism and Events general manager, said festivals were crucial to attracting visitors to an area.

"We are always looking for innovative ideas to help promote ourselves and attract visitors; and I'm sure the Festival of Redheads would put us on the map."