The thing Leonie Walsh noticed about rural life, when she started visiting Beaudesert for dances more than 50 years ago, is that people in the country make their own fun.
“A weekend looked like going to a ball Friday night, farm work for the fellas Saturday, Saturday night at Tamrookum, Hillview or Kerry dance, Sunday morning mass then go to somebody’s house for tennis and drive back to Brisbane. It was very social,” she said.
Leonie, a self-described ‘city girl’ before she met her beloved husband Terry and moved here from Deagon, embraced country life.
To this day Leonie, 70, loves life on their 12-acre pocket at Tabooba – Brookville Stud – and regularly uses produce from their veggie patch to create goodies to share.
Leonie’s parents Charles and Mary Wilson (nee Gentle) were married during the war in 1941.
They conceived four children but lost their son and one daughter to placenta previa. Leonie, born seven years after big sister Kate, was a placenta previa baby too, born at eight months by emergency caesarean.
“I’m grateful mum’s doctor by that stage was tenacious enough to give it a go because mum was nearly 41 when she had me,” she said.
Leonie and Terry have four children – Loretta, 45, Lyle, 41, Kate, 37 and Elizabeth, 33 and dote on their granddaughters Violet, 11, Lola, 7, and Poppy, 6. Their home is filled with family photographs and Leonie loves sharing the latest snapshots of their grandchildren.
“I would have had them first if I’d have known how much fun they were,” she said.
Leonie loves the satisfaction of a job well done.
She got a job at Woolworths as soon as she was old enough and has worked ever since, for the Commonwealth Bank, the Queensland Permanent Building Society, Queensland Country Bank (initially Beaudesert Credit Union) and Riding Pony Stud Book Society.
She is into her 11th year with the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland and has also worked for decades at federal, state and local government elections and for three censuses with the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
She got the volunteering bug when the kids were young and continues to give her time generously to the equine and theatre worlds.
She trained St Mary’s debutantes for 20 years, was president of Beaudesert Quota, started Boonah Quota, won an Australia Day award for her work with BAMS Theatre, was secretary of Tamrookum Memorial Hall committee, volunteers with Sunnybank Theatre Group, is Chief Horse Steward for Beaudesert and Boonah shows and is an international horse judge.
Above everything else, Leonie treasures her relationship with Terry, who she met age 17.
“He’s my best friend. If I’m lying on a hospital bed and a decision is to be made about me, he’s the only person I trust, he knows me that well. So, I’m screwed if he goes before me,” she said.