Fraser Coast Icon Warren Persal, & his legacy of Achievements in his community

TRIBUTE: Fraser Coast icon Warren Persal, remembered

This story has been put together by our local news group below.

I & the Fraser Coast Community thank them for these great words

The Fraser Coast is mourning the loss of one of its greatest benefactors. Warren Persal was a legendary figure in the Queensland power line construction industry but will be remembered on the Fraser Coast for quietly helping thousands of individuals and generously supporting causes in the region. The man with the big heart died on September 23 aged 75 after battling ill health for several years.

HE WAS devastated and bewildered. His beautiful young wife had died from a blood clot a few days after giving birth to their first child. Rarely in his life would Warren Persal ever feel such a sense of helplessness.

He had lost his partner, had a new baby to care for and his job was way out west, building power lines in the dirt and the dust, the heat and the cold.

His mother Josephine stepped in, saying she would look after her new grandson Graham. Her son should go back out west and work through his grief.

Warren might have always been destined to become a legendary figure in building power lines on the coalfields and the Fraser Coast’s most generous benefactor but his family believe the experience had a powerful influence in shaping his extraordinary achievements.

“He and my mother had a plan to succeed,” said Graham. “When she died he felt he couldn’t stop – he had to honour that promise.”

Over the next 50 years Warren became synonymous with integrity, capability and reliability as he built thousands of kilometres of high transmission power lines in Queensland. His word was an iron-clad guarantee. His knowledge of the industry, equipment and logistics was startling: he knew what could be done and he delivered.

Said second son Brian: “The bottom line was ‘Get the job done’. Regardless.”

Brian’s sister Janet added: “And it always had to be good quality and on time.”

In a tough business working in remote and difficult conditions, Warren prospered on the back of an intensely loyal workforce. Back home quiet stories emerged in the community about surprising acts of generosity for staff, old friends and other individuals in need.

WARREN’S BEST FRIEND: Security dogs at Persal and Co industrial premises had a high turnover as Warren quickly grew fond of them and took several alsatians home, saying “He might get lonely at night.” His adored Kobi, a constant companion at work and home in his last years, is shown with Warren and Raelene at their Hervey Bay home.

He valued his privacy and looked for no recognition but he paid for an expensive operation here, a university education there, supplied manpower or machinery elsewhere. Widows and families battling financial hardship had a helping hand.

Beyond the power lines, another legend was taking shape. Warren was looking after his own in the community he loved dearly. How many individuals were helped will remain a mystery but over the next 30 years he became one of the greatest benefactors in the history of the Fraser Coast.

His devoted wife of 47 years, Raelene, and her children agreed the figure would be in the thousands. “He liked to give. But we probably only knew about 20 per cent of it.” The larrikin son of John and Josephine Persal was born in Maryborough in 1942. His ebullient school days were marked by fun pranks but he could walk into exams and earn high grades – an indication of a remarkable memory and assimilation of detail that would characterise his business ability and social networks.

As a teenager he worked with his father building power lines in south-west Queensland before starting an apprenticeship with ‘Nutty’ Watkins. At night he would make box trailers to sell.

“He was always looking for a way to make a dollar,” said Graham. “He would work 24 hours a day to do it.

“With Watkins Electrical they would use an Ariel and a sidecar with a 12ft ladder along the side. Dad used to be in the sidecar and they would head off to the Bay or somewhere to do a job.”

LARRIKIN DAYS: Motorbike riders Warren (right) and Mick Pohlmann reckoned Hazel Davies’ scooter was just a toy.

After finishing his apprenticeship as an electrician he went to work with his father contracting to build power lines throughout the Wide Bay and Burnett, digging holes with a bar and shovel and standing poles with a shear leg crane on a Bedford truck. He bought two highway borers on Bedford trucks and in 1973 bought his first proline borer lifter on a C1800 international truck. Warren also found time for fishing, crabbing and water-skiing. He loved motorbikes, perhaps a little too well: rumoured to have clocked the fastest time along the length of Kent St he also long rued the day when he was fined a month’s worth of wages for undue noise at The Pocket.

In 1964 he married Gloria Harvey and was working building power lines around Injune and Miles. After her tragic death two years later, he ploughed his energy into his work.

Tragedy struck the Persal family again early in 1970 when his younger brother Bernie died in a road crash.

A blessing also came that year when he married nurse Raelene Keene of Howard, a quiet pillar of strength in the challenging early days in western Queensland who shared her husband’s unswerving values as his empire grew.

“Life with Warren was flat out all the time,” says Raelene.

Soon after they were married they were making regular trips out west, living in caravans with Graham and Janet, born in 1971. Occasionally they rented a house but a caravan was usually their home as they went to where the contracts were. The no-frills lifestyle often included no roads. A contract with MIM delivering power to the Kianga mine near Moura in the early 1970s signalled the start of a lucrative association with the coalfields. The Persal reputation grew as Warren left no stone unturned to deliver quality on time.

In his spare time he took his building tools to Hervey Bay to build the Pine Lodge and Silver Sands units. His father John had already built the Pacific View units. By 1973 Warren and Raelene were ready to build their first home. It was going to be made of timber in John St but Warren decided if a Moura mine contract in the wings came through it would be brick. Brick it was. Warren’s young family continued to travel with him to jobs, growing to three when Brian was born in 1975. Life had another cruel blow in store that year: John Persal drowned in a fishing boat tragedy off Breaksea Spit on Fraser Island.

Five years later Warren looked around for a hotel investment and settled on the Carriers Arms Hotel, carrying out extensive remodelling and installing Angus Robertson as manager while he continued to build power lines in the mines and beyond. The early 1980s was a pivotal time as the mining boom started. It was a case of get big or get out. Warren bit the bullet and kept delivering quality.

THE EARLY DAYS: Work at Moura in the mid-1970s signalled the start of a lucrative association with the coalfields.

He took power to Burketown, to the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea and to the dam pump at Lake Argyll. In 1987 he built three sections of the Brisbane to Rockhampton rail electrification scheme. In 1990 Persal and Co crews raised more than 1000 poles in six months in a 340km line from Kidston to Normanton. He was innovative, took risks and tackled complex contracts, such as the Cape Upstart project where lines had to be laid with helicopters.

Investing in his home community suited him: he had a passion for the Fraser Coast, keeping his main headquarters in Maryborough, creating opportunities for young people and buying local whenever he could. Staff loyalty at Persal and Co was intense and the backbone of customer service. If a power emergency arose on a big site on Christmas Eve and a crew or equipment was needed urgently, it would be done. Warren continued to invest in the Fraser Coast, setting up a hire business network and in 2014 buying the Beach House Hotel at Scarness.

Brian says Warren was driven by “good old Aussie have a go” and was always looking for opportunities. Janet said despite his extensive and intensive work, “Dad was always about family.” Although, she added, they never had a holiday in a caravan. He had enough of caravanning in the early days. He insisted that each of his three children went out in the world and “work it out for yourself” before he would give them a job. They readily admit he could be a hard taskmaster but saw him as a good teacher. Persal and Co. businesses have given valuable sponsorship to sports clubs, regional events, museum and Fraser Coast book publications. He provided cranes and containers to remove and replace St Paul’s bells when they were refurbished and was the main sponsor for the Duncan Chapman statue, extending that to be a partner in the second stage to be built this year.

BAY ICON: Warren Persal tributeContributed

He also sponsored the statue of St Peter at the Urangan boat harbour, the memorial to fishermen lost at sea. The name of his father John Persal is among those on the base of the statue.

On his office wall he kept a sign, “A man who makes up his mind to win does not know the word ‘Impossible’,” which sums up his courage in business but on the Fraser Coast Warren will always be remembered as the man with a big heart who made his region a better place.

In 2016 his achievements and his role as a benefactor to thousands of individuals and institutions in the region was recognised when he was named Fraser Coast Citizen of the Year.

Warren is survived by his wife Raelene, his children Graham, Janet and Brian and his six grandchildren, Rebecca and Kelsey, Natasha and Kaitlyn and twins Lachlan and Madison.

TRIBUTE: About 1000 people gathered at Maryborough’s Brolga Theatre to remember the life of Fraser Coast businessman and philanthropist Warren Persal.

NOTE> The editor & owner of this site sees many similarities to himself & our dear departed friend Warren. I too was an Electrician who later employed dozens of people in that industry & others, putting several apprentices through their time.During my time as an electrical apprentice served time with Power Line Constructions[PLC] in Papua New Guinea.& Queensland.

Later to become the owner of several businesses including the Bay Central Tavern in Hervey Bay Qld, Nightclub in the Sunshine coast. Many many more experiences.Later.

However this commemoration is for Warren Purcel Fraser Coast Qld Icon. R.I.P.

Henry Sapiecha


Fraser Coast councillors have their say on high-rise development at Urangan in Hervey Bay

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TWO councillors have voiced their opposition to building high-rises in Hervey Bay, while others want to wait to consider the development application and how it fits into the town planning scheme before voicing any opinions.

Fraser Coast Deputy Mayor George Seymour said he was against the plans for a 20-storey twin tower development in Urangan, which he described as a massive increase in density and not how the community wanted Hervey Bay to develop.

Division 1 councillor James Hansen agreed, saying it would change the character of Hervey Bay forever and for the worse, in his opinion.

Councillor Denis Chapman voiced his support for the project, saying it was crucial for the region to continue building infrastructure, which would lead to population growth and jobs.

“I think it’s great for our region,” he said.

“It’s the way of the future.”

He said in order to hold on to green space in the area, it was necessary to consider options like high rises, which would allow for housing while minimising the region’s urban footprint.

Councillor David Lewis said he was not generally in favour of 20-storey development in Hervey Bay, but as the previous council had amended the planning scheme to allow such developments, there may be little the council could do to refuse the application.

“It is entitled to be assessed on its merits in accordance with the scheme,” he said.

Mr Lewis said he felt a 20- storey development would significantly and irrevocably alter the character of the city and its shoreline.

“Previous councils had a policy of trying to limit buildings to no higher than the tree line,” he said.

“In part this took into account the view from the beaches and the sea.

“I think that was a good policy.”

Councillor Paul Truscott said the planning scheme specifically supported this type of development.

“I will consider the development on its merits when it is presented to full council,” he said.

Councillor Darren Everard said he also needed time to consider the application before voicing an opinion, while councillor Rolf Light said it would be inappropriate to make a comment before considering all the facts and whether the development met the criteria in the current town planning scheme.

Councillors Anne Maddern, Daniel Sanderson, Stuart Taylor and Mayor Chris Loft were contacted, but had not responded at the time of going to print.

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Henry Sapiecha

Editors Note

**This is a great opportunity for us Fraser Coast residents to join the real world & get jobs & prosperity for the region.Not only in construction but thereafter with servicing the development & its occupants.We have many kilometres of beach shoreline in the Fraser Coast Region and just a tiny portion of that allocated for such a development is a pittance of a price to pay for the good it will do & bring to the community. Most of us are getting tired of this region being branded as one of the most unemployed regions in the nation.

The quicker this and similar developments take shape the better but in a controlled and well planned manner.




22 March
Maryborough Heritage Easter Markets, Maryborough CBD

22 – 24 March
Fraser Coast Cultural Festival, Hervey Bay

17 March
Walk with Me pet walk, ANZAC Park, Maryborough

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Construction of 7 houses in Torbanlea in a small subdivision well under way

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The following pics were taken over several weeks of the construction of these houses in a Hunter St development project built by Paul Wilson the builder - Over 1.5 Million Book Titles

Pics & story by Henry Sapiecha




WITH an explosive force that tore an entire wall off her home, Ann Roberts was thrown against her bedroom wall by the tornado that struck in the early hours of Sunday.

“We’ve been here for 18 years…I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

“It was frightening.”
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Mrs Roberts was in bed with her husband, Barry, when the worst of ex-cyclone Oswald hit Burrum Heads.

She said she had just got out of bed when the windows smashed, sending glass everywhere – including one large shard that embedded itself deeply into the wall just above their bed.

“I go thrown back so hard… it was like an explosion,” Mrs Roberts said.

Along with the extensive damage to their home, Barry said their boat and campervan were also damaged in the storm.

Their story was echoed by many other residents of Burrum Heads on Monday.

Next door, Kevin and Gay Parr also had glass shatter throughout their home.

They said the tornado happened so quickly there was nothing they could do to prepare for it, before it moved on in a narrow path of destruction towards the Hillcrest Caravan Park.
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Some 1500 properties lost power and dozens suffered serious damage such as roofs or walls being torn off by the strong winds.

A number of vehicles and boats were also damaged, with witnesses telling the Chronicle at least three boats were sunk during the storm, including a large local fishing trawler.

Huge trees were snapped in half like twigs and sheets of metal flew through the air until they found something to lodge into.

It was a night Ann will never forget and nor will the rest of Burrum Heads.

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Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha



BURRUM District Community Kindy at Howard is closing due to financial stress caused by Bligh Government funding changes, low enrolment numbers and a lack of community funding support.

A kindy spokeswoman said an executive meeting of the Burrum District Community Kindy decided for financial reasons to close the kindy doors.

She said they deeply regretted the decision but to continue to operate the facility under the current funding situation would have been illegal and irresponsible for an incorporated body.

“We would have been trading while insolvent,” the spokeswoman said.

“Staff have been notified about their jobs and we are notifying parents.”

The kindergarten has been operating out of the Burrum District Community Centre at Howard for a number of years.

“This will also be a blow to the Community Centre, as they rely on the rent from the kindy as part of their operational revenue,” she said.

“So this closure affects the whole area.

“The financial stress has been brought about by the funding changes made by the Bligh Government.

“Sadly, lack of community funding support and low enrolment numbers has also contributed.

“The committee has met with the ruling body C and K  to follow all possible avenues of recovery funding, but so far have been unsuccessful.

“We will continue to work together to try to solve the financial problems but at this stage we have no resolution and will need to commence selling off the assets.

“If the community wants to see the kindy re-open they can register their interest in fundraising support by contacting the Kindy on 4129 0994 immediately, before the assets need to be sold off.”

The content of this posting was sourced from the local Chronicle newspaper with my comments as the headlines & notes below.
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Published here as a community contribution by Henry Sapiecha

As a result of being notified today 23rd Jan 2013 by Ailsa of the centre of the impending closure of this much valued kindy, a well structured & heavy support campaign to retain the kindy facility shall be undertaken by this web site and support requests shall be sent to the many thousands of emails in our data base so that the kindy centre shall become viable & government support continued

In the meantime send your email & or letter of support to the centre.



Commercial premises were left with serious damage after a fire broke out in William St, Howard cafe complex  the Fraser Coast Qld about 7.50pm on Sunday.

Authorities were alerted by 000 caller reporting they had seen flames coming from the buildings and that they had heard some kind of explosion.

It took two hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze in Howard.
It took two hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze in Howard. Contributed

Crews from the Maryborough fire station were first on the scene, followed by crews from Childers, Craignish and members of the Howard rural fire brigade.

The firefighters had to enter one shop wearing breathing apparatus in order to locate and remove gas cylinders which were inside the property.
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It took two hours for firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

The stores affected included the Coalfield Cafe, a veterinary surgery and a home brew store.

The fire is believed to have started in one shop and spread to the others but investigations are still underway to determine the cause of the blaze and where it started.

All three stores have been affected by fire and smoke damage. - Compare Health Insurance Policies

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THE proposed fishladder for the No 1 dam on the Burrum River will be fast forwarded as soon as practical, Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell has said.

A condition of raising Lenthalls Dam eight years ago was that a new fishway be built and Wide Bay Water Corporation committed $3.2 million to the project in 2010 with the aim of completing it by June next year.

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But a detailed design has not yet been produced and with the council in the process of resuming control of the water body, the future of the project seemed in doubt.

However Cr O’Connell said the council and WBW had not met specifically to discuss the fish ladder but “the project remains a focus and will be progressed as soon as possible”.

“It is one of a raft of projects being undertaken by the water corporation that have been talked about as the corporation transitions to a business unit of council,” he said.

Sourced from the local Chronicle paper & published by Henry Sapiecha


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JULIE Carlton’s Christmas light display stands out, but for different reasons than her River Heads neighbour.

While her Turnstone Boulevard neighbour Sonya Sorensen used thousands of lights, numerous props and a sea of colours, Ms Carlton delivered the same message with a simple five letter word: ditto.

Sharing number 45 with Peter and Brenda Bowman, Ms Carlton admitted the red-neon display was not the trio’s only contribution to spreading the festive cheer.

She said they actually helped put together the colourful offering in number 47 and her lights were about offering an alternative.

“Everyone comments on it, it’s quite amazing actually everyone laughs at the ditto sign,” Ms Carlton said.

The neighbours spend evenings in the yard, eating dinner, greeting visitors and appreciating the colourful and the humorous displays together.
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LIGHT Up The City best lights winners Sonia, Brett and Samantha Sorensen spent four-and-a-half-months discussing, designing and setting up their display.

With help from neighbours Julie Carlton, and Peter and Brenda Bowman, the 47 Turnstone Boulevard River Heads exhibit deserved every letter of the word “remarkable”.

The colourful Christmas celebration even had a slice of humour, with Ms Carlton setting up a neon “ditto” sign on her neighbouring fence, pointing to the winning house.

Ms Carlton said the neighbours had formed a special relationship in the past four years as they worked together on growing the display.

“Everyone comments on it, it’s quite amazing – and everyone laughs at the ditto sign too,” Ms Carlton said.

“When Sonia started putting her lights up years ago and getting really good comments about them, we were quite surprised and decided to join in with her – you might say we caught the Christmas-light bug.”

The neighbours have already been discussing 2013’s display, talking about adding music in the hope of making the showing bigger and better.

As for the other awards in the 2012 Light Up The City, they were evenly spread throughout the region.

Howard’s Vivienne Smith won the award for most energy efficient display.
Down the street from her in Howard, the Patersons, claimed best first-time entrants.

The neighbourhood prize was won by Lakeridge Dr in Dundowran and best nativity scene went to Bill and Dot Honey at 36 Tree View Rd, Toogoom
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View the video link of the winning entries as per the local Chronicle News

HOMEOWNERS with colourful Christmas light displays are welcoming visitors to soak up the festive atmosphere in their neighbourhoods.

The attached maps of homes with elaborate Christmas light displays will allow lovers of the jolly season to chart a course through the twinkling lights in Hervey Bay, Maryborough and surrounding areas.

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See the Maryborough map

See the Hervey Bay map

Guide to map markers, grid references and addresses

1 C2  39 Areca Drive, Kawungan Q 4655

2 C1  61 Tulipwood Drive, Tinana Q 4650

3 B2  16 Neptune Street, Maryborough Q 4650

4 C4  15 Moonstone Drive, Urangan Q 4655

5 B2  1/9 Birch Court, Kawungan

6 A2  20 Sprake Drive, Maryborough Q 4650

7 B1  14 Lakeridge Drive, Dundowran Q 4655

8 B4  76 Dayman Street, Urangan Q 4655

9 A1  154 Long Street, Point Vernon Q 4655

10 C2  7 Lygon Court, Urraween Q 4655

11 B2  4 Neptune Street, Maryborough Q 4650

12 B3  9 Woodstock Street, Maryborough Q 4650

13 B3  90-92 Richmond Street, Maryborough Q 4650

14 A3  425 Lennox Street, Maryborough Q 4650

15 A1  35 Archer Drive, Point Vernon Q 4655

16 B2  37 Royal Drive, Kawungan Q 4655

17 A2  14 Stafford Stree , Maryborough Q 4650

18 A3  27 Pacific Prom, Craignish

(no map marker or grid reference) 24 Robertson Street, Torbanlea Q 4655

19 B2  7 Annie Street, Tinana Q 4650

(no map marker or grid reference) 73 Woocoo Drive, Oakhurst Q 4650

20 B3  Shops 3 & 4 258 Adelaide Street, Maryborough Q 4650

21 A3  12 Crown Street, Maryborough Q 4650

22 B1  5 Darby Court, Pialba Q 4655

(no map marker or grid reference) 82-84 Seafarer Drive, River Heads Q 4655

23 C1  67 Tuilpwood Drive, Tinana Q 4650

24 B2  12 Annie Street, Tinana Q 4650

25 A2  18 Connolly Street, Maryborough Q 4650

26 B4  100 Oddessa Street, Granville Q 4650

(no map marker or grid reference) 42 Old Bruce Highway, Howard Q 4655

27 C1  8 Hannah Court, Tinana Q 4650

(no map marker or grid reference) 154 Five Mile Road, Tinana South Q 4650

(no map marker or grid reference) 1446 Maryborough-Biggenden Road, Dunmora Q 4650

28 A3  53 Thurecht Street, Maryborough Q 4650

29 A4  36 Tree View Road, Toogoom Q 4655

30 B4  131 Banana Street, Granville Q 4650

(no map marker or grid reference) 403 Torbanlea Road, Takura Q 4655

(no map marker or grid reference) 33 Sandrabarbara Drive, Booral Q 4655

(no map marker or grid reference) 27 Sandrabarbara Drive, Booral Q 4655

31 A4  26 Errol Street, Maryborough Q 4650

32 C1  Crn Kurrajong Way & 62 Tulipwood Drive, Tinana Q 4650

33 A3  24 Dymock Street, Maryborough Q 4650

34 A1  83 Murphy Street, Point Vernon Q 4655

35 A2  575 Alice Street, Maryborough Q 4650

36 B3  30 Zante Street, Maryborough Q 4650

37 A2  20 Connolly Street, Maryborough Q 4650

38 C4  7 Trill Street, Urangan Q 4655

39 B4  12 Oxley Court , Maryborough Q 4650

(no map marker or grid reference) 4-6 Philip Street, Howard Q 4659

(no map marker or grid reference) 47 Turnstone Boulevard, River Heads Q 4655

40 B3  1-163 Ferry Street, Maryborough Q 4650

41 A1  8 White Street, Point Vernon Q 4655

42 B4  9 Treviso Court, Urangan Q 4655

43 C3  21 Pinehurst Drive, Wondunna Q  465

(no map marker or grid reference) 16 Diamantina Drive, Howard Q 4655

44 A1  19 Martin Street, Point Vernon Q 4655

45 C1  94 Tulipwood Drive, Tinana Q 4650

46 B2  43 Royal Drive, Kawungan Q 4655

(no map marker or grid reference) 231 Pallas Street, Maryborough

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Sourced from the local Fraser Coast Chronicle & published by Henry Sapiecha