ISOLATED COMMUNITIES like those on the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast often have residents who we all know help keep those tight knit communities together.

Gillie and Tony Warren are two such people who immerse themselves so completely in their community that it’s almost as if they have always been there, and always will be. They have been a part of Montville life over the last 23 years, and it seems that anyone who has known them has a ready smile to impart, merely at the mention of their names.

The Warrens came to Montville in 1990, but to many it ‘always felt like they belonged’. Tony, who was born in Melbourne, was a geologist for
most of his working life, until he left Papua New Guinea to seek a home amongst the trees in Queensland. Gillie came from a large extended family from Central Queensland, and no doubt felt at home amongst the extended family that is the community of Montville, and the Range.

The couple took over the Montville Post Office agency in 1991, which proved to be a ‘wonderful way to get to know the whole community’. The couple spent the next eight years sorting and getting the mail to all its recipients, despite the bizarre numbering system that they encountered in the area.

‘Lot 2’ was a common address before the rural street numbering system was introduced. The Western Road alone had 27 ‘Lot 2s’! and ‘Tony was renowned for determinedly searching out vague or obscure addresses with the aid of legendary mail lady Mary Noller.’

As well as their tireless work at the local post office in Montville, the couple have been closely involved in a myriad of community activities, with Tony serving on the MVA committees for many years, and Gillie serving as a Montville historian, allowing her to share in the interesting stories of her fellow locals.

Upon retiring from the post office in 1998, they saw that the Blackall Range Care Group could benefit from some of their energy. Starting as meals on wheels drivers, they soon immersed themselves fully into the fabric of the organisation, with Gillie becoming an important member of the management committee for 12 years.

BRCG Manager Thea Caffin fondly shares her experience of Gillie as a woman whose ‘reliability, dedication, sense of humour, and secretarial skills made an enormous contribution to the development of the BRCG. It grew from a very small but vital community service, into the substantial organisation it is today, providing services to over 800 consumers a year.’

While Gillie became a foundation member of the organisation, Tony took up the role of much loved ‘chauffeur’ to BRCG clients, renowned for his care, charm and humour.

They have both been recipients of the Montville Citizen of the Year award, with their untiring efforts to the welfare of the community, too numerous to name. The pair have also been keen fitness followers, and members of the Mapleton Gym. Tony is a masters cyclist, having competed in Masters games. He continues his love of cycling despite a few mishaps, one of which left him with a broken pelvis. It took Gillie to rescue him from a gutter outside the Mapleton pub one morning.

So, after 23 years of tirelessly serving the Montville community, the Warrens have decided that it’s time to move on to new pastures, relocating to Yass to be closer to their family in Canberra and Melbourne. However, they will return to the area regularly to visit their son.

For all those who have been touched by their generous spirit, and open hearts, Tony and Gillie will be dearly missed, while their memory will live on in the thriving community that they called home for so many years. Their former neighbour, Nicole Bourke put it in the most poignant words when she said simply, “Our loss is Yass’s gain…”

by Natalie Brown