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Previous Business Owner Mrs Fran Lauder (right)Previous Business Owner Mrs Fran Lauder (right)

The Mackay Region's newest gallery has opened in the Pioneer Valley country town of Finch Hatton.  Councillors Ayril Paton and Justin Englert from Mackay Regional Council were special guests at the opening on Thursday, May 31.

The gallery's first exhibition coincided with the completion and official opening of Finch Hatton Suites, housing three newly refurbished commercial spaces located in the former hardware store building at 13 Anzac Parade, Finch Hatton.

One of the first guests on the day was previous hardware store business owner, Mrs Fran Lauder.  Fran summed up the gallery as "Outstanding".

Interstate and international local wood sculptor Neil Brookes is the current featured artist at the gallery, with his "Key People” collection on display and for sale, most of which have been carved from timber salvaged from old grandstands at Finch Hatton Showgrounds. Items start from $200 and proceeds go directly to YIRS, which assists youths in our region, and specifically targets youth suicide.

Mr Brookes said: "It's just great, there's no way in the world I could have afforded to put this together without the help from the council, and I'd like to thank the Show Society for donating the timber as well I would also like to thank Fiona (Matheson) for offering the gallery space to us (artists) in our region”.

Cr Paton said: "It's great to see the Key People sculptures, supported by local businesses and the Finch Hatton Progress Association, gaining local government funding. We're seeing so much excitement from the residents and the community can see benefits going forward. If we all work together we can see what we can achieve out here."  "What better location could this be than on the main street of Finch Hatton, heading through the beautiful Pioneer Valley. This is where the tourists want to be."

Cr Englert said: "This council has had a large focus shift to the Valley. We understand that the Valley is one of the premium places for potential tourism operations in the region.  We've been talking recently about a master plan for the entire Valley so we can be prepared in case the mountain bike trail takes off and we're getting all those people coming up to the Valley. The Valley is at the forefront of what this council has been discussing for some time."

The event was sponsored by Eungella Realty's, Fiona Matheson. The Finch Hatton Gallery can be accessed through the Eungella Realty offices in the Finch Hatton Suites, 13 Anzac Parade, Finch Hatton QLD 4756.  All items on display in the gallery are also for sale. The gallery is open six days per week Sunday to Friday (closed Saturdays only).

Sculptor Neil Brookes and Cr Ayril Paton, Mackay Regional CouncilSculptor Neil Brookes and Cr Ayril Paton, Mackay Regional Council

Fiona Matheson, joint-owner of Finch Hatton Suites and principal of Eungella Realty said "I am happy to contribute financially towards the gallery space for local artists. When properties are sold via Eungella Realty, the monetary benefits can now been seen at the new gallery. This is our yearly monetary donation to the community....... the gallery lease".

Fiona has also been involved as a member of the Finch Hatton Progress Association to bring the heritage-listed railway station in Finch Hatton back to life.  Fiona submitted a grant application  in June, 2018 to revitalise the closed station, to make it usable again.  Fiona gained letters of support by Mayor Greg Willamson, Cr Ayril Paton and local businesses.

The community are now seeking a massage, fitness, medical or professional business for the remaining 2 leases in the Finch Hatton Suites complex, and the fully self-contained accommodation will be available after August, 2018 for holiday let, as well as short and long term accommodation, for tourists, locals and business visitors.

Fiona advised that she was happy with the renovation, whom employed local builders and tradesmen.  Fiona buys tired properties and makes them shine again, and has been doing this successfully for 24 years. There are so many affordable properties in the Upper Pioneer Valley and Eungella, it doesn’t take too long before the next renovation appears.  

When Fiona is not renovating properties, she works literally at the coal face, and has done for 16 years. Living in the Pioneer Valley and selling real estate on her days off is her joy, and working in the coal mining industry provides the perfect balance overall.

Fiona can be contacted on 0437 558 145 or via



Editorial contribution: Jonathon Reichard, Finch Hatton and Fiona Matheson.