FLASHBACK: 10K people greet royal couple at the airport
FROM The Morning Bulletin in 1954.
A FEW weeks ago Connor Park airport was covered by flood waters but yesterday it was a green field and a fitting place for a picnic ground on which 10,000 adults and children, well provided with food and drinks, waited hours to welcome the royal couple, who were given a vociferous reception as they stepped from a Convair plane on time.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were met by the Minister for Health and Home Affairs and the Mayor and Mayoress were introduced to them.
On descending the ventral gangway from the rear of the royal plane, Her Majesty was seen to look at an object.
The Mayor told her it was a lizard and that it "must have joined the plane at Mackay".
Her Majesty smiled at the explanation.
Cheers, interspersed with exclamations of "good on the Queen," "you've seen Rocky for the first time" and "be back again" and waving of hundreds of flags by grown-ups and children, were but a prelude to similar demonstrations that extended along almost a half-mile route to the main highway.
The vast assemblage, spread along barricades, had an excellent view of the royal visitors, who greeted with smiles the warm welcome.
Not being satisfied with an almost close-up view of Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh as they began to walk from the landing along a concrete pathway lined with palms to their cars, many youths scampered across gullies, still carrying flood silt, and they kept pace with the royal progress.
It is doubtful whether any spectator left the airport from a few hours before the arrival of the royal plane until it took off and by that time an overflow from the city function had swelled the crowd by another 2000 at least.
Connor Park, in its early existence, was a good ground to collect mushrooms and it appeared as if a crop of super ones had made their appearance near sun-up, when tents and marquees dotted the landscape.
Stewart McKnight, of Wowan, had not made any early preparations to get a good position but he saw everything.
He also stated that nobody was at Wowan when he left.
"All came up to see the Queen and the Duke," he said.
But it was a most orderly 12,000-strong crowd.
The route from the landing point to the main entrance was barricaded with two light wires but not one was broken.
When the royal party returned to the airport from the city they were given a rousing send-off, which they acknowledged as they boarded the plane.
Closing scenes were of the striking of tents by overnight visitors and cars slowly moving from an airport that has made local history.