FOR more than two decades Carmel Murdoch has been the face of Maryborough – the first person many new residents and visitors to the Fraser Coast would speak to before falling in love with the Heritage City.
Carmel has spent the last 23 years sharing Maryborough’s stories, secrets and magic; merging the art of storytelling with information and entertainment.
But Carmel’s role as Mary Heritage will come to an end in July.
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“I turn 70 next month and it’s the right time for me to step down,” Carmel said.
“I have always loved what I do. But I’ve been in this role for so long. It’s the right time for me to retire and allow a new person to promote the city and region with fresh eyes,” she said.
Many people might think that Carmel’s role as Mary Heritage was limited to interacting with visitors around the Maryborough City Hall during Thursdays’ markets, but she was instrumental in establishing walking tours through the city.
“I could just see the need for them,” she said.
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“I asked my manager if I could take people around town and he said as long as I was at work on time, I could do it,” she laughed.
Over the years, Carmel added more ‘Mary’ characters to her resume, including: Mary Poppins, Mary Christmas, Mary Widow, Mary Rose, Mary Rivers and Steam Punk Mary.
She was also the Town Crier’s attendant and would help fire the time cannon at markets and special events.
“I’ve enjoyed all the different roles that I have played as Mary Heritage. I will always remember the interactions with visitors and families that came to Maryborough.”
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Always dressed for the part, Carmel said her costume helped break down barriers and allowed her to talk to people and begin her story about the Heritage City.
“It was never a case of just being someone in costume. I would talk to people and share information about our beautiful city with them. I love Maryborough and all its people,” she said.
“Being Mary Heritage was a vehicle that allowed me to promote the city.”
Story continues below images.
All photos taken by Shaun Ryan, Good News Fraser Coast.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour praised Carmel for her commitment and dedication to Maryborough.
“She is passionate about Maryborough, its history and its stories. As a tour-guide she has introduced the history of Maryborough to thousands of visitors; not just as dry facts and figures, but through wonderful stories that have captured early life in the settlement,” Cr Seymour said.
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“Her charm and friendliness are always on show and change to suit the character she is portraying – from the matter of fact, spit and polish Mary Poppins to the rough diamond of Mary Widow of the ghost tours.
“Carmel has been an important and much-loved ambassador for Maryborough. Filling her shoes is going to be a tall order.”
Council’s focus will now turn towards finding the perfect replacement (or replacements) for Carmel.
“We need to find a new Mary, a new storyteller or group of storytellers, who can live and breathe Maryborough and be part of the team that promotes all things Mary Poppins and Maryborough, as the birthplace of Mary Poppins author PL Travers,” explained Cr Seymour.
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Prospective storytellers will need to supply a video of a short story performance and the interview for the shortlisted candidates will include an audition.
More information on the role can be found, here.
Applications close at 11pm on 21 June.
Carmel’s last day as Mary Heritage will be on 18 July.
What are your favourite memories of Mary Heritage? You can share them with us in the comments section below.