Final levee decision saves couple's home

THEIR CASTLE: Noel and Margaret Mallyon next to the trees they planted on Sunday.
THEIR CASTLE: Noel and Margaret Mallyon next to the trees they planted on Sunday. Jessica Dorey

FIVE trees planted in Noel and Margaret Mallyon's backyard will now stand as a poignant reminders of their six-year fight to keep their treasured home.

On Sunday, their 40th wedding anniversary, the couple, with the help of their family, planted trees they have been growing in pots from seedlings.

It's a stark reminder of the uncertainty many residents in the footprint of the potential Emerald levee scheme have faced.

"We planted them in anticipation of good news,” Margaret said.

Margaret and Noel, prominent members of the Central Highlands community, built their house from the bottom up in September 1990.

"It's been a wonderful neighbourhood to live in and grow up in,” Noel said.

But as discussions surrounding flood levees began, their lives changed forever.

"There was so much uncertainty we didn't know what was going to happen,” Noel said.

"When the original plan was presented to the public, the levees were proposed to go to the back of our house. We weren't going to lose our home.

"Later on, as the project went on, it was found that the levees would not be feasible at the back of our house. That's when they decided the alignment would have to be through the middle of our property and our home. And not just ours, other houses, parts of the pony and golf clubs and the 2PH citrus farms as well.

"For six years, everything got put on hold, we just had to live with it.

"We would've lost our home, our castle that we built ourselves.”

The determined and humble couple never really secured a "plan B” option in case the levee scheme was approved.

"I always say 362 days of the year my blood is green for Emerald and the other three days it is maroon for Queensland,” Noel said.

"We love the town and love the area, we didn't really have a plan B.”

Margaret said she agreed with Noel's sentiment.

"Fight for plan A was our agenda,” she said.

Surrounded by close neighbours at the council meeting on Tuesday, Margaret said as they heard the final decision to forego the levee scheme, their emotions could best be described as "numb.”

"We couldn't comprehend the decision at the time,” she said.

But now, after six long years, Noel said they can move on with their lives, and finish the projects they never really got to start.

"We hope we can stay there for many years and enjoy the area, we really do love it,” he said.

Topics:  central highlands emerald levees

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