Residents of tiny Queensland town fight to put it back on the map after finding it was quietly wiped off years ago

 

Sydney

There’s not much to Mutchilba – just one shop, a post office, a
hall and a scattering of houses. But residents are fond of their tiny
Queensland township – and they were taken aback, to say the least, to learn
that it no longer existed.

Some time ago, Mutchilba was officially merged with the slightly larger town of Dimbulah, about eight miles away. But no one bothered telling the locals. It was only when their mail started going astray, and ending up in Dimbulah, that their suspicions were aroused. Then stories emerged of ambulance drivers getting lost en route to Mutchilba, because the town was not showing up on GPS systems.

One local farmer, Karen Muccignat, began investigating the mystery, and discovered that a bureaucratic stroke of the pen had wiped Mutchilba off the map. “I was in shock,” she said. “It’s lucky I was sitting down when I found out. I was quite speechless to find that my town no longer existed.”

As far as she can ascertain, rural Mutchilba – which is surrounded by mango and avocado farms – was axed during a federal government review of Australian localities. Locals were neither consulted nor informed. 

Now they want their town back. Ms Muccignat said: “We’re not a suburb of Dimbulah. A lot of people have lived here for a long time, and everyone was under the impression we were living in Mutchilba.”

The state government believes Mutchilba disappeared in 1999; however, residents are convinced that it happened more recently. The government, which is sympathetic to their plight, is trying its best to put matters right, but first Mutchilba has to jump through a series of hoops, including consulting members of the community on town boundaries.

Greater Mutchilba, including the surrounding farms, is home to an estimated 1,000 people. Its pint-sized school has 27 pupils. But while the town – which was founded in 1901, when a railway station was built there – may be small, it has a strong community spirit and a distinctive identity. Far from wanting to be part of Dimbulah, it has had a long-standing sporting rivalry with its neighbour.

Local pride has been rekindled by the shock of official deletion. There are plans to revive an annual Mango Mardi Gras festival, which in the past saw Mutchilba included – albeit briefly – in some guidebooks.

The Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Andrew Cripps, has promised to fast-track Mutchilba’s bid to get back on the map. But residents have been warned that the process will take several months. In the meantime, the state premier, Campbell Newman, has written a letter of support, as has Bob Katter, the federal MP, who visited the town to attend a public meeting.

The confusion over place names has created some potentially serious situations. Ambulance drivers called out by people in Mutchiba have had to stop at public payphones to get directions. (Mobile phone reception is very patchy in this pocket of inland north Queensland.)

When one local man, Harry Adams, suffered a heart attack recently, he telephoned for an ambulance, but found himself arguing with the emergency operator – who wanted to send a team to Dimbulah – about where he lived. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and Mr Adams ended up being airlifted to the regional centre of Townsville, where he was operated on successfully.

Ms Muccignat, who runs the Mutchilba Gold Produce Farm, wants the mistake remedied as soon as possible. “We’re hoping we’ll get our name back by Christmas,” she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...