LEAVING: Straight shooter Earle came for the green and shot for the stars

Susanna Freymark

Twenty-three years ago, Earle and Marilyn Grundy moved from Toowoomba to the steep hill lines and creeks of Capeen Creek.

Earle was in the car wrecking business back then and sometimes he visited the area for work.

“I’m going to live here,” he told Marilyn, “It’s green all the time.”

At 66, Earle is ready for a less busy life and with Marilyn and daughter Christie Grundy, he is moving to Beenleigh.

“It’ll still be green,” Earle said. 

“And I reckon its time for me to have a rest.”

Earle and Marilyn have had health issues. Both have diabetes and Earle has had nine melanoma skin cancers and heart problems. Moving to Queensland also puts Earle and Marilyn close to their three daughters and seven grandchildren.

Earle and Marilyn Grundy at home in Capeen Creek. Photo: Susanna Freymark

Earle is a Kyogle councillor for Ward C – a vast swathe of land from Woodenbong to Mummulgum and covering west of the range.

He brought 15 years of experience in local government with him from Jondaryan Shire in Queensland.

“Both times I felt I could improve things if I had a voice,” he said.

Looking back at his term as councillor, three things stand out for him.

The first was getting Minney’s Bridge, on the way to Grafton, fixed.

“I had promised Evelyn Edwards I would get the bridge bitumenised,” Earle said.

Federal and State Governments came in with funding and 12 months later, the bridge was fixed.

He wished the same would have happened for the whole of Clarence Way, he said.

His second proud moment was contacting the rally organisation when they were in Kyogle.

He convinced them to come and hold a car rally in Bonalbo.

The community embraced it and the rally drivers’ stay at the showgrounds benefited many community groups.

Earle leaves behind a project still in its infancy and one that has wowed him from the start.

That is the Mallanganee Lookout.

“I sat at the lookout,” he said. “I just knew we were having more than a picnic table there.”

Kyogle town planner Chris White showed Earle the concept idea for a star observatory and platform for the lookout.

“I went wow,” Earle said.

The project has support from neighbouring Richmond Valley Council and National Parks, he said, and even though he is leaving, the star gazing project is one he will keep his eye on.

Earle and Marilyn have begun packing up their stuff at the farmhouse at Capeen Creek.

“Part if me is sad to leave, part of me is happy,” he said.

Earle has “pulled hundreds of tractors apart” and earned a decent income from repairs yet it was the timber plantation of mainly spotted gums that he hoped would bring in substantial money.

“When I found my timber was worth nothing, it broke my heart,” he said.

State Forest “reneged” on a deal made 35 years ago, he said.

Earle’s advice for the councillor elected in his place is – “make sure you’re doing it for the community, not yourself.”

Council elections have been delayed twice because of covid and will now be held on December 4.

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