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A boy and a monarch

Bob McKenzie senior, publican at The Gollan was in the crowd when the queen visited in 1954 and is pictured in the room where Queen Elizabeth stayed.
Bob McKenzie senior, publican at The Gollan was in the crowd when the queen visited in 1954 and is pictured in the room where Queen Elizabeth stayed. Jacklyn Wagner

BOB MCKENZIE Snr can still remember the day Queen Elizabeth II arrived at Lismore's Gollan Hotel as part of her 1954 Coronation tour of Australia.

The 82-year-old, who has owned the Gollan for the past two decades, was in his early 20s then and, like everyone else in Lismore - and, it seemed, on the Northern Rivers - made his way downtown to get a glimpse of the newly crowned monarch.

He described the crowds that day as by far the biggest Lismore had ever seen before or since, recalling estimates of up to 100,000 people.

"There wouldn't have been anyone at home - we've never seen crowds (like that) in Lismore since," he said.

"It was a massive day for Lismore."

It wasn't just local Lismore residents who were there - people had come from far and wide to see the young Queen.

"The ferry that took people back to Grafton across the Clarence River had a queue a mile long," said Mr McKenzie.

So extraordinary was the occasion the local pubs even stayed open until 10pm that evening rather than the usual strict 6pm closing time.

Mr McKenzie recalled standing opposite the hotel and watching as Queen Elizabeth entered the building and later waved from one of the balconies overlooking the street.

It was a wet day, and as a matter of fact she was lucky to get out of town, as the roads were closed not long after she left Lismore. Queen Elizabeth's visit was immediately followed by the infamous 1954 flood.

"She was extremely popular and very well accepted. In those days there was no talk of republics," said Mr McKenzie.

"But in my opinion she is still popular, and very well respected worldwide," he said.

To commemorate Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, Lismore's Star Court Theatre is screening a remastered version of A Queen is Crowned,

the original award-winning documentary narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier and unseen in cinemas since its release 60 years ago.

The one-off screening starts at 3:30pm on Sunday June 10, and runs for 80 minutes.

The 2011 film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, will follow at 5:15pm.

A Queen is Crowned

Where: Star Court Theatre Cinema

When: Sunday June 10, 3:30pm

Price: Double feature tickets are $18 for adults, $16 concession, and $14 for Starcourt Theatre Movie Members, or regular admission prices for either film.

To book: Tickets can be booked online or purchased at the door.

Topics:  gollan hotel, queen elizabeth, queen's diamond jubilee


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