Magnetic Island North Queensland
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June 21st 2005
The Butlers did it!

Book cover with Butlers on a Picnic The Butler family were Magnetic's first European settlers. They began the first holiday accommodation on Magnetic and it seems their hospitality was extended to all who came their way - from tourists, quarantined travellers and the Island's Traditional Owners the Wulgurukaba. Now the MI History and Craft Centre are saluting the Butlers with a fascinating exhibition and the release of a recipe book from the "unsurpassed table" of Nell Butler.

When the Queensland Heritage Council put the former Butler's Health Resort at Picnic Bay on the Heritage Register in 2004 it gave just recognition to the Butler family contribution to the cultural heritage of Magnetic Island. Despite the listing being overturned on appeal by the developers, the significance of the Butler contribution remains. MIHCC president Zanita Davies feels strongly that, 'The heritage listing was a formal statement of how important this family is to Magnetic Island cultural heritage, but it was more about the preservation of the buildings than about the Butlers themselves. The Butler family lasting impact on the social fabric of Magnetic Island can never be overturned!'

The last Butler hut was relocated to the reserve land beside the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre in the former Picnic Bay School at MIHCC expense. This preserves the last remaining link to the first holiday accommodation offered on Magnetic Island back in the nineteenth century. Appropriately, the MIHCC exhibition about the Butler family - 'The Butlers did it!' - will be opened at 2.00pm on Saturday 25 June in the old Picnic Bay School and will be displayed daily until 17 July.

According to Zanita Davies, "The Butler story and the history of Magnetic Island are closely interwoven. 'The Butlers did it! will reveal the diversity of Butler family achievements: successful relations with the local indigenous peoples, sympathetic assistance to those quarantined at Picnic Bay, establishment of their ferry service, productive farming for example."

The Butler family is best known for its association with the tourist business on Magnetic Island. Nell (Butler) Fraser sold the guesthouse in 1941 after sixty-five years on the guesthouse property. The hospitality of the Butlers was well reported and 'unsurpassed table' and 'the cuisine is unexcelled' indicated the quality of the Butler establishment. Fittingly the book Nell's recipes will be launched at the opening of the exhibition, all proceeds going to the restoration of the Butler hut.

For more information about the book and exhibition phone Zanita Davies on (07) 47785007 (9.00-5.00 Tues to Fri)

The Butlers did it!
viv moran
June 23rd 2005
Well done Zanita and to all at MIHCC. I look forward to this grand and worthwhile event.
Brian Butler
May 4th 2006
Sounds very good, that the family has provided an outstanding service to it's patrons.
Lea Hess
October 11th 2006
Well done Zanita and your team. I look forward to getting a copy of the Butler book myself
anne spence
January 11th 2010
Hi Zanita I met you at the opening of the MIHCC
exhibition, with my mum Patricia Spence. I was sorry to here about the fire at Picnic Bay.I have just pulled out Nell's recipe book and planning to try a couple of them.
Great job Zanita.

Anne Spence January 11th 2010

Nathan Winn
February 27th 2010
Fantastic bit of Island history, congratulations Zanita and all involved, this looks to be a great story saved in time, thank you.
Melanie whitehead
December 9th 2012
I am a Butler, and the Butlers at Magnetic Island are great great grandfathers (and more!) of mine. I live in Warwickshire, England living in the next village from where they came from...

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