Early Days writer shares secret behind historical articles
THERE’S always been a few secrets behind Ray Humphrys’ ability to share any historical story of Dalby and the surrounding regions.
Armed with newspaper cuttings he’d collected as a boy, and a book of old newspaper articles left in his office by chance, the beloved contributor to the Dalby Herald has shared his affinity for history for more than 55 years.
But at the forefront of his passion for writing was a pure love for all people, and an inquisitiveness for what made the people of Dalby “tick”.
Writing stories and reporting the news is something that always came naturally to Mr Humphrys.
The desire to write for the paper started at the tender age of 21 when Mr Humphrys’ next-door neighbour, who was a “district correspondent” at the time, wrote a story about his 21st birthday party.
“It was thrilling to have that come out in the paper and I’ve kept a cutting of it always,” he said.
Mr Humphrys spent his early 20s writing pieces for magazines when one day he decided to take his passion a step further.
In 1965, Mr Humphrys met with the editor of the Northern Downs News, Bill Flower, who was only too happy to allow him to contribute to the publication.
What started with sporadic contributions to the Northern Downs News turned into a roles as district contributor when the News amalgamated with the Dalby Herald.
One career highlight was when editor Bill Flower tasked Mr Humphrys to write the life story of a well-recognised indigenous Australian man from Dalby, Harry ‘Bunda’ Darlow, whose skeleton was found years after he went missing.
What Mr Humphrys is known for in the town nowadays are his Early Days articles, which started because of a love for history and a secret weapon left behind in the old office.
“Someone left a cutting book, and I have a copy of that,” he said.
“They copied stories from about the 1920s from the Dalby Herald.
“They were talking to people who remembered Dalby from the 1860s and that gave you a window back into those early years.
“I thought that was fascinating to think that you could get information from people who knew the town when it was only in a pioneering stage.
“You meet descendants of the earlier pioneers and settlers and business people of the town.”
Mr Humphrys also came to know a lot of the personalities he wrote about like Richard Charles Drew, who was one of the longest serving mayors in Dalby.
As his articles grew in popularity, so did his name, and soon Mr Humphrys had people from the region asking him to tell their stories.
“It was always interesting to meet the people who made the town,” he said.
“I felt there was good stories surrounding Dalby too.
“Families would give me their family stories to read and take a bit out of that.”
It always gave him a thrill to see his stories on the front page, or to see a full page spread on a story he’d researched.
Fifty-five worth of article clippings fill scrapbooks at Mr Humphrys’ Toowoomba home, and the thrill of seeing his name in print will always exist for the beloved contributor.