Vale Ada Miller – a champion of the bush

Ada Miller was born on May 3 1927 in Camooweal, a place she remained connected for the rest of her life.

Ada Miller was born on May 3 1927 in Camooweal, a place she remained connected for the rest of her life.

The north west lost a champion of the bush this week. 

Lilian Ada Miller, a well-known local identity in Mount Isa and Camooweal, passed away at the Mount Isa Hospital on Thursday morning. 

The 91-year-old owned and ran Freckleton’s Country World until its closure in 2015, when Ada retired after 71 years in the workforce. 

She was always deeply involved in the communities to which she belonged, actively taking part in public life and contributing to a number of organisations.

Ada Miller was born on May 3 1927 in Camooweal, where she remained connected for the rest of her life.

She was the daughter and second child of Joseph and Josephine Freckleton, born when her father was a tank sinker working on properties in the Northern Territory making turkey’s nests and dams.

Ada received an Order of Australia Medal for her services over decades to the communities of Camooweal and Mount Isa. Picture: supplied.

Ada received an Order of Australia Medal for her services over decades to the communities of Camooweal and Mount Isa. Picture: supplied.

Educated at Camooweal State School and St Gabriels CEGS in Charters Towers, Ada dreamed of being a school teacher.

However, she left school before finishing senior as her father had bought Synotts General Store in Camooweal and she was needed to work in it.

Upon her father’s death, she became one of the three family members who were in partnership in the business know widely as Freckletons Store.

Husband and wife: Ada Miller (born in Camooweal in 1927) and her husband Robey Miller, former managers at Rocklands Station.

Husband and wife: Ada Miller (born in Camooweal in 1927) and her husband Robey Miller, former managers at Rocklands Station.

This historic group of buildings was something she remained greatly attached to and in later years she developed the old Bond Store as an Historical Museum drawing on her other great love – local history.

Later, she established Freckletons Country World in Mount Isa and traded there until August 2015 when she retired at the age of 88.

In January 1949, she married Robey Miller who was then manager of Rocklands Station. 

The pair remained at the station until 1972 when they moved to Camooweal, then on to management of Yelvertoft before settling in the house they had built in Mount Isa in about 1975.

It was at Rocklands with its historical buildings and the explorers’ trees of Landsborough and Hodgkinson that Ada’s love of local history really grew.

In 1984, Ada chaired the Camooweal Centenary committee and was the architect behind the celebrations which included a dinner in the shire hall catered for by a cast of locals cooking in large camp ovens.

It was a massive team effort and the highlight for many was the parade of horses through the street leading other paraders and old cars.

Many snippets from Ada’s book The Border and Beyond, Camooweal, 1884-1984, have been published in the North West Star’s history column over the years. 

She was a very forthright, politically engaged, opinionated person who cared very deeply about this part of the world and its people – both past and present.

Margaret Miller

Always very community minded with an attitude of service, she was bent on making people’s lives in the bush better.

As a young woman, she was particularly involved in the Country Women’s Association and the Camooweal Race Committee, of which she was secretary.

Involvement in community translated into her interest in politics. 

Ada became a Camooweal and District representative of the Mount Isa City Council on which she served as an alderman for many years.

Ada Miller owned Freckletons Country World in Mount Isa until August 2015 when she retired at the age of 88.

Ada Miller owned Freckletons Country World in Mount Isa until August 2015 when she retired at the age of 88.

Later, she was selected as the National Party’s candidate to challenge for the Mount Isa seat in the State elections, during in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen days.

In 1985, she was awarded the inaugural Woman of Achievement medal under the auspices of The North West Star and the Union of Western Women.

Later still, she received an Order of Australia Medal for her services over decades to the communities of Camooweal and Mount Isa.

“She was a very forthright, politically engaged, opinionated person who cared very deeply about this part of the world and its people – both past and present,” daughter Margaret Miller said. 

“She was energetic, outward looking, committed to making a difference.”

In 2014, Ada reflected on her busy life with the North West Star.

She recalled the time during World War II when she and a group of boarders and the entire staff at St Gabriel’s Church of England school at Charters Towers were evacuated to the Richmond pub to make way for the US army which used St Gabriel’s as a hospital. 

“We took over the pub, I think it was the Royal Hotel, the bar became the school  library and the hotel belonged to us,” she said with nostalgic conviction.

She also said she believed Mount Isa had a strong future. 

“Forget the whispering campaigns that hurt this city, forget the FIFO model and locals should shop locally,” she said.

“Mount Isa has a lot going for it. And most of all, I would love to see an Outback University of Mount Isa established specialising in Aboriginal languages.

“I have grown up with a strong empathy for the Aboriginal people,” Ada said. 

Four weeks ago, Ada was admitted to Mount Isa Hospital with a previously undiagnosed condition.

She remained there until her death.

Her family thank all those who have cared for her recently.

Ada Miller - citizen, local business-woman and community activist- was also a mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

She leaves four grieving children, two daughters-in-law, six grandchildren, two grand-daughters-in-law, and four great grandchildren who will miss her and her somewhat assertive presence or never have the joy of knowing her.

The relatives and friends of the late Ada are respectfully invited to attend her funeral at the St James the Great Anglican Church in Mount Isa at 9am on Monday October 15, followed by interment at the Camooweal Cemetery.

Obituary provided by Margaret Miller.