LOCAL LEGENDS: John and Jan Mullins

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A HANDSOME YOUNG MAN… A PRETTY YOUNG LADY… AN SO THE STORY OF A MUCH LOVED MILES LOCAL COUPLE BEGAN…

On Australia Day 1958 a handsome young man new to Miles pulls up in his work ute at the local Barber Shop to fill up with fuel.

The young lady who comes out wearing a quaint summer dress, stilettos and freshly painted nails to fuel his car catches his eye. This lad is new to town and thinks this young lady is so beautiful he cannot take is eyes off her. As he leans against his ute looking cool, he dreams of the day that he might sweep this girl off her feet, marry her, and have half a dozen kids.

Sounds like something out of an old romantic movie doesn’t it? Well it is so close to the truth it isn’t funny. And that’s how John and Jan Mullins came to be acquainted in the small township of Miles.

Young Johnny Mullins came to Miles in the Summer of 1958. He was following a couple of his mates Tom Seaniger and Murray Purves, who had moved to Miles earlier to start their own business, and John had the same aspirations. The boys shared a house on the corner of Marian and Pine Streets.

John played footy for the Miles Devils, was Tom and Murray’s ‘water boy’ when they played Tennis and did what all young fellas in small country towns do. Throughout his life John always enjoyed a cold beer and a smoke. It was normal to see him unwind after a hard day’s graft puffing on a Craven A in one hand and holding a beloved VB stubby in the other.

Jan was born in Miles as she says by ‘accident’. Jan’s parents Bowen and Jane Cable were returning home to Yuleba on the passenger train when flood water over the railway line halted their progress for 3 days. During their forced stopover in Miles Bowen Cable was offered a job at the Local Barbers, which he later purchased coinciding with the birth of their baby girl Janice. The Cable’s became Miles residents and remained in Miles for their entire lives. 

John and Jan were a courting couple when in 1961 Jan entered and won the Inaugural Miles Miss Civic Centre. Miles Miss Civic Centre was one of the most Prestigious events on the Miles calendar for many years.

Jan Cable Miss Miles Civic Centre 1961

John and Jan Married on 26th January 1963 and formed a partnership that was to see them build their business from scratch to the Hardware and Plumbing enterprise it is today. Murilla Hardware was opened in 1965 in Murilla Street, where it still stands today. A second Hardware store (Mullins Hardware) was opened in Chinchilla a few years later.

The Miles shop sold everything hardware to many satisfied customers, while John had his plumbing side of the business in the yard beside the shop. As well as doing the usual plumbing jobs in the area, John and his workmen spent many hours building Galvanised rainwater tanks. These tanks were transported to homes, businesses, and farms all over South West Queensland.

STAFF AT MURILLA HARDWARE, MILES

Some of John’s achievements during this time were being contracted to work on the new Charleville Hospital and being a part of  building  the Australian Stockmen’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, where John and his men did the Roof and all Plumbing and Drainage. John Mullins Jnr took over Mullins Plumbing in 1993 and still operates in Miles today.

OLD INVOICE FROM MURILLA HARDWARE

Whilst running their business’ John and Jan also somehow found time to raise Six children – John, Melissa, Rachel, Fleur, Regina, and Marcus. All the Mullins children have at some time worked behind the counter at Murilla Hardware or in Plumbing and these days you will also spot some of the Grandchildren helping during School Holidays and weekends.

In 1986 John and Jan were confronted with a tragedy no parent should ever go through when their eldest daughter Melissa passed away as a result of a car accident.

MELISSA MULLINS
JOHN AND JAN WITH CHILDREN (AT RACHEL’S WEDDING)

In the early 1990’s John was diagnosed with Cancer and after a few operations he was back walking the floor at Murilla Hardware, keeping everyone in check. John’s ill health continued for 15 years until he passed away in 2005. 

John and Jan Mullins’ family have sponsored, supported, and participated in many Community Groups and functions over the Years. John and Jan were active members of The Miles Rotary Club for many years until declining membership forced it to shut down. Show Society’s not only in Miles but other towns in the region have benefitted from their generosity, as well as many sporting clubs. The Miles Devils, Miles Pony Club, Miles Golf and Bowls Club just to name a few.

The Art Gallery in the Dogwood Crossing Centre in Miles and the Miles Races bears John’s name as a memorial to a man and his family who have worked hard for the District and Contributed to the success of so much in our Region.

THIS TRIBUTE WRITTEN BY KEN BROWN

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