The official opening of the Traveston
The official opening of the Traveston "mega" service station on November 24, 2020.

Outgoing Kybong servo owner shares emotional Matilda story

Matilda, the 13-metre high mechanical Kangaroo who winked at the crowd during her lap of honour at 1982 Brisbane Commonwealth Games, has long been an icon of the Gympie region.

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But that probably wouldn’t be so without long-time service station owner Peter O’Keeffe, who gave “Tilly” her new home at the Kybong service station all those years ago.

The owner of the former Matilda (now Puma) service station at Kybong, Mr O’Keeffe announced yesterday morning he would be handing over the new Traveston “mega servo” to Chevron Australia Downstream.

The official opening of the Traveston
The official opening of the Traveston "mega" service station on November 24, 2020.

The new service station site alongside the Bruce Highway officially opened yesterday.

Mr O’Keeffe shared a powerful story when explaining why Matilda, and the Gympie region, would always be special to him.

“There was a period in my life where I was very successfully doing another business, but I’d just about had enough of that and I wanted a bigger challenge,” he said.

“I had two things in my bag of knowledge, one was oil and the other was engineering, and I thought I wanted to get into the oil business.

“I saw the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, and when that kangaroo came out with all those kids there were tears streaming down my face.

“The next day I raced out and registered three companies: Matilda Fuel Supplies, Matilda Independent Fuel Supplies and Matilda Discount Fuel, and the rest was history after that.

“That’s why Kybong was always Matilda until recently, and also it was to all locals, not just travellers, always known as Matilda’s in the plural sense.”

The official opening of the Traveston
The official opening of the Traveston "mega" service station on November 24, 2020. Chevron Australia General Manager Anna Vargas and O'Keeffe Group owner Peter O'Keeffe cut the ribbon to officially open the site.

Matilda hopped over to her new home at the Traveston site in October.

A Chevron spokesman said the mega servo features 24 fuelling hoses, full truck-stop amenities with ensuites and laundry facilities, a large Super 7 shop with kitchen, more than 100 parking bays, five outdoor rest areas with BBQ facilities, external and internal kids play zones, parent rooms, shower facilities and more.

The spokesman said more “exciting offerings”, such as McDonald’s, would arrive at the site by early next year.

“The site is solar-powered and has its own wastewater treatment plant, helping to reduce its impact on the environment,” the spokesman said.

“Matilda’s new home is set to make a welcome stop and attract visitors wanting an iconic holiday happy snap.

“Before Matilda’s Traveston move, the 13-metre-tall kangaroo would attract some 100,000 monthly customers to Puma Kybong. We are excited to make the South-East Queensland icon even more accessible to tourists.”

Read all about the grand opening of the Traveston Service Station here.