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    Henry Gunstone

Farewell to an Ararat icon Henry Gunstone

By Lauren Henry

Ararat’s Henry Gunstone, nicknamed ‘Bradman of the Bush’ died on Saturday, aged 83 years.

Tributes have flowed in for Mr Gunstone, who not only was a champion cricketer and footballer, but was also instrumental in establishing Ararat’s link to its Chinese heritage.

Mr Gunstone led the formation of the Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre and setting up Ararat’s sister city agreement with Taishan, in Guangdong Province in southern China, in 1993.

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But for all his achievements on and off the sporting fields, Mr Gunstone is most revered for the man he was, with comments such as ‘true gentleman’, ‘absolute legend’ and ‘icon of Ararat’ pouring in since his death.

Grampians Cricket Association said it was saddened to hear of the passing of a true legend.

“Dubbed the Bradman of the Bush, ‘Gunno’ had one of the greatest individual records any cricketer of any standard would cherish,” a statement said.

“Whether it be batting and smashing 100s, 200s and 300s or bowling right and then switching to left hand and taking five wickets.

“Henry left an indelible mark on the Grampians Cricket Association and his legacy to cricket in the area will be cherished and remembered forever.”
Mr Gunstone made 129 centuries in an amazing career spanning 36 summers.

He first played at Country Week as a 17-year-old in 1957 and scored 13 tons, including 133 in the 1966 final.

His highest score was 334 in a career that included appearances against England, South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand and the West Indies.

When Melbourne’s Country Week cricket carnival celebrated its centenary last year, the Victorian Country Cricket League inducted former players and administrators into its Hall of Fame.

To mark the special occasion, The Weekly Times chose its Team of the Century made up of players who had starred at Country Week and represented Victorian Country.

Mr Gunstone was selected as captain, alongside Horsham’s Don Rush and Rex MacKenzie.

Mr Gunstone also spent more than 20 years umpiring cricket, and the Grampians Cricket Association named its twenty20 competition in his honour – the Henry Gunstone Cup.

While most of his cricket was played in the Ararat area, he played 11 games in the Victorian Premier Cricket League for Richmond.

In football, he played 13 games for South Melbourne Football Club in the Victorian Football League, VFL, in 1960-62.

But it was SMW Rovers Football Club where he arguably left his greatest mark.

On its Facebook page, SMW Rovers said it was saddened to hear of the passing of its club life member and member of its team of the century:

“Following his stint with South Melbourne in the VFL, Henry captained/coached SMW Rovers to five straight grand final appearances, winning three premierships throughout the 1960s. He returned in 1984 as coach for a further three seasons, taking the senior side to another grand final in 1985.”

Mr Gunstone also coached Ararat to a Wimmera league senior football premiership in 1978, defeating Horsham.

Away from sport, he spent much of his working life at Ararat Rural City Council, where he spent 36 years working in roles such as international relations manager, municipal recreation officer and community services co-ordinator. He retired from council in 2011.

“Henry’s exceptional public relations skills were matched by a cool head under pressure, the importance he placed on nurturing both professional and personal relationships with his staff and networks, and his tremendous loyalty to those connections,” Ararat Rural City Council said in a statement.

“Council would like to acknowledge Henry’s dedicated work during his time serving our community. His impact and remarkable legacy will continue to inspire us all.”

Mr Gunstone also set up a company, Ararat China Services, which exported products from the Grampians region to China.

He built strong relationships, and friendships, and was the only Australian to be made an honorary citizen in Taishan for 504 years.

He is survived by wife Joy, children Dianne and Andrew and grandchildren Sean, Riley and Sara.

Mr Gunstone’s funeral will be at 2pm on Friday at Ararat RSL.

The entire June 5, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire June 5, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!