Monica and Alec married in Cardwell in 1927. The J. C. Hubinger Museum, once Cardwell’s Town Hall, where Monica played piano for Friday night dances, was where they met. Monica’s family returned her wedding dress for display in the Museum named after her paternal grand-father.
In the 1920s Alec Baker was a Townsville-based railway fireman and steam-train driver who stopped over in Cardwell and attended the Friday night dances in the Town Hall, where Monica Hubinger played the piano for dancing and concerts. Alec and Monica married in Cardwell in 1927.
Born and raised in Cardwell, Monica was a gifted musician who also played the violin, organ, accordion and ukelele. Her artistry on a piano energised the senses, set feet in motion and made the hall reverberate. Monica had learnt to play on a second-hand piano at home and refined her skills under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy while boarding at the Catholic Convent School in Innisfail. She could hear a piece of music or a song for the first time on radio, and instantly reproduce the same piece on piano, with embellishments.
At Hubinger’s residence in Victoria Street, impromptu sing-alongs and dances were held on the 2.5 metre wide verandahs, with Monica providing the music. Passers-by used to drop in and were welcomed to join in.
An unhappy footnote to this story is that in 2011 cyclone Yasi caused serious damage to the J. C. Hubinger Museum and to Hubinger’s 99 year old residence a few doors away at 67 Victoria Street in Cardwell. The piano on which Monica had learnt to play was drenched and destroyed at her old residence, although in the museum her wedding dress, enclosed in glass and surrounded by debris, survived the category five cyclone.