Dad’s and Mum’s Neighbourhood Reminiscences on Trove Tuesday

I was mentioning last week how Dad had lived in the street in Kelvin Grove his whole life, and had memories stretching back decades. Some years ago I asked him a little about it. There was a time when he would “clam up” and not tell stories like this, but when I wrote my family history, he realised I did really want to know more about life in the suburb. I’ve used Trove extensively to see if I could track down more information on what he told me. After starting this story I also had an extensive conversation with Mum to clarify some of the comments, and she also added information.

So here are his brief reminiscences, with my own comments, or follow up research relating to it. Mum’s conversations last week are included in green.

An image from SLQ looking towards Kelvin Grove (but which part?)

An image from SLQ looking towards Kelvin Grove (but which part?)

When I was young you could catch a feed of prawns down the creek (Enoggera Creek) and when it was mullet season, you could just about walk across the creek across them.

When Pauleen was young we sometimes caught catfish in the creek. Perhaps the floods washed the creek clean in the earlier days considering there was more industrial waste going into it. Mum used to sometimes call Dad “Elastic Jack” when he started telling tall tales, like walking across the creek on the mullet.

When Pauleen was a child, the mangroves were quite dense and the wretched lantana held sway over the creek banks.

Hayes had a dairy[i] and willed all the land to the council for the public. The dairy was located where the Mynor cordial factory was (at the bottom of Gould Rd). He used to run all the cows on Ballymore where the rugby union is now and a bit over the other side of the creek. The creek used to dogleg over the road and they cut it straight for flood mitigation. There was a weir over the creek across from Ballymore until they straightened the course of Breakfast Creek (technically Enoggera Creek) after the 1974 floods. The Commonwealth paid 60% and council and states paid the rest and the council was supposed to maintain it (presumably the land).

Flooding around Enoggera Creek Windsor 1893 (1)

It seems likely this was Henry Thomas Hayes as he’s mentioned in a Trove newspaper article as a dairy owner though the electoral rolls record him as a labourer of Gould Rd.

Enoggera/Breakfast Creek is tidal to the weir at Bancroft Park on Kelvin Grove Road and has a history of flooding and drainage problems that has led to flood mitigation measures including widening, straightening and dredging.[ii]

The bakery (Hassetts) in Butterfield St, was a family bakery –it was there when Dad was twelve (mid-1930s) because he went over on the pushbike.

In fact, in later years Dad and I would ride over to buy bread –the smell was heavenly and you would pull a bit out of the soft part in the middle…yum! Mum says this was often during the school holidays.

Mum remembers that someone used to come around selling clothes props.

There was a vegetable farm down where the NARM (sandshoes/sneakers factory) was, where the new Post Office depot is now. They used to call them Chinese market gardens. Mum says there was also one across the creek where it flooded as well as at Stafford.

This is interesting because a health inspection refers to the terrible conditions of Chinese abattoirs in this area.

This dairy, Ozanne's, was in nearby Ashgrove but shows what must have been a similar mix of rural and urban. c1920

This dairy, Ozanne’s, was in nearby Ashgrove but shows what must have been a similar mix of rural and urban. c1920

Another dairy (was owned by) Hicks, where the baseball and Italian Clubs are now (in Newmarket, near where Pauleen used to go to Girl Guides). I was surprised to learn how many dairies were in the area, but it makes some sense in that pre-pasteurisation era. I still remember getting fresh milk from the dairy at Samford where we camped with Guides.

On the flat opposite Bally St, another bit of a dairy, owned by a couple, McShea and Vowles. In Pauleen’s time this area flooded whenever the creek flooded heavily. Mum says there were also Chinese gardens there in her time. 

Mum also said that there used to be a horse track, with fencing, in the middle of Ballymore Park then in the 1950s every time you caught the bus there would be less fencing there, until it all disappeared.

Hayes used to pick up all the old produce in Roma St. One day Dad saw him with the old big draught horse pulling the dray and he (Hayes) is asleep and the horse was leading the way. At the railway the horse went straight up, round the policeman, up College St and into the railway stables, while the policeman watched with all the traffic stopped.

One of the Kelvin Grove tanneries circa 1890, SLQ

One of the Kelvin Grove tanneries circa 1890, SLQ

Johnston’s tannery was in Bishop St and there was one over in Finsbury St and another one where the retirement development is near Catholic church (in Newmarket?). This one was possibly Granlund’s.

I remember the smell of the tannery quite vividly, but not pleasantly. It was okay except when the wind came from the west.

There has been some debate about these tanneries on the various websites but Queensland Places has this to say[iii]: Away from these public uses Kelvin Grove developed a landscape of Queenslander houses, most of them within half a kilometre of the tramline. Those further away were closer to Ballymore Park. Kelvin Grove Road had shops and a picture theatre (1912) (which Pauleen remembers). There were a couple of tanneries down Bishop Street near the creek, and the area is still industrial.

Dad got in a row with the tannery and council because he couldn’t breathe – “they used to release all the muck from the tannery when tide went out. Sent a diver up the pipe to near Bancroft Park and it was that tannery that was putting the muck down the pipes so there was a big kerfuffle”.

There was a big tannery at Stafford near where the shopping centre is (this coincides with a conversation on the web). There used to be a beautiful swimming pool (natural) at Kedron Brook until the tannery came along. 

An 1873 newspaper article praised the Kedron Brook tannery owned by J & G Harris (I wonder if these were the same people who obtained the initial land grant on the Ballymore estate?)Or was the tannery that Dad mentions a different, newer one. Either way the Council took exception as this report indicates. A 1934 newspaper story takes a different view with one MLA wondering why the tanneries had ever been allowed to empty their waste into Kedron Brook.

A fellow had a mirror factory down Bishop St for which they use cyanide to do backing of mirror (Bishop St was hardly a salubrious place to live, and it was good thing we didn’t catch many fish!)

Finney (Isles) and Ure had a carriers where the garage is on Herston Rd (cnr of Kelvin Grove Road). There was a paddock at the endof Picot Street for the Clydesdales and they took them along the creek near the Chinaman’s gardens.

via Trove: sale of property in 1929, large house in Herston Rd, one street off Kelvin Grove tram line. This follows Hubert Finney’s death –papers refer to him as ex-Alderman. He and Ure were members of the Master Carriers’ Association.

Mum recalls that she was told euchre parties were held in the house across the road, to raise funds for the church and school.

Perhaps these are not profound recollections but they add some personal flavour to the local history, and offer stories that would otherwise disappear. I’m just sorry I didn’t “pump” him for more.

The Lawrence family had a tiny shop at the end of Bally St in Dunsmore St. They also ran the bus to Fortitude Valley until the Council took it over

I also asked Dad who lived in the street when he was growing up and have since compared the names with those on the electoral rolls with great success, though he add some additional snippets to add. This may be the content of a post another day. My childhood friend still lives in the street behind ours and my guess is that her family has the longest continuous for the two streets, perhaps shared with one other family. I wonder if her father passed on any anecdotes to her?
Trove Tuesday is a blogging theme created by Amy of Branches, Leaves and Pollen, revealing just how incredible a resource this is, even when making comparisons with oral history.

Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 8 Girl Guides

4 x 7UP collageLike many young girls of my generation I became a Girl Guide when I was about 10. However unlike many others I hadn’t followed the normal path through Brownies. Joining the Guides was a big deal because in those days it had the reputation of either not being friendly to Catholics, or vice versa. Certainly one of the deciding factors was that the Guide leader of our company was herself a Catholic and would take the three or four Catholic Guides with her to Mass when we went camping.Pauleen Guide test

I don’t know what the rationale of the objections might have been. Certainly there doesn’t seem too much in the Guide oath to be threatening:

I promise that I will do my best:
To do my duty to God,
to serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people, and
To keep the Guide Law.


The equal prominence of the British flag as well as the Australian is interesting yet typical of the era.

Perhaps my joining up had to do with my neighbourhood friend who joined at the same time and whose parents would often drive us to events. On other Saturdays we would walk through the shoulder-high grass along the creek bank with one or other of our parents watching us until we reached the NARM bridge (near the local tannery) and they could see us heading to the Guide hut.Pauleen Guide tests crop

I really enjoyed much of my Guiding experience and learning and passing all the various tests. The image featured today is one of my tests, possibly the one entitled “Nature” for my Second Class test. I also remember doing another one for which I documented the changing seasons, flowering trees and birds in the bush at the end of our street. Along the way I learnt a variety of skills, some useful and some not. I remember being aghast that people didn’t know the names of all the streets in their area, and now I’m one of those too ….remembering where places are but not bothering with street names.

It doesn't look like any of us were having fun here.

It doesn’t look like any of us were having fun here.

There were also local hiking and picnicking outings, always making sure to bring our plastic sit-upons so our personal sit-upons wouldn’t get wet. We would make damper and cook it over the open fire. There would also be periodic camp fires near the Guide hut and we’d have a fine time singing.

The other fun thing about Guides was going on camp and my first Guide camp when I was about 10 was the first time I had overnighted, or perhaps spent more than one night, away from home. I distinctly remember that my parents had felt quite lost without me <smile> or that’s what they told me.

My old Guide badge for our group.

The old Guide badge for our group.

Whenever we went on camp we would travel in the open back of an old five ton truck driven by another Guide’s father who lived near us. We would sing Guide songs as we went along and it was great fun, though these days of course it would never be permitted for safety reasons.

We used to have those great big heavy canvas tents and flimsy sleeping bags ( I had mine for years) and woollen blankets. The dining area was in a big marquee and all the meals were cooked in big metal dixies. I suppose we must surely have helped with the meals but I don’t recall. We would also dig our own latrines and erect hessian screens around them. Bathing was done in big round metal tubs in another screened area. My first camp was at Brookfield and was beside a creek bank. I remember that we were provided with fresh milk each morning straight from the farmer’s cows, and also that there was a water snake in the creek when we went swimming.

Guides flooded Samford

Flooded in at Samford. We were on the land to the right, Water Police mid-stream and anxious adults on the far side.

However my most memorable camping trip is one I described a while back. You can read all about it in this 52 weeks series post on disasters…my sole experience of being on the front page of the paper.

I did enjoy Guides a lot but gave it up when I was heading to my Junior or Year 10 exams, probably just after being awarded my First Class Guide Badge. Unlike some of my friends I wasn’t tempted to continue along with the more challenging Queen’s Guide text.

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challenge

This post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy -Week 12: Movies

This week’s topic in 52 weeks of personal history and genealogy is: Movies. Did (or do you still) see many movies? Describe your favorites. Where did you see these films? Is the theater still there, or is there something else in its place?

I’d been looking forward to the Movies question but as it happens it generated far more memories (and no shortage of questions) than I expected.

Many children “of my era” were routinely given a small amount of money and sent off to the Saturday afternoon “flicks”/movies at the neighbourhood picture theatre with allowance made for an ice cream or lollies as a treat. However, my memory is that I rarely went to the movies and I’m quite certain I didn’t go unaccompanied as my parents were quite particular in that way. There was a movie theatre on the main road at Kelvin Grove and this is where people went to see the current films. There was also a fish & chip shop nearby and I remember we sometimes got take-away from there, wrapped in newspaper. The Saturday afternoon matinee was mainly (I think) serials and news. The news reports were always done in a terribly British accent.

Until I was a teenager every movie show started with a short clip of the Queen trooping the Colours while “God Save the Queen” was played and everyone in the audience was expected to stand. As renegade uni students in the 60s we would defiantly sit through the playing of the national anthem. Now it’s impossible to imagine that anyone would think of playing the national anthem before a movie, and of course even if they did it wouldn’t be the Queen.

The neighbourhood theatre was largely used for the general circulation runs, sort of a pre-multiplex option. For bigger block-buster movies, people went into town to one of the bigger, and generally much flasher, theatres. The roar of the MGM lion was the prelude to many of the movies. The first movie I remember seeing was Fantasia which I saw in Brisbane city with my mother and great-aunt Emily. It was far too imaginative for me and frightened the wits out of me, so my first movie experience wasn’t a great success. That theatre survived in Albert St for many years but is no longer there.

As a young teenager, my first taste of movie freedom was to see an Elvis film (maybe Blue Hawaii?) and a Gidget film. I think the independence was more important than the film! I remember I saw those films at the old Tivoli theatre which was in King George Square. Not only is the movie theatre no longer there, the whole Square was transformed beyond recognition in the early 1970s when we were living in Papua New Guinea. There is a picture of this area on Picture Australia but it is copyrighted (Image BCC-B54-4329).

My Fair Lady programmeOne of the biggest block-busters was of course Sound of Music which I saw at the same theatre as Fantasia. Like most people I thought the movie was great fun, especially the dance sequences and the women’s formal dresses. It seems strange now to realise that every big movie had a printed booklet or type of programme on sale in the foyer. For anyone who could afford them, it was usual to buy one as a souvenir, and to save your ticket. Going to the movies was an “event” rather like a big concert today!

"MY Fair Lady" Programme

One particular theatre in Brisbane which was very classy was the Regent Theatre, which is still there though it has been modified into a multi-plex model. It was built in 1929 and its décor is quite amazing. This is what Wikipedia has to say about it: The Regent’s entrance foyer is on the narrow Queen Street site, and the auditorium was constructed on the broader site in Elizabeth Street. The original interior decoration was a mixture of Spanish Gothic and Romanesque. The mezzanine foyer contains a white marble staircase, made from Queensland marble, along with vaulted cathedral ceilings. A total of 2,600 patrons were able to be seated in air-conditioned comfort. However my illusions have just been shattered as googling for further information I have just learned that this theatre is now closed, to be destroyed for a 38 storey office block. Really Brisbane has never learned to preserve its heritage…we have absolute disregard for our unique icons, whether it’s the iron-laceworked Bellevue or the historic dancehall (and exam venue) Cloudland! The YouTube video clearly shows the Regent’s emotional appeal for Brisbaneites.

My recollection is that the Regent had a sound shell for the pianist/orchestra, probably dating back to the silent movie era. I saw My Fair Lady here with my mother and it was quite a formal event. The Regent was one of the theatres where there were always usher(ettes) to show you to your seat. During the interval (and there was always one), the usherettes would come round with trays on which there were ice creams and lollies to purchase. Fantales, Jaffas  and later Maltesers were my favourite treats. It was all very civilised! Watching the YouTube clip on the link above reminded me that we had also taken our daughters there to see Bambi when they were young…half way through the show my husband had to go to the shop across the road to buy more tissues. We were always a hopeless family when it came to animal shows;-) Possibly the only family to ban Disney animal shows on TV!

You can see that the modern cinemas lack the character and drama of these old-style movie theatres.

When I moved to Alotau in Milne Bay, we used to go to the Cameron Club on a Friday night to see whatever movie was scheduled. The venue was partly open and the atmosphere was distinctly informal. As soon as the movie was finished we’d jump in the car and race home so we could boil the jug and have a coffee before the power went off at midnight (we had 18 hour power). To my surprise the Club is still there – described by Lonely Planet as a large cavernous space like a rugby clubhouse. But it was all we had for entertainment so who was complaining?!

In Port Moresby and later in Brisbane we very occasionally went to the drive-in, but with small children and limited baby-sitting options, we rarely went to the movies.

Darwin is famous for its Deckchair cinema, which like Broome’s outdoor theatre is “under the stars”.  I confess we rarely go there as somehow a late afternoon session suits us best and this means the multiplex. One of Darwin’s more aggravating habits is the tendency for movies to come and go with amazing rapidity –blink & you miss it! With all three cinemas showing pretty much the same programs, it’s all too easy to miss out on something you intended to see. It’s common, too, for ones you’ve seen reviewed and marked as “must see” to simply not arrive here.

Far too often these days my movie-watching is confined to in-flight entertainment, so if I’m not flying I don’t keep up with the current releases.

And so to my “faves”, which I might add are not deep-and-meaningful and indeed are mostly pedestrian. These are the ones I watch again and again on DVD.

84 Charing Cross Road: for Helene Hanff’s sassy New York attitude and the stoic Britishness of those at the bookshop. But WHY did she wait so long to go across the Pond?  Didn’t she know travel is as important as new teeth and a brownstone?

Hopscotch: A younger Walter Mathau and Glenda Jackson in a Cold War movie which is something of a spoof. We love it.

Out of Africa: While the others in the Ladies cried over the death of Robert Redford, I was crying about the servant left behind and waiting faithfully, and fruitlessly, for her to send for him. Don’t care about the cinematic bloopers that some kind soul emphasised for me, I just love it.

Top Gun: hot shot pilots, great music, quotable quotes, and Tom Cruise (before he dumped our Nic), and my daughter’s “embarrassing moment” during the beach volleyball scene!

You’ve Got Mail: For killing my ambition to own a small bookshop.

When Harry met Sally: so many quotable quotes, plus the scenery …but that bizarre female dating behaviour…

My Fair Lady –for the music and those magnificent costumes.

Dr Zhivago and Reds – for the historical era, the drama, scenery and the cold!

Other memories:

Seeing Hawaii with a new boyfriend in the front rows. I don’t think he enjoyed the birth sceneJ

Casino Royale with my future husband and being given a friendship brooch.

Papillon as an anniversary outing in Moresby –ugh –probably the only movie we’ve walked out on.

Born on the 4th of July with Tom Cruise: Sobering for the Vietnam generation. I think he did a good job on this one.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: In Sydney as a teenager.

Outings with other holiday workers from Pellegrinis book store–when the boys would roll Jaffas down the floor –the other customers must have hated us! Typical silly teenager behaviour really.

And lots, lots more. I love movies –they’re one of my favourite forms of entertainment!!!

52 weeks of Personal Genealogy & History: Week 3 Cars


Family outing at Kelvin Grove c1950

As hard as it is to believe these days, when (and where) I was growing up, very few people actually owned cars and those who did were generous with their availability. Dad’s family had owned a car for quite a while when he was young but I don’t know why they sold it. My own family didn’t own a car until I was 20 and throughout the years my father rode his old un-geared pushbike to work in rain, hail or shine. Our family excursions were either bike rides or bus or train trips around the area. Dad worked for the railway so our family holidays didn’t really require a car as we got an annual train pass. On a day-to-day basis, we got around on “shank’s pony” ie we walked and as we lived in a hilly part of Brisbane, that was very good exercise!

Me and the neighbour's car at Kelvin Grove

Throughout my childhood, my experience with cars was through two sets of neighbours. One family, across the road, got one I think when I was about 10 and they used to regularly drive their daughters and I to Girl Guides, tennis or the library. This is a picture of me standing in front of it…talk about “legs eleven” as in the Bingo call. I’m guessing this must have been about the time that they got the car though I don’t honestly know.

The neighbours down the back used to take us occasionally on longer drives in the countryside. We would have singalongs in the car as we went. One thing that always mystified me (and still does!) is something they’d say every time we crossed a railway line: “rip up the railway line & sack all the men!” Now, why, when they were all railway workers would they sing something like that –sarcasm or wishful thinking, a bit like “when I win the Lotto.” I don’t know why I never asked Dad but it has certainly stuck in my mind across the years.

When we’d go on Guide camps we’d travel in the tray back of a large truck with all the gear, tents etc and again have a sing-along. In retrospect it’s astonishing to think we were allowed to travel like that but I suppose there were a lot fewer cars on the roads.

Our first car, Goroka, PNG -typical car-sales strategy!

We got our own first car after we’d been married a year. It was a little Datsun 1200 station wagon which enabled us to take day-trips in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea –not that there were many roads. On one drive up to Daulo Pass we encountered a group of warriors with spears and arrows off for a payback encounter (ie fight with another clan over some real or perceived injury). You might imagine we did not look right or left as we drove past, but were very delighted and relieved when they jogged past us chanting and didn’t look at us!