Mary Ferris oral history


Interview with: Mary Isabella Ferris nee: Burgess
Date of Interview: 14 May 1987
Interviewer: Amanda Wilson
Transcriber: Denise Hall
Tapes: Four

Born: 1902 at Bankfoot House, Glass House Mountains
Married: 19 February 1925 at Red Hill, Brisbane
Children: Five

Mary recalls memories of growing up at Bankfoot House, Glass House Mountains, William Grigor's arrival in Australia and working for William Pettigrew, First Settler in Glass House Mountains District. Mary also talks about Cobb & Co Coaches travelling from Gympie to Brisbane and back - the timetable and accommodation and meal fees at Bankfoot House. Mary remembers the arrival of Halley’s Comet in 1910.
Recollections of Landsborough township and Henry Dyer and John Tytherleigh, the moving of the Mellum Club Hotel Landsborough, the visit of the Prince of Wales in 1920 and the opening of the Landsborough Shire Council Chambers by Uncle, John Grigor in 1924.



Mary Ferris oral history - part one [MP3 44MB]
Mary Ferris oral history - part two [MP3 44MB]
Mary Ferris oral history - part three [MP3 44MB]
Mary Ferris oral history - part four [MP3 25MB]


Images and documents of the Ferris Family in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.




AW What is your full name?

Mary Isabella Ferris.

AW And what was your maiden name?


AW When were you born?

25th December, 1902.

AW So, you were born on Christmas Day, and whereabouts were you born?

Here, at Bankfoot House. (Glass House Mountains.)

AW So, your parents lived at Bankfoot House?


AW You were telling me your mother’s father built Bankfoot House, is that right?

Yes, my grandmother named it. My mother’s mother was born at Bankfoot, a little village in Perthshire, In Scotland. They were Scotch.

AW How did Bankfoot House, here in the Glass House Mountains, come about to being?

She Named it. My grandmother brought the name with her.

AW Who built it?

A man by the name of William Muwett, from Caboolture.

AW And who did he build it for?

For William Grigor, my grandfather.

AW So, that’s your mother’s father?

Yes, William Grigor was my grandfather. They were the first settlers ever here, Grandmother and Grandfather Grigor.

AW When did they first come to the Glass House Mountains?

In 1868.

AW So they were early settlers?

They were the first settlers here, the first people ever to live here.

AW Who told you that, your mother?

My mother.

AW You were telling me also, that your grandfather, Issac Hudson Burgess worked…..

That was my father’s father.

AW That he worked for William Pettigrew?

No, my Grandfather, William Grigor worked for Pettigrew.

AW Do you want to tell me a little bit about that, from what you’ve been told?

I don’t know much about that bit at all, but Grandmother and Grandfather came out on the William Miles. They arrived in Moreton Bay in January 1855 and he picked up with James Low and they went to Moggill, timber getting, and from there they bought a block of land in Brisbane. The house was right on the divide and it still stands today, 19 Gloucester Street, Spring Hill. My mother left it to my sister and I, and I could see that I could never get on with my sister. She would not spend anything on the house. And we were tennants in common, till I sold my half to her.

AW When did you sell the house in Spring Hill?

It’s still there.

AW No, but when did you sell your share back to your sister?

Oh, years ago. It’s a long, long time ago.

AW So, this is the Grigor family we are now talking about, having had Spring Hill?

Yes, and it still stands today.

AW So, how did the Grigor’s come about coming up to Glass House Mountains? Did your mother ever tell you why?

Well, they were at Mooloolah, they were timber getting with Pettigrew. They heard the coach was coming, so he came down here and his mate went to Yandina. It was then called Maroochy. He had a hotel there.

AW Who was your grandfather’s mate?

He was James Low.

AW So, James Low built the hotel at Maroochy.

Which is now Yandina. And old Grigor came here, and squatted.

AW So what coach was that?

Cobb and Co.

AW So this is the Cobb and Co. coach that went to Gympie?

Yes, they left Brisbane at five o’clock in the morning and they were here at twelve o’clock sharp, for dinner.

AW These are the coaches?


And Mother said, “Twelve o’clock you could lift the dinner, they were blowing the bugle coming up the hill”. They were right on time.

AW Were the coaches still running when you were a child?


AW Do you know when they stopped?

My mother was thirteen.

AW So that would have been in 1891. So, your mother had told you all these stories?


AW What else did she tell you about the Cobb and Co. coaches?

I have read the stories too, from the books.

AW What other stories did your mother tell you?

Well, she said the coach never came on a Monday. There used to stay at home and tend to all the harness, all the gear.

AW This is in Brisbane?

Yes. They were down Mary Street. They came up Tuesday, back Wednesday, up Thursday, back Friday. And they took two days to go to Gympie.

AW So, where else did they stop on their way to Gympie?

They changed horses every twelve or thirteen miles. And there was a change of horses here.

AW So, there would have had to have been horse paddocks here?
Yes, he (William Grigor) had the paddocks and the coachmen, they had their own stables. They had a man here looking after the horses and the stables, which were beyond the old people’s stables. Their stables were further on, beyond that. (Indicates to B/W photo of Bankfoot House in lounge room.)

AW That photograph up on the wall. So do you know roughly when that photo was taken?


AW So, when you say the old people’s stables, whose stables were they?

They had their own stables, Cobb and Co., which were beyond Grigor’s stables and they kept a coach man here to look after the horses and feed them and everything else. Grigor had nothing to do with them in that line.

AW Do you remember your grandmother Grigor?

No, she died in 1900.

AW So that was just two years before you were born?

1st June, 1900.

AW Did your mother tell you any other stories of when the coach was running?
Did she tell you about what sort of food the passengers were fed, or how much it
cost, for food, for the passengers?

William Grigor grew all the feed, all the vegetables. He grew everything. They had their fowls, they had everything. They were self sufficient.

AW No, I meant for the passengers on the coach. How much would it cost for
somebody arriving on the coach to come into Bankfoot House and buy some

A shilling a meal, ten cents.

AW Did your mother tell you anything else, about how much it cost, say, to have your horse stabled for the night?

A shilling.

AW A shilling again.

A shilling for the feed for the horse.

AW So, that is three shillings, isn’t it?

If you were riding through, and you stayed the night with a horse, you had your tea, bed and breakfast, and two feeds for the horse, it would cost five shillings.

AW So, your grandparents got that money?


AW Did your mother ever show you any photographs of the coaches, what they
looked like?

They are here in the book.

AW So Bankfoot House is very important to the development of the Glass House
Mountains, and Landsborough area, because that’s the very reason why
people stopped here, was just to spell on their way to Gympie?

Yes, it used to take two days to get to Gympie. The men and horses returned every thirteen miles, the horses did. But in Woombye, they did not trans-ship.

AW What does that mean?

Well, the coaches just came through, they didn’t trans-ship anything, and the coaches came right through. So, when one left Brisbane, one headed for Gympie. They passed at what was called Cobbs Camp, which is now Woombye.

AW Was it called Cobbs Camp when you were a child?

Yes, in those days. I’ve got a photo of Cobbs Camp here.

AW So, the only road between Bankfoot House and Brisbane was the old Gympie
Road, which is where you are still on today?

That’s right, still on today.

AW And why was the road built?

Well, it was the only road and it was built for the Cobb and Co.’s coaches.

AW So they could get prospectors to the gold fields?

Yes, that’s right.

AW That would have been in the late 1800s. So, on the 12th November, 1868, the
first Cobb and Co. coach was on its way to Gympie, via Bankfoot House and
Cobbs Camp.

That is Woombye now, and they used to stop overnight there.

AW So, they wouldn’t stop here over night, they would just change horses here?

They would just keep on going.

AW Right, so they stopped here for lunch?

Midday, twelve o’clock, you could lift the dinner.

AW You remember that very well, so your mother must have really told you a lot about it.

AW Now, who was Fenwick?

That’s my grandmother, Mary Fenwick.
AW Did she meet William Grigor on the ship out to Australia?

Yes. They always said it was a ship-board romance. They came out on the same ship. He was twenty-one and she was nineteen. She worked at Newstead House, as a maid governess, for Captain Wickham, and he went home to England, thinking he would come back as Governor General, and he didn’t, so she left him. She didn’t stop there with him; she came back and worked her way back again. She landed in Western Australia and worked her way all the way back here and met up with Grigor again. And they were married in 1863.

AW Do you remember how many children they had? Your mother was one of them.

Mother was the youngest. She was a twin. (John, Janet, William, James, Kenneth and Clementina).

AW The Grigor family, of course, is very well known in the timber industry, in the Peachester area.

Yes, that’s right, they are relations.

AW William A. Grigor was your uncle, your mother’s brother. Now, he opened the first mill there, didn’t he, on the Stanley River, was it?


AW Do you know what year that would have been?

No, I just can’t remember.

AW Can you remember the mill running as a child?


AW Whereabouts was it exactly?

You know where the park is, beside the river?

AW So, it was just near the park in Peach ester?

Near the park there now, well, that was the mill there, there used to be a big saw dust heap there.

AW So, in 1899, William Grigor built a steam driven mill at Peachester and it continued until 1916.

I suppose it would have been in 1916.

AW Now, what are your earliest memories, Mary, of living here in the Glass House area? Can you remember any glimpses of when you were really a little girl playing in the bush or anything like that?

Well I remember the pit down the front.

AW The pit saw.

Yes, the pit. The whole pit was there and my sister and I used to play in it.

AW Did you ever see it being used?


AW So, it was probably the pit that they used to make Bankfoot House?

All the timber was pit sawn timber. All this bit, (indicates to walls in Bankfoot House) it’s all pit sawn.

AW And it’s beech?

It’s all beech, but the old place was a mixture of cedar and beech.

AW Now, that was the first house?

No. the table was cedar, that’s right, but the rest of the house was all beech. And the old place was beech too.

AW When you say the old place, what happened to it?

Well, it was built of logs, in a hurry, they put it on logs.

AW Instead of putting it on stumps.

Yes, and the logs rotted and went this way and that way, and they had to pull the house down in 1930.

AW 1930. So, as a child you grew up with two Bankfoot Houses? One at the front, right on the road and this one here, that we’re in today.

Yes. There never was a fence, the edge of the verandah was on the edge of the road. Right on the road. The verandah just went out to the edge.

AW Going back to your early memories, you can remember the pit saw, what else comes back to you?

I first went to school in Landsborough.

AW When was that, or how old were you?

I didn’t start till I was seven.

AW So, that would have been in 1909?

That’s right.

AW So, in 1909, you went to school in Landsborough? Wasn’t there a school at Glass House Mountains?

There was.

AW Did you ever go there?

When I came back from Landsborough I did. There was one man that worked on the railroads and he was transferred and when he transferred, half the school went.

AW Most of the students were his children?

It was closed.

AW Do you know when it was closed?

It would have been 1906, in 1910 it was opened again. Yes, in 1910, it opened. We had Miss O’Gorman.

AW Let’s get back to Landsborough. While you were at Landsborough School how did you get to school at Landsborough?

We went up by train.

AW So you just walked down to the Glass House Mountains Railway Station?

No, Mother drove us down in the buckboard. She would only go within half a mile of the station.

AW Why was that?

There were big slip-rails and we could open the slip-rails alright, going down, but coming back when she went to open it, the horse wouldn’t wait for her. He’d clear out. So she only ever took us that far and we would walk the other three quarters of a mile, down to the train.

AW When you say, slip-rails, was it a big fence for the railway yard or something?

No, it was the paddock. The paddock there, and there were rails across, and after you cross the creek, you came up to this, what they called slip-rails.

AW And you would just slip them out and go through.

Yes, but it was alright going down, the horse would wait, but when she was coming back, she wouldn’t wait.

AW So who harnessed up the horse for the buckboard when you were going to school?

Grandfather Grigor. He was still with us. He didn’t pass on till 1907. I remember him well.

AW So, you’d go off to school; would you take your lunch with you?

Oh yes.

AW What sort of food would you take for lunch?

Sandwiches, bananas, apples.

AW Very similar to today.

Because you couldn’t buy anything at school, we always had to take our lunch. No shops at school, nothing else like that, no fear.

AW So, at Landsborough School, can you remember the names of any of the other students?

There was Gertie Jenkinson and Aileen Jenkinson.

AW So, they were the same age age as you?

Gertie was older than I, but Aileen and I were the same age. And there was the Drells, my father’s sister’s girls.

AW So, you really only went to Landsborough School for a year?

Yes, about that and we came back here.

AW So, in 1910 you say, the school reopened. Did they use the same, actual school rooms as they had built in 1906?

It was only one room.

AW Was it off the ground?

Oh yes, it was up, off the ground a few feet. I’ve got a photo of the old school.

AW Was it in what we know today, as Glass House Mountains area proper?

The old school is still there, but it has been risen, they raised it up. But the little old school that we had was only a small room, as big as this, and one little verandah in the front.

AW How many children went to that school when you went back in 1910? Were there many?

Only twelve.

AW So, who were the families that lived in Glass House that had children going to school?

Robertsons, Reeds and Kings. I’ve got a photo of the school here when there were only twelve on the roll.

AW That’s a long time ago. You were telling me just before, that you are the oldest resident here.

Mary Ferris, born here, and living here in the Glass House Mountains. There’s plenty of older ones that are now here, but they’re imported.

AW Because you were actually born here in Bankfoot House.

I was born in this house in that room in there.

AW That’s amazing to be able to say, “I was born in that room there”.Very few people would be able to say that.

Well, that’s where I was born. And this house is ten years behind the old house.

AW So did your parents live in this house and your grandparents lived in the other house?

My Grandfather did.

AW I was just wondering who lived in the old Bankfoot House at the front, after this new one was built?

Well, it was pulled down.

AW But you said it wasn’t pulled down till 1930 or something.

And had it been built on stumps, it would have been there today. It was built on logs and it perished, and they pulled it down to save it falling down.

AW Well, let’s get back to 1910. You were eight years old. Did anything exciting happen in 1910 that you can remember?

We used to go up in the train from Landsborough. We were always late for school because the train was late. I think Mr. Dooley was the school master.

AW What about in February 1910? The other day you were telling me about Halley’s Comet.

That’s right. Most emphatically. Halley’s Comet at that time in 1910, was the closest it was to Earth and now the Comet this time is the furtherest away from Earth.

AW Well, tell me a little bit about what it was like.

Well, it was just a big bright star with a long bright tail.

AW How bright?

You could read a paper with it on the back verandah. Father dragged us out to see it that was in 1910. That was when my youngest brother was born, in 1910. People said to mother, “Why didn’t you call him Kenneth Halley?” She said, “No, it would date too much”. So he’s just plain Kenneth. She wouldn’t have it.

AW So, did you know Halley’s Comet was coming?

Father said it was here, so, we got out on the back verandah and had a look at it and, here was this great big star with a long bright tail, like a big fire in the sky.

AW Were you scared of it?


AW Did you know what it was?

It was away over the paddock. He said it was Halley’s Comet.

AW Did you understand what it was?

He told us what it was.

AW What about all the other children was it exciting?

My sister and I were brought out to have a look at it.

AW What was your sister’s name?

Janet Elsie.

AW Was she older or younger than you?

Eighteen months younger than me. She lives way down town.

AW She’s still alive? That’s good.

Although she makes out she’s older than me. And she looks it too. She lives in the big brick house, nearly opposite the school.

AW I was reading in the old Nambour Chronicle about Halley’s Comet and the farmer up at Witta, near Maleny, he didn’t know it was coming and he wrote a letter to the newspaper and he said he had no idea. He thought the heavens were opening and God was coming. Were there many reactions like that in those days when it happened?

No. Not in my time. Father just dragged us out onto the back verandah and we had a look at it, my sister and I.

AW Were you a bit too young to listen to all the adults talking about it?

Yes, but I remember it well. It was just straight across the paddock there. But it was very bright. You could have read the paper with it, it was that bright.

AW How many nights was it like that for?

Quite a while, before it disappeared.

AW Would it be bright all night?

Yes, very, very bright, but it gradually went away and faded away. As the world turned around, it went too. Because the world turns around. Well, the world turns round and just now, there’s a group of stars. I sleep on the verandah, I see them there, and by morning they’re gone, of course. You see, the world goes around. We are all on the move all the time, although we don’t know it, but we are.

AW Did they teach you those things in school, or did you just work that out?

Yes, I’ve read that in books that the world goes around.

AW Well, in 1910, you also mentioned the other day that you can remember when King Edward, Queen Victoria’s son, when he died.

Remember all the trams and everything was draped with purple and black. They had a big memorial service in Brisbane.

AW Did you go to that?

We didn’t go to it, but Father told us about it and all the trams and everything was draped and the horses and everything else.

AW What about up here in the Glass House Mountains, did people up here wear black are bands or anything?

Yes. There’s one photo here of Grandfather Grigor now, but he’s got it on the right arm, but it should be on the left.

AW Why should it be on the left?

Well, they reckon that’s where it should be, and they would wear black frocks, and go to nothing. They’d always let a Sunday pass between, before they would go out to anything.

AW Why was that?

I don’t know why.

AW It was just tradition?

Just tradition.

AW That was the tradition of mourning. Was that just for special people?

For everybody.

AW For everybody.

Everybody did it.

AW So, if somebody from down at Woombye died that you knew, you would wear a black arm band.

Oh no, we weren’t related to that lot.


AW You only wore an armband if you were related?

Only relations and families. But I never wore any arm bands, but Grandfather Grigor did. I’ve got a photo of him here now with it on.

AW Was he wearing that when the King died?

When his wife died.

AW When did his wife die?

In 1900.

AW What about other world events? You were telling me that you can remember when the Yongala, the ship went down.

In North Queensland?

AW Yes.

That’s when Miss O’Gorman was our teacher here.

AW You spoke about that at school, did you?

It was in our school papers.

AW So, did you used to do current affairs at school?

Yes, all that, history.

AW Do you remember the Titanic going down?

That was way up in the north.

AW But did you read about that in the newspapers here?


AW So Glass House Mountains was right up to date with world events?

That’s right, because we used to get school papers. It was always in that, what they called School Papers, They don’t have them now.

AW Did the Education Department put those out?

Yes, we had to pay a penny each for them.

AW And you’d read them?

Yes, well, that was our lessons.

AW What other sort of lessons did you do, did you do arithmetic? Did you have a blackboard or did you have slates?

Yes, we had a blackboard and slates and pencils, and big desks and you put the slates in front of you, the ink wells and pens and, you put the slates in front of you, the ink wells and pens. Now they use biros.

AW Can you remember when you were at school, how long you would actually be at school for, during the day. What time you started and what time you finished?

We used to go in at half past nine and come out at half past three in the afternoon.

AW Did most of the children that went to school with you, did they come from farming families?


AW Did they have to do any chores, before they went to school?


AW What sort of chores would they have to do?

Well, some of them were milking cows and that sort of thing. My class mate, Marion Gilvear did, of course, they used to milk cows. And they lived as far down the other side of the line as what we were up this side of the line, and she was my class mate.

AW Her parents had a dairy?

Yes, they had a dairy.

AW What about the farmers growing crops?

Well, they had to all grow their own crops, because they never could buy anything, you had to grow your own crops.

AW What about crops for sale?

See, Grandfather grew all the feed here for the cows and all that. When the horses finished, then they had to milk cows. Mother used to mild the cows, Grandfather used to bail them up so Mother could milk them, because he couldn’t milk.

AW Why was that?

I don’t know why, but she used to do the milking and I was the only babe at the time and I was taken over to the cow bails in a high chair and there were big boulders there. I must have got fidgety, Mum said, and I fell out and cracked my head and I had headaches and vomited for days.

AW Do you remember that, or you’ve been told.

Mum said. So, they took me to the doctor. I had to go right to Brisbane and he said the impact was too far forward to hurt anything there and too backward to hurt any other organ but it would mean always headaches, and by gee, it does.

AW And you still get it?


AW So you are lucky that you didn’t sustain some sort of brain damage when you fell out of your high chair?

My head is not round, it’s flat.

AW Well, you must have been very young then?

Before my sister was born, it was only me. I must have been only about twelve months old.

AW So, what would you do in the old days, when you were really young if you had an accident and you needed a doctor?

They had to go to Brisbane. There were no doctors here.

AW But you were fortunate that you were on the railway line.

Yes, well, I don’t know that the railroads had gone down there. They used to just drive down to Caboolture.

AW In what?

In the old spring cart. And then you’d get a boat from Caboolture down.

AW So they would drive down the Old Gympie Road. Did it go through Caboolture?

Yes. Cobb & Co. had a change of horses there, at Morayfield.

AW So, do you remember when the trains came through? Was that in your time?

Yes. That was in my time. I remember the trains coming through.

AW The first train?

I wasn’t born, but it came through in February,1890.

AW So, rail transport had only been in for a few years, when you were born?

Yes, and Grandmother died on the 12th June, 1900. I didn’t know Grandmother.

AW I was just trying to work out what the early settlers would do if they had an accident. So, they’d drive all that way in the middle of the night if necessary?

Oh! Even in the winter.

AW And how would they know their way, how come they wouldn’t get lost riding along with a horse and buggy in the bush?

With a lantern, they knew the roads.

AW They must have been a hardy lot.

They must have been, to come out in the raw bush and put up with what they did here. They must have been, they needed gold crowns.

AW Did your grandfather ever tell you any stories about what the actual scrub was like around here at Glass House?

There wasn’t any scrub, the paddocks were all clear.

AW But, who cleared them?

He used to pay the aboriginals when they were going down to get their blankets and everything. They’d do so much on the way down and they’d finish it when they’d come back. And these paddocks were all cleared.

AW And, you were saying they were going to get their blankets?

They would go and get their blankets and their rations for winter.

AW From where?

From Brisbane, from the Government. And they had a hat full of money, threepences and sixpences and everything that they owned. (The money was paid by Grigor, for land clearing.)

AW So, they were chopping trees down?

Yes, they kept them all cleared and grubbed out.

AW But what about when your grandfather first came here and he was one of the first settlers?

There wasn’t any trees here. It was all cleared. It was clear when he came here.

AW And the aboriginals had cleared it.

It had all been cleared beforehand, I think. I don’t know who would have done it. But the paddocks were cleared. All this paddock here was cleared. It is possible that the Aboriginals had burnt the area, yearly.

AW This is from what you can remember?

Yes, I remember seeing the paddocks all cleared. We get people here, coming from the South and they want to know where the Glass House Mountain is. But, we tell them it’s a group of Glass House Mountains. There’s twelve of them.

AWE You were telling me the other day you know the aboriginal names to some of the mountains.

Beerwah, they pronounce it Beerwah, It’s Beraway, (bear-a-way) from the coast, that’s what it means. Canowrin, or Crookneck as they call it.

AW And the aboriginals used to call it Canowrin.

Or Crookneck, yes. There’s a story in it. There’s Tibbrogargen, Tibbras Going or Tibbras Walk. That’s this one at the back. And there’s the twin mountains, Tunbuboodla. Two and two boodla brothers. That’s the twins down there. You would have seen them when you were at the lookout. Big brothers, that’s what the blacks said it was. Ngungun over here, I don’t know how it came by, Ngungun. They called it Nungumnungum, but it’s Ngungun.

AW And who told you this?

My parents told me.

AW And the aboriginals may have told your parents?

Yes, I’ve got photos of all the mountains, the photos are all here. And they call this one here now, the call it Granny. It’s Ewen. The Forestry calls it Tibrowacum and I’m going to write to the Forestry and make them change it I think, because it should have its proper name. It’s Ewen.

AW And how do you know that?

It’s in all the photos that are here.

AW In the old books.

In all the photos of the Queensland Railways and everything. Stacks of them there, a whole bundle of them.

AW And they always called if Ewen instead of Tibrowacum?

They called it Granny for short, for Ewen. But Tibrogargen, the blacks said it was Tibra Walk, Tibbra’s Going or Tibbra’s Walking.

AW Talking about aboriginals, do you ever remember any aboriginals living in this area?

No. That was before my time. They did have a small ring over here. They were an in between tribe. He had a little ring over there. I remember that ring.

AW Whereabouts was that?

Straight across the front of the paddock underneath the big tree, the bunya.

AW Was it over near the pit saw?

No, a bit up the hill from the pit saw, straight across the front here.

AW Was there a creek near it?

The creek is way down. Just straight across the paddock here, straight across the road.

AW So your mother said something?

Mother said that they used to dress up and have their corroborree, and the men would dance and put their feathers on and the women would sit all around and chant.

AW So, your mother can remember the aboriginals having a corroboree? Did she ever tell you anything that would happen?

They were living here. They were never molested by them. And if they went out and didn’t get a kangaroo or anything, Grandfather would go out and shoot one for them if it was too wet. Well, then he used to kill his own meat. They had their own meat room and feed room here. They had to kill their own meat, they could not get it anywhere else. And he would always say to them, ”if you come up in the morning, I’ll give you some meat”. And he never disappointed them.

AW So, Grandfather Grigor took care of the aboriginals that lived on his property?


AW Did your grandfather ever tell you any stories about the aboriginals?

Mother told us. Grandfather didn’t die until 1907.

AW That’s what I was going to say, did he ever tell you any stories.

Oh! Yes, he did for a while, you know, but he never disappointed them. But, one thing they did say, they always called him King Billy.

AW Your grandfather?

Yes, he was King Billy, they thought he was the King. But, “Mr. Grigor, never walk in front of aboriginals. The hatchet is too handy”.

AW What did you understand from that?

Well, they would kill him.

AW Why, if they thought he was so nice?

Yes, if he was walking in front of them. He always had to walk behind them.

AW But why would they kill him? If they called him King Billy and they thought he was a really nice man, why would they kill him?

I don’t know why, but that’s what they told him. Never to walk in front of them, always go behind them, because the hatchet was too handy, strike him on the head. That’s what Grandfather told me.

AW So, you don’t know the names of the tribes?


AW They weren’t the Kabi Kabi or the Undanbi?

There were two sorts of tribes here. There were two tribes, one was from Woodford and another one from Kilcoy.

AW They used to come here on their way to the coast or something?

Well, they used to go to Brisbane to get their blankets and their rations.

AW So, there was a Bora Ring just over the road?

Straight across there, only a small one.

AW And you remember that yourself?

I can remember the ring, but I can’t remember the blacks here.

AW That’s interesting. Well, let’s move along a bit. Do you remember in 1914, the First World War breaking out?

I was twelve.

AW You were twelve and do you remember reading about it in the newspapers?

Mostly in our little school papers. Teachers used to teach us at school.

AW And, what did they teach you. Did they teach you anything about why there was a war?

Because they were wanting to get more ground. They just wanted to get more ground and rule over everybody.

AW So, did current affairs play a big role in your lives as far as that was what the newspapers wrote all about?

Father used to get what we called the “Weekly”. That’s all we used to get. And we used to talk about it at school.
AW Do you remember when the War broke out, if any soldiers went from the Landsborough or the Glass House Mountains area?

It’s a big area, a lot went from here. There was a father and six sons went from here.

AW What family was that?

The Gilvears

AW Did they all come back?

No, three.

AW So, they lost three. Was the father killed?

No, it was Kenny, Alec and Bob. They paid the supreme sacrifice. There was a father and six sons, the Gilvears.

AW Whereabouts did they live?

Way down the side of the line.

AW So, they were still regarded as Glass House?

Oh, they were in Glass House.

AW Do you remember if there were any send off celebrations, did they all go off to the Railway Station and you all waved?

They had the send offs in the School of Arts.

AW What happened there, were they in their uniforms?

Yes, My Father used to be Master of Ceremonies. He was the MC.

AW So you remember all that?



AW You were just telling me a minute ago a story, about when your father was a boy, he was fourteen. What did he used to do?

Well, he worked for Dyer, the butcher.

AW What was Mr. Dyer’s first name?

Henry Dyer, of Landsborough. And he worked for him in the butcher’s shop.
Slaughtering the meat and that sort of thing. Then when the Dicky came on shore, and they couldn’t get it off.

AW That was in 1893?

Yes, he used to ride down on the horse and take the meat down to the men on the Dicky.

AW At Caloundra?


AW Did your father tell you if he can remember any people living in Caloundra then?

Yes, I remember people in Caloundra, the Bulcocks.

AW No, when the Dicky was first there, in 1893?

Well, he used to work for Dyer and he took the meat down, he used to ride down with it.

AW So, did your father ever tell you what the Dicky looked like? Stories about the ship being up on the beach?

Yes, we saw it, we were taken on it. The whole ship was there, the whole lot was there.

AW When did you first go to Caloundra?

We used to have a week away. We would leave here on Boxing Day and we’d have a week at Caloundra and camp down there.

AW How old were you when you first started going away on holidays?

Before 1910 because Ken wasn’t born and Bill was only a baby.

AW You were telling me about the Dicky. What did that look like?

Well, the whole boat was there. Every bit of it. Father took us onto it.

AW What was it like actually on the boat, were there cabins?

Yes, everything was there, the Captain’s cabin and everything was all there.

AW All the furniture?

Yes, everything that was on it was still there. Father took us on to it, my sister and I. Bill was too young.
AW And it was stuck in the sand?

Yes, in the sand, and they tried to turn it and they couldn’t manage it, the ropes used to keep breaking.

AW So the ship was too heavy?

Yes, and the tides, the waters and the waves would bring it back again.

AW So, when you first went down to Caloundra, can you remember how many people lived in Caloundra?

Very few.

AW Did you know anybody who lived down there?

We knew the Bulcocks. Mother did, she used to often go and have afternoon tea with Mrs Bulcock, old Mrs. Bulcock.

AW Do you remember the name of the Bulcock’s house?

Wait a minute now. He never smoked and never drank and or anything else. He was a very religious man, old Mr.Bulcock. There was the Rookes, who had the hotel.

AW Hotel Francis?

That’s right, that’s all that was there.

AW What about the lighthouse?

It was there.

AW Any shops?

The Tripconys had a shop.

AW So you remember Mr Tripcony? That would have been Andrew Tripcony?

That’s right. And there was Agnes Tripcony. She married a Cannon. They lived over at Woodford. I think, Grace she’s MacBride she’s a bit older than I am. Jean Tripcony and I were the same age. Tom MacBride Grace’s husband and I were school mates. We went to school together in Landsborough.

AW So where did the MacBrides come from?


AW Where did the Tripconys come from?
They lived down at Cowie Bank. They shifted up into Caloundra and then went to school, but Tom MacBride and I went to school together. Tom was a fair bit older than I was.

AW Can you remember in Glass House when the first shop came to the Glass House Mountains?


AW And who had the shop?

George Jones.

AW What sort of things did Mr Jones sell?

All groceries. Fruit, vegetables.

AW Lollies?

Lollies and everything.

AW Did he have a drapery?

No. No drapery.

AW So, the local store, did he sell bread?

No. There was a baker next door. (Not in 1916 though; bread was delivered by train, from Caboolture).

AW There was a baker?


So, really, he wasn’t the first store?

He was the first store, for the groceries.

AW What else was there before him then?

He was the first, George Jones. It was in the School of Arts, a little shop in front of the School of Arts.

AW But there was a baker next door? Can you remember his name?

Snow Spencer, and he used to bring the bread all out around here.

AW You didn’t even have to go and get it?

No, he used to bring it out.
AW He’d deliver it. Can you remember how he would deliver it, did he have a horse and cart?

No, I think he had a bit of a truck or something, but he used to bring it right out here, because when the War was on, I had to get all the children out of Brisbane, and they came up here to their Grandmother’s.

AW This is the Second World War?

Yes, and I had to get them all out of Brisbane. There was Clem and Bill and Ruby, Edith and Kevin.

AW Your children?


AW There was a baker, Mr. Snowy Spencer, in Glass House Mountains, and there was a shop, and what else was there?

That was all.

AW What happened if you wanted to get some horse shoes or something for your horse saddle or something like that, where would you go?

My father did it himself.

AW He would make it all himself?

Yes, and he would shoe the horses too.

AW Did he have an anvil here that he used to make the shoes on?

Yes, an anvil here.

AW He had his own?


AW Do you ever remember him making anything like that?


AW What would he do?

Well, he would heat it up, and you would see him belt it till he got it to the shape of the shoe he wanted. Then he would put it on the horse.

AW Did he have a set of the big bellows to blow the coals?

AW So, did you have a special barn of shed where he used to do all the blacksmithing?

He had it in the big stables over here, and the saddle room, alongside it. (Indicates out living room window.)

AW And is that where you put all the bridles?


AW And would everybody in the family have a horse?

Not all. We used to go double bank.

AW Who with?

My sister and I would go double bank.

AW Who rode at the front?


AW Because you were the oldest.

Yes, and my sister would sit on the cushion behind me.

AW So, it was just assumed that everybody would eventually learn to ride.

Yes, then I got that I could drive.

AW When did the first car come?

Oh, I don’t know when the first cars came. It was late in life. Grandfather never saw a car. Father never had a car, no.

AW When did your father die?

Oh! I have to think when Mum and Dad died. He would have died in 1946. My grandfather died in 1907. Dad died a young man. He was thirty-three and a half years in the service of the Landsborough Shire.

AW I was going to get on to that. You said before your father was a Shire Councillor in 1918, the end of World War 1.

I was sixteen.

AW You were sixteen years old, so you were in the right age to be going to dances and parties.

They used to take us too. Father and Mother.
AW Where were the dances then?

In the olden days, it was in the old school. And then in 1916, the hall came.

AW The Hall was built in 1916? Who built the hall?

Mr.Round from down Wynnum way, somewhere.

AW Mr. Round he was a builder. So, did all the local residents pay for it?


AW So, you’d go to dances?

They used to take us. Father and Mother used to take us and they taught us to dance, because that’s all there was in those days. Waltz dancing.

AW And what would you have for music?


AW Who’d play the accordion, would you get musicians in?


AW Would they be local people?

Yes. At times, Dad used to play the accordion too. Jack used to play it.

AW Jack who?

My husband.

AW Was there a piano in the School of Arts?


AW Do you remember who used to play the piano at the dances at Glass House Mountains?

Jacobs from Mooloolah played the violin.

AW What I was trying to get at, in the end of World War 1, all the soldiers started coming home around 1919. There would have been big dances.

There was a big welcome here.

AW Can you remember that?

There would be send offs and then they would welcome them home.
AW What would happen at the welcome home?

They would give them a medal, or whatever they had to give them.

AW Did everyone get a medal?

Everyone did.

AW And who paid for the medals?

The Government, I think. I don’t know just how that came about

AW And did you get all dressed up for the dances?


AW What would you wear?

Blouse and skirt.

AW Did you make them?


AW By hand?

On a machine.

AW On a treadle.


AW Was it a big experience to go out to dances?

Yes, there was nothing else. There was nothing else here, no enjoyment otherwise.

AW What were some of your favourite dances?

I knew them all. The prima waltz, I used to like. Yes, I remember later on, I think it was Stoney Creek or somewhere, Mr Maroske was playing and he said to Jack, “Play a waltz, will you? I want to dance with your wife. She’s the only decent dancer there is.”

AW So you really enjoyed to waltz?


AW Did most people in those days like to dance?

Well, there was nothing else, you just had to like it.

AW What about the timber getters, and the railway workers. Would they go to the dances?

No! It was never allowed.

AW Why was that?

It was never allowed in those days and the policeman would see to it that it was never there. They could get way out in the paddock, somewhere, oh, well away, but never near the dance.

AW So, alcohol was not socially acceptable.

It was abolished altogether at dances.

AW This is sort of round the era of the Temperance League. Was there a Temperance League in Glass House Mountains?

No, Grandfather, Father’s father, had the Temperance League. On the right, across Mellum Creek, they had a Temperance Hotel.

AW In Landsborough, when was that?

It would be a long time ago.

Aw` So, this is your grandfather Issac Hudson Burgess, who had the Temperance Hotel at Landsborough.

On Mellum Creek, up on the right before you cross Mellum Creek, on the hill there. There’s a photo of it in there.

AW On the Old Gympie Road. And he didn’t sell alcohol?

No, it was a Temperance Hotel.

AW I don’t understand why they had a hotel that was a temperance hotel that would allow no alcohol. What would he sell?

Only soft drinks and things like that.

AW And would people still go there?


Aw Do you remember the Temperance Hotel?


AW Was that before you were born?

You can see a photo of it in the Historical Museum. See, there is, like a big book there. Have you seen it there?

AW No, but I’ll go and have a look

Well, it’s there, the photo of the Hotel.

AW This is in the Landsborough Museum?


AW About the end of World War 1, the celebrations. Can you remember when the soldiers actually came home and got off the train? Did they have a big welcoming home?

Yes, they welcomed them home. First they gave them send offs.

AW Can you remember any of the actual soldiers that did come back?

Well, the Gilvears.

AW That’s the man who lost three sons?

Yes, he lost three sons. Then there was the Avenells and Archie King. (Arthur and Charlie King went to the 1914-1918 War and Archie King and Ham went to the Boer War).

AW So, what was it like living in those days, because you had no electricity? Did you have a telephone?

Yes. (1920,s)

What was your phone number?


AW Number seven. So you were probably the seventh house to have the phone on?


AW Was that through the Landsborough Exchange or the Caboolture Exchange?

It must have come through the Caboolture. Father had it put in, because he said “it was an expensive necessity” and it was number seven.

AW So, your father was a man of foresight?
Yes, my sister was six when it was put on. Then the phone number changed to 207 then it went to 989207. Now it’s 969207.

AW So, you’ve kept the seven all along?

All along!

AW In the old days, can you remember making a phone call when you were a child? What did you have to do?

We used to wind the handle.

AW Wind the handle and talk to the operator and tell the operator what number you wanted. That’s very sophisticated, having a telephone out here.

Oh, he had it. He said it was an “expensive necessity”. But oh dear, they are raising it up.

AW What, Telecom, today?

Yes. We couldn’t do without the phone, we need the phone.

AW I’m sure Bankfoot House, being one of the only houses in the area that had a telephone for a long way, people must have come here and used the telephone?


AW For emergencies?


AW So, you would know how important phones are?

Yes. There used to be one man who would come and he would come out from town, where he could have rung up, and he would come here and ring. He would call Mother, Granny, Granny Burgess. And he’d use the phone. She would never mind, and he’d only put down a local call, but he was ringing Brisbane and all over the place. You know he used to catch up on her,

AW This was when your mother lived here, up until the sixties.

Yes, he took advantage of her

AW So, what about light, you didn’t have electricity. What did you have?

Kerosene Lights. It’s sitting out there on the table.

AW The old alladin lamps with the mantle?

Yes, the old kerosene lamps there, the glass ones there. We had them on the farm and we brought them down here.

AW What about the gas lights, the Gloria Lights?

We didn’t have those. We had Carbide lights.

AW Weren’t Carbide lights dangerous?

Well, you had to just watch them. If they started to boil, you’d put them out. Ours has gone up to the Museum, in Landsborough.

AW How would you buy the kerosene, for your lights?

They were in a big case, there were two tins of kerosene in the case.

AW Was it a wooden case?

Wooden pine case. And there were two tins of kerosene and petrol was sold the same way. And you bought your petrol like that.

AW And you would just puncture the top of the tin.

And put a pump in it, and pumped it out. I think the pump is up there also, at the museum.

AW And would you clean the glasses on the lamps every day?

Yes, most days, you’d watch and see they didn’t turn it up too high, so they smoked.

AW Where would you get the mantles from when they broke?

They didn’t have mantles, they had wicks.

AW What about the old Aladdin lamps though. They have got mantles?

They had mantles, yes. But they had wicks. (kerosene lamps)

AW And where would you buy all your spare parts from?

From down in Brisbane, usually.

AW You’d go to Brisbane to do your shopping?

No, Mother used to write down to Evans.

AW Was that a small order shop?

Yes, and they’d send up three months supply at a time.
AW So, they’d send up all your lamp glasses as well.

Oh, we bought them here, and make the wicks.

AW So, how many lamps would you have in, say, this is the lounge room. How many lamps would you have in this room while the family was in here playing the piano?


AW Only one. Would that light up a whole room?

I would put one at each end of the piano.

AW So possibly two lamps, to fill a room.

The lamps are still out in the patio there.

AW Would you be able to see though, would you read by those lamps?

We had to, you could sew by them and everything. And the lantern. I used to do most of our sewing.

AW Did you ever have any accidents where you dropped the lamp, and things caught fire?

No, we had to be careful.

AW Do you know when the power came here?


AW So, that’s a long time, isn’t it?

1952 my mother got the power in.

AW Your mother lived here by herself till then, didn’t she?

She had the power guaranteed. Five hundred I think it was for so many years.

AW Your mother died in 1963.

21st December 1963.

AW So, she only had nine years of electric power, and she had the rest of her life using kerosene lamps? She must have thought power was wonderful.


AW Can you remember, when you first lived somewhere that had power, what did you think of it?

It was wonderful, we went blind.

AW Why was that?

It was too strong for my eyes.

Kerosene was in a big case of two four gallon drums, and petrol was the same.

AW I understand. A lot of the early settlers and pioneers used to use those kerosene drums for as many purposes as you can think of. Did your family use them for anything?

I did.

AW What did you use them for?

We would put three boxes together and the eldest child had the bottom one and the next child had the next one. They were their cupboards for their clothes.

AW So you would use them for shelves?

Yes, there’s one down the laundry there now.

AW Has it still got its label on it?

I don’t know whether it’s got its label on it now.

AW Did you use the tins for anything else?

For washing clothes.

AW So you didn’t have a copper?

I had a copper. Most homes did. You see, when my family were young, I used to put the tin on the stove and boil the clothes in it.

AW And how would you get the kerosene smell and taste out of the tins?

You’d just wash it out with cold water and then hot water and rinse it out, and kept at it.

AW What about milking into the tins?

Oh, they didn’t milk in tins. Mother always used a bucket. They wouldn’t have the tins around the cows.

AW Why not?

No, all that it did was taint the milk. Always just had a bucket.

AW You mean the kerosene would taint the milk?

Yes, we used to have Ashley & Dawson’s. They used to deliver tea.

AW Where were they from, Brisbane?

Down in Brisbane.

AW So, you had travelling salesmen that used to drop in when you were a child?

Yes, and you could but either a square bucket or round tin.

AW What type of tea did you buy?

Oh English tea. It was called Ensign.

AW Do you ever remember people drinking coffee in the early days?

Mother had her coffee beans here and ground her own coffee.

AW So, she grew her own coffee? Tell me, when you pick the coffee beans, they are a deep red colour. Now I understand you have to let the flesh rot off.

And they belt it. Beat it till they got the powder.

AW Didn’t they roast them first?

I don’t know about that.

AW What did your mother used to do?

Well, she used to beat it.

AW Did she boil the coffee beans or anything like that?

I can’t remember anything about that.

AW So, your mother drank coffee, you can remember that.

I can remember them drinking coffee. But they mostly drank tea.

AW Was it a tradition in your household to have Morning and Afternoon Tea?

We’ve always had Morning Tea here and Afternoon Tea, then Dinner, and then to bed.

AW What time would you rise in the morning?

Five or six o’clock. All depends on what work there was to do.

AW What time did you usually stay up until?

About nine.

AW What would you do for home entertainment, when the family was all here at home, sitting in the lounge room like we are now? What would you do?

My mother used to play the piano and we would all sing.

AW You would sing. What sort of songs would you sing?

All sorts of songs. “Take You Home Kathleen”; “Old Bull and Bush, Bush, Bush.”

AW Did you have a wireless?


AW When did the first wireless come out, that you can remember?

We didn’t have a wireless till very late in life.

AW So, you just had each other for company, and the occasional visitor.

That’s all you had. You’d go from one another’s place to another and they would visit one another.

AW Did you have any favourite games that you used to play, when all the family would be together?

We always played races and one thing and another like that.

AW You were telling me, your father became a Landsborough Shire Councillor?


AW What year was that?


AW 1913. So, in 1912, that’s when Landsborough Shire was formed? Is that right?


AW So, what Shire were you in before that, can you remember?

It was in Caboolture.

AW This was regarded as Caboolture Shire?

Yes, Caboolture Board.

AW So, you had a Divisional Board.

Yes, Caboolture Divisional Board. And they had six divisions and division six went to Caboolture. And they only had five here and we were in division four.

AW When your father was nominated to go as a councillor, why did he think he would be a good councillor?

Because old Mr Cahil, of Peachester, came down here one wet day, and he begged father to nominate. Father said, “I’m not educated enough”. He said, “Willy, you will”. And he joined in 1913.

AW In 1913, he was elected.

He did thirty three and a half years, he was opposed and unopposed, and he was re-elected every year.

AW So, Mr. William Smith Burgess was one of the first councillors on the Landsborough Shire Council, and he was in for thirty three years. That’s amazing.

Without a break. Dave Hankinson was in longer, but Dave never had any opponents. Dad did.

AW Dave Hankinson was from Division Two?

Yes, well Dave never had any opponents. Never once, but Dad did. And old Mr Cahil came here and he said to him, “You’ll do alright”.

AW Your father must have been very highly regarded in the community.


AW Do you remember that as a child?

He was very strict. Very strict man. When he sat at the table, you could have heard a pin drop. It would all be quiet. He was very very strict. My mother was too, but not as strict as Dad.

AW Do you think maybe their strictness is what helped all you children to survive?

Yes, it never hurt us. It did us good and I’m the eldest of four.

AW And you have a sister, Janet Elsie.

She’s a Fullerton. Then William Isaac, then Kenneth.

AW So, William Isaac, he was named after his grandfather and then there was Kenneth, the youngest.

Born in 1910.

AW That’s a fine family photograph on the wall there.

That’s me up this end. And Ellie the other end. When she was five she had diptheria, and they always said she was delicate.

AW So, when was Ellie born, how much younger than you?

She was eighteen months younger than me. Her birthday’s the 17th of July.

AW Diptheria was going around the Sunshine Coast in 1907 until 1911. So your sister got diphtheria. How did they treat diphtheria?

Oh well, they took her to Brisbane to the hospital and she was put in the general hospital.

AW Did they ever put any poultices on their chests or anything?

I don’t know what they did.

AW What about here at home, when she started coughing?

Oh, we just got straight away with her. They didn’t loiter.

AW So, you think when was spoilt because she pretended she was delicate.

My mother always said she was delicate.

AW So she didn’t have to do as much work?

Oh! No, she just sat there inside, and just played the piano and I had to go out and help Father.

AW Did you get taught to play the piano?

Well, I had a while at it, but I had to work. I never had time to practise.

AW So you were more manually inclined.

Yes, see, I was the eldest and I had to go out in the bush with my father with the bullocks.

AW So, your father had a bullock team? Do you want to tell me a little bit about that?

I would have to muster the bullocks. And I would go on the end of the cross cut saw, a bit. And I would go before school too, I tell you! I worked before school.

AW How many bullocks would you usually have in a bullock team?

Oh, he had twelve in his, but Jack had about twenty six.

AW So your father must not have been pulling very big logs? If he only had twelve bullocks?

Oh, they were big logs.

AW When you were saying you were on the other end of the cross cut saw with your father, is that while you were cutting a tree down?

Yes, when I wasn’t there, he would put a stick underneath to hold the saw, but I used to go out with him, always of a Saturday.

AW How would you work out which way the tree was going to fall?

You’d put it here and then you’d cut it underneath there?

AW You’d cut a wedge?

Well, you’d cut it here and then you’d cut it below on the other side, halfway.

AW And then it would fall on the side that you cut lower?

You often cut a scaf in, what they call a scaf.

AW What’s that, like a wedge?

No. A slip in the tree.

AW And what would your father do with the timber that he was hauling?

He sent it to Patterson’s, at Toowong. He’d load it on the trucks down the Glass House.

AW The railway trucks?

Yes, they would be in what they called an S wagon. There were some long logs too. And he used to bring the big log in, and over at the Peach Tree corner there, he had a big tin fly and he used to split palings. And I would go and help him load them onto the wagon.

AW How did you get them on to the wagon? The big logs.

They had skids.

AW What’s a skid?

A piece like this. A piece of wood. (Indicates to a piece of wood which was lent against the wagon on to the ground.)

AW What, about four foot long?

About eight feet long, about eight to nine foot long.

AW And how many skids would you need?

Two. And then you put the the chain under the log and pull it over the wagon and all the bullocks would pull from there, and pull it up.

AW And you’d put the skids against the side of the wagon so it rolled up on to the top?

Yes, and you’d put up what they called “policemen”

AW To stop the log rolling off the other side?

Yes, “policemen”. Oh, big stakes.

AW How did you tie the logs on to the wagon?

With the chains.

AW Just with the chains. And did you ever use any chocks or wedges to stop them from moving round?

Yes, you would use a wedge.

AW A wedge. That’s what it was called.

A triangular sort of thing, put in against it.

AW And you helped your father do that?


AW Did many women help their fathers in getting timber?
I don’t know, but I know I did. I had to go out, because I was the oldest. There was nobody else to help him. Then my sister, and of course she didn’t go. Then my brother got old enough when he got to seven or ten, he helped. And then I finished up, and then I went to work.

AW What did you do when you first went to work?

I went from house to house to house.

AW Doing what?

Minding babies, while their mothers were laid up. That’s all I did.

AW Did they pay you?

Oh yes, they paid my way.

AW You were what you could call a Nanny?


AW Was that just in this area or did you go?

Oh, I used to go to Landsborough, and I went to Beerwah.

AW Who were some of the families you worked for?

Dave Mawhinney in Beerwah. John was eighteen months old, John Mawhinney. I went up there in 1923. I would have been twenty-one, and I looked after him while his mother was laid up. She was Blanche Rich. (Rich’s Shoe Factory in Brisbane.) She was in hospital there and I looked after John for eighteen months. Old Mrs Mawhinney was a Parry, Elizabeth Parry, and she had the grandchildren living with her. Their mother had died. And there was one that was up David’s place, minding John when I got up there, and then she went off to school. And apparently, before I went there, David used to come home from Mooloolah, Merridan Plains, right home to her every night, because she wouldn’t stay alone. And I said to Dave “Look here boy, I’m not getting up here at three o’clock for you to go to work. You stop down at the camp.” “Oh!” he said, “I’m glad for that”. So, he stopped at the camp.

AW So, who was he working for at Merridan Plains?

He and his brother were down at Merridan Plains. Jim, David and, I think, Vike. There were three boys.

AW Were they working for the Westaway’s?

They were working for themselves, for the mill at Beerwah.

AW They were just clearing trees off Merridan Plains?
Bringing logs into the mill for the mill to cut up.

AW So that was your first job?

Oh no, I had other jobs before that. I’d been going round, looking after homes. I remember going to David Mawhinney’s to look after John.

AW You were telling me that you would have liked to have been a school teacher


AW But your father didn’t let you. Why not?

He said you didn’t know where you were going to be sent to.

AW And he wanted you to stay within the area.

Stop at home.

AW Do you resent that?

Yes, I did. I did resent it.

AW It would have been hard for a woman to get an education in those days, wouldn’t it?

It was hard.

AW Do you know any women that went on to do more education than just the primary school? Did anybody from Glass House Mountains do any further education, going to Art School or University or anything?

None that I knew of. I don’t think the University was going then.

AW So, it was really hard to get a good education?

Yes, we had Mr. Shapcatt here.

AW Who was he? A school teacher?

School Master here.

AW Did he take over from Miss O’Gorman? Because you said she was one of the teachers you had at Glass House when it started up again.

That’s right. Miss O’Gorman got sick and then Shapcott came. He came from Peachester to here. And he had thirty seven in the class.

AW That was a big class. All one age group?
All classes.

AW And he’d teach you all at once.

He taught scholarship and everything at that time.

AW What was scholarship? Is that like today’s high school, end of primary school?


AW Did you go to scholarship?


I started on the scholarship, but then father said I had to come home and work.

AW That’s a pity.

And Mother’s sister in Yandina, took my sister away.

AW What was her name?

Janet Frazer. She was Janet Grigor. Mum’s eldest sister. Mum’s the youngest

AW We were mentioning before about your father being a councillor. I’d like to get back to the Landsborough Shire Council. Whereabouts in Landsborough were the first Council meetings held?

The Council Chambers then were at the foot of the hill, in the junction of the Landsborough/Maleny. It was a way up on the hill there.

AW The other day you described it to me as the house on the Landsborough side of De Maine Pottery.

That’s right.

AW So, was that, the Landsborough Shire Council Chambers?

Yes, Mr. Hooper was the Shire Clerk.

AW Did he live there?


AW So, it was the Shire Clerk’s residence and the meetings were held there?

AW Can you remember what your father was paid, as a Councillor?

A shilling a mile, one way. And got their dinner.

AW So, how many miles was it from here to Landsborough?

Well, he made a whole eleven shillings.

AW So, it was eleven miles?

Well, it’s past eleven miles. A shilling a mile one way and their dinner.

AW How often would they meet?

Once a month, I think it was.

AW So, in the early days, they were responsible for the building of the roads and what was spent on community things?


AW Was there a community cattle dip in this area. I know there was one near Peachester.

One in Beerwah, the Mawhinney’s had one.

AW Was that their private one or was that a Council Dip?

No, it was a private one. And you had to pay a shilling or one and three pence per head, to dip the cattle.

AW And would everyone rally in and help you dip your cattle, or would you just go up.

Take them up there, and make an appointment of a day when no one else was there.

AW Did tick fever bother the cattle?

Red Water. We never had it here. No, they had it in Maleny, I believe.

AW Well, why did they bother dipping their cattle?

To get rid of the ticks.

AW So, ticks were bad in the old days?


AW What about in the old days, do you remember having mosquitoes and flies, all those sort of insects?

Well, we didn’t seem to have mosquitoes in those days.

AW What about insects that ate vegetables?

Well, we didn’t have them.

AW None

None at all

AW Well, where have they come from?

I don’t know. They were brought in later from America or somewhere. My father had, up in the old pig-sty over there, only cow manure. Gracious me, he had cabbages like a blooming washing-up dish.

AW So, the soil around here is very good?

Yes, there was an old pig-sty here.

AW Did you have pigs when you were a child?

Father had pigs here.

AW So would you occasionally eat those?

No, we marketed them. We sent them to market.

AW How would you send them to market?

Put them on the train.

AW How would you get them down to the train though?

Go in the old buck board or in the cart.

AW How would you get the pigs into the buckboard? Did you have a cage?

You had to load them on the cart.

AW Did the railway down at Glass House have big stockyards?

No. It was always a small railway station.

AW Did it always have a big railway bridge there, the present road that goes over the top of the railway line?

That wasn’t there then. Trains just came straight through.
AW So, you just had to go over the railway line, did you?

Yes, to go on to the platform from here.

AW So where was the biggest rail head from here?


AW So, Landsborough was where it all happened. So they had big stock yards?

Yes, and they could turn the engines there. They had a Y Line.

AW So, the train would drive in, and then what would they do?

They would come back the other way.

AW Oh yes, reverse and then go forward again. I understand. So Landsborough was a fairly big town?



AW Mary, we were just talking about the railway line at Landsborough and about what stores were in Landsborough. Do you want to tell me a bit about Landsborough, from what you remember as a child, say, when you first went to school there when you were seven years old?

There were Dyer’s and Tytherleigh’s.

AW Dyer’s had a store, did they?

The Butcher shop, the Baker’s shop, they had everything.

AW So, Mr Dyer owned nearly everything in Landsborough?

That’s right, and Tytherleigh married Edith Dyer and they lived opposite.

AW This is John Tytherleigh?

Yes, and he married Edith Dyer and he started a shop opposite his father-in-law.

AW Is that when he first had the store in front of the old School of Arts building?

No, this is Glass House, had the store here. (Referring to Jones’s store in front part of Glass House Mountains School of Arts.) This is Landsborough I’m talking about now. Tytherleigh was across the road from his father-in-law.

AW Was it a big store, John Tytherleigh’s?

Fairly big store, but Dyer had everything.

AW But he’d been there a long time?

Yes, and when we used to go to Caloundra for holidays, when we were youngsters, we’d come home through Landsborough and Father would say, (because we had slate and pencils in those days), “What do you want? Do you want more slate pencils?” And I would say, “Yes”. And he’d give you a penny and I said, “Well, we’re going to Dyers because you get ten for a penny, and Tytherleigh’s is only nine. Father wouldn’t believe us, so he went to Tytherleigh’s and he only got nine, where we got ten.

AW So, he went and bought a penny worth of pencils just to see if you were right?

Right, Father never would seem to trust us somehow. Although he was a terribly strict man.

AW In Landsborough, Mr Dyer owned everything. How come?

Well he was there first.

AW Do you remember the Landsborough Railway Station Refreshment Rooms?


What were they like?

Oh I can remember them there. The train would pull up there and you’d
get a cup and saucer. Sometimes you’d have to pay for the cup and saucer too, as well as what you got in it, in case you didn’t finish it in time. It was on the platform.

AW And what would they sell, tea and cakes?

Whatever you wanted to have. Sandwiches, tea, cakes or anything at all.

AW Did you ever go up there just to have afternoon tea?


AW Were there any little cafes in Landsborough, somewhere where you could sit down and be served tea or coffee, like there is today. You have milk bars or somewhere.

No, there was nothing, like that.

AW No restaurants?


AW There was the Mellum Club Hotel though?


AW Did the Mellum Club Hotel buy the hotel licence, from your grandfather?

Yes. When they moved the hotel, my father had dinner in one place one day. And the next time he ate there the hotel was in another spot. The hotel was moved on rollers. He had three different dinners on the road in, while the hotel was being pulled round.

AW Can you remember them moving the hotel?

I can remember Father talking about it. (Approx. 1914 - 1916.)

AW This was when they moved the old Mellum Hotel from Old Gympie Road to front the railway station in Cribb Street, where it is today?

Yes, the old hotel has been shifted a few times.

AW So your father told you about that, but you don’t remember seeing it. We are up to 1920. The Prince of Wales came to Queensland in 1920. Do you remember the Prince of Wales visiting Landsborough?


AW Do you want to tell me a bit about that?

The train was very late, and all the Councillors greeted him. He met them all standing round in a circle. He shook left hands all the way round,

AW Shook left hands, why was that?

I don’t know why, but just left hand, and my brother Bill was there and he said, “Hooray sonny”. he said to him, so he shook hands with him too, and hopped on the train and off.

AW So, he just stopped there because the train always stopped for refreshments? Did he (Prince of Wales) have a cup of tea?

No, they didn’t have refreshments there. He just met the Councillors and hopped on the train and went.

AW Did you see him?


Was he a handsome man?

Yes. We were there all day long waiting for him. Yes, the train was late getting in. It was held up, all up the North Coast.

AW So, it was a big excitement for the Prince of Wales to visit Landsborough?

Yes, we got up early for it.

AW You went up early and he was late? That must have been disappointing. So you were eighteen when he went through.

I think there is a story of that written up in the Historical Society, if I remember.

AW What happened between 1920 and 1925, anything of importance that you want to tell me about? Can you remember anything happening in those five years?

Only that I was Nanny.

AW Did they call you Nanny?

No, they used to call me Mary.

AW When did you meet your husband?

When his brother George was born, his mother came here and brought them and that’s when I met him.

AW How old were you?

I think I would be about six. He was seven.

AW So, you’d known each other the whole time?


AW So, what’s your husband’s name?

John Charles Ferris.

AW Did the Ferris family live in Landsborough.
No, they used to live at Glass House there, at the end of the platform, in the bark hut there.

AW So you’d been brought up together?


AW Was he a childhood sweetheart? Is that how you could describe it?

Yes. I suppose that Jack would have been about six when he came over. When his mother went away, and George was born, he was born in 1907, Jack was born in 1901, and Mum looked after them and they all came here.

AW So, when were you married?

19th February,1925.

AW So, you were twenty three years old when you were married. Was that exciting?

Oh yes.

AW Was married life what you expected it?

Yes, like all married life, you fought all the time and then up and down, up and down, and argued and fought!

AW Where did you live when you were first married? Did you live with your parents?


AW You had your own house straight off?

Yes, at Cedar Flat, out at Woodford.

AW Why did they call it Cedar Flat?

Because there had been a lot of cedar growing there.

AW So, did you own that or did you rent it?

No, we didn’t own the land, we went there and milked cows there.

AW So, you were share farming for somebody?

We were looking after the old man’s cattle. Old Mr. Ferris’s cattle.

AW So, it was Jack’s father’s land?


AW So, how long did you live at Woodford for?

I don’t remember.

AW When was your first child born?

2nd January, 1926.

AW Who was that?


AW Did you have her at home?

No, I went to Lady Bowen Hospital.

AW In Brisbane. Why did you go to hospital? Was that just the expected thing to do?

Yes, and Bill was the next.

AW Where was he born?

Nambour. He’ll be sixty on the 12th of June.

AW So, he was born in 1927? Any more children?

Then there was Ruby. She was born in New Farm.

AW Were you living in Woodford the whole time your children were born?

Oh no.

AW Where did you move to then? Was it Yandina?

Yes, we were in Yandina.

AW Because you were telling me that you thought you had moved to Yandina about 1932. So you were in Yandina for nearly ten years.

About thirteen years off and on. Up in Cooloolabin and in Yandina over thirteen years.

AW That was when the Depression hit?

Yes, in 1932.

Aw What were you doing for a living, you and Jack? Was he still hauling timber?

Yes, but you couldn’t sell it.

AW So, what did you do?

We grew all our own vegetables and everything.

AW Did you own the land you were on, at Yandina?

Up at Cooloolabin, we did. But not in Yandina.

AW So, how would you pay for things like kerosene for your lights, and material for your clothes, during the Depression?

We had a real struggle in 1932, just when Edith was born. 1932 – 33.

AW When you say a struggle, how bad was it?

Well, I used to try and do some sewing for people and try and get a bob or two.

AW So, you had to do anything you could for money?


AW And how did the Depression affect old people, who didn’t have children to take care of them?

They must have had a struggle. I used to make oil skins, coats.

AW What out of?

Calico, calico and then you’d dye it with black.

AW How would you waterproof it?

You’d seal it, seal it with “lamp black” we called it.

AW And you used to sell those?

Anyone who wanted them, I’d make them.

AW So, you were good with the sewing machine?


AW Did you make all your own family’s clothes?

Oh I did, I made the lot.
AW I’ve heard people say about during the Depression, that it was quite common for people to save their calico flour bags and bleach the brand out and make their clothes out of it. Did you do that?

Yes, my word, I did. Because you had fifty pound bags for flour.

AW So, there would be about a yard of fabric in that.

Yes, I used to make their petticoats and panties and everything else they would want in the way of clothes.

AW Did you have a house cow?

Yes, we had a house cow, fortunately.

AW Would it have been harder for people living on the land during the depression or easier do you think?

It was easier for us.

AW Because you grew your own food?

Yes, we had plenty of fowls.

AW So, you always had food.

We always had food.

AW Do you ever remember running out of kerosene because you couldn’t afford to buy any kerosene?

We had slush lamps too.

AW Slush?

Dripping with a wick in it. You know slush lamps?

AW No, never heard of it.

We always had a lantern.

AW Was that dripping from when you’d say, done a roast lamb, the dripping that you got out of it, or is that just the fat from the whey from a butchered beast

My grandmother had slush lamps.

AW Not kerosene lamps?

She had slush lamps.
AW They wouldn’t put out much light would they?

They put up with it. They had nothing else.

AW Were there many swagmen, many people wandering round from town to town.

Yes, plenty of swagmen.

AW Was there a lot of crime?

No. not in those days. You could leave the house wide open.

AW I was just thinking maybe, because so many people were really poor and all these homeless people, vagabonds wandering around.

No, it was always a wonderful lot. The swagmen used to get their rations at Caboolture, and then rations at Landsborough. Anyhow, one came along and Mother gave him a cup of tea, a billy of tea, and gave him sandwiches. And the policeman came and he said, “You shouldn’t be doing that.” She said, “You live here alone, and try it for yourself. You’re glad to give it to them and let them get on their way.”

AW Would they do little chores around the house?

They would chop wood and all that sort of thing.

AW So, she’d pay them in food?

Pay them in food, give them a billy of tea, and let them go on their way. The Landsborough policeman said,”You’re not supposed to do that.” She said, “You just live here alone.” He said,”Why would you do that?” She said, “Well, you never know what they are going to do. If you don’t give them something they might burn you out.”

AW Had you heard of people being burnt out?

Yes, for not doing it. Mother always did it.

AW Did you have any swagmen coming to your door when you were in Yandina, in Cooloolabin?

No, we never had any of them up there.

AW Why, because you weren’t on the line.

We were off the highway.

AW I suppose being right here on the Old Gympie Road.

Yes, this is the Old Gympie Road here, they used to go through.

AW Do you know when traffic stopped using the Gympie Road and when the Bruce Highway, the Old Bruce Highway was built? Was that after the First World War?

The coaches finished and the highway opened up again at Glass House, as Ruby used to say, “Blink your eye and you’ll pass it.” The coaches finished in the early period of time.

AW You said your mother was thirteen when the coaches stopped and the old Bruce Highway had been started then.

Yes, the railroads went as far as Landsborough, and they came down the other way

.AW Who built the road?

When the coaches stopped, roads were built by the Caboolture Divisional Board, until the Landsborough Shire was formed in 1912.

AW Because I was reading the other day that when the soldiers came back from First World War, the Government started up a scheme called The
Soldier Settlement Scheme, up at Beerburrum. Can you remember that?


AW What were they doing?

Growing pineapples. But they had no market for them.

AW Why not?

Because there wasn’t a market known in those days, and they all walked off.

AW Didn’t they have homes there?

They had homes there, yes.

AW Didn’t the Government build them big homes?

Yes, four rooms and that. But they walked off their farms, because there was no sale for their fruit. There was no cannery, nothing. The first cannery was at Bulimba, such as it was.

AW Why didn’t they start up their own cannery?

I don’t think the Government allowed them to.

AW Why did the Government choose Beerburrum for a site?
I don’t know why, but they did. And they had a big pineapple settlement there.

AW That must have boosted the population in this area then?

Yes, I remember my father, all the houses were sold all round, and he shifted a lot of the houses for different people that bought them. They said to him, “What are you going to do when it’s finished?” He said, “I shall cart them back again.” Which he did.

AW So, your father knew it wouldn’t work. Were they pre-made houses that he shifted them down there?

I don’t know why they settled in Beerburrum. They had no market for the food. No COD or anything then.

AW Did any of them stay on?

One or two did.

AW And they kept on farming?

Yes, well, then Bulimba, Brisbane, had a bit of a factory thing there and they could send their fruit there.

AW But they would have been in direct competition with all the farmers from up at Woombye and Palmwoods?

Yes. And then the cannery was built at Northgate.

AW So, that was the Government Soldier Settlement Scheme?

Yes, the State Government.

AW So, it was a big flop?

Yes. Flop with a capital F.

AW So, we were talking about the Depression before, now you were living up at Cooloolabin, near Yandina. When did you move to Brisbane?

We left Yandina in 1939.

AW And then where did you go?

Down to Cougal.

AW Where’s that?

Over the border.

AW Oh yes. How long were you down there for?

Not long.

AW And then where did you go?

Jack’s father kidded him on, to come up and work on the dairy farm.

AW When was that?

Not till 1939.

AW So, that was back at Woodford?

No. Toogoolawah.

AW So, you were dairying again?


AW And you had……… when was your last child born?

1936. Kevin.

AW So, you had five children, and you were farming on your father-in-law’s farm?


AW That must have been a very tough life?

I would say it was.

AW So, you were telling me before, when you went from Toogoolawah, you went to Brisbane and you took up a business. Was it your sister-in-law who had a mixed business?

She let it flop.

AW So, you built up the business and you had a really good business in Newstead. And World War II broke out, so you were in Brisbane during World Was II?

Yes and the Americans came in.

AW What was that like, having all the American soldiers there?

Well, they were greedy devils. They used to want icecream and everything that we had. And I used to say, “This is not for you, you go back to your depot and get it.” I wouldn’t give it to them. I said, “That’s for the young ones here.”
AW What about ration tickets? Being a storekeeper, you would know all about that.

Oh yes, we had petrol ration tickets, clothing ration tickets, and for food, butter, tea, sugar and meat.

AW So, being a storekeeper, it wouldn’t have been so hard for you? Did you still have to use ration tickets to buy your things from your own store?


AW So why did they have ration tickets?

Because everything had to go to the soldiers and we were rationed.

AW So, most of the male work force were in the army anyway.

Jack buzzed off to the army then. He cleared off. It wasn’t what he thought it was. He left me and the kids alone in Brisbane.

AW Which was crawling with American G.I.’s?


AW Was there much animosity towards the Americans?

There was from the men, oh a lot of the women fell for them, they left plenty of youngsters behind.

AW What was the general feeling of people in Brisbane, in the end of the War, when the Hospital Ship was blown up, off Moreton Island? Were you scared?

No, not altogether. We had to be prepared for it, you know the black out. We had to have all the places blacked out, black curtains everywhere.

AW No lights?

No lights. We had to have all the windows and everything done up with black curtains.

AW How long did that go on for?

Quite some time.

AW And your mother was still living up here at Bankfoot House?

Yes, it was taken over by the Army Signalists.

AW This house?

AW Well, where did your mother go?

Stayed here. They lived here.

AW Americans or Australians.

No, Australian Signalists. And they gave her the lounge room, she had a bedroom and a kitchen and the back veranda, that’s all she had.

AW She wasn’t allowed to go anywhere else in her own home?

No. And this front bedroom was one of the Signalists’ room. He lived there with her, and she often used to sneak him in a cup of tea in the night. They told Father to have a port packed, always full of clothes, in case they had to get out.

AW So, your father was alive then too?

Oh yes, he was alive then.

AW You were telling me you were also told in Brisbane, that if you had somewhere in the country where you could send your children, to send them?

They came up here.

AW Were the authorities worried for the children?


AW So, it was that close?

Yes, Ruby and Edith came up here, but I had to bring Edith home again, because Edith was crippled.

AW So, the Signalists were here and your parents were here and the children were here. That’s a pretty full house!

She had this room (lounge room), and I think that room opposite there, those two rooms, and they had the back veranda.

AW Right, so they probably had the kids in that room over there.

Yes, there’s a single and a double bed in there. Of course there was no toilet, the toilet was down the yard.

AW I’ve heard that the Brisbane Line at Burpengary, that they actually had a barbed wire fence up. Do you remember that?

I think it was Dakabin. That was the explosives, at Dakabin, and they had explosives there.

AW Did you ever go to Caloundra, during World War II?

No, I don’t think so. I went through the early parts of our years, (when a child).

AW Was there much evidence in Brisbane, or any of the areas of Landsborough Shire, of a War? Did people up here in Landsborough Shire, have to black out everything?


AW So, they had to paint all their windows black?

No, they used to put black curtains up. Same as we did in Brisbane. And I remember Jack’s father was with us and he’d sleep all day and then he’d read all night. And he would not close the back door, when the light was burning. So I said to George Hewitt, he was a policeman I knew, he lived down the road from us. I said, “George, will you come up and frighten the old fellow and make him shut that back door?” I said, “He won’t shut it for me and the light’s blaring out”. So George appeared at the door and said, “Shut that door.” And he got out of bed and cleared out. He took off. He wasn’t going to be told of what he had to do. He was a pig-headed old man.

AW So, how long did it go on that you all had ration tickets?

All through the War time.

AW How many ration tickets would you need to get a pound of butter?


AW Were you given your ration tickets weekly?

We got them quarterly.

AW How many tickets were you given weekly?

It all depends on the amount of your children.

AW What if you were a single person?

Oh, they didn’t get so many.

AW I’ve heard that when people got married during the War times, or when there was a wedding on, that all the women saved their ration tickets, so somebody could go and buy all the ingredients to make a wedding cake. So you remember that sort of thing happening?

Yes, they did that. It all depended on the amount of children you had, as to how many ration tickets you got. But I used to give Mum my sugar ones and she used to give me the butter ones.

AW Why, because she didn’t use as much butter?

She made her own butter, see!

AW Oh, she still made her own butter?


AW Your father was still alive, so they were growing their own vegetables and everything up here?


AW When did you move back to the Glass House Mountains?

Not until 1966. We sold the shop in 1945.

AW When did your mother die?


AW When did you father die?

He died long before her, in 1946.

AW So, who inherited Bankfoot House?

My mother did.

AW Who inherited it from your mother?

My eldest brother got it. She gave him this house, but she retained the right to live in the house, until she passed on. She died on 21st December, 1963. She was eighty five and a half.

AW So, how did you end up with the house?

Well, my brother had it and he didn’t want it, he had his own house up at the hill. It was getting a hobo’s retreat.

AW What do you mean by hobo’s retreat?

Well, they were all coming in here. They might have burnt the house down. So in 1964, Jack said he was come to retiring. We bought the house.

AW From your eldest brother?
Yes, Bill. But we didn’t get here to live, till 1966, because Jack hadn’t finished work.

AW So, it was 1966, you moved back to Glass House Mountains?


AW Did you notice a change from when you left here, in 1925 when you were first married?

Yes, a big change.

AW What was that?

Well, it was come to be developed, houses all along the road and everywhere.

AW They probably thought they’d been living here longer than you had?

Yes, we just lived on our own.

AW You would have been sixty four years old, had you retired?

Jack didn’t retire until 1966.

AW So, all your children had left home by the time you moved back here. So, when did you get involved with the Landsborough Shire Historical Society Museum?

Well we got interested in it. We thought we’d like to go to it and we used to go up four days a week.

AW Who, you and Jack?

Yes, we’d cut our lunch and go up, and try to get the thing going.

AW This is in the old Shire Chambers in Landsborough where it is at present?

Where it is now. Of course that Council Chambers was opened in 1924.

AW Do you remember that being opened?


AW Who opened it?

My uncle, John Grigor.

Aw So, how did you actually come about being involved in the Museum, that you and Jack used to go up there.
Well, we had heard about it.

AW Who had started the Landsborough Museum?

We had heard about it and we said, we would like to go to it. It was there, and there was nothing being done for it. It was never going to go ahead, nothing being done at all. Nobody would work on it. They wanted it, but they didn’t want to work.

AW So, what did you do?

Well, we went up and worked at it, Jack and I. I used to wash and iron on a Monday, and I could walk then. I wouldn’t go on a Monday. I’d go Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Three to four days a week. We took our lunch and we went up there, and got the thing going.

AW And what would you do, index things?

Yes, I did the filing.

AW So you set up a card file?

Yes, I had to do the filing and Mrs. Maroney used to put the tickets on them and I had to say where the thing came from, why it was used and everything else like that. I’ve got the books here.

AW Oh, you’ve still got all the original record books here?

Yes, well I kept the books. And then the third Saturday of the month would be the annual meeting. I would have to go out to that and I would have to read out all that came in all that year, and who it came from, and what it was used for and everything.

AW This is in the late 1960’s, 1965 – 66.

We had heard about it and we said we’d like to go to it and put in about it and we went to it and there was nothing being done at all.

AW So, if it hadn’t been for yours, Jack’s and Mrs. Maroney’s efforts…

It would never have opened!

AW So, there must have been a lot of old pioneers still alive in the 1960’s then?


AW Did you go and interview any old pioneers?

No, they used to come down.
AW Who are some of the old, really old people that you can remember.

Dave Hankinson was one.

AW Dave Hankinson, so, he was involved in the museum?

Oh yes, he was, and Mrs. Maroney and Jack. Mr. Hobbs, who used to live down here, he took us to it in the first place. He used to go to it, and he enrolled us.

AW So, does the Landsborough Shire Council still own that building?

Yes, they still own it.

AW Are you still involved in the Museum?

I can’t walk now, I had to cut it out.

AW So, you’ve had trouble getting up and down the steps?


AW You might be able to go to the opening of the new Museum?

Yes, we went to it and we had people that came from Toowoomba, the Nicholl’s, and he said, “We were here for the opening.” And I said, “You might have been, but you never came and did anything beforehand.”

AW So, you remember many a long hour sitting in that Council Chambers building, indexing lamps, etc. What are some of the interesting things that were donated to the Museum that you find interesting?

Well, I looked around, I wanted to get a showcase and I went to Wimberley’s in Beerwah, but he said they had donated one, it’s a big long one, and they’ve got a lot of things up there. Well, then there was another showcase came. Dave Hankinson got it from Maleny, from the Butter Factory.

AW What was one of your favourite exhibits up there, like, the old butter churns, the old butter dishes, lamps, sewing machines, radios and things you’ve got up there? What would be your favourite item on exhibit at the museum?

One of the favourite ones was the little lass, of ten years old, who had done a cross stitch, sampler. And she’s written her name and everything in it. It was right at the end of that long case, and she’s only ten years old and she had her name and all on it. I used to get everyone to come and have a look at that. It was the most interesting thing that was there.

AW Do you know who did the sampler?

I can’t remember, she’s got her name written on it.

AW What about some of the wonderful machinery in there? There’s chaff cutters and corn cob huskers.

That was my Grandfather Burgess’s.

AW I understand they were very dangerous, you quite often would get your fingers chopped off.

That belonged to Grandfather Burgess. It was the only thing they saved when the house was burnt down, and Dave Hankinson brought it in. It’s on the veranda I think, or was.

AW Now, your grandfather, their house burnt down, is that right? So, they are the ones that lived up out at Bald Knob?

That’s right, out from Mellum Mountain.

AW How did he die? There’s a terrible tragic story about that, isn’t there?

They had been hay making and they had the hay under the house and the boards, you know, with the cracks in it. And he said he can remember her getting up for a drink of water and she struck a match, a wax match and it must have gone through the floor, down. Next thing, they were sitting on a blazing fire. So, he put a rug around her and he said, “Follow me,” and she never got out.

AW And he died not long after?

He did get out, because I’ve got his death certificate. He got out and they took him to Brisbane Hospital and he died there. He was married three times. Isaac Hudson Burgess. My father was William Smith Burgess, because his mother was Isabella Landills Smith. She came from Scotland, and he called her Smith
(Mrs, Isabella Burgess was Isaac Hudson Burgess’ second wife, she had previously been married, being Mrs. Petrie, with two children from her first marriage, and they were Isabella, later Mrs. James Orrell and Mary, later Mrs. Jack Funnell. I.H. Burgess’ third wife was Mary Theressa Sullivan and they had no children.)

AW So, that was your step-grandmother who died in the fire? When was that?

1st January, 1905.

AW So, you were only three years old? Do you remember it?

I remember Mother talking of it.

AW There’s a story, I forgot to ask you before, about the Clark sisters that used to come up to Bankfoot House to climb the Glasshouse Mountains. Did your mother tell you about them?

I remember them.

AW Do you want to tell me some of the things they used to do?

Well, they belonged to a gymnasium club, and it was on the Old Gympie Road then, and they’d work till one o’clock on Saturday, then they would get on their bikes and ride right up to here, and get here at dark.

AW From Brisbane?

From Brisbane, on their pushbikes. Jennie, Ettie and Sarah. And my cousin, Willy Frazer and their brother Allex Clark, they’d all come up here and they’d climb the mountains.

AW So, they’d stay the night at Bankfoot House and climb the mountains.

Yes, the old house was still standing then. Mother would cater for them all, they would bring a lot of stuff with them too.

AW On their pushbikes?

Yes, they stayed here, they would get here at dark. They’d always come for a long weekend.

AW So, they’d leave on Monday, would they?

Monday, around dinner time, they’re ready to leave there now. (Indicates to photo on wall showing Clark party) And that’s the stables, the Grigor’s, but the coach stable was beyond that again. (once again in reference to photos of Clark party in front of Bankfoot House)

AW Yes, we can’t see it in the photo. When can you remember those girls coming up? How old were you?

They came here in 1912. I was ten.

AW So, that photo’s roughly 1912?


AW They pushed their bikes through all that mud and sandy road, and it only took them four hours.

I don’t know.

AW Well, if they left at lunch time and got here at dark, I suppose it would be five or six hours.
They would leave at one, because they worked until one o’clock.

AW So, they were very fit. Did you ever climb any of the mountains with them?

Jack and I climbed Ngungun over there, that little one, that’s all. We’ve gone to the foot of Beerwah, Beraway. That was the time of the bubonic plague and Dad said we’d better have a photo in case we didn’t come through. (indicating to a family photo)

AW I’ve heard that’s a very common thing, for people to go off and have photos taken.

Yes, Dad was funny that way.

AW Then he was a man of foresight. That is a very stunning family portrait. I’d like to ask you a few questions now about changes in society, how you feel about people today, my generation are different from your generation, in our attitudes?

Well, they don’t seem to want to associate with us.

AW What, with old people?


AW Did you do that when you were young?

We associated with everybody, we knew everybody.


Aw When you were young, there weren’t many people, so you would relate to everybody in the community, but nowadays, there’s lots of people. Do you think that’s part of it, or do you think that the younger generation just don’t care?

They don’t care. They couldn’t be worried. I don’t know why, but they just don’t want to mix with the old folk.

AW How does that make you feel?

I couldn’t care less, it doesn’t worry me, if they don’t want to talk, let them do their own thing.

AW What about the passing down of family traditions? When you were a child, did your grandparents and your parents sit around a fire and you’d all sit round the stove and tell stories?
Yes, and Mother would play the piano and we would all sing on Sunday afternoon.

AW I’m just trying to work out what’s different today.

They don’t seem to associate so much these days, I don’t think.

AW So you don’t think there’s much community spirit these days?

They want to be on their own.

AW Is that a good or a bad thing?

Well, I think it’s really a bad thing, it would be better if they all associated with each other and make one community group.

AAW And help each other?

Yes, help each other.

AW So, what do you think will happen, from everybody being so selfish?

I wouldn’t know what to say.

AW What sort of society have we got to look forward to in the future? Have you got any visions of the future, do you envisage what it will be like?

Well, I like to associate with people. I like to be with people and I like to talk with them too. But when you talk to people, they seem to think they know more than you do.

AW And how does that make you feel?

Well, I just don’t care less.

AW You don’t care.

No, I don’t care. That’s your mind so be it, what’s yours and what’s mine.

AW What about the breakdown of the family unit? Modern families who just have mum and dad and children, see their grandparents, maybe at Christmas.

Well, nowadays they can’t look after their children. They couldn’t care less about them.

AW What do you mean, they can’t look after them?

They don’t want to bother with them, couldn’t be bothered. Get out and look after yourself.

AW They are not teaching them responsibility?

Yes, no responsibility at all. I worked hard for my children and I got them all to school, and I stuck to the schools for them.

AW And do you think it has paid off?

It has.

AW For you or for them?

For them, as well as for me, I’m pleased that I put them all to school and got them through all their training. Everybody did what they wanted to do, and I helped them. Ruby and Clem wanted to do their nursing, Edith wanted to do domestic science, which she did do, Bill and Kevin did electrical work. And these are the jobs they wanted and I helped them to get there. I said, “After that, you can look after yourselves, and look after your own families”. It made me pleased with the way they have been going on.

AW What about the economic climate? Did you listen to the Budget last night?

No. I read it in the paper today, I didn’t stay up.

AW You have witnessed many Government changes. Have you noticed any cycle, not only just in Queensland, but also in Australian politics?

Well, I think they are getting too selfish!

AW Who?

The Government, the politicians, they want everything for themselves. They are playing on the pensioners, but they are not playing on their own pensions. They are not reducing theirs.

AW Did they have pensions in the old days?

No, there were no pensions, you just struggled on. Never had a pension in those days.

AW Did you have to pay taxes in the old days?


AW How did you pay taxes?

Well, Father was a bullock driver, and he had to pay wheel tax.

AW How did they work that out?

All depends on the width of your wheels. The narrower the wheels, the rims, the bigger the tax.

AW Why?

Because they’d cut up the roads more. The wide wheels had less tax because they didn’t cut the roads up.

AW As far as using the wagons go, which were the best wheels to use, the wide rimmed wheels?

The wide rims.

AW So, it made more sense to have a wide rimmed wheel, because it was cheaper and better?

Yes, but if you couldn’t afford it, you had to have the narrow ones. See where the wagon is? Well, it’s only got narrow rims. (indicates to bullock wagon in yard)

AW Was it expensive to buy the wider wheels?

Yes, they were dearer. Father only ever had bullocks.

AW So, how would they tax somebody, like John Tytherleigh, the storekeeper. Like today you have to put in income tax returns. Did you have income tax returns?

Oh yes, Jack used to have to put in, income tax.

AW So that would have been in the early 1920’s? Do you remember your parents filling in income tax?

Oh yes.

AW How about when you were only about ten?

I remember Dad doing it.

AW In1912. He always had to do it?

Always had to fill in tax forms.

AW So it hasn’t really changed much in that way. What about the way Australia’s being governed at the moment?

I don’t like it at all. That Labour Government.

AW The people put the Labour Government back in, during the Depression and after the War. Do you think they did a good job then or not?
Well, in olden days I think they were much better. Not today, they are too selfish.

AW What about political movements in the country. The political climate in a small place like Glass House Mountains, was there a Co-Operative here? A farmer’s Co-Operative?

No, not down here. Not until later life, before the Co-Operatives came in.

AW When did the Co-Ops first come in?

We never had any Co-Operative stores here at all.

AW There was just the Maleny Butter Co-Operative and the Caboolture Co-Op.

Yes, the Caboolture Co-Op. I’m not a Labourite at all. God help us if they get back in!

AW Well, who do you think was Australia’s best Prime Minister?

Mr. Menzies. Well, he said, “When the people went into Parliament, they became rich. If they ran into Parliament, they never became rich”. Old Menzies was the man who could talk, I remember him well.

AW So, you admired him?

I did admire Mr. Menzies.

AW Were country people very politically orientated in the old days? Was politics a big discussion point around the dinner table?

I never heard them talk about it.

AW What about religion, did it play a very important role in your life?

Yes, the Minister used to come from down near Elimbah, halfway between here and Elimbah. He used to drive up in his sulky to here and have his dinner here and Mother used to drive him down to Jarvis’, and we used to go to church there, the Presbyterian, and he’d come back and have his dinner and drive home again.

AW Would you always say Grace before you started your meal?

Too right! I still do. I never fail. We were always made to say Grace.

AW Were most families religious?

I couldn’t say about that, but I know we had to. Mother and that would go to the church down here, the Jarvis’ way up on the hill. When we came home we had to tell Mother, so that she knew that we were listening to what the service was and what chapter of the Bible it came from.

AW She’d check up on you? Is there anything in your life that you think is historically interesting, that we haven’t spoken about? Something that you think the future generations should know about Landsborough, or Glasshouse Mountains that we haven’t spoken about?

Well, we can’t be interested in Landsborough, but I think we’re interested in Glass House because we lived here. I haven’t lived here all the time, I was married and I went away and I came back again. As I say, I was twenty three when I was married in 1925.

AW And you didn’t come back till 1965?


AW Are there any incidents you can remember as a child, any big cyclones or any big storms that stay in your memory?

We had a few storms here.

AW What about flooding?

We were never subject to floods here, because we are too high up. If we get flooded out here, God help everybody else! We’re well up the hill here. There were floods down at the bridge, down there.

AW What about the weather, I hear people today complaining about all the wet weather that we’ve had at the beginning of this year and I’ve also heard and read, that in the old days it used to rain non stop. How long would it rain?

January to March.

AW Drizzle or full on rain?

Rain, rain, rain!

AW How would you go about your daily business?

We would just put up with it.

AW You’d go outside and just get wet?

You just stopped in.

AW But what about growing food and milking cows?

Well, you had to go out for them, to milk the cows. Put an overcoat on and go, hang it up in the bails and milk the cows. Wipe the cows down with a cloth. It was nothing from January to March, we don’t get the rains now, like we did then.

AW Can you remember when it started getting dry?

By April.

AW No. In what year, like in the 1960’s the weather started changing or when did it start going from being really wet to how it is now?

By early October it would be that dry you could spit chips, when it got to about October, it was really dry and hot.

AW But can’t you remember when the weather pattern started changing?


AW Do you remember Crohamhurst?

Yes, Inigo Jones. At the start he was with my Father in the Council.

AW So, Inigo Jones was also a Landsborough Shire Councillor?


He was for the Peachester area, wasn’t he?

Yes, and that’s when they had thirty six inches in a twenty four hour period, it’s all up there in the museum. (Inigo Jones recorded 35.71 inches of rainfall, in a 24 hour period, in February, 1893. Other wet days around that time amounted to 78 inches, resulting in the Great ’93 Flood, in Brisbane.)

AW Did your mother tell you about that?

I can remember her talking about it. But Inigo Jones was my Father’s Co-partner at the start, with the Council.

AW So, he was Division Four as well?

Yes, he used to come from Peachester down. A lot of them used to come right over from Conondale.

AW The Councillors?

Yes, the Councillors.

AW Now, there are Grigors over at Conondale, are you related to them?

Yes, they are relations. There was old Johnny Grigor, he was Mother’s oldest brother, he has passed on, and there’s young Jack, I think he’s gone on. They are all relations, the nephews and that, of old Johnny. Old Johnny opened the Council Chambers, in 1924. He declared it opened.

AW That’s where the Shire of Landsborough Historical Museum is now?

Yes, well, he declared it open, Mum’s oldest brother.

AW This area, Landsborough Shire, all the settlers from all over the Shire, you could really say just came from a handful of families in the beginning, the early settlers. There was the Burgess’, and the Grigors’ and you’ve got the Simpson’s’.

They were no relation, the Simpson’s. Johnny Simpson was here, at Beerwah and his brother, Willy Simpson was in Maleny.

AW What about the Dunlop’s, do you know the Dunlop’s who live up in Maleny?

Yes, she was one of the first white women, old Lady Dunlop, in Maleny.

AW Oh yes, did you ever meet her?

No, Mother spoke of her. Hankinson’s relations were Dunlop’s.

AW That’s another old family?

Yes, Mrs. Sam Burgess, was Jane Greenhalgh. That’s Father’s sister-in-law. She was a Greenhalgh. She married Hankinson I think.

AW So your family is inter-related with the Hankinson’s’ as well?

No, I’m not. But the other Burgess’ are, Pearl and Rube, only Pearl left. Mrs. P.E. Oxenham, she lives down at Newmarket. She married her sister’s husband, when Violet, her sister, had passed on. My birthday is in December and she is in February. I am not much older than her. She’s the only one left now.

AW Do you remember the Thynes from Maleny?

Yes I knew of them.

AW Do you know their mother? Did you know Miss Thyne’s mother, Mary Cairncross?

Mary Cairncross Park. Well, when they had the Maleny Centenary, Miss Thyne died three weeks before they had it, never lived to see it.

AW That’s Elizabeth Thyne?


AW Now it was she, and her brothers and sisters that donated Mary Cairncross Park to the Council.

It was never to be developed, it was to stay as it is.

AW That piece of scrub, the bush, at Mary Cairncross Park, can you remember when a lot of the area was like that?

I remember going there, yes.

AW Can you remember when the range was all scrub?

It used to be all scrub years ago in Maleny. Yes, all scrub. I had to take bullocks up for my Father once, to Johnny Grigor’s.

AW What, by yourself?

My sister and I took them up. We went up through Peachester here. Up the old Peachester Road. Up round that way, and I remember going to Auntie Lizzie’s there, and I think it was just when Allan was born. She had to go into the town to take us in to see him when he was a baby. I remember just how old Ellie and I were. ”Auntie Lizzie,” I said, “don’t be late, because we have to get back home tonight.” We had to ride back home, right down through the scrubs there and down through here, to get back home again. Well, she went in on the sulky and we went into Maleny.

AW So, you took a bullock team?

No, we took bullocks up, five bullocks. They were to go to the butcher’s shop. We went up the back of the Range through the back scrubs over here.

AW So, you came out on the Peachester Road, on the Maleny Landsborough Road, did you? Or did you come out the back of Wootha?

No, we came out the back of Maleny. Someone’s place we went a way up through the Ranges there. We went in along there and we let the bullocks go in a paddock there, the rails were opened so we put them in and rode off to Auntie Lizzie’s and Uncle Johnny’s (Grigor), he’s Mother’s oldest brother. I’ve got his christening robe and all here. I’ve loaned it to the Council a few times, but I only loaned it because I wouldn’t part with it.

AW Mary, I think we might end the interview now. I would like to thank you very much on behalf of the Local History Project for letting me interview you, it’s been a pleasure. I’m sure future generations and future researchers will be able to get a lot of information.

The young generation today can’t be bothered.

AW Well, they probably won’t be bothered until it’s too late. Until all our pioneers have passed on.

That’s right. This is not looked after enough. It’s not talked about enough.

AW We have a lot of oral history to pass down through our generations. This is modern technology through a tape recorder.

That’s what Ruby says, she says, “Go on mum, we don’t have patch on you.” But I’ve handed it down to them, and the eldest boy, Bill, he’s written it all up.

AW That will be good to read.

He’s been over to Scotland and he followed all the family tree there. He’s been to the Archives to find out all about it.

AW Australia is such a young country, it is very easy to trace your ancestors through back where you came from in Britain or Europe, most of us are of British decendency. It is just very interesting, Landsborough Shire I think is especially exciting because it is such a young Shire historically.

Mr Beausang is a wonderful man. He always knows you, no matter where you go.

AW Yes he is. Do you remember him when he was a boy?

NO, I’ve only known him since he was a Councillor.

Aw He used to be a bullock driver:

He used to be on the dairy farms over Conondale, he and his wife. He’s worked hard all his life. Conondale. (phonetic) Cone-en-dale

AW (phonetic) Cone-en-dale, is that how you used to say it?

That is it.

AW It’s not (phonetic) Con-on-dale.

No, it’s (phonetic) Cone-en-dale. And Mr. McKenzie came from Scotland and he came here and went to there, and he said how it reminded him of the dales of Scotland and of Conin, in Ross Shire, where he came from, so he called it Conondale, and that’s where it got its name from.

AW Right, who was this?

A Mr. Donald Turak Mckenzie.

AW Oh, the McKenzie who leased land up near the head waters of the Mary River, in the 1850’s?
I read it. And Mr Beausang is a wonderful man, he always knows you, and I know old Joh Bjelke-Peterson, he always knows you.

AW This is the Premier.

Yes. He always speaks. When we had our 60th Anniversary, we had the most beautiful letter from him. Yes. His wife and Edith, are great friends, they know each other through the Forum. She says, “Hello Edith”, “Hello”, they say to one another.

AW Have they ever been here?

No. Joh has, he’s been here.

AW What was that for, what was the occasion?

He visited one day to see us about voting.

AW How long ago was that?

Long time ago. He’s a wonderful man.

AW Bankfoot House has always been on the map for important visitors?

Yes. But he, Grandfather Grigor, was born in the Black Isles, way up in the north of Scotland. And I’ve got the big Bible here that Don gave to McConnell, McConnell and Wood, that she bought, and that’s the big Bible there.

AW And have you done the tradition, whenever a child is born or someone dies that they record it in the Bible?

It’s all written in the Bible.

AW Wonderful.

End of Transcript

Biographical Information

Name: Mary Isabella Ferris
Maiden Name: Burgess
Date of Birth: 25 December, 1902.
Place of Birth: Bankfoot House, Glass House Mountains

Mother’s Name: Clementina Grigor
Date of Mother’s Birth: 10 July, 1878.
Place of Mother’s Birth: Bankfoot House, Glass House Mountains
Mother’s Occupation: Home duties

Father’s Name: William Smith Burgess
Date of Father’s Birth: 10 April, 1878.
Place of Father’s Birth:
Father’s Occupation: Bullock Driver/Landsborough Shire Councillor

Date of Marriage: 19 February, 1925.
Place of Marriage: Methodist Church, Red Hill, Brisbane.
Name of Spouse: John Charles Ferris
Spouses Occupation: Bullock Driver/ Timber Getter

Names and Birth dates of Children:
1. Clementina Jane 02/01/1926
2. William Charles 12/06/1927
3. Ruby May 30/03/1929
4. Edith Rose 02/09/1932
5. Kevin John 26/10/1936

Locality (ies) in which interviewee grew up:
Glass House Mountains

Names of Educational Institutions attended:
Landsborough State Primary School.
Glass House Mountains State School.