Blair Raddatz

Blair talks about his memories of Beerwah and Coochin Creek

Blair Raddatz

Interview with: Blair Raddatz

Date of Interview: 24 October 1994

Transcriber: Linda Conlon

Blair Raddatz talks about his memories of his family and other families of Coochin Creek and Beerwah. His grandfather was John Simpson, a pioneer in the district who built a hotel, store and guest house in the 1880s. The Simpson family were involved in the hotel trade until 1968. Blair speaks about the timber industry and the bullock teams hauling the timber from the Peachester Range.

Image: John Simpson (Hotel owner) driving, Mrs W. Raddatz passenger. Coochin Creek Hotel, Beerwah, ca 1895.


Blair Raddatz oral history [MP3 42MB]


Interviewer: We are at the home of Mrs Monica Smith on the 18th of February. Mr Blair Raddatz is to speak to us about memories from early days in the history of Beerwah and the families. Thankyou very much Blair.

BR: Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentleman, in 1885 a gentleman called John Simpson took up residence in the Coochin Creek. He built the Homestead which contained Post Office, Hotel and a Store and three bedrooms in the front portion. The back portion was a kitchen, dining room and all the bedrooms. In 1901 he bought the sawmill at Beerwah, which was owned by a chap named Pettigrew. The only road to Beerwah those days was 'round past the school and down what we called the Slaughter Yards Road, which went past the sports ground into Beerwah. As well as many homes at that time at Beerwah, the ones from the slaughter yards; there was Fred Jones, father of Graham Jones and Billy Roberts; he had three daughters and a son, George. Across the road there were people named * Nicholses and next to * Nichols’s there was a poultry farm. His name was called * Fouls and then we went into parts of the sportsground. There was a race course there, years ago. One man was killed, named Steve Shuttlewood. Horse run off the course and under a tree bough and killed him. As you went from the sportsground into Beerwah one of the old original houses is still there. It's a Queenslander occupied by Joan Dawson. From then on there was no houses until you come up to Jone's place or Smith's. Sandy Smith, he had bees there. Next place was Dan Coles place. That was next to the hall. Then the hall; it was built in 1914. From then on there was a Newsagency owned by Mrs Billy Roberts from the Slaughter Yard Road. From there on there was the first store. It was owned by Jones and then was sold out to a storekeeper named Crouch. It was situated round about where the drive in down to the front of the paper shop. Then the next building was the old butcher shop which now stands on the corner of Peachester Road. Peachester Road wasn't there them days. Then we crossed over the Peachester Road on the corner, where Simpson’s Hotel stood. It was built in 1915. From then on it went right up to where * Wimberley's shop is. Then there was a house, Billy Dwyer and then there was all the Mill houses. Burn Smith and then up further, was what we call the * Scotches place. By the way, the Post Office those days was over on the Station. It was shifted from there to where Fox lives, where Sid Barnes who lived down Barnes Road across the Railway line. He was a Postmaster. And later on Mrs Bryce shifted in. Then the next house was * Batmer's place where all the engine drivers * lived. The first engine driver was Bill Manners. He had a daughter and two sons. And then the next people was Gas. And the next three blocks was the old Homestead where Pettigrew lived. And that's where my parents * lived, where I was born. Around the corner of the Pine Camp Road there was a hut there where Billy Hughes, the Saw Sharpener lived. On the opposite side of the road, on the corner of Pinecamp road the timber man lived there. Then the next place was the horse stables. The person next to them on the corner was he *** was killed in the mill from then on there was no houses until my father had an acre of orchard from then on bush down to Tom Briggs who lived on the creek he was the worked in the timber yard and further on the other hut by the black water hole where a Rampole Lord used to live then from then on there was Clarkes Road, where Mrs Clarke was. The road was named after who she had the fisherman from Caloundra Evan Clarke, and his two brothers who lived up there but going back to the railway gates which is opposite the bank now there was a station house and from the station house this side of the line there was the trucking yards where we used to get cattle from Brisbane and sheep and that then the was the good ship and the come up it was the log yard where the fence starts now at the old mill.

The old mill it was a big building it had four saws, a broken down saw and it was built high about nine feet high so the horse and dray could go underneath it and take the sawdust away. They had a tramline down into the log yard which was pulled up by winch and then the broken down train, the saw sharpeners next to it and as the thing was cut it was put on a trolley and went down another ramp into the log yard.. a timber yard. Where the timber was stored cut the lengths and taken out into the yard and stacked all different sizes. There was four by two's and all the rest of it. The, in those days the timber cutters used to get the turpentine trees for the water in Brisbane all different lengths left the bark on them. From then they sawdust what they call the sawdust road, paddock that's where the sawdust was burnt, then from across the railway line the residence over there, in the forestry there was a house where Bob Lewis on one side and Fred Saccrin who lived shifted from down there into Kings camp, that's where they were and then the next one just where in front this side of the Hotel where Riffride is, that was the main Dave Winnie lived there. I’ll tell you the truth John Simpson owned west of the railway line and right of a morning he owned the east side of the line and that problem Winnie, he lived where the Beerwah Garage is. Then straight down in front of Beerwah garage the Church of England was in the corner. Those days there used to be a railway bridge there we called it Winnie's bridge, in those days the gates were locked at certain times and if they were locked you had to go down past the Winnie's and go underneath the bridge to come on the West side of the line. From then on Winnie’s place there was a cattle dip and then down to what we called Bishop Bargain, that was Jim Winnie property from then on going down to Mawson Road.

Mawson was one of the first butchers in Beerwah he lived down there with his grandson Guyer lives now. In 1922 the Beerwah forestry was opened that instead of going down Mawson Road you turn and go down the Forestry Road, just further on past the forestry is the Beerwah cemetery which Grandpa Simpson was the undertaker and in those days there was no motor cars it was all horses and carts and he had a buck boy who used to convey the body down from the top down to the cemetery and the Peachester Road when that was opened he took all the waste timber hearts and all that from the logs all the scrap timber and he -------------- it from Pub corner to the Dobes hill and then when he completed that he covered it with sawdust and that was called the sawdust track. When they used to get bogged he would bring down a load of sawdust put in it and then later on he went continued to ride out what we call the Peachester road now, that the first place was houses we went through that, then Nickols then we are straight through on to the top of Blueys Hill. Pinecamp Road it was named after the pine cutters, cutting pine, the pine cutters. And on the first house was Gordon Palmers. Well then the before that it was the Hughie’s place, there was side yards and Bullock yards then there next door was Gordon Palmers which was owned by Mr Jones who was a minister and I’ll tell you I think when Mr Jones he had his right foot off and Mr Fox had his left foot off so they the three of them they used to buy a pair of shoes. (laughter)

Next one up was Dave Simpsons place and then opposite Dave Simpsons place was L. J. Bygraves he had a property up near the foot of Mellum Mountain but he shifted down, he had poultry and all that and then on the next place was a bloke named Davis, he lives opposite in the new estate there near Lychee Street then on from there on the same side of the road was Wally Lord's place. From opposite Wally Lord's place there was on the other side was Birch's place he was used to work for the Council, Mr old man Birch then the next one on to Birch's was Smith and then on the opposite to Smith was Wally Lord. He worked on the Council too his place was burnt down and he had all gelignite and all then next you hear bang and a piece of four by two up and then the next you hear bang and there’s all this gelignite, it was like fireworks. And further on the right hand side going up on the southern side people named Saunders Sanderson’s and next to them was Dennis's place which he was one of the first butchers in Beerwah and then from Dennis runs right up onto the old Gympie road. On opposite the Gympie road, Dennis's, was the Schoolmaster, was a state school Mr … he lived out there and next to him was Mrs Winkles, Mr & Mrs Winkles she bought me to the world and going back towards the school, Mr Kerns was the schoolteacher, Combs now back towards Coochin was Sadler Del and Albert Sadler, Del Roberts and Albert Sadler come up the first they grew strawberries a bit of a difference now to them Woodlands poultry in them days. Also on the opposite side of the road was a chap named Cheenies place, he was killed by a bull, bored by a bull, as you went along to the school on top of Redhill the old school is nearly three times as big now it was only two schools there in our days, but half way down the Redhill, on Peachester Road, Evan Clarke, was a fisherman from Caloundra, he lived there. And going back to Clarkes Road that’s up the old Gympie road past the Pinecamp road, that's the name Clarkes after old lady Clarkes. She had three sons and two daughters. She lived down at they how it come to be Clarkes Road, so that's it.


In 1922 the forestry was opened up down at the Forestry Station and years ago we used to go down Mawsons road, to what we call the Prausie, that was above where the Coochin Creek and the Mellum Creek joins. How it got the crossing name, just above they used to take the cattle across and the logs across there and as you went on to Roys Road you'll notice in the Coochin Creek, there is an old stumps piles lying in the creek that's where Campbell's Creek Sawmill used to be. They used to cut the timber there and come from Brisbane up by boat load the timber on and go down Cochin Creek into the Bribie Passage, past Redcliffe down to Brisbane with the timber. There was a cemetery down there too, at the crossing. One old chap would tell me they used to have a nice big dance hall down there too. Years ago they used to come from Eudlo and all the way around down into this big dance hall. In the Church of England it was down in front of the Moonies, Grandpa Moonie lived where the garage is, he lived in a slab hut, big old slabs that was his home there well straight down from him the Church of England on the corner of Moonies paddock, that’s where the Church of England was. Most of the church was Beerwah or it was Coochin Creek, it was on past the school on top of the hill it is school property, now the old church is at Landsborough and that’s where the Church ended up. In those days I used to have church service and meetings and all that I used to have meetings in the old Coochin Homestead sitting room. Later on when the road the sawdust track was finished present seemed to clear right through from Blueys hill and they joined it up that way and when the summertime was on, he used to have get all the people around ya burn all alongside the road he would put a keg of beer on the stump, I tell you what he had all the workers going to save the road. Another thing too about Beerwah I often told the blokes they have never seen a wet season in Beerwah they keep laughing I tell you what you all know George Parkin, the world's woodchopper he was in the Beerwah Simpson Street there one day swimming up and down he was on there by the CWA in front of the CWA there was a laurel pine trees and he was swimming up and down cleaning the needles away from the gutter you know the underground water grates cleaning the grates and he was swimming up and down that street so and that's how they water to him on later years the old Methodist Church was shifted to Landsborough and in the meantime when mother passed away so I named Catherine Street after her, and I nominated the round to the Church and the boys we all helped it, so I think that all we had to do Beerwah in those days the industry was timber and citrus in the late 1928-29 the pineapples started when the Beerwah grandpa Sal Simpson's estate he owned the big paddock what they call the big paddock it ran from Whites Road or Yates Road to the top of the range. Down the Range it run into Peachester and then down to what you called, Otto's Pinch. In his will they divided it, split it all up and that's how all the pineapples started in Beerwah. Fulton and sons was the first they Elvis Fulton he was ------That’s how the farms started---------------------and they went to the top of Glassbottle Hill, that’s up on the old Peachester Road and there was Fulton brothers and then there was we went to the sandstone cutting and then there now Bladdock Bros built ? Bridge. And then a bloke named Francis bought the other place and people named Yellow Belly Bridge.

Was an old World One nurse brought a few of us into the world. She lives up the old Peachester Road, which is now you wouldn't believe it but there is all houses up around there now, just about to the top of the old Otto's Pinch. In those days Otto's Pinch was the main road from Peachester down through Beerwah, until during the Wa they opened up the Peachester range now. They used to get prisoners of war and work them on the Peachester road. And in those days a few of the farmers used to ? In those days all the clearing was done by hand ? and stripping the timber. All your fences and that was all split out of posts. Mainly in the street of Beerwah was timber and citrus and fruit trees, pineapples. Later on poultry? Poultry farms started Woodlands Poultry ??? You wouldn't believe it though, to make a living years ago they used to grow Strawberries. And look at them now. ? Chairman, ladies and gentlemen I can tell you now.

Interviewer: Could you tell me that your family did have some association with the old Cobb and Co. building out there towards Glasshouse?

BR: The old Cob and Co out at Glasshouse was owned by Billy Burgess and Mrs Burgess. We used to call them Billy and Lady Burgess. And no matter when you went past there's always a kettle on - "Come on boys in for a cup of tea." In those days the Old Gympie road went from around the back of Glasshouse past the Burgess's and through the forestry and come in at Beerburrum. That was the road. It used to come from Beerburrum out towards the forestry and then from the forestry along it come out …… Burgess's and continued on then past Burgess's straight through the old Gympie road and it used to come out the old homestead at Beerwah. There was quite a few houses there along the road, all farmers. And the Devils Elbow was just up from the old homestead. In those days there was an aboriginal camp on the old Gympie road there somewhere around Beerwah mountains. They used to come to the end of the homestead and tell Grandma Simpson, "Missy, you can flour and sugar as big flood coming" And they were no trouble at all. When my mother was a she was Katherine Blair when her maiden name. It was her and Kate Simpson, later on was Kate Harris they run the mail service on horseback, from Coochin homestead up to Peachester and up to Indigo Jones. . He was a weather forecaster them days taken on by Bob Hawkins. And they'd wait for him to do all his mail, wait till the mail to be fixed up and then they'd bring it down and sort it at Coochin and take it in and put it on the train at Beerwah. John Simpson had a bullock team and a horse team. And there used to be timber from Peachester and used to come into the Beerwah sawmill. Later on the in '46 the fruit growers shed was started up and they built the shed in the yard. The old Coochin Creek fruit growers shed is down at Caloundra road still in one of the yards down there. On the end of Westaway strait, this end of W street. On the railway line, this side of the railway line there was two ramps where they used to load logs onto trucks, on the railway trucks with bullocks on the other side of the line and when the trains were due to come, the station master used to come down and give em a hoy undo the chain and the let the bullocks over near the fence . When the train was finished then hook up and load the trucks again. In those days there was the timber was loaded onto the railway was always done by horse and dray. And the horse Digger and Tom, the gold digger used to come with ………………….. underneath the mill. He road her up, stabled the horse and she'd go right down the paddock to the and wait till he'd catch up and unload her. And she'd stand there and he'd unload her and she'd turn around and go back for the second …… . It had a Blacksmith shop a wheelwrights shop and then you went down in the timber yards. Pinecamp road there's a big tank, half was set into the ground we used to put tyres on the bullock wagons we used to do all that and help them do all this and have the fire going and put the rim of the wheels in the fire and lift them up with one of them big long poles on top lower it down and pick it up with the hooks swing it over and put it on the wheels. And tap it in and pick it up and pop it into the water and that used to . was opposite the old she went there and left the primary school and went to Nambour and only did one day there and come back and Grandpa Simpson put her in the office and she stopped there till 1928, the day she got married. And she married Nielson, and she was the secretary of the Coochin Creek Fruit Growers for quite a while. I think that was all I had to tell ya, another question?

Interviewer: I'd just to ask when did the Forestry start to get busy in this district?

BR: 1922 the Forestry started up in Beerwah. It's where it is now, down the Forestry Road.

Interviewer: When was the main Bruce Highway put in just as the old Bruce Highway going up through Beerwah - Landsborough?

BR: That was around about 1929-1930 I think it was.

Interviewer: And the railway?

BR: The railway was in 18.. 1880's in the 80's anyway.

Interviewer: 1898 old Frank Donoaugh was the first ganger on the line.

BR: I thought it was 1888. Frank went and …. in those days.

Later on the what we call the … on the highway the old road those days used to go up past Pinecamp road up old Gympie road Caloundra Road used to come through Beerwah and then go straight along the railway line. And up to Landsborough there to the Otto's Creek where the creek there we used to turn and go underneath the railway bridge and go over Grays bridge. Remember that …? Used to go . around past the Police Station. The police station in those days was up by the sports ground, on the corner there. Dunstan wasn't he? Didn't he used to live there? He wasn't there when we came here... The old policeman in them days used to be . He used to come down to Beerwah and used to have a stock whip on his saddle, and if you did play up he'd have the stock whip, that's a story I heard the old boys used to. So I think that's all.

Interviewer: Laurie Lord was Mrs Mules father.

BR: Jack Collie was in the Council for a number of years. Jack lives at the old Gympie Road.

Interviewer: Mrs Mule .

BR: There was a lot of things happening when I went in the Army in '41 and I came out in '44. A lot of stuff changed around. When I came home, instead of going around past the old homestead, Coochin Homestead like we used to, Peachester, they cut past the school, past hill and come out there at the Fulton’s . The old road used to come out there they cut that corner off. I believe that there somebody was killed, had a bit of a prang there on the side so the army put the road straight through. I think I told you about the Rooney boys .

Interviewer: What about the Sawmill. Can you tell me about the Sawmill? Where did the timber come from and what sort of timber was it that they......

BR: Well the Sawmill, all the timber come from Peachester . used to come down Otto's Pinch all the way to Beerwah. And I tell you what, they used to stop at the old homestead to let the bullocks have a break, of course the driver was a bit dry too. pick up and go in and unload the logs and sit on the wagon and away up home they go. But they used to get stop, and up the old Peachchester road, as you leave Peachchester past the lagoon and up that hill, we called that Glassbottle Hill. And as the they'd stop on and up the top, have a bottle of beer and stack them all up and some lad got in there and smashed them all up one day. used to stack them all up when they'd finished. And that's how it got the name of Glassbottle Hill. Any more questions?

Interviewer: Who lived in Coochin Homestead?

BR: Grandfather Simpson lived there he built the homestead. First of all he lived up Peachester road where the fruit stall is opposite Fullton's farm. And then he stopped there for a while then he shifted down to where the old homestead used to be. As you go up past the homestead you see a big old pine tree that used to be the corner of the gate post where the horses used to come in and go round into the stalls. The stalls was up the fence and the old stallion’s stall was down below the homestead on the creek. Those days we used to have the wet seasons those days, I haven't seen a wet season for a long time. Water used to be right up underneath the old homestead, like the kitchen was up high, it was on the creek bank. They used to have what we call now the laundry used to be the wash-house them days. They had the copper and all that underneath the home and then take the washing out. Then they had what they called the stallion "Old Ginger's" yard.

Now of course to another house on the other side where my workers used to live. They used to have a six foot paling fence with four barbs rung to the top, right along up to that house and the wet season'd come, they'd take the old stallion out of that and put him in a house paddock, and that used to be a sheet of water from underneath that thing right across above the bridge right up to that house. Above the school, it used to be below George Walton's, there, that bridge you could only see about a half an inch of the top layer. It used to be half way up the church hill. But I haven't seen that, or, for ages now.

All the timber went into the mills, used to be blackbutt, tallowwood, pine bark, grey gum, bloodwood. They cut good bloodwood there, used to go through. I'll tell you a story. Dave Whinney he used to have a paddock beside Beerwah Mountain, Japanese have got it now, and it's all full of Queensland nut trees. That was my first job when I left school. Dave Whinney wanted an offsider for cutting timber, so Dad said, "We'll go up with you." By the time we had tea. Had to be down at the sports ground at six o' clock with your horse. We rode from there right up to Beerwah Mountain. He was cutting timber and there was what we call an apple tree, a nice perfect tree. So Dave cut it down, barked it, sent it in to the mill at Caboolture. The bloke said, "What timber's that." He says "Red Stringy." They said, "Righto." He got paid for Red Stringy. They cut the timber, stacked it up. After a couple of weeks the timber was that crooked they couldn't use it. It was useless timber, you know. It was a perfect log, so they cut it up and got paid for it. Red Stringy was a useless log.

Dave Whinney used to do the cattle dip there beside them. Dave Whinney,he was killed at Glass House. Loading logs on that bank. They used to have the skids down on to the truck. He was doing that. He had a log wedged up in the ridge part and it rolled over and killed him. He was there for over half a day.

Under our house they had nearly two foot wide plain boards. To straighten him out they put him on the board and then put another board on top and that's how they straightened him out to put him in his coffin. Any more questions?

Interviewer: Going back down Coochin Creek way, we talked about Campbell's mill. Down there, was that area a settled area that they called Campbelltown?

BR: Yes, It was Campbelltown. When Roys went down there, they had the school and all down there.

Interviewer: All the pupils was Roys weren't they?

BR: Yeah.

Interviewer: We read that in the museum, there's a lot of books up in the museum all about that.

BR: Roys used to send their citrus and produce to Brisbane. They'd take it by boat down to Evan's * and the boat used to come up to Evan Parks and take it down that way.

Interviewer: Did Cobb & Co. Coaches stop anywhere near the Scout Camp at Landsborough? My daughter and son-in law, they had property there and they said there's some timber just at the corner of their property and somebody told them that's where the Cobb & Co. Coach used to stop.

BR: That's a question I couldn't say that. Cobb & Co. used to * Billy Burgess's place down Glass House. *

Interviewer: You said there was Jack Ferris's.

BR: Yeah, Ferris's yeah, well old John Ferris is still living there and their doing' up, on the opposite side of the road there. They're making a Cobb & Co. museum there.(opposite Bankfoot House, Glass House Mts.)

Interviewer: I thought they might be. When do you think they will be going on with that?

BR: I don't know.

Interviewer: Perhaps we could just talk informally. I want to say a very warm vote of thanks to you Blair, for doing this tonight. We've had a good tuck in of historical stuff. Thankyou so much.

Interviewer: What did you just say about the old homestead?

BR: The old homestead used to be like the dressing station. When any accident happened over the sawmill, the kettles was always boiling on the stove. They used to bring 'em all over there with the' fingers cut off and all the rest of it and fix 'em up for the ambulance. In those days, underneath the School of Arts was the ambulance wagon, with the wheels on. Stretcher bearers. I don't know where that went to. Where did it go to? It was at Landsborough or not.

Interviewer: Just a matter, it could be there I don't know.

BR: That's sorted out,is it?

The stretcher bearer at Landsborough; two wheels and a stretcher.

End of interview

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