Interview with: Evan Evans
Date of Interview: 17 June 1987
Interviewer: Amanda G Wilson
Transcriber: Felicity Nappa
Evan talks about the Evans family history, school days in Maleny, Maleny C.W.A. foundation, family farm "Araluen", citrus growing and dairy farming. he also talks about the amalgamation of Maleny Co-operative and the Caboolture Co-operative Assoc Ltd. and the closure of the Maleny Butter Factory. Evan also talks about the Maleny Show Society and judging fruit exhibits and being a life member of the Maleny Show Society.
Images and documents of the Maleny Show Society in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image: Maleny Showgrounds during a Maleny Show, ca 1931.
Evan Evans oral history [MP3 74MB]
Tape 1/Side 1
AW When were you born, Evan?
2nd February 1915
AW Whereabouts was that?
At Pattemore’s farm, North Maleny.
AW So, you were actually born at home?
AW Was that the normal thing at the time?
Mostly I think. There was a Nurse Skerman, who was the nurse in attendance.
AW Did your parents come from Maleny, originally?
No, they came from the South Coast of New South Wales.
AW What was your Father’s occupation?
AW So he was a dairy farmer at North Maleny?
AW Now when you say it was Pattemore’s farm, was your father a share farmer at that time?
Yes. I’m not sure whether he was on the shares or wages.
AW Your parents moved to Maleny and you were born in 1915. Did you have any brothers or sisters?
Yes, I had one brother and three sisters older than I.
AW So, they had all come from New South Wales?
Yes, they were all born in New South Wales.
AW You were telling me, when you were four, your parents moved to Eumundi?
In 1918. I was only three then.
AW Why did your father go to Eumundi, do you know?
I don’t really know.
AW He probably thought the dairy farms down there were better or something?
The farms weren’t as good down in Eumundi, as they are in Maleny.
AW So you have always been around dairy farms?
Yes, I’ve been on dairy farms all my life.
AW You were telling me that you started milking at a very early age?
Yes, four and a half when I first started.
AW So that was your destiny, was it?
AW So, how long were you in Eumundi for?
AW When did you move back to Maleny?
AW How come you can remember that so well?
It was my Birthday. I was eleven years old that day.
AW And how did you move from Eumundi? Did you get all your stuff sent down in the train?
Yes, the furniture and all that, that was sent up previously. The rest of the family came up a couple of days before that and Dad and I stayed with friends in Eumundi and we trucked the ponies and a bull from Eumundi to Landsborough, then rode the ponies and chased the bull up the Range.
AW When you came up through Bald Knob, was the road from Landsborough in the same place as it is now, did it follow much the same direction?
No, it has been altered over the last four or five years. It has been straightened. Bald Knob up, it is the same.
AW You were telling me there was a bit of a story about that day when you came up. When you chased the bull up the hill, that you used to always stop at the Pagoda.
Dad had a cup of tea at the Pagoda.
AW Who ran the Pagoda at that time, can you remember?
No, I don’t remember.
Whereabouts was the Pagoda?
It was just on the turn to Mt Mellum, the lower road into Mt Mellum.
AW Near where Yaroonga Crafts are now?
A little bit further in there, up on the top side of that road.
AW What type of business was it?
I just couldn’t explain it really. I didn’t know that much about it.
AW Do you remember when you went up there, there was a little teahouse on the road at Bald Knob, run by a Mrs Skipper and a Mrs Musk. Do you know where that was?
Yes, that was round on the road going around to the quarry.
AW The present quarry?
AW Because that is where the original road went, wasn’t it? Around the north face of Bald Knob.
AW And you can remember that teahouse?
I remember seeing it there, but I was talking to Mrs Musk one day and she remembered my parents calling there and having a cup of tea. That was way back in 1914.
AW They ran it that long ago?
No, I am not sure about that. It mightn’t have been then. It could have been when we
AW Because the photo I have seen of it, it had a motor car, it would have been an old model T Ford, parked next to it. All it was, was just a little eight by eight shed.
I think it would have been in the 1914-18 period.
AW They would just have a fire and a billy boiling?
I don’t know how they boiled the billy. I was never there myself.
AW So, when you moved back to Maleny, where did your family move to?
Just up the road here, where my son is at the present time.
AW Mountain View Road?
AW So, your father bought a property then?
AW Did his property have a name?
Yes, they used to call it Araluen.
AW Whose original selection was the property?
It was part of Walker’s.
AW That is the man who Walker’s Creek is named after?
Yes. Walker’s property ran from there, right into the Showground, the Showground belonged to Walker’s.
AW That would have been all one farm, from Mountain View Road, back to Maleny to Obi Creek, at the Showgrounds.
Our Eastern boundary would have gone across to Maleny. The line would have gone along our eastern boundary across to the main road and then I think it would have followed the road in past where the new high school is. It would have been the boundary of Walker’s on that side.
AW So, did your father buy that whole property from Mr. Walker?
No, he only bought the fifty acres.
AW Up at the front here, at Mountain View.
When he first bought it, was there a house on the property?
There was a house. Yes. It didn’t have any ceiling or lining, it was just a weatherboard shell.
AW Being an eleven year old, you would have been busy helping your father get the house ready?
Well, he had all that done. He bought it, about July or August, 1925 and he had the house all done up, ceiled and lined. They used to use the underneath the house for packing oranges. We had four acres of citrus.
AW On the property?
Yes, he got that enclosed, the bottom part, and lined, ceiled. Had the top all lined or ceiled before we came to live in it, in 1926.
AW How did the family make their living when you first moved there? Was it from the citrus, or did you start up dairying straight away?
Dairying, we started dairying straight away.
AW How many cows did you start off with?
AW Was that regarded as an average herd in those days?
Oh no, it was less than average, but there wasn’t a lot of grass on the property. It had been let go and a lot of it had grown back into lantana.
AW So you had to clear a lot as well?
AW When you said you had a packing shed, or you used underneath the house as a packing shed, whereabouts would you sell your fruit to?
Well, most of it was sent to the markets in Roma Street, Brisbane.
AW Right, so this is what we were talking about the other day, where you made your own packing cases?
AW And how would you define that that fruit was yours?
That was stencilled on the end of the case, one with our name on it and the other end would have the Agent’s name.
AW Did you have a consignment number?
The Murray Brothers for instance, they were one of the agents we sent to. They had a number.
AW I think they are number twenty two, aren’t they?
Yes, I think it is. They still operate.
AW Was there much money to be made from citrus farming?
Not in those days. During the Depression we got as low as three and sixpence a case. Cost of the case, cartage, the freight to Brisbane, and commission had to come out of that, so it didn’t leave very much.
AW So when you are talking about the Depression, you are talking about the early thirties?
Early thirties, yes.
AW I assume you were going to school, when you first moved back to Maleny?
Yes, when we came back.
AW Did you have much work to do on the farm as well as your school work?
Oh yes. I used to get up every morning and help milk, and again, when I came home from school in the afternoon.
AW So you milked twice a day. Did everybody in the family help milk?
No. We only had twenty cows and only two bails, so only two could milk at a time.
AW And that was all hand milking then, wasn’t it?
And how would you keep the milk cold?
We didn’t keep it cold, we wanted to keep it warm.
AW Why’s that?
To separate the milk.
AW So the milk has to be warm to be separated?
It was better, yes.
AW Then when you separated it, what did you do with the milk?
Well, that was fed to calves and pigs.
AW Now that seems really ironic, because in the old days all that hard work just to get the cream, which was a minimal amount of your product, to then throw the rest away.
Well, it wasn’t thrown away, really. Because we used to have the pigs, you see and we used to sell them.
AW So there was a secondary industry, in pig sales, from dairying?
All dairy farms had pigs in those days’
AW Would you have many pigs?
Later on when I took over the farm, I had a lot there. But of course I had to buy grain to feed them on. During the War, when the wheat was rationed, I didn’t have enough grain to feed to my pigs. I had to buy a truck load of pumpkins.
AW So they couldn’t live on just milk?
No, there wasn’t enough milk for them.
AW Going back to when you first moved to Maleny, in1926, you would have been eleven. You went to Maleny School. Had you gone to school at Eumundi at all?
Yes, I started school at Eumundi.
AW When you came to the school at Maleny, was it very different? Because you would have grown up and felt more orientated to Eumundi, wouldn’t you, when you were young?
It was similar I suppose in most ways, only the different children, you had to make new friends.
AW Where abouts was the school, when you first came here?
It was up on the hill, where the playgroup and Girl Guide’s hut is.
AW Is that Cedar Street?
Yes, that is Cedar Street up there.
Well, it was added onto while I was going to school. The original building was two rooms, that’s the way it was when I started there.
AW Did you have a verandah?
Yes. There was a verandah, front and back. But our class was underneath the school on an asphalt floor.
AW But isn’t that school close to the ground? Have they taken the stumps out from underneath it?
That school was shifted down to where the present Primary School is.
AW And then they have built another one up in Cedar Street?
They built a new building there for the Maleny Playgroup and Girl Guides.
AW Were there many children going there in 1926?
There was about a hundred.
AW That is a lot, for two classes, did you say?
No, two rooms.
AW So fifty children in each room?
Well, there were a lot underneath. Our class was a big class. I know at one stage there were forty in it. It was was enclosed with corrugated iron on three sides, on the side facing the North, was a vine growing up on “K” wire. That’s all that was on that side.
AW That wouldn’t have been very good in winter?
It was rather cold in winter.
AW The lighting would have been pretty terrible.
Yes. We didn’t have any light, there was no electricity in those days.
AW Did you have desks?
Yes, we had desks.
AW Most of the children would have been from dairy farming families?
Oh yes, most of them were. Of course in those days I think often children, two of them would start school together, I think there were six couples in our class, a brother and sister or two sisters, like that.
AW So people would wait till the youngest one was old enough to go?
Six pairs, I think, that was why our class was so large.
AW How many teachers did you have for that many children?
There were four teachers.
AW Those were very high numbers in the classes.
There was only one teacher for that particular class. But there were four teachers in the school.
AW What grade did the school go up to in those days?
It was grade eight. Grade eight these days is High School.
AW Can you remember Arbor Day, planting trees?
Oh yes, I remember planting trees.
AW Are there any trees in Maleny that you can remember planting as a child?
Yes. There is a tree, there’s a row of trees up along the road, and I planted one of those.
AW Which road is that?
AW Behind or in front of the school?
In front of the school, yes.
AW When were they planted, can you remember how old you were?
I just don’t remember what year, could have been around 1929, 1928, I don’t remember really.
AW I know a lot of schools used to plant trees and in modern times those trees have some historic significance. And if we can recall why they were planted and who planted them, it is interesting. So most children were involved in tree planting in those days?
Yes. They’d be all around while we planted the trees.
AW What is the meaning behind Arbor Day, do you know? Did they tell you why you were planting them?
I couldn’t say, really.
AW So, they obviously didn’t tell you much. They just said, “We are planting trees tomorrow.”
It was a day set aside, I think, for planting trees.
AW I was reading also that in1926, there was a big fire in Maleny, and can you remember any fires when you first moved back?
Yes, I remember the fire.
AW What burnt down?
There was a butcher, a baker and a little store. I don’t think they sold groceries, they sold books, a newsagent I suppose you would call it.
AW Whereabouts were they situated?
Well, where the fruit bowl is at the present time there and the butcher shop.
AW McMahon’s Butcher Shop, at the present day?
AW Was there a fire brigade in Maleny in those days?
AW So they just burnt down?
Yes. It was burnt down in September 1926, it was about 2 o’clock in the morning.
AW You saw it the next day when you went to school?
To school, yes.
AW That would have been a bit of excitement for all the school kids.
We used to buy all our school books there.
AW Can you remember any of the prices of the books that you used to have to buy?
No. I don’t remember that.
AW I noticed in the Nambour Chronicle that in 1927, Maleny had a Speedway opening. Do you know anything about a Speedway in Maleny?
Speedway? No, I don’t remember that.
AW Alright, so we are up to 1927, now there was also a very big rail strike in 1927. Now this would have affected your father with his getting his fruit to market. Do you remember any of this?
AW You were also telling me Evan, when you first moved to Maleny, your mother involved in the C.W.A., few years after. Do you want to tell me a bit about that?
Well, the C.W.A. was formed in Maleny on the 19th September, 1928. My mother was the foundation President.
AW Did she organise the setting up of the whole thing?
Yes. I remember a woman, the Queensland State President she might have been, came up for the day and she stayed at our time.
AW What was the C.W.A.’s role in the community from what you can remember?
Well, they did quite a lot for the community, they used to do a lot for the Hospital and the people that were more or less destitute, they used to help them.
AW This is the beginning of the Depression too?
Yes. I remember Mother walking in to Maleny to see these people and arrange for groceries, or blankets, whatever they might need, they used to supply them with.
AW So, in the beginning of the Depression in Maleny, even though it was a primary producing area, people still became destitute?
They were mostly, perhaps people working on farms or other people just living here that were out of work.
AW So can you remember, the years just before the Depression, how the economic climate was changing? Do you remember your parents talking about it, or reading it in the newspaper?
No, I don’t remember very much really, because I didn’t start out on my own till after the Depression. In 1938, when I left school and came home to work on the farm, I used to get ten shillings a week.
AW That means you were being paid, which is a lot more than other people would have been getting. So, when did you leave school?
That was in 1930.
AW Another thing read in the newspaper, in 1930, at the Maleny School. A Calf and Milk Testing Club was formed, do you remember that at all?
AW Were you in that?
Yes. The Milk Testing Club, we were in pairs. My brother and I, it didn’t only include my class, well there would have been three different grades in it, because mu brother was two grades below me and he was my partner.
AW What would you do?
We were in it together and we used to take samples of milk to school and test them.
AW So it was really just a way of training you to be good dairy farmers?
Oh yes, well in that respect. By testing the cow’s milk you could find out which ones were the most profitable ones.
AW That was a way that you test a cow’s milk before you bought them, or something?
Oh no. You would have them in your herd and test them and this was one way of culling the poor producers.
Aw And what, you would just sell them off at the sales?
Yes. I was also involved in the Calf Club. Had a calf, we used to take the calves along to school that day, because there was no transport to get them there. We used to have to lead them from home.
AW Did you ever ride them?
No, didn’t do that. I’ve got a photo somewhere, of the Calf Club.
AW Of all the children with their calves?
AW Were there any girls in the Calf Club?
AW So it was mainly children whose parents were farmers?
AW So, when you left school, and you went home and you started working on the farm with your father, what sort of things were you doing?
As I said earlier, there was a lot of lantana on the farm and Dad had got some of it cleared before I left school. But that was one of the jobs I had to do. Brush the lantana, it wasn’t an easy job. It was very thick, you couldn’t even walk, or couldn’t even crawl through some of it.
AW What sort of pasture were you seeding?
In the early part of it, we used to plant mostly paspalum and Rhodes grass seed.
AW And the cattle liked paspalum?
Oh yes. Of course in those days, there wasn’t any kikuyu on our property at all. I can remember Dad and I going with the horse and cart to a property that was owned by A.M. Hunt in those days and we took mattocks along and dug bits out of the roots.
AW Dug up the kikuyu?
And put it in the spring cart and we brought those home and then we used to plant that, after we’d burnt the lantana and sewn the grass and then we used to go along with the hose and plant the corn and the kikuyu we used to plant in the middle of the rows of corn.
AW It is hard to imagine Maleny not being covered in kikuyu isn’t it? So when you first came up here, what did the landscape look like?
Well, it was much the same as it is, there wasn’t a lot of scrub felled since we came up here. Of course, in those days we didn’t get around very much, because there were no cars and you either had to walk or go on horseback. So you didn’t see a lot of the districts on the Northern and Western part of Maleny. Didn’t see a lot of it, because we lived on the southern extremity.
Aw So, it just wasn’t quite as green?
No, I think the kikuyu taken on the whole, is a greener grass than Rhodes grass. I remember three patches of scrub that were fallen between our place and Maleny, just after we came.
AW Where were they?
Well, one was next door. One was in beside the Showground and the other one was along at the end, along the Mountain View Road.
AW So, Mary Cairncross Park, that has never been felled, that is virgin scrub?
AW Which side of Mary Cairncross Park was you father’s farm?
On the western side.
AW Did you have a boundary with Mary Cairncross Park at all?
No, there was another dairy farm in between.
AW I understand the property behind the park also had a lot of scrub and today it has still got big scrub stands up there?
Well, that is right, the property next to us, on the eastern side of our boundary, there was scrub on that, and I forgot to mention that one.
AW Who owned that?
That belonged to Thynne’s, when we came here. There was about fifty acres of standing scrub there.
AW Was that felled for the timber or for the improved pasture?
It was felled to be grassed for dairying.
AW So was the timber burnt or was it taken away?
Some timber was taken to the mill, but a lot of the timber that was burnt in those days, would have been milled today.
AW In the old days, people were choosy about the timber which they milled?
They were choosy, yes. They had plenty of timber, you know, they picked the best out of it.
AW Do you think if they knew how much timber is worth today, that they would do it again?
If they felled it today, of course, they would sella lot more of it. These days, if you had a patch of scrub and started felling it, you would probably have the greenies in, trying to stop you.
AW What do you think about that?
Oh well, how would people live if the didn’t fell the timber?
AW So if the pioneers, when they first came here, didn’t fell the timber there would be no such thing as a dairying industry in Maleny in the first place.
AW So you have got to weigh all those factors up. What about the land slips? It is very obvious that too many trees have been taken in places, like in gullies, where they shouldn’t have been taken. Were the early farmers aware of that?
Where you get most of the landslips, is where there is not a very good depth of soil, where the clay is close to the top and that is where the soil slips off the clay. But most of the good land, where there is a better depth of soil, we don’t have the landslips.
AW So your father’s farm would have been a very good farm because it is on deep red soil, isn’t it?
There have never been any landslips on that.
AW No, because it would be very deep. Living on Mountain View Road, McCarthy’s Chute is very close, now, was that ever used when you were a child living with your parents?
Well, it was used. Of course in those days, it was either on horseback it was used quite a lot for people riding on horseback.
AW So it was used just as a road, it was not used in its original intention, as a timber chute?
See it was originally used for that. That is where they used to take their timber down there, but I remember we rode down to Peachester, we rode down that way to play tennis. It was in the years before the War.
AW Can you explain to me what it looked like? Was it a chute that you push logs down, or was it just a track that they used to snig the logs down?
I am not sure about that. That would have been all done before we came back here to live.
AW So when you went down it, it was actually just a road?
Yes, you could only call it a track really. You couldn’t have driven a horse and cart down it in those days.
AW So it was really just a bridle track?
AW Did many people from Peachester use it when they came up to Maleny?
Oh yes. They used it. I know Bob Breton, from Peachester used to walk up that.
AW Is that the way Mr Breton came up whenever he went to the shows?
In the early days of course, but later on, when cars and that came in, he used to drive. Oh, it would be a bit over twelve months ago, they could drive a vehicle up and down there.
AW So it is still in use?
It was done up a bit, because they pulled timber out of there, and they brought the timber up there.
AW Was that just recently?
Yes, during the last two years I suppose it was.
AW So a lot of these old snigging tracks have become roads?
It would only be a dry weather road, you wouldn’t get up there in wet weather.
AW You were also telling me back in the late 1930s, that area behind Cairncross Park, that there used to be a road, which went through the paddock near Burgess Road.
Well it was never a road that was really opened up, it was only through the paddocks, but the road, and it was surveyed there for future use. Of course, today it is used.
AW And that is Burgess Road?
AW Is that named after the Councillor Burgess?
Well, Burgess was one of the early pioneers.
AW So that is named after Isaac Hudson Burgess?
Ike Burgess was a Councillor, but it would have been named after his father.
AW Do you remember the official opening of the School of Arts, they had some new additions put onto it in1931, do you remember that?
Yes. That would have been when they put what they call, the gallery in it. I suppose that was what the additions were.
AW What is the gallery?
That was a place built at the front of the hall. You went upstairs into it, I’ve just forgotten now, about eighty to one hundred, they used to seat up there. They used to sit up there for pictures, even for balls and that too, and leave more room down on the floor for dancing.
AW When you say pictures, you used to have travelling picture shows?
Not travelling ones, no.
AW So Maleny School of Arts was actually a theatre?
Every Saturday night there were pictures there and often of a Wednesday night too.
AW So you used to go in?
Oh, I went occasionally.
AW How much was it to go in?
Oh, I just don’t remember really. Probably a couple of shillings.
AW And were they talking movies in those days?
AW 1930s. I suppose they still would have been black and white?
I know families that had their seats booked there every Saturday night, they were permanently booked.
AW So while we were talking about the School of Arts, I understand that burnt down. Can you remember when that happened?
AW What caused the fire?
McLean’s had shop there, a baker shop.
AW Next door to it.
And they were next door and they lived up on top and I am not sure, but I think it started where they had an auxiliary engine, down at the back of the shop.
AW So how much of the School of Arts building was burnt?
The lot of it.
AW So it had to be totally rebuilt?
AW And was that rebuilt straight away?
No, it was several years before it was rebuilt.
AW What hall filled the gap in the need of social engagements?
The R.S.L. Hall was used.
AW And was the R.S.L. Hall always there. Can you remember it always being opposite the hotel?
It wasn’t always there, that hall came from Maryborough.
AW It was moved?
AW Can you remember when that came?
I just don’t remember what year. But I was connected with it. I went around the district to collect for it. I did the Bald Knob area.
AW So it was an old Maryborough Hall?
AW Why did you buy and remove a hall instead of building a new one?
It would have been much cheaper, it was all pulled down and rebuilt. It wasn’t shifted, of course they couldn’t have shifted a building as big as that anyway. Houses in those days of course had to be pulled down too, if they were shifted and rebuilt.
AW So what stood on the land where the R.S.L. Hall now stands before the hall was there?
There actually wasn’t any building there. A little bit further up Bunya Street there was a small hall, it was used by the R.S.L. until the present one was built, the smaller one, was sold to the Scouts and they are using it.
AW And that was moved around to its present position in Coral Street?
It was moved around where the Scout Den is at the present time. That was built onto, quite a few years ago and enclosed underneath and then, on just recent years, they put more extensions on to it and the extensions were opened earlier this year.
AW So you had a lot to do with the Scouting movement?
Yes. I joined the Scouts in 1927, the first Maleny Troop.
AW Was it a big affair in those days?
We had three patrols. There were about eight in a patrol, I think. So that was a fairly good number.
AW Can you remember who your local Scout Master or Mistress was?
The Scout Master was the Presbyterian Minister, Mr Stewart.
AW What sort of things would you do?
It was much the same as today. We used to go on camps. I remember we went to a Scout Camp in Caloundra, it was the first time I ever visited Caloundra.
AW Would you like to tell me a bit about that?
First off, there weren’t too many buildings about in those days.
AW This would have been in 1927?
Might have been 1928. The Scouts only went for two years and Mr Stewart, he left here and then there was nobody to carry on.
AW What about Caloundra? What was down there?
Just trying to think of the name of one of the shops. Just can’t think of them now. But there weren’t many shops there in those days, I think Rinaldi’s were there.
AW Can you remember Tripcony’s?
Tripcony’s? Well, I remember them being there. Farlow’s had a shop that was the name I was trying to think of. And Chapman’s were fishermen there, those days.
AW Whereabouts did you camp?
Around between the Bar and Kings Beach.
AW Were there many other campers at the time?
No, we were the only ones there, the Scouts.
AW Where would you get your fresh water from?
Oh well, I just don’t remember where we got it.
AW I was just wondering whether there were any springs there because I know around Kings Beach area, there are a lot of fresh water springs.
Of course, Bribie Island was a lot closer in those days.
AW So, it has changed a lot?
Oh yes. It’s been washed away quite a lot over the years.
AW Were there many boats in the Passage in those days?
Not very many, no.
AW So Caloundra was just a very small little sleepy fishing village?
Yes, there were only really the few fishermen there.
AW That would have been exciting then, for country boys to go down to the beach.
Oh yes. We were all very excited about going down. There were two of us had the measles, we couldn’t go, when the main party went. We went about four days later.
AW The present Scout Hall which is in Coral Street, is that the same hall that you used when you were a scout?
AW So it wasn’t moved until much later?
We met up where the Presbyterian Church is, in the hall there. There was a school out at North Maleny.
AW And that was going when you first moved here?
No, not this particular school. There was a school at North Maleny then, but it wasn’t the original one. The first school was at McCarthy’s.
AW Where did they live?
Along Mountain View Road.
AW Is their old house still there?
Yes. There is an old house still there.
AW Which one is it?
It has been done up.
AW Is that near McCarthy’s Lookout?
If you go up the hill from McCarthy’s Chute, it is on the left.
AW So, that is where the first school was held in Maleny?
Yes. I am not sure if that was the exact spot or not. Whether it was in that house, I just don’t know. Or if it was in another building.
AW We are still talking about the Depression, I am interested to know how the Depression hit small families in Maleny. Now, your parents would have been an
average family, with all the children. How did you all cope?
Of course, we came here in 1926. I think three of the oldest of the family, would have been out working. Oldest brother, he was in the bank and the two sisters were nurses.
AW So, your brother was in a bank in Maleny?
No, he started in Eumundi. He was never in the Maleny Bank.
AW So, really, you were the only ones still at home?
There were four of us at home. We did have advantages, being on a farm, we were ale to grow vegetables and we had out milk, we had eggs, which was a big help.
AW How did you ear money to buy the fuel for your car or to buy kerosene for your lamps?
That came out of the money the family made out of oranges, and butter and pigs.
AW You were telling me you used to sell citrus in a milking bucket in Maleny?
That is where Dad and I used to take oranges around the township and sell them at two shillings for a two gallon bucket. We used to take about twelve cases in and sell then each week. Quite a lot of families would buy two gallon bucket full.
Tape 1/Side B
AW So pre electricity in Maleny, how did your family light the house at night?
We had an Aladdin lamp, that was the main lamp and then we had some smaller kerosene lamps.
AW So you just had one Aladdin lamp?
Yes. And we also had candles.
AW What would you normally do at night?
We had homework to do. Hat was the main thing, after we milked and had tea. Get our homework done and go to bed.
AW Did you ever have a radio?
No. Not in those days.
AW Did you get the newspapers in those days?
Oh yes. We had the newspapers. We used to get the Nambour Chronicle.
AW So what would the family do for entertainment?
At weekends sometimes we would have friends in. We had a piano, my Mother used to play the piano and we’d get around the piano and have a singsong. You know what the fog is like here, I remember Len and Gavin Bryce came there one night, it was foggy and they went to go home and they couldn’t find their way out onto the road. The fog was that thick. I had to go up the paddock and show them the way out.
AW So with the Depression, I have heard stories of people, saving the fabric from their flour bags to make clothes, as well as saving tin cans and using them to bake food in and things like that, did you do things like that?
I don’t think there were any clothes ever made out of bags, I know some people who used Sea Foam Flour bags, they were white bags, they used to use them. We used sugar bags to make aprons for milking, to keep our clothes clean.
AW So your parents still ran the dairy and took the cream into the Co-o
Yes. We actually never took the cream right in, we always had somebody to pick it up at the road.
AW So you had a carter?
AW Can you remember who the carter was, when you were a boy?
Les Smith. They were the people who lived on the farm opposite Mary Cairncross Park, they used to cart it, at one time.
AW Did he have a truck or did he just have a horse and cart?
AW As soon as motor vehicles came out, everybody in the country usually got a car, is that right?
All of them didn’t have them then. My father never had a car. I got one on 1939, a utility, it was after I started out on my own.
AW But in the early days, it was a novelty to see a car?
AW Were you ever interested in them?
Oh yes, we were always interested in them. Mountain View Road was only a dirt road in those days. Many cars in the wet weather, of course there weren’t many, but when
a car did come along they would often get stuck. We had an old grey horse, we used to often go up and pull them out of the bog.
AW During the Depression, were there many swaggies walking through Maleny?
There used to be a few. Hindus were around too, they used to be looking for jobs.
AW These are Indians that had been working in the cane?
Some used to come here looking for work. Most of them were around before we came back here. I do remember seeing a few around.
AW Did the butter price really plummet during the Depression?
I am not sure. I think it went down to about nine pence (9d.) a pound.
AW What would have been the average price for a good year you’d be getting before the Depression?
I couldn’t tell you that.
AW Well how about after when you first started dairying in 1938?
I think I was getting a shilling a pound then.
AW So it was only a few pence more?
AW So the dairy industry in 1939 still hadn’t recovered very well?
No, of course threepence a pound was quite a bit of money in those days too, compared to prices today.
AW So in 1939, you bought your own farm?
No, in 1938 I leased a farm.
AW Whereabouts was that?
AW Whose farm were you leasing?
Eddy Gardiner’s farm.
AW So that is the Gardiner’s Estate?
AW Did you back onto Gardiner’s Falls?
No, the farm I had, didn’t.
AW Was it all up the top there at Gardiner’s?
Mine joined the Obi below the falls. And then that was the boundary, I suppose the Obi would have been two thirds of the boundary, around the farm.
AW That would have been a good dairy property?
It was steep, but it was good bit of land.
AW What sort of soil was up there?
AW Did you grow any crops as well?
AW What about growing crops or food for your cattle?
No, they were only grass, that’s all.
AW So was it a well pasteurised property when you leased it?
During the 1941 drought, I bought a patch of cane and I had to cut that and cart it with a horse and cart to feed the cows.
AW You bought the crop?
AW Whereabouts was that growing?
Up near where the new High School is.
AW So that is when you borrowed your father’s horse and cart in that photo you showed me?
AW Did you ever think of going into any other sort of business apart from dairying?
No. AW So when did you buy shares in the Co-op?
I bought them in 1938.
AW So that entitled you to use the facilities of the Co-op?
AW You were also telling me that your grandfather, was involved in the dairy industry in New South Wales in a very prominent way. Would you like to tell me a bit about that?
Grandfather, on my Mother’s side, was Chairman of the first C0-operative Butter Factory in Australia.
AW What was your grandfather’s name?
AW Where was that first Butter Co-op?
It was on the south coast of New South Wales.
AW And he was also involved in forming the breed of the Illawarra Shorthorn, I understand?
No, that was my Grandfather Evans.
AW So you have got two famous grandfathers.
AW What was your Grandfather Evans’ involvement in the Shorthorns?
Well, my Great-Grandfather bought a bull calf that was put up for auction in Sydney. Somebody imported four cows and this calf was born on the boat, coming out. It was too far for the calf to walk from Sydney to his property, so they put him up for auction. Great-Grandfather then took over the property and the bull.
AW This bull calf that was born on the boat, that’s where the breed started from is it?
He would have been one of the prominent sires that started the breed in those days, yes.
AW Did your father inherit any of his father’s stock?
No. My Father and his eldest brother, they worked together on the farm after Grandfather died, they took on the farm. Then when one got married, well Dad moved off then. The older brother, he was ten years older than my Father, he stayed on the original property.
AW So, that’s the property that you have got the photograph of, on the wall. Now what was it called again?
AW Whereabouts is it in New South Wales?
Just south of Wollongong.
AW You also had a herd of Illawarra Shorthorns didn’t you?
AW Why that particular breed?
Well, as I said, Great-Grandfather started with them and that is just what has gone right through the family. Just carried on.
AW So, it’s tradition? Why not Jersey cattle, because they give a higher cream yield?
The Illawarra’s give more milk and I mean they give just as much butter fat as the jerseys, because they have more milk. There is good cattle in every breed.
AW With the dairy industry in Maleny, cream production was the most important thing, when did it change to milk production?
Some of the farmers from Maleny sent milk to Caboolture probably around 1950.
AW So, Maleny Co-op. didn’t take milk at all, only cream?
No. Years before they did send milk to Brisbane. But I don’t know whether it was before we came back or after, but we never ever sent any milk to Brisbane. I started sending milk to Caboolture in the early 1950s.
AW Was that to boost your income?
Yes, they were short of milk. There were dairy farmers around Caboolture, close to Caboolture itself, that wouldn’t supply milk. They still wanted to supply cream.
AW Why, was there more money in cream?
Well this particular farmer had jersey cattle, and they had pigs, of course. There is a lot more work with pigs than there is, if you’re on milk, well, it saves all that extra work, if you don’t have pigs.
AW You don’t have that extra problem with diseases.
Pigs are destructive. We always ran them out in small paddocks, they are terrors to root up the ground and they root under the fences. And then of course they get out, you have got to patch fences up. There is all that sort of thing.
AW I was just interested to know when the swing went from cream production to milk production and why it was.
I am not sure just when Maleny started on milk. Of course there were some who still kept to the cream, it is only over the last ten years, I suppose or less than that, that it changed. Caboolture started sending cream to Maleny about ten years ago. They didn’t accept any cream down there. All their cream was sent up here. They would have had to expand their factory when they started producing yoghurt and that. So instead of doing that, they closed their butter making part of the factory and used that.
AW And sent all the cream up here?
AW So did the local dairy farmers have a say in what their Co-op. was doing?
Oh yes. They were represented on the Board, by Directors.
AW Now are these directors of the Maleny Butter Co-operative or are these directors of the Caboolture Co-op?
They both had them of course. But we had them here right up until the amalgamation of the two factories. I think they were elected for three years and then they would come up for elections again, you could nominate new ones or the others were eligible to stand again too.
AW So with the amalgamation, were the farmers up here happy about that?
Some of them weren’t, some of them were. The majority were, of course, otherwise they wouldn’t have amalgamated.
AW So, what was the advantage?
Well the number of suppliers had dropped so much. There were quite a few sending milk to Caboolture. There was definitely more money in milk, than there was in butter. Even today the butter is not nearly as profitable as what the milk sales are.
AW I don’t understand why it was economic for the Co-0peratives to amalgamate and to no loner produce butter in Maleny?
Caboolture wanted more milk, you see. They were producing pretty good products, this is manufactured products, such as yoghurt, cheese, flavoured milk and they didn’t have enough milk to supply all those orders. They wanted extra milk.
That was one reason why they wanted to amalgamate and of course, that also meant that the Maleny dairy-farmers were going to have a market for more of their milk.
AW So they got bigger quotas?
Which was more profitable. The populations around in the zone that Caboolture had to supply fresh milk to, was increasing. That meant there was more milk wanted for fresh milk and I think that was the main reason why they wanted to amalgamate.
AW So was there ever any problem with farmers not wanting to do milk supply, of only wanting to continue with the cream, for the butter.
Of course, before this happened, they decided they weren’t going to manufacture any more butter here. Ones that didn’t want to go onto milk, there were a few, they just gave up dairying, changed into beef. There were a few, not many.
AW So when did the amalgamation happen?
Would be about five years ago, I suppose. (1st July 1978)
AW So before the amalgamation, Maleny was still producing butter, was it?
Yes, I think they produced butter right up until then.
AW What about the effect of margarine on the butter industry?
Because margarine started to come in during the mid 1930s, was that a hot issue with the dairymen?
AW Can you remember?
Yes, that had quite an effect on the consumption of butter. Of course a lot of doctors said that margarine was better than the butter; it caused different heart ailments, the butter. But, I don’t believe that. I have eaten a lot of butter in my time. I would have more butter on a slice of bread than most would have on three or four.
I like butter. I’ve never bought margarine in my life.
AW You should do a butter ad?
I have tasted it, but I have never bought it.
AW Did the dairymen of the time get together and start a promotion for diary products?
Oh, yes they advertised. They advertised their product a lot more, because margarine was cheaper than butter too, at that time, there is not a lot of difference today, in the price.
AW Can you remember when the new factory was completed in 1940?
1940? Was that when it was completed?
AW It was either completed in March 1940 and opened in September.
Yes I remember when it was opened.
AW Why did you get a new factory?
Well, they had to update their machinery for one thing. They wanted to expand in their produce section, they sold a lot of grain etc. there. They used to have quite a big section in fruit and vegetables there too. Oh yes, they had that right up into the late 1960s or early 1970s.
AW So the dairymen would do all their shopping around at the Co-op?
Yes, they did a lot of it there.
AW And you all just had monthly accounts?
AW So who paid for all the expansion?
The dairy farmers, that is where it had to come from.
AW Did you have to pay a yearly amount of money to the Co-op?
Yes, we had some deducted from our cheques to pay for these, same as with Caboolture with their expansions.
AW I am interested to know how the price of butter is set, who sets that price. Is that a Government thing?
In a way I suppose it is, but the Board of Directors actually set the prices.
AW Did that change monthly or as supply dwindled or expanded?
Yes, the price was set each month. Of course with overseas sales, you didn’t know what you were getting. Then towards the end of the year, we would often get a deferred payment. They didn’t want to over pay, because they would go into debt that way. And then if they underpaid well, you would get the benefit of that later.
AW If the farmers were not happy about how much they were getting for cream, would they go to a General Meeting?
AW Was the Co-op really run by the shareholders being the dairy farmers?
Well, it was really run I suppose by the Manager. And well he would have taken advice too, from the Board of Directors.
AW Who was the most prominent Manager at the Maleny Co-op. during your time as a farmer?
Oh well, there were three of them. There was Gordon Newton, he was the Manager when we first came back here. When we were here originally in 1914, I think perhaps John Skerman would have been Manager then. Then ter Gordon Newton, there was Jack Ferguson and Iva Dunsdon. They were the only three managers that I ever had anything to do with.
AW Were they dairy farmers themselves?
AW They just worked running the factory?
Yes. I don’t know where Gordon Newton came from, but the others, they were working at managing a factory somewhere else. I think Gordon Newton resigned, think probably it was retiring age. They just called for applications you see, for the job then.
AW So how did the Q.D.O. the Queensland Dairymen’s Organisation come into being?
Percy Skerman, he was a dairy farmer up on the Downs. He had a lot to do with the formation of the Q.D.O. in Queensland, and he visited here. I think it was the next day, that’s Bill Collard and Percy Skerman and I went to Kenilworth and Imbil.
AW So when was that?
I think that must have been in the forties. (1940s) I tried to find that out, I asked the secretary a few years ago if he could find out when that was, but he never did. So I don’t know exactly when it was.
AW Was there a Q.D.O. in Maleny before that?
AW This Collard, is he the man who bought the Kikuyu to Maleny in the first place?
AW I have heard stories that they used to call it Collard’s Curse?
That’s right, they used to refer to it as Collard’s Curse.
AW Why was that?
There was a bit of cultivation done in those days and dit used to get into the cultivations, because it grows very quickly in loose soil, you know the roots for along underneath the ground and I mean a root could be her today, tomorrow it would be over there. They grow very quickly, it goes on top of the ground too and you can see how quickly it grows there. Nobody calls it Collard’s Curse today, because it was the best thing that ever happened.
AW It’s a dairyman’s dream? So he introduced that, when did he first come to Maleny?
End of the War but, I’m not sure.
AW So that would have been about 1919? When did milking machines come in?
There weren’t many machines here before the Second World War. It was after the Second World War had started, that they started getting milking machines up here.
AW When did you first get your first milking machines?
AW So you were one of the first ones to get them?
I got them at the end of 1940. The man that installed them had Christmas Dinner with us.
AW How was it run, by electricity?
No. Electricity came to Maleny in 1939. But that was only to the township.
AW And you were still out at North Maleny?
Yes. I put them in out there.
AW So you had no power out there?
No. I had a kerosene engine.
AW Isn’t that a bit dangerous, using kerosene?
Oh no. Nothing dangerous about it.
AW And how many bails did you have, when you first got your milking machines installed?
Well I had to put a bit on to them. I had four. I just had the two units.
AW So did that cut your milking time in half?
AW That gave you greater time to do what?
Well, most of the time, I milked them on my own. My wife used to help me, but then towards the end of 1940, October, you see our first child was born. I was milking forty cows then, on my own. Then I put the machines in.
AW So, when were you married?
AW So that was at the end of the Depression?
Oh yes, the Depression was over.
AW Did you marry a local woman?
No, she came from an Ipswich district, the other side of Ipswich, Harrisville.
AW What was your wife’s name?
AW Were you married in Maleny?
She was the fourth sister to come to Maleny. The first one, came here when she was married. And then the other three came up here to stay with her.
AW Is that how you met your wife?
Yes, they all met their husbands here.
AW So they all married dairy farmers?
No, two did. The first one, she was Frances McLean, her husband, Andrew McLean had the bakery and shop and café.
AW So you are related to Peg Burnett?
AW She is your cousin?
No, she is my niece, by marriage. My wife was her mother’s sister.
AW Peg is older than you, isn’t she?
No, she is just a little bit younger. Her birthday is in March.
AW So, when you first married, is that when you moved to North Maleny?
No, I moved there before, I went there in February 1938. I was married in November 1939.
AW Had your wife come from a farming background?
AW I want to know a bit more about the Dairy Industry. The boom time for the dairy industry was in the 1950s, wasn’t it?
Oh well, I suppose there were a lot of dairy farmers in those years. I think as far as profits were concerned, it was later.
AW How much later?
Oh well it was in the 1970s I’d say. That was the only time I made nay money much, out of dairying.
AW So the rest of the time it was just all hard work?
Yes, I never ever paid any tax much, until the 1970s.
AW Most people get the impression that diary farmers are well off because they own all that land and they always seem to have trucks. They don’t go out much and all that sort of thing, but there is always this general assumption in the community that dairy farmers are well off.
Yes, of course a lot of them have borrowed a lot of money too, to do that.
AW So, they are really living on the bank’s money?
Oh yes. Of course a lot of the grain farmers, they are the ones that go into debt. Because their capital expenditure is so high, with their machinery costs.
AW Now, Evan you also come about being involved in the Maleny Show Society, very early. When was that?
AW And how did you come about being involved in the show?
Oh well, I think it was in my blood. Right back with my Great-Grandfathers and Grandfathers, they were all interested in that sort of thing.
AW So you can always remember as a child, going to the show?
AW When you first became involved in the Maleny Show Society, in what capacity was that?
I was a Steward in the Fruit Section.
AW And what is a Steward’s role?
Oh well, you have got to take delivery of all the exhibits. They have tickets for each entry and they have got to be put on beside the entries, or sometimes tied on. It depends what the entry is. Then they are judged, you have to write the winner’s names up in the book.
AW Now, of course in the early days, the Fruit Section was always one of the first places people went, because doing the fruit display was a thing of great art, I understand.
We didn’t have a lot of that thing here, we only had the individual exhibits mostly. Of course with these Districts Exhibits, there is a lot that goes into it.
AW I have seen a few photographs of ones that Sir Francis Nicklin had done.
We did have smaller District Exhibits years ago. But that was before my time.
AW What sort of fruit did you have?
It was mainly citrus. There were others, you have passionfruit and perhaps, custard apples or a few other fruits. Oh, you would have pineapples.
AW And how would they be judged?
Oh well, they always cut them.
AW And taste them?
I don’t know, they didn’t actually eat it, they just cut them. Because sometimes you can get a pineapple and it looks very good on the outside and you cut it and it’s got a black centre. Same with citrus, you can get a good juicy lemon or orange, and you can get others that haven’t got much juice, at all. I didn’t get a look at them this
year, but over the years a lot of the fruit and that haven’t been cut. I don’t know how they can judge them without cutting them.
AW You used to have some pretty famous judges in the old days at the Show too, I understand?
Oh, Frank Nicklin judged. I don’t think he did it before the War, but after the War he always judged the Fruit Section. For years and years he judged the Fruit Section.
AW He was originally from a fruit farming family, wasn’t he?
Oh yes. He had a fruit farm in Palmwoods.
AW So he would be judging while he was still Premier, was he?
Oh yes, yes.
AW So with the Maleny Show Society, why did they make you an Honourary Life Member?
They usually give that for the work done by any particular member over a number of years.
AW So what sort of work did you do for the Show Society?
Well I was on the Committee, I went on the Committee about 1936. I always did a fair bit of work towards the preparation for the Show and of the ground.
AW Have been continuously involved with the Show since 1936?
AW Are there any particular shows that stand out in you memory as very good shows?
Well, I suppose the last one has been one of the best, but the exhibits in the Pavillion, I don’t think have been as good as they have been in the past.
AW So why do you think it was one of the best?
Well, it was definitely the best as far as cattle were concerned. We have never had as many cattle on the Showground, nowhere near.
AW Is that beef cattle or dairy cattle?
Well, dairy cattle, they say it was the most that has ever been there and of course the Beef Cattle, I think this is the fourth year, we have had Stud Beef Cattle exhibited and I think it would be the third for Fat Cattle. Well the entries keep increasing each year.
AW So, there is a resurgence of interest in the good old fashion rural show?
I would say we would have had four hundred and fifty cattle on the ground this year.
AW In the old days, was it mainly a rural show, as in showing of cattle, showing horse jumping and that sort of thing?
Yes, well there wasn’t any other entertainment at the show.
AW So, you didn’t have sideshow alley?
Would have had sideshow alley, I suppose. They wouldn’t have had it at the first show, because in that photo there are no sideshows. But, over the last fifty years they would have had sideshows. But, over the last fifty years they would have had sideshows.
AW So, when was the first show?
First Show was in April, 1923.
AW When was the first show you actually went to?
AW Now, you were telling me that the show was abandoned a few times.
The show was abandoned during the Depression. The 1933, 1934 and 1935 shows were abandoned.
AW Why was that?
Oh, because they were uneconomic. The condition of the country.
AW What no money for prizes or dairy farmers just didn’t have the time?
Not only that, they were people that didn’t have the money to go and spend at shows.
AW And have there been any other shows abandoned over the period?
The Show started again in 1936 to 1939.
AW That was when you were first on the committee in1936?
Yes. And then of course the War came and the shows were abandoned then. Didn’t have another show until1949, there were meetings held to discuss whether they would hold a Show, before that, but they decided not to.
AW A lot of the men would have been away at War too?
A lot of them, this was after the War was over. They never considered starting it, while the War was on. After the War was over they did have meetings to consider
having another Show, but they decided not to.
AW 1949 you said you started showing Illawarra Shorthorns, now is that you personally?
AW Now what section would you have shown them in?
The Illawarra section.
AW So there was a special section started?
No. It was there all the time, in fact, I think there have been Illawarra cattle at every Maleny Show and that is the only breed that have exhibited at every show.
AW So you started showing cattle then?
Yes. I started a stud in the mid forties.
AW When you say starting a stud; what does that mean?
Well, you start with purebred registered cattle.
AW And what, you hire them out for siring fees?
Oh no, we don’t do that. You see I bought four heifer calves actually, and a bull, that is how I started from a stud herd, you see.
AW Why a stud herd?
They are the only cattle that can be exhibited at a Show. Well, I don’t know how the cattle would finish up if you just went on breeding anything, crosses and all that sort of thing. The old timers always say, the first cross of any breed are the best. After that you don’t know what you are going to get.
AW So, dairymen would quite often cross breed to try and get good milk production or good cream production?
A lot of the herds years ago, they used to have all colours in them. All different breeds.
AW Is there a genetic throwback?
Sometimes there is. I was just interested in the stud cattle. I mean a lot of people don’t have them. But that is mainly where they get their bulls from, from the stud breeders.
AW So you would sell your bull calves?
Yes. Bull calves, of course heifers too, you sold.
AW How did you go with your cattle showing in the show?
I was never one of the top exhibitors, I used to win some of the good prizes.
AW I notice that you have got a big box of ribbons there.
I burnt a lot. A lot of them, those felt ribbons, moths got into them. I burnt a lot of them.
AW So what is the best award any of your cattle has ever won?
When I started showing, my ambition was to win the Butter Fat Competition. And in 1957 I broke the ground record with a cow.
AW What was the breed?
It was an Illawarra cow. An Illawarra cow had held it for twenty six years. Anyhow, my cow broke the record in 1957, so I had achieved my ambition. Well I had won it before that, but I didn’t break the record. Then that record was broken in 1961. Then I think that was held until another cow of mine broke that in 1974. She still holds the record.
AW What makes a cow produce higher butterfat content than others?
It has got to do with the breeding and feeding. Of course it is not always the butterfat percent that wins these prizes, it is the whole amount of butterfat that she produces. You could have a jersey cow tested 6, say, and gave, say 40 pound of milk. You could have an Illawarra cow give sixty pound of milk and tested four. That would be the same amount of butter.
Tape 2/Side A
(Talking about Real Estate Development in the Maleny area)
AW So it was as early as the mid 1960s, early 1970s that most dairy farmers were aware of the cost of land and the need to get bigger farms for their herds.
That would have been in around about 1973. Because some of them did buy their neighbours out.
AW So do you think there is enough land put aside for farming in Maleny today?
I think it was a shame that the land sub-division ever started, because it was very good dairying district. The land is very good here for dairying. I was never one of the top exhibitors, I used to win some of the good prizes. But there hasn’t been any dairy farms sold up or gone out of dairying for some years now, up in Maleny. I doubt whether there will be, because there are still plenty of vacant blocks in the farms that have been cut up. Still a lot of land to be sold. A lot of it has been sold to speculators, out to make a dollar.
AW What do you feel about that?
Well, I think it’s a shame that it ever happened. I think perhaps the factory might have been still going, if this hadn’t happened. I think the farmers that are left here now will stay on, I can’t see too many more farms going, not for many years.
AW So we are running on the minimum number of dairy farms at the moment?
Perhaps in another thirty years, could be, I don’t know. But they have got to get their products from somewhere. I read in the paper some years ago, where they said by the year 2020, they would be bulldozing houses down in the Maleny district to grow food to feed the 200,000 people on the Sunshine Coast.
AW Who predicted that?
I don’t know who it was. I remember it being in the newspaper.
AW Do you think that is a possibility?
Hard to say. I mean, if you had said, thirty years ago, that what has happened in the last ten years would have happened; well we wouldn’t have believed you!
AW So, if I told you thirty years ago that the Co-op was going to shut and most of the dairy farms would be sold off, you wouldn’t believe me?
No. There are not a lot of farms around here that even the descendants of farmers that were that were here in 1926 that are still running the farms. There are a few, of course. There’s the Hankinsons, they are the only two dairies on the Maleny/Landsborough Road now. There used to be about 28 dairies on that road, now there are only two!
AW Of course the herds are much larger than they used to be.
Yes, they are larger. Of course they have gone in for improved pastures and more fertilising too, which has helped. They have been able to run more cattle per acre.
AW Do you think all these new people moving to the area, buying their little one acre blocks, on what was once dairying land, realise how much that land is actually worth for food production?
I don’t think so, because some of those ones that came early, are trying to stop development now. They are the ones that are really protesting here against some of the things that are proposed, restaurants and that sort of thing. It is mostly those that
are blocking them. They moved here and they are living on top of where the cows used to sleep, yet they like to look out and see the cattle grazing over the pastures.
AW So you feel it is a bit ironic, that here are the people that were the beginning of the sub-division and development era?
Yes. They moved here and they want to stop others. I mean, when one industry goes out you have got to have something else to take its place. The dairying hasn’t completely gone out and I don’t think it will, but it has gone back to a certain extent. Talk is that, the main industry in Queensland now they reckon is Tourism. To attract tourists you have to have the facilities to attract them.
AW Do you think Maleny has got the potential as a tourist destination?
I think so, there’s a lot of buses coming up here. I just don’t know how this Maleny Coach House is going, but I should think they are doing pretty well. There has been four buses pulled up there at the one time. The other day I went to Landsborough and in just those few minutes that I take to go down there, I met four buses coming up.
AW I was surprised when I drove past this morning. I looked at the Coach House as I drove in, and it was full. And that has only been completed for the last six months.
On Monday when I went into Maleny, there were five cars at the motel. (Logger’s Reef Motel). That’s a bit unusual for that time of the week. Weekends you often see them there.
AW It is really only in the last ten years though, that Maleny has had the facilities for tourists, isn’t it?
AW Ten years ago there was no caravan park, there was no motel.
I don’t know what they have done towards the caravan park there in Maleny. Up off Macadamia Drive. I know they bought a house there for a Manager’s Residence, the road goes in through this block. It’s a big block, the road is going in past the house to the caravan park.
AW There is Sunrise Caravan Park also, at Bald Knob. That has only been there in the last five years. So it has changed a lot, even though there may not be as many businesses in the town as there were, say in the hey day of the 1950s.
Of course we had two bakeries here at one time, of course all these big bakeries are swallowing all these small ones up.
AW I have been told about the boom time of the fifties in Maleny, so why was it called the boom time?
Well, I don’t really know. I wouldn’t say that was more the boom time, I don’t know.
Probably at the time we had four grocery shops here.
AW Who were they?
Well, there was Waddell’s, there was Tytherleigh and Freeman, and Euctice’s I think.
AW And two bakery shops you said?
We had two bakeries, we had two butchers. Of course we’ve still got the two butchers. We had two blacksmiths, now we have none.
AW Where abouts were the blacksmiths?
You know where Maleny Tyres are, in there. He was originally down near the other end of Tesch Park there that is where he started. Then the other one was around, you go around past Tesch Park, around that first bend, and there was another blacksmith shop there on the right.
AW What sort of things would blacksmiths be making in the 1950s?
Well, see they used to have a lot of horseshoeing to do. There was always other things that had to be done. There’d be welding to do, they had to do up plough shears and all that sort of thing.
AW So there was still a lot of cultivation a lot going on in Maleny?
There was never a lot of cultivation in Maleny. Way back, years ago, the main cultivation was cow cane, a lot of them grew cow cane.
AW For fodder?
Fodder, yes. There was a bit of oats grown, but there’s been more oats grown in Maleny over the last ten or twenty years, than there was before that. I think perhaps some of the early years they might have grown a bit more.
AW So when you first came to Maleny, for example, did you have a telephone service?
Not when we first came, we didn’t have it.
AW Did other people in the town?
Oh yes, they had dit. I have just forgotten when the telephones started. I think one of the first phones went into Tytherleigh’s that is where Supa Valu is now. I think it was about 1927. It was probably, 1927 – 1928, that we got the phone.
AW Out here at Mary Cairncross?
Yes, up there at the farm.
AW What about street lighting?
Street lighting would have come in 1939, when the electricity came to Maleny.
AW I have seen a photograph with an old street lamp in Maple Street.
Yes, they did have pots with lights on, at one time.
AW How ere they run?
Well, I’m not too sure. I don’t know whether they were carbide lights or whether they were just kerosene ones. Of course the old horse-drawn days, with sulkies and buggies, they used to have lights on them too. Some of them had candles in them.
AW Wouldn’t they go out?
Oh no, they were enclosed.
AW A candle wouldn’t give you much light.
No, it would not. I have seen them, we should have a couple of sulky lights up there in the shed, I think. I don’t think they were ever thrown away.
AW Did people go out often at night in their sulkies and on horseback?
Yes, they used to go out. I used to ride a horse or walk into town to go to dances and the pictures, or that. I’d ride a horse for miles.
AW In all weather?
Well, I have gone out in some pretty wet weather, I used to have an overcoat and go out.
AW When you walked to town, would you have a lamp?
No, I’d have a torch. Of course hurricane lanterns, were used a lot too. I think probably when we first came here, we had hurricane lanterns that we used if we went out at night. Even at night with these foggy nights or on a dark night, it is not too easy to see, even on a bitumen road.
AW Was there a policeman when you first moved to Maleny?
No, we never had a policeman stationed up here. During the 1950s, I should think it would have been. Used to be a policeman come up from Landsborough every Saturday. That’s when I got my driver’s licence.
AW So how would you got about getting your driver’s licence?
I think that a chap named Williams was the first Policeman stationed here. You wouldn’t know Mrs Ian Porter, would you?
AW I don’t know her, but I know of her.
I’ll have to think of her first name, well, he was her father.
AW So was there much crime in the town, pre Police Station?
Oh no. I don’t think there was much at all, really.
AW So, the community just tool care of themselves?
AW Why did they send a Policeman here in the first place?
There is a lot of office work in a Police Station, if you don’t have it here, you have to go somewhere else. Well, you said criminals, I mean, people could break the law and do things they shouldn’t be doing. But you couldn’t really call them a criminal, but you need Police around the place to keep order a bit. Because with Policemen around they are a bit more careful.
AW Back to the 1950s, when you were saying there were two bakeries and there was three, or four grocery stores. Maleny had a lot of shops in the town, was it still predominately a dairy industry area?
Yes, there was only ever a few fruit farms, they were out at the top of Walker’s Hill.
AW What sort of fruit were they growing?
Mostly pineapples, oranges and mandarins. Also some Queensland nuts, macadamia nuts.
AW When did the macadamia nut farm, the C.S.R. farm start up?
It was the early sixties, when they planted the nuts, because they lost hundreds of trees in the big frost we had in 1964. That frost, it went right from up here, down into N.S.W. all that area was frosted that day. Wednesday of Exhibition week, 1964.
AW Was the nut farm already in existence up here?
It was in existence and they had planted the young trees. It doesn’t affect the older trees. But they had so many of these young ones just planted, but they were killed. That would have been about the time, it wouldn’t have been in production then.
AW So you have been dairy farming, since 1936 on?
Yes, well I’ve milked a lot of cows when we were in Eumundi. I remember coming home from school one day and I milked twenty eight cows. Some of the family were away.
AW How long did it take to milk just one cow by hand?
Well, it depends on the cows a lot and it depends on what stage they are in their lactation. If you’ve got a cow that is giving a lot of milk, naturally it takes longer than a cow that is not giving much. But going through the whole herd, when I WAS AT north Maleny, when I was milking there by hand, I’d take around three hours to do just over about thirty six cows, well it might take just a little bit longer. Be about ten to twelve an hour, I would do.
AW You had bought your father’s farm? Is that right? When did you buy that?
AW So you were farming, just this Mountain View Road farm?
AW Now, you bought another farm, you were telling me, down Bridge Creek in the 1960s?
Yes, well that would have been about twenty four years ago, since we bought that.
AW Did you buy that for another place to put cattle?
Yes, we used that for a dry run.
AW When you say dry run, what does that mean?
When you run dry cows and heifers.
AW To fatten them up?
Well, they are out there spelling you see. Of course your heifers are growing, you don’t milk a cow all the time. Yu milk it for so long and just dry her off and give here a spell before she calves again, and comes into lactation.
AW You were telling me also that down at that property, you used to have boy scouts that used to go down and use the property?
Boy’s Brigade used to come there to camp.
AW Did you organise that?
No. They organised it all themselves, there was a bit of a house down there, the original house got burnt down and they rebuilt this other one, that is before we bought it. Just before that, they used to come down there too.
AW Whose property was that that you bought?
Well, it belonged to Siddon’s, old man Siddon. The Boys Brigade used to camp down there when the was there, then of course after we bought it, they asked permission to still come and we let them go into the house, because it wasn’t being used. They bought a bit of furniture up and put it in the house there and they used to leave some of their tinned foods from one camp to the other, they used to just leave it in the house. I remember we went down there one day and somebody had been in there and helped themselves. Left their dirty plates on the table.
AW When was that? In the late 1960s.
Yes that would have been in the sixties or early seventies probably.
AW Do you think it was children from the area or just somebody passing through?
Well, I don’t know who it would have been. I have no idea. But some of the bikies used to go in there.
AW Were there Bikies in Maleny?
Yes, they would go in there, they would leave the gates open. One day they left the gate open and….
AW And all your cows got out.
Yes. Got a ring from some of the neighbours down there to tell us our cows were out on the road.
AW So, there was a bikie club in Maleny?
Not in Maleny. No, no they came from elsewhere, like they do today. Of course, that was in the seventies. We didn’t sell it until 1978.
Of course by that stage, Jill Jordan and her husband had bought Frog’s Hollow at the end.
Yes. Jill had the hut then.
AW I am interested on the alternative community side, of how the local farmers reacted to these new people. Are the alternative life-stylers the sort of people you referred to, that are now protesting against the subdivision? Or was it the people that came in the later 1970’.
Oh, I don’t think there was any general reaction really. I mean, a lot of us of course thought it was a pity it had happened.
AW Why’s that?
Oh well, it was such good dairying land.
Tape 2/Side B
AW The alternative movement is a new change for Maleny?
Oh yes, there has definitely been a change, because I think some of these ones that have come here, they must have a bit of money too. Because I remember when the Credit Union started, there was as much money invested in one day here, as there was in twelve months, in Warwick. I never heard any figures, but I think it was mostly the new ones that have been investing money in it.
AW Were the farmers threatened at all when the alternative life-stylers came in the early 1970s to practice their ideals and self sufficiency?
I don’t think they were threatened, but a lot of them were out in remote areas, they used to like to get away, down away as far as Conondale and that area. You know the main part of the town and that, they weren’t around there. They used to get out onto these farms. Down at Conondale there, they have got Crystal Waters. I know none of the people from there at all. I don’t know anything about them personally. I’ve only just heard a bit about them.
AW Maleny has put itself on the map in recent times. One, for the Maple Street Co-Operative, which is a food Co-Operative. Which is following on the same idea as the Butter Co-Op., by giving things back to its shareholders.
AW And then there has been a lot of publicity about the Maleny and District Community Credit Union.
Of course they seem to be lending quite a bit of money out too. Most of the farmers around the district, I don’t think they have got any money to invest much. Because most of their money is invested in the land.
AW Is there distinctive division between farmers and new comers?
I think they are mixing in pretty well, a lot of the people. You don’t get to know the people as much these days as we did then, because most of the new ones that came to the district were farmers. They were the sort to of people you met, you know at meetings and one thing and another. There were never a lot of new comers, if you were in town one day and these people were there, well you would meet them.
These days there are so many new faces, you just don’t meet them all, even around this area here. I have met most of them but you might see them that once and you don’t see them again.
AW So, it is totally different to the old days?
See I could see some of these people in Maleny and I wouldn’t know who they were. There’s a few that I have never met. Where all these people are now, years ago there would only be two families there, see? You get about forty or fifty houses around there. (With regards to neighbours on Mountain View Road)
AW Also in the old days, your family name meant that you belonged to a certain area, didn’t it? Like you would heart that that was a Burnett ort that was a Cooke and you would think, right they must be related to so and so.
Yes. Well there’s people coming here with the same name. You see there is Gibsons, there is at least two other Gibson families here now. Of course they were no relations of the original Gibsons.
AW What direction do you think Maleny is going in?
Well, I would say in another twenty years, the population will be at least doubled. I think it will go ahead that way, because this electrification of the railway. I mean they are going to work in Brisbane now. Some of them are going by bus, come by train, some of them are going by car. The area between here and Brisbane, I think the population in that area is going to increase immensely in the next ten years.
AW So, we are going to become more urbanised?
Yes. I heard of somebody, they bought land at Landsborough, its only spec, they think they will make a bit out of it.
AW I heard that when the decision to electrify to Landsborough had gone through, the price has doubled down there.
No way would I have live at Landsborough, those places are too hot, I can’t stand the heat.
AW Let’s go back to the 1940s, beginning of World War Two, did you go into the Call Up?
No. My brother did. He left the farm and went in.
AW So, why didn’t you?
Well, I had a farm leased out at North Maleny at that time and then my brother went and I had to come back over and do work on the home farm as well.
AW So that was essential services?
It was essential services, really. You wee my Mother and Father, it was impossible for them to look after the farm.
AW It must have been an immense work load for those men that were left?
I did have a sister, still there, but she got married in1941. At that time, well that only left Mum and Dad there then, with the oranges you see. The orange orchard and that, they just couldn’t look after it all.
AW That is that four acres of citrus?
Yes, and then my brother tried to get leave to come home to help during the orange season and they wouldn’t give him any leave. They discharged him, the reckoned well, if there is work to do, it was his job to do it, and somebody had to feed the troops and population.
AW You were telling me that actually you made some money during the War selling the citrus to the Americans?
1943 that is when the prices went up. The Americans were out here. We got up to forty five shillings a case for them, so that was a lot of money in those days.
AW Did all the shops and houses in Maleny have to black out all their windows?
Yes, well we were supposed to only have one light on, I think, and we did have to black our windows too.
AW How did you black them out?
Just with paper.
AW Was the treat of the Japanese invasion taken seriously up here?
Oh yes. Because we had a local volunteer army.
AW Home defence core?
Yes. A lot of farmers, we were all in that.
AW And were you issued with rifles?
We were issued with rifles and we did training, we used to go to the range and shoot.
AW Whereabouts was the rifle range?
Went up past the hospital and down the road to, towards Bridge Creek.
AW So it’s down Palm Street somewhere?
Down that other road, not Palm Street, but down the other road towards BridgeCreek there. You just went down the orad towards Bridge Creek a little bit, just as the orad turns right, then down the hill. There is a hedge, a privet hedge.
AW Oh yes, and you went straight ahead?
We went straight ahead and down to the paddock down there.
AW I see. Redgen owns that now.
Lawley’s used to own it once, the Lawley family. Then Hopper owned it.
AW Was that an official rifle range?
Yes, we built the range down there. Conondale men were in it, all around the district right around and Bald Knob.
AW So before the War it was actually a rifle club?
No, they never had a rifle club there. It was only made during the War.
AW For the Home Defence Training.
AW What about ration tickets. Was it hard running a farm on ration tickets?
No, the only trouble that I had was when the wheat was rationed. For pig feed. But oh, no, we managed on the petrol ration tickets, because clothes were rationed, some of the food commodities too, I think.
AW Did the butter Co-Op still run?
AW So you still had to get your cream in?
AW So how did the cream carter get the petrol for example?
Of course, he would get it because it was an essential job, it had to be done. If he got short he would have been able top get extra petrol.
AW I have heard of people swapping ration tickets, like when people get married, they would all swap each other butter tickets and fabric tickets and stuff like that.
Oh yes, if anybody was short, perhaps somebody wouldn’t use them all on some particular thing and they would swap around with other people who used more of one thing than the other people would. I still had petrol ration tickets left, in fact I gave two or three down to that Museum down in Landsborough.
AW So you had to use your ration ticket and also pay the current price for the commodity?
AW Can you remember when the Japanese sub was sunk?
Oh yes. I remember those things, but I can’t remember details about them.
AW What about when the Hospital Shop was sunk off Cape Moreton, were the people in the town shocked to hear that?
Yes, I think everybody was really. That was a Centaur was it?
My sister at Ipswich Hospital had something to do with that. Or some fund I think they had, I know she was involved in it.
AW So you never really took it seriously that the Japanese were going to invade until that ship was torpedoed?
Yes, offcourse, you never just really knew what had happened because they’d been up north, that is where they would have started, landed, I guess up in the north. It was a worrying time just the same.
AW But life went on in the country?
Oh yes, it had to go on.
AW I read somewhere that the hospital had shut, due to lack of staff, do you remember that?
I don’t think it actually shut down, I don’t remember that.
AW Maybe they just had a skeleton staff there.
Dorothy was born in there in 1940 and had another one in 1942 and 1944. They were all born in the hospital there.
AW It is actually 1945, December 1945, it said in the newspaper but that is just by the newspaper’s report.
Is there anything else in the history of Maleny that you think we should talk about? Something that is lost, customs that we no longer follow. You go to these days, the dress is a lot different to what it was.
AW So, fashion has changed?
Yes, fashions and, well nobody would ever go to a ball without at least a suit on, well nearly all in suits. If they didn’t have a suit they always had a tie on. But a lot of them wore dinner suits. The ones that didn’t have dinner suits, most of them had dark suits, you know blue serge or something like that. I never had a dinner suit, I always wore a blue serge suit, black bow tie and you would wear white gloves. Because working on farms, especially anybody in bananas. You know, your hands get dirty and when you perspire, it brings that dirt out. That is why we wore gloves, so we wouldn’t mark the girl’s dresses. You would have a hand on the girl’s shoulder, so nearly everybody wore white gloves, especially farmers.
AW Do you think modern balls these days, when young men go and they are not dressed in a suit, do you think they are being slovenly at all?
I think the girls always go nicely dressed. I don’t think it is fair to the girls, I don’t know what they think of it, I have never asked them. But at our Show Ball, where we have the Princesses, some years ago they got very slack in their dress and I brought it up at the Show meeting.
AW Who, the girls got slack in their dress?
No, the boys. Oh, they would be in thongs or anything, you know. Just an open shirt and anything. Those sort of things, the girls, they go to quite an expense with their dresses and they always look so nice and then to see their partners dressed like that, I thought it was terrible. Anyway, I brought it up at the meeting and the next year when the notices went out to all the organisations about the Princess Competition, this was mentioned in it. (That they would like to see the girl’s partners better dressed.) Well, there this year at our Show Ball they were all very well dressed, I thought. I think it was probably the best we have had for a long time. A lot of them had suits, a lot of them had bowties. You know. Of course a dark suit and a bow tie always looks nice, but my idea wasn’t for them to go that far, but jut if they only had a, well, even only a sports coat and tie on.
AW So, it looks neater?
Looks neater, yes.
AW So, apart from the obvious physical changes in the district, how have we as people have changed?
Of course the New Years Eve Ball was always a big event in Maleny. Of course the Show Ball was too.
But New Years Eve Ball, you see, they would all be out on New Years Eve and we would have a big crowd. The C.W.A. used to always run the New Years Eve Ball. Of course, when midnight came they used to sing Auld Lang Syne. Of course even after cars and that came, even after the War, that was still a popular thing, but I don’t know, it changed and they seem to want to go somewhere else now. Of course I think more young people have cars of their own. When cars really started to come into the district, well, it was the older ones, their parents that had the cars, but later on it would be two cars in the family and of course there was always a car for them to go somewhere else.
AW So, it really started changing in the fifties?
Well, it did a bit like that, 1950s and 1960s. They seemed to leave the district and go somewhere else.
AW So the young people were leaving?
You know they’d go to a dance somewhere else. If they thought a dance was better somewhere else, well that is where they would go. That was always a very popular night. Of course Christmas Eve was always a big night too. It still is I suppose.
AW They still have the carnival in Maleny?
We used to see more drunks around Christmas Eve, than you do these days.
AW Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
I don’t know. I have never seen drunk people around the streets much at all, not these days. You just don’t seem to see them.
AW What does that mean to you?
Of course one thing about it, if they get caught driving, or whether they just go straight home, but Christmas Eve, that was where you used to see them in the streets. But I haven’t seen drunks in the streets like that for many, many years.
AW So there hasn’t been as many merry makers?
See, they might be just, their cobbers might take them straight home, instead of rambling up the street. They go home in cars, you see, well those days, a lot of them didn’t have cars to go in.
AW What about the community spirit, do you think there is still a strong community spirit within the township?
Well, I think there is and think it was very marked this year at the Show (1987). I saw men helping at the Show, up in their sixties and seventies, that I have never seen help at the Show before.
This was preparing before the Show. I think they realised that there was a lot of work to be done to get that pavilion in order for the Show, a lot of cleaning up to be done and painting and they just came along to help and I think it was wonderful the way the people did come.
AW So it is a credit to the community?
And help with this year’s preparation for the Show.
AW I know in the old days, a lot of people used to say, it is a reflection of the community, of their social events and especially the local rural Show.
Of course I think these days, a lot of young people, they want to be paid for work they do. Whereas, helping for organisations and that, then people never thought of getting paid for it. I remember here, some years ago, at the Community Centre, some cleaning up had to be done and they thought they were going to get paid for it. There has got to be a lot of voluntary work, in especially small country places, otherwise you wouldn’t have anything. Even Nambour, that is a much bigger place, I read in the paper the other day where they had a hundred and twenty voluntary workers there before the Show. You have got to have voluntary workers to get anywhere.
End of Interview
Name: Evan Evans
Maiden Name: N/A
Date of Birth: 2nd February 1915
Place of Birth: North Maleny
Mother’s Name: Gray
Mother’s Date of Birth:
Father’s Name: Evans
Father’s Date of Birth:
Father’s Occupation: Dairy Farmer
Date of Marriage: November 1939
Place of Marriage: Maleny
Name of Spouse: Laura Wiley
Occupation of Spouse:
Names and Birth Dates of Children:
Locality (ies) in which interviewee grew up: Eumundi, Maleny
Names of Educational Institutions attended: Eumundi State School, Maleny State School
Interviewer: Amanda G Wilson
Date of Interview: 17th June 1987
No. of tapes recorded: Two