Interview with: Frank Wise
Date of Interview: 30 January 1985
Interviewer: Susan Brinnard
Place of Interview: Buderim
Frank's family grew bananas and coffee on the family farm. Frank recalls the opening of the Buderim Tram and visitors from Buderim. He talks about his bee keeping, social life in Buderim and the depression years.
Images and documents about Frank Wise in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image credit: Buderim Mountain State School pupils and teacher, 1906. (Frank is indicated by the white dot.)
Frank Wise oral history [MP3 54MB]
SB: Alright, when did you come to Buderim?
FW: I was born in 1901.
SB: Right and
FW: I was born in Brisbane in nineteen hundred and one. My parents came here about 1900. Grandfather and Grandmother and Great Grandfather was here. They come from, course in the early days they came from England. Grandfather he came from Kent, landed down at Port Macquarie and he was gold mining at Araluen and then they came to Gympie in 1893 when it was flooded. The Mary Street floods, you know. Went right up the Mary Street
FW: and it went right up Abalonie Row. In 1900 they come here and bought this place. This place was going long time before they bought it. A man named Riebe come from Hungary pioneered it.
SB: Oh yeah, right
FW: How he found his way I don’t know. Incredible isn’t it?
SB: What was he, what was growing on it then?
FW: Oh, they had banana’s, growing bananas. Riebe down here grew 72000 dozen one year. They used to send them to Mooloolaba. They had a big store there, and they’d send them by boat to Brisbane.
FW: That’s the way they used to send them. Sometimes they couldn’t, the boats couldn’t go in or out and all the bananas would go rotten. They used to have a big shingle roof shed down there.
SB: Did they used to have trouble crossing the bar down there?
FW: Oh well, yeah, that was the trouble, yeah. That’s how, where, that’s how Riebe come to Brisbane by sailing boat from Hungary. Then he came from Brisbane up here to Maroochydore, then he come from Maroochydore to Eudlo Creek. He come up and George Askin and Tom Atkinson they landed. They come from England, early days. That place (Riebe’s) surveyed in 1870. Riebe built that old house down there.
SB: So when your parents took over, did they keep growing bananas?
FW: Yeah, bananas and coffee,
FW: Yeah, the machines are still down there. Riebe had all the machines, even to take the white skin off, and the silver skin. Then it come to the time that they was cooking the lot. Now they’ve discovered that the brown skin and the white skin spoil the flavours. They’ve got a machine to take the silver and the white skin off and just roast the bean.
SB: Right. And did you used to crush the bean and roast the bean here?
FW: Yeah, they used to make their own coffee. Then they used to send away to Brisbane to Harper, man named Harper used to buy all the coffee from Buderim. Harper, five pence a pound those days.
SB: And how did they, how did they transport the coffee to Brisbane?
FW: Oh, the railway was going then. See, the early part there was no railway. And then they built it to Landsborough and they used to send to Landsborough then. Then they built it up to Gympie. They used to take it to Woombye by cart and horse, wagons really. A wagon and four horses. Some had a big cart and three horses. We used to take it in and put it on the railroad there.
SB: When did the railroad go through?
FW: Oh well, the railway, you’ve got me beat just for the moment. It a, Mother used to live in Gympie, at One Mile there. Father used to go by coach to Brisbane, those days before the railroad, but of course, when you’re young, they tell you these things and you forget, you know. I know Mother sent one of the aunties on the first train that went to Gympie. That’s a while ago you know. But they used to send bananas to Brisbane, to sell them for penny and tuppence a dozen. I don’t know what they made out of them though. Even in Father’s day they used to sell them and if they got threepence a dozen they thought they’d made a lot of money. I don’t know what, of course, everything was cheap those days. A bag of flour you’d, A 150 [pound] bag of flour you’d get for about 7/6 or something like that, a pair of boots…..
SB: And did they used to use a bullock dray through Buderim?
FW: Oh yes, they used to pull all the timber to the mill up here. There was five bullock wagon teams. Twenty-two bullocks in a team, in the early days. Yes it
SB: Well, it’s quite a steep road for the bullocks to come up isn’t it?
FW: Oh yes,yes, yes. Those twenty-two bullocks they’d cart all the good timber in the early days, stringy bark. I remember when they brought the engine up here first before 14-18 [World War I]. Nomnus brought it up. Just one of these steam engines you know that run a belt, you know. Nomnus brought them to Blackbutt. ‘Cause he went away to the ‘14-18 war and got, wasn’t very long in the trench and got hit in the elbow and he come back. He always had a bad arm. Course he’s gone now. Yes it, then they
SB: Were there ever any, were there ever any accidents on the, on the roads?
FW: Not that I know, no. No, no. The Price Jones and George Burrows used to get to Woombye. That hotel was there, when I was a small boy, and it’s still in the same place. They used to get drunk sometimes. You’d find them coming along the road, laying in the bottom of their cart, coming home. The horses knew the way. Fielding up here used to send a load away every day of the week bar Fridays, you know. Four loads. Price Jones used to cart a load of fruit. Tremendous lot of fruit grown up here in the early days.
SB: What fruit was grown?
FW: Bananas and oranges, coffee.
SB: Well they don’t grow oranges anymore do they?
FW: No, no oranges in Buderim. Buderim produced a lot [of oranges]. Well they put a tram up here. And that tram used to run every day, some days twice, two trips a day to cart oranges and bananas away. Cucumbers they grow a lot of cucumbers, Lindsay grew cucumbers. Different things. They started growing peanuts, and one thing and another.
SB: Why did they stop growing coffee?
FW: Oh well, they went in for other things you know you grow coffee for five pence pound. Went in for other things, you know.
SB: Was it very good quality, the coffee?
FW: It was the best coffee in the world. Took a prize in London, years ago. Burnett’s sent some over there and it took first prize. It was come from Arabia – Albino Coffee. One of the best coffees in the world. Best flavoured coffees. Course they grow a lot up in New Guinea now. This was all coffee there. Nearly everybody, Burnetts and everyone had coffee. That machine down there. Riebe had one that only done it on one side, what we call… pulp it. Put the coffee in it. Skins used to go one way and the beans’d go the other way. In nineteen-o, when Jones come along he said why not do it one side, do it on both sides.
SB: Pulp it on both sides?
FW: Yeah, yeah, dump a, you put a bin on top and you kept putting the berries in, turn the handle, and the skins’d go down and the beans would go out, see.
FW: There’s two beans in every, every pod. So they sent down to Ipswich there, and they got them made. There’s two machines there. We’ve got three machines here. It improved on Riebe’s machine but whether Riebe got it in the earlier days, I don’t know. But they made them at Ipswich and they’ve been in the weather for, oh how many, seventy odd years, and not rusted – made of iron.
SB: They don’t make things like that
FW: Down on the farm Peter’s got the original one down on the farm there. [Peter Wise’s farm on Wise Road Maroochydore] and there’s two old machines here. Then Burnett’s, I think Jones sold them at twelve pound ten a machine, you know. And Burnett reckons he was making too much money out of it. So they sent down to Ipswich and got some made. But they’ve got, they’ve got no name on it. Jones, Jones put his name on it but he shouldn’t have because he only improved on it eventually, he didn’t invent it. But if you go down that machine down and see ‘Price Jones Buderim’ in big iron letters on the side. But these other ones that Burnett got made, they, they’ve got no name on them. He reckons they reckoned there’s no making too much out of twelve pound ten, too much profits.
SB: Twelve band
FW: Twelve pound ten
SB: Twelve band ten
FW: Yeah, twelve, twelve pounds, pounds in those days
SB: Right, twelve pound ten
FW: Yeah, that’s money, old money.
FW: Twelve pound, ten shillings
SB: Yeah, that’s how much
FW: Of course it’s in dollars now
SB: And they were making that
FW: Yeah that’s what they charged for it, and he reckons, Burnett’s reckoned they were making too much profit so they
SB: Right, oh I see
FW: Went to Ipswich and got them made themselves
SB: I see, yes, right
FW: Well, just the same in the early days there were two sugar mills up here you know. ‘Round Mill Road.
SB: Right and they used to grow sugar on Buderim?
FW: Oh, yes. I was just talking to Frank Fielding yesterday, right there where they’ve got all that settlement there, he reckons they grew tremendous cane. Mill Road. That’s how Sugar Road gets it’s name down here. They used to cart the sugar down in drays right down to Cotton Tree. There used to be six foot of water there, and now its all land. Incredible isn’t it. That’s how they got, yeah, just talking to him yesterday and he said it was all, oh lovely cane. Course it’s all getting cut up now. That’s the last bit that’s it getting cut up here now.
SB: And did they grow ginger? When did they start growing ginger?
FW: They started ginger… I just can’t remember when they started ginger. Dad started there in the old blacksmith’s shop, opposite where I showed you that picture there.
SB: Opposite the school?
FW: Yeah, opposite where we were We started growing ginger. Course it grew and grew, you know, and now they’be gone up to Yandina. A sorry day for Buderim. Course the lads opened a ginger shop up here.
SB: What labour did they use in the fields? Were there enough people here?
FW: The South Sea Islanders used to do all the work. They done all the chipping, cutting the bananas and picking the oranges.
SB: Where did they live?
FW: They had huts for them and sheds for them.
SB: How come some were allowed to stay?
FW: I don’t know. They sent most of them back, you know. They shouldn’t have, never sent them back poor fellows. They were only young fellows when they took them from over there. When they sent them back they wouldn’t know where they were going.
SB: Did they want to go back?
FW: No. they didn’t want to, but most of them, al were sent back. Some escaped. I don’t know how they did it. Like Eggmolesse over here, Wimbus they were here, Charlie Booka they were left. How come to be I cant remember. I remember the time when I was a small boy and they were mushing them up to send them back. We had one fellow working it down here for years, Billy Wowee used to be his name. On the place for years you know. He come from Wowee Island.
SB: They just worked for different farmers, did they?
FW: Fountain over there, (that’s where Footes is now) he had a lot working. I remember the time he reckoned they weren’t doing enough work. He was going to put a bullock bell around their necks. (LAUGHS) All the niggers were in an uproar, I didn’t know they could ring the bell – sit down and ring the bell. (LAUGHS)
SB: You can remember them being taken?
FW: Yes, I was only a small boy. Course, the aborigines were here too in my time, you know.
SB: Where were they living?
FW: They were here. Years ago when they used to fall a patch of scrub, they call rainforest now, up a come a crop of gooseberries. Made a lot of money out of…. Grow high, birds planted them. They would have the niggers and aboriginals picking the gooseberries at so much a pint. They used to sell them by the pint those days. Yes, I remember them being here, only a few of them in my time. Course they vanished.
SB: What happened to the aborigines?
FW: Oh, they shot them out.
SB: The different farmers around here?
FW: Yes, they called them vermin. It wasn’t very nice, I don’t reckon. This is their country you know. We took it from them. We’ve got a lot of stone axes here, stone axes and grinding pots of theirs. Oyster shells and everything there where they used to go out to the river and get them and bring them in the good water, off the creek, you know. Picking up stone axes all the time… for years.
SB: There weren’t any aboriginal children.
FW: There were some small ones here, yes.
SB: Did they go to school?
FW: No. I was only little myself. Mother used to call them Minya mias. Yes, we used to say, “Look out here come the Minya mias.” (LAUGHS)
SB: When were the last ones here, can you remember?
FW: I was only small when they were here.
SB: Did they have corroborees?
FW: Well, the corroboree grounds are about here. But they used to call this Quakers Pocket up here on top of this farm, Quakers Pocket. This man that had this place first, Riebe, he was a quaker. Out there on the plains, Charlie Chillie, he was an aborigine, he reckons it was their corroboree grounds there. Kippa Ring, you know. I don’t know if it’s right or not. But I’ve seen many of trees where they used to climb up and chop bee hives out. Right up in the trees you know. They would climb up and chop a hole and get the bee hives. Native bee, I think they used to be before the… Course the other bee was imported to Australia… the big bee, Italian bees. But the native bee I think he belongs to Australia, the little tiny black one. Two kinds – there’s one with white head and one with black one. They have their honey in little balls. Not like the other bees. But a real vinegar taste, I don’t know if you have ever seen them flying about. Little fellow, oh tiny fellow.
SB: Did they have vines or did they chop toe holes?
FW: Yes, they chopped them. They reckon their stone axes went blunt as soon as the white man come with their steel axes. Up the school we used to have a lot of spears and boomerangs. I don’t now what become of them at the school. In my days they had a collection up there. Who’s got them I don’t know. They should have been left there at the school. Different ones come along,… no value of course.
SB: Tell me a bit about Buderim School. How many children where there when….
FW: About thirty-six… a little bit more… more or less, you know. Me and my sister, we had to walk from here up to there every day. When I went to school first, I was about six. A long time back then since I walked in that gate. About seventy-seven years, the first time I walked in that gate up there.
SB: That’s a long time ago.
FW: Yes. I’m going on eighty-four now. The old school shingle roof place. I went to school and a man named Garsden was my school teacher. I remember him saying the first day I went to school I fell asleep. He took me over his place and give me dinner.
SB: What sort of games did you used to play?
FW: We used to play all sorts of games. What’s this game here? Play you stand up all in rings. I got a photo of it. Two and Threes, is it? Two and Threes.
SB: How do you play that?
FW: Well I just forget now. They don’t seem to ever play it now. I just forget how it goes. Then we learnt farming, first aid, singing, tennis. I played tennis on the court when I was going to school up there.
SB: The same court?
FW: Tops court. Yes Garsden was first and then a man named Bartlett come along. I put in my days with Bartlett. Some of those Camphor Laurels, you might see that there, I had to put them in when I was going to school. (There is a row of Camphor Laurels along the front fence of Buderim Primary School. EDITORS NOTE) The big Camphor Laurels.
SB: What sort of farming did you do?
FW: We had all kinds of bananas, all kind of pawpaws. Vegetables we used to grow. We had a little pump on the creek and used to pump one hundred gallons of water up. We used to have watering cans and water the vegetables to learn farming. Governor of Queensland and his wife come up one time. I remember Mrs Bartlett, the school teacher’s wife, picking strawberries and give them to her and the Governor. That was a long time. I think it was Andrew Fischer. He was a Member of Parliament. The Labour party was in power for a bout twenty –five or twenty –six years. I think he was the fellow that opened the tram up here. That day the tram was opened, they had a bit of a feed up here, in the old School of Arts. (Sir Matthew Nathan, Governor of Queensland opened the School of Arts in 1924. The tram was opened in 1915 by John Adamson, the Minister for Railways. EDITORS NOTE)
SB: Can you remember what they fed them?
FW: Oh, they would have a sit down meal. Mother used to work very hard to get money to build a hall in the first place. Then when the 1914-18 soldiers come back they give them a welcome home. I don’t know if they still have honour lists still up there.. the ones that come back. They worked hard. The hall they built up there, took about 1200 pounds. It was almost paid for when they put it up. Not the front part, the back of it. My mates, my two mates that went out west with me, they built that. They carted all them timber up from Woombye by tram. Johnny Kuskopf had a ton truck and he carted from the tram station up here. All the pine inside… it’s all pine.
SB: Johnny Kuskopf. Is he from Woombye?
FW: Yes, relations, cousins. Harry Kuskopf’s boy. There was a family of about eleven of them. Billy Kuskopf and Eddie Kuskopf went to school when I was going to school and Esra Kuskopf. They used to walk from right down there right up here. As years went on they were my mates and we were out west catching possums and catching wallabies and shooting kangaroos. Course, possums those days, were six pound to twelve pound a dozen, blue skin. See that photo I showed you there with that three hundred dozen. Six pound to twelve pound a dozen for skins. The blue possums were worth one pound a skin… ladies purse then they had open season and closed season. Now they have closed if for a long time.
SB: Did they make much money doing that than farming?
FW: Oh yes, we were catching wallabies, and getting a one pound a dozen. A pound was a pound in those days.
SB: That was in the 1920’s?
The Buderim Tram 1914-1935
SB: When did they open the tram line?
FW: I just cant think from memory. I remember the day I was there, but what day….
SB: Well, they went through the blue ribbon. They went up the hall and had a feed up there. Course when you’re young you don’t take that much notice. Had a procession, just like they did on Saturday. (Australia Day 1985) I remember Bartlett, our school teacher, he had an ambulance thing on wheels which you used to push. If anyone got sick you pushed it along with a cover over it. That’s the only was the ambulance had in those days. I remember Mrs Clayton… I remember him racing down the hill with this ambulance thing. He was there. He was the first aid school master.
SB: Had she fainted?
FW: Yes, the procession was too much for her. (LAUGHS)
SB: What was the tram like? How many carriages?
FW: Well they had a carriage and a guards van, and I think there were thirteen trucks, some box trucks and some timber trucks. They used to send a lot of timber away by rail from here to Brisbane. Bullockies used to cart it to the Mill. Nomnus had it. They used to put it on tram trucks and take it to Palmwoods and send it to Brisbane. They used to have one engine at the back. They had one Shay engine and one big chimney engine. One was American and one was German. They had one engine on the front and one engine on the back. All the people sitting in the carriage, and in the guards van, and in the trucks, with their legs hanging over the side. 1300 and they used to have a picnic up here. They used to boil the water for them. We used to get a lot down here, a lot of curios and one thing and another. Then course, the novelty wore off.
SB: What did they come down here to see?
FW: We had a lot of curios. All sorts of snakes, sell them a bit of honey, and walk around the place when it was in it’s prime down there. We used to get all the visitors from Buderim. 1300 people walked through that gate one year. Father kept the records. The only way you could get about was by boat or buggy or something. George Burrows had the waterwheel. That was another attraction. Chopping up his chaff by water power. They had a lot of mandarins down there too. They used to go down and get mandarins from George Burrows. He was a little Englishman.
SB: The waterwheel was quite a novelty?
FW: Prince Jones built it. Old man Jones built it. I’ve been in the bottom helping to put another post under it. There are a lot of photos of it about. Tremendous power. It use to drive the chaff cutter like billys. Course he had to gear it up, with a big rope going round the big wheel onto the other wheel and a belit like it, geared up. The trough used to be about that wide, carried the water over the wheel, and the wheel started. It used to be a wonderful thing for chopping his chaff up. He had to feed his horses to go to Woombye. He had a great big dray and three horses and they used to cart the bananas to Woombye. I don’t know what they ever got out of it. I was talking to Frank Fielding up here. 12/6 a hundred dozen to Woombye, that’s a 11/2 a dozen. Now you pay about ten cents a banana.
SB: Did you ever used to go down the beach for holidays?
FW: Methodist Church up here… when I was going to school and I remember the first day they put the stump into it. The first stump. Then as years got on I went to the Sunday School up here, Methodist Sunday School. They used to have a picnic down at Mooloolaba. In the old shed where they used to… great big shingle shed… lying out where they used to go out onto the wharf and load the bananas, in the early days. Of course, that is finished but we used to go down there. Everybody in Buderim used to go by horseback or cart. Go down and have a picnic. Black, white and brindle, everybody went to this Methodist picnic once a year. I seen the first stump put in. John Burnett and Wordie built it. I was there the day they shifted it to where it is now.
SB: And when you used to go for the picnics, can you remember the food that they used to give you?
FW: Oh, ham sandwiches, with plenty of mustard. (LAUGHS) it was really a treat. Cos those days, our people were very poor in 1900. There was a big drought on then. We only lived on little tomatoes and flour, you know. When I was a little boy. Very poor. Buderim was very poverty strickened place one time. Broke everybody up here.
SB: Because of the drought?
FW: Well even then they used to send bananas away. They used to send them when the railway come, send them from here to Brisbane. They used to go by boat to Sydney and Melbourne. They would put them on the deck and they would get all boiled and ripe and they would get a bill back instead of a cheque. See.
SB: Is that why people stopped growing bananas here?
SB: What did people start growing after the bananas?
FW: They grew peanuts for a while, and small crops and beans and one thing or another, went in for different things. Course one year the tram made 5000 pounds /-/- profit and then gradually went back.
SB: Were the Salvation Army in Buderim?
FW: Yes, yes. The Salvation Army, they’re down Mill Road there – used to have a hall there and every Sunday all the South Sea Islanders used to go and have their sermons there. Then every Saturday night the Muckens had a Salvation Army Band and they used to have a band. They used to go up in front of the Boarding house there, Buderim Boarding House, and play there by a carbie light. Willie Kristie used to be there and all the Muckens. They had a band with cornets.
SB: Would they get dressed up in uniform?
FW: Some of them did. Billy Kristie used to play the tambourine. Benny Booka used to play the drum. Muckens used to play the cornets. Oh a real band they had, you know, in front of the Boarding House.
SB: When did the boarding house become popular in Buderim?
FW: Right back when the tram started. Before motor cars come. I remember when the 14-18 war was on – they had celebrations the week before it was over – and they went about Buderim hammering tins and everything, week before. (LAUGHS) Then they had another when it was really over and I remember Benny Booka playing the drum and Leslie Burnett threw a stick at it and it went straight through the drum. (LAUGHS HEARTLY) Right there on that corner where the health shop is. He was standing there.
SB: I bet he was upset.
FW: Yes. He had to put a new leather on the drum. Very sacred. He was a drummer, Benny Booka.
SB: He was a Kanaka?
FW: Yes, a Kanaka. Yes, good old Buderim days eh?
SB: Where did all the people come from, who stayed at the Boarding houses?
FW: All over the place. Brisbane… holiday resort it was. Come by train to Palmwoods. Then they’d come by tram to Buderim.
SB: What were some of the attractions at Buderim?
FW: It was just holidays, the waterwheel, and this place. They would looked round and walk round the country like. I haven’t seen the place as full.
SB: How did the depression affect Buderim?
FW: Oh very bad those days, back in the ‘30’s.
SB: Was there much unemployment in Buderim?
FW: The unemployed had to put a few days in on the roads you know. That’s how they got their money; had to put a couple of days a week, or a bit more on the road. Now they don’t. They just ride their surf boards now, don’t they?
SB: What were you doing during the depression?
FW: I was farming here. Growing bananas, working on the farm.
SB: You were making enough to…..
FW: One penny or threepence was big money those days. You’d get a pound a salt for about one penny or tuppence or something. Course they declared war on the old bears back in the depression day too. Shot all the koala bears out too. Poverty Strickened.
SB: Would you go up high on the springboards, thirty feet?
FW: Oh, yes. But I’ve gone up higher after beehives, like. Gone right up on the limbs and chopped limbs off a lot higher that that. Chopped the limbs, instead of chopping the tree down.
SB: So you’d go up and get the native honey?
FW: Yes get the bee… Yes well I started first bees… George Burrows over here that I was talking about had the waterwheel, he started bee keeping. I remember he brought some out here, half way between Buderim and Woombye. Brought some bees, and he was bringing them home on the wagon, three horses, and he was bringing them home on the wagon, three horses, and some of them started to get out. So he put the beehive on the side of the road, see. It didn’t have all the frames in it. It just had some frames. I remember him, there was a Blackbutt tree, trees are honey, a honey, you know. And the bees had built some new comb in the…. And I remember him bringing it down to us. You know we thought it was a treat, getting new honey to comb. As time went on, I used to go down and help him. As years went on I bought him out and I bought everybody out and we ended up with three hundred and forty hives. One year we had sixteen ton of honey, you know.
SB: What did you used to get for the honey?
FW: Well those days we used to get one pound a tin. But I used to sell it all over Queensland until they stopped me, from sending it on the railway. It had to go to the pool. Sell it all over Queensland.
SB: Was this in the 1930’s when you were doing the honey?
FW: Yes, I started beekeeping about 1917. Started with one hive. Went up to three hundred and forty, had five or six different places. I had a little black boy, one of the Mukens. I remember before he was ever born. He used to be offsider for me, working them smokers. See them smokers underneath there. He used to use the smokers and I used to work the bees. I used to do nothing else but bees…. Of course farming too but mostly working with bees. Of course I was one of Queensland’s big bee keepers those days.
SB: Why did they stop you sending it on the train?
FW: It had to go to the pool. The honey pool.
SB: I see, to the market.
FW: Yes, they got a honey pool and I had to send it all there. You’d have to wait about six months to be paid for it and you couldn’t take it. Then a bad season come along and I lost one hundred hives – shortage of pollen. See honey is not the main food of a bee. It is pollen. Pollen and honey. So I ended up. The shed is still down there with the extractor and everything in it. We’ve still got a few hives of bees. When honey was a big price we was flat out getting one pound a tin. Now it’s a bigger price you know. We’ve got a chap that comes here, they work 1200 hives. Course they are migrating beekeepers.
SB: They just move their hives about?
FW: Yes, they’ve been right out to Quilpie. He was here just the other day.
SB: You just used to keep the hives here?
FW: Yes, there were eighty hives down here, and eighty hives down me other place, and a stack out at Cotton Ridge, and some right across the Mooloolah Plains. Different places we had them. Standard not… permanent you know. Now they shift them about.
SB: Tell me about the land slides in Buderim?
FW: Oh yes all around Buderim creeping ground. Course it hasn’t rained since 1893 and 1898. It rained a lot in my time. Ground creeps see, it’s as dry as a bone outside here. Dry. All around Buderim creeping ground. Some of that ground down our place there two hundred yards away in my time. I don’t know what’s going to happen when it rains again.
SB: What happened in 1898?
FW: That’s when they had the big rains, before our time. Big floods. 1893 was when they had big floods in Brisbane. You know the Botanical Gardens, it left a steamer in there. There was no trees. Then in 1898 it was flooded out. You know where the town hall is? It run right down there. The town hall is built right on a water hole. I remember standing there. They used to run excursions for our bushwhackers to Brisbane once a year. Go from Yandina for four shillings return or something. And I remember standing on this side, putting down the foundations down for that hall. It is built on a waterhole. The 1893 flood come right across there. Incredible. I remember standing there and they had all these gum boots on. You know standing there. As the years went over, you know I was up there in the tower. Have you ever been up in the tower?
FW: The lift broke down. I had to walk right down through that tower, through those steps. You go down through where the face of the clock is, go backward and forwards right down to the bottom and tell them the lift was broke down. So, I walked up again, and they let us down. Me and me sister and someone else was there. They put the brake on and let us down and they bumped us on the bottom floor.
SB: When was this?
FW: Oh some years back, you know.
SB: Just after it was built?
SB: Who were the Bushwackers?
FW: Well, the country people. They used to call us the bushwackers.
SB: Oh, I see.
FW: Some of them used to say down there when a bushwacker…. Smell the gumleaves. The bushwacker would say – “Look out you don’t feel the branches.” (LAUGHS HEARTLY) Yes, the run used to go from Yandina. I remember we used to ride from here out to Woombye on horseback to go, you know. Catch the train about 8 o’clock or something. I remember George Burrows riding. “Oh here comes George. Hold the train.” And George used to sing out, “Watch my horse. Look after my horse.” He’d say. I can see him running down and getting the train. They held the train. All wooden carriages in those days, you know steam engines. Then when we used to be going along. Oh we’re getting near Brisbane. You’d look out and you saw the smog over Brisbane. We’re getting near Brisbane (LAUGHS).
SB: Even in those days – smog?
FW: Oh tremendous smog. Course all the steam engines. See it was all steam. Main junction – that’s where all the steam engines. Just one mass of smoke. You know. Yes – getting near Brisbane. They used to take us down and we used to wander around and do a bit of shopping, and one thing another. Then the novelty wore out. Just the same as the novelty wore out for the Brisbane people coming up here on the tram.
SB: What sort of entertainment did you have in Buderim?
FW: In the early days they used to have a Magic Lantern. A slide one. Beasley used to come along. You know, show slides. We used to go, all the niggers and everyone used to go up… pictures, you know like slides. Then at the end there was a show, you’d have a sort of slide with a bit of a stick and the monkey would move it’s tail, and everybody would laugh. (LAUGHS)
SB: What sort of slides would he show?
FW: Oh different pictures of different things, you know. Horses and different places, you know. But someone used to work this monkey’s tail. (LAUGHS) That was it. As time went on then the silent pictures come, you know. The moving pictures like they used to have them up here in the hall. Then as time went on, the other pictures come, you know.
SB: Did they used to have dances in Buderim?
FW: Oh yes, they used to have dances, yes, oh dances, plenty of dances.
SB: Did you used to go?
FW: No. Never danced a step in my life. I used to go and look on.
SB: What sort of dances did they do?
FW: Oh the Schottische and all those… Square dance too, you know. Waltz of course. Mother was expert at it. I never danced. She used to dance for us. Father never danced.
SB: Did the jitterbug and those dances come to Buderim?
FW: Oh, no it was just ordinary waltz and you know, before these dances come, you know.
SB: Go back to the First World War, did many people from Buderim go to the War?
FW: Yes, quite a lot. You might see the row or line up there, they must have it still in the hall. Some did come back and some didn’t. Nomnus come back and George Newbry come back and oh, what’s a call it, came back, Chadwick come back. Different ones come back you know.
SB: The whole conscription issue, did that affect Buderim at all? Did people feel strongly one way or the other?
FW: Oh well I just… Yes well they brought in Billy Hughes, brought conscription in, didn’t he? I don’t think. Mostly volunteered I think. I was nearly going myself you know. I was getting on for seventeen, you know, towards eighteen.
SB: How old were you when it ended, eighteen?
FW: About seventeen. I was going on eighteen.
SB: You would have gone would you?
FW: I was going to go. Father said, “You’re fighting for a system you’ll never get anything out of it.” So I didn’t go.
SB: Were there a lot of Quakers in Buderim?
FW: Riebe used to be a Quaker. I don’t know if anyone else was a Quaker or not. Riebe used to be and then they called it Quakers Pocket over there, you know. He was a vegetarian. He only had Amy Riebe and his son. His son was on a boat and when he went to China he got the yellow fever and it killed him over there.
SB: It must have been quite unusual for someone to be a vegetarian at the time?
FW: Yes. Because we lived mostly on salt meat and damper those days. Father used to buy it by the hundred weight. Course salt meat was only dry salted those days, not like today. Got all salt pepper and everything to make it red. You know that powder they put on, it keeps it red.
SB: So what colour was it?
FW: Dark, black-grey colour. Dry salted.
SB: And damper?
FW: Yes, flour… Tomatoes. We had oranges and one thing another like that. About thirty – six different kinds of fruit and vegetables, fruits on that place down there, Riebe planted you know. Some are still there.
SB: What did people think about Riebe being vegetarian?
FW: Oh I couldn’t tell you about those days. I was only a little fellow. Well I was thought of really… I know Father coming up to buy the place. Riebe was only a little man. The doors down there were only about that high where you used to go from one room to other. That old place down there where he built. Father come up from Woombye to buy the place and he got wet and he could put on Riebe trousers and they only come to his knees.
SB: So he only built his house for his height?
FW: One door where you go from one room to the other doors, all big. All cedar doors you know. Beech and cedar. Same time as the Pioneer Cottage was built and that one of Hamilton’s and J.K. Burnett lived up here. See J.K. Burnett should have been called Burnett mountain because there was that many Burnett’s. Arthur Burnett, Harry Burnett, Fred Burnett, Wallace Burnett, Ernst Burnett, Charlie Burnett. J.K. Burnett was the old fellar. There was one girl, Emma Burnett. Charlie Burnett was the same as the Pioneer Cottage, was built, same as the walls on this old place down here.
SB: And what about the shops in Buderim?
FW: Well in the early days, right there where that health shop is, that’s where John Burnett used to have a shop there. That used to be a Post Office. He had a little bit of a shop. You could go and buy things. Lyle Burnett, that was his son, he used to repair saddles and one thing another. That was the Post Office, tand the mail used to come by horseback from Woombye, to Buderim by horseback.
SB: Could you get all your groceries in Buderim?
FW: Well, a lot of our groceries we used to get from Woombye, from Tytherleighs. They used to come. Price Jones used to bring them up in his wagon. But you could buy them up here, and there were a few things you want. But we used to get mostly from Tytherleighs from Woombye. But there was only a tiny shop there. You can still see the tiny shop that was there in the early days. I used to buy shang rings there, in the early days. You know from a shangai. Shooting birds. Used to be a lot of wallabies about here one time. Oh, wallabies used to eat all the bananas. Tremendous. Tremendous forest wallabies, they’d stand up. I remember going down there one time to cut bananas and the wallabies had eaten the lot. Yes, oh a tremendous lot of wallabies. Of course, I used to snare them with snares to geth the skin those days. Oh tremendous but they are nearly all gone now. White man is wiping everything out you know. The little wallabies that used to be in the scrub. They’re gone forever. Chopping it down. Chopping it down, you know.
SB: Was there an Indian who had a shop in Buderim?
FW: Indian? Yes, Sian Singh had a shop up there right where the fish shop is. Sian Singh. Johnny Waters had the shop…. As time went on when the tram come, Middleton had a shop here too. Johnny Waters had a shop up there right in the corner. He used to be working at Tytherleighs out there. Then he built a shop when the tram come to Buderim. They built a shop up here. Then Middleton come here too. He built a shop then Sian Singh had a shop there to, as time went on, as years went on.
SB: What did Sian Singh sell?
FW: They sell all groceries and one thing and other. Yes, small way you know. Middleton that who had the Four Square up here – Middleton. I remember when I was a small boy, Middleton was travelling for Middleton and Middleton – no relation. He was travelling with suits. You know suits. I remember meeting him halfway up the hill here, I was only a kid of about ten, I suppose, or less, he was going to sell Billy Wowee, that was the South Sea, a suit for two pound ten shillings. Knew old Middleton. As time went on he went broke up here. All of Buderim went poverty strickened you now. Broke everything.
SB: When did they go broke?
FW: Back in er….. matter of years, you know. Boarding houses went broke.
SB: Before the war?
FW: After the war you know.
SB: In the depression.
FW: Yes, Middleton there, and people used to send their bananas away and get bills back.
SB: Were there a lot of travelling salesmen?
FW: Middleton was the only fellow I knew. I met him up here. I don’t know what. Course you could go to Brisbane for four shilling, you know, by train. Course four shillings was big money in those days too. I remember talking to him halfway up the hill there in front of, sitting there when all the scrub was there you know. Asked me where Billy Wowee was. Then he started the shop up in Buderim and went broke. Went down to Palmwoods and went broke. And started again, and that was it.
SB: So when did Buderim pick up again?
FW: Oh, you got me beat just for a time.
SB: Was it after the Second World War?
FW: Oh before, A bit before that. We used to grow a lot of vegetables, beans and cucumbers and one thing other. Price got a bit better and all that.
SB: Oh that’s when the koalas… in the depression?
FW: Yes in the 1930’s. Wiped the koalas out. There were hundreds of them about.
SB: How much did they used to get for a skin?
FW: Anywhere up to ten shillings for them. Good ones. Make ladies fur. Poor old bear suffered, but it give the people work shooting bears in the depression. Same with the possums. The possums season is open too.
SB: They’re nearly wiped out too, possums?
FW: More or less. A lot of possums, they eat a lot of bananas at the present time. Oh gee, they kill the bananas, plonk you know. Down the gorge there, they’re just a menace. Bunch after Bunch they eat. But mostly they are Scot possums. Oh yes, it has all changed hasn’t it. Now they’ve got all Buderim covered up with houses and roads, hey.
SB: It is interesting to hear that it was poverty strickened once, because now it is quite a rich area.
FW: More or less you know. Mostly pensioners living up here. There’s nearly six hundred kids going to school. I counted twenty cars up there the other day, so there must be twenty teachers.
SB: Did you ever go down to Picnic Point?
FW: Yes, Picnic Point. There was nobody there much those days. We used to, me and Kuskopf, we used to go down in a boat down there, where 1893 flood washed – you would be surprised. I didn’t see it. We used to fish down there during the war with a net, for fish. So one day I met him (a man) on the creek. He used to pull the boat, and his wife used to sit behind dragging the line, for tailor, you know. So we got talking one day, and he said he thought I was a guy and I was Wise. Talking and he said, “Eighteen years reared down there.” They used to have a house and all sorts of fruit trees. He says, “It was nearly up that mango tree.” Bet if I took you down there and showed you you’d get a fright. I’ve seen it up to the top rail of Pages with my eyes. Course that’s years after. Of course, they reckoned before white man come through there was a bigger flood before white man ever come. The Aborigines reckon. I reckon in my time, the ocean had gone back ten foot. And I reckon within the next eight years that will be the one hundred year cycle, I reckon it is going to come. This should be our wet month. January years ago used to be cyclone blowing and rain. I’ve see it rain for six months. Off and on, you know. We’ve missed out our rain been coming from the west. See these storm we had the other day. We should have had them in November. Two months behind course, it might be in the cycle of one thousand years back, who knows. Buderim had twenty six inches and twenty points in twenty four hours one time. Two hundred inches in one month. The glasshouses had thirty five inches in twenty four hours. Nambour had twenty one inches. The had about twelve or fourteen and look what it did last time it flooded. That was only kidding. Cornwall Creek comes down past Butts and goes out to Picnic Point. Always did do that. No good digging the creek out there as they have been doing, because it cant get out there. All the sand there. Where the bar used to be on this side of Pincushion Island, its on the other side now. About a mile across and its too shallow.
End of Interview