Interview with: Robyn Turner and Yvonne Turner
Date of Interview: 9 February 2000
Interviewer: Dianne Warner
Squire William ‘Sonny’ Turner was born in 1915 at Western Avenue, Montville Queensland and died at Maleny Hospital in 1984. Marie Isobel Turner was born in 1915 at Kilcoy, Queensland. They were married at Montville in 1942 and had three children – one son, Peter (deceased 1972), two daughters – Robyn and Yvonne.
Images and documents of the Turner Family in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image: Squire 'Sonny' William Turner Service no QX14974 and his wife Marie Isobel Turner Service no QX35357 in military uniform during World War 2, ca 1942.
DW: Robyn and Yvonne Turner, originally of Beerwah, in Buderim on 9th of February, 2000. This is Di Warner speaking from the Local Studies Unit. Robyn and Yvonne, you were raised in Beerwah? Could you tell me a little bit about your life, please? Could you start?
RT: I can remember quite clearly we moved to Beerwah when Yvonne was only a baby, still in nappies.
DW: What year would that have been?
RT: It would have had to be 40…
YT:: 47 or 48. Because I was 18 months old then and I was born in 46.
DW: You were born in 1946. You don’t mind me asking when you were born?
DW: 1944. So you were about four years old, three to four years old.
RT: And we moved down, Dad started to build a little framework like a shack. And it wasn’t finished so we were living in a tent. I think we must have had fifteen inches of rain in a couple of weeks and poor mum was trying to dry nappies and keep us all dry and out of the rain.
DW: And where was that?
RT: That was at the original homestead home at Simpson Street, Beerwah.
DW: Any other brothers and sisters besides you two girls?
RT: My older brother, Peter.
DW: Peter Turner. And so where had you come from?
DW: And that’s where you were born? I am talking to Yvonne.
YT:: Yes, I was born in Maleny
DW: You were born in Maleny and Robyn?
RT: I was born in Brisbane.
DW: Yourself and Peter were born in Brisbane.
RT: Yes, because Dad was away in the army and Mum was living with my grandparents.
DW: Could you tell me a little bit about the background of your parents? Your mother, she was born in Kilcoy, I understand. And your father, where was your father born?
RT: He was born in Montville on the farm, in 1915.
DW: OK. And that was in Western Avenue.
DW: And that was the family home for the Turners?
RT: Yes, that’s right.
DW: How long had they been in this area, the Turner family? Are they original, early pioneers? Can you tell a little bit about the background of the Turner family?
RT: Well they came down to Beerwah about 1947.
Migration to Australia 1913
YT: They migrated just before Dad was born there in 1915, so probably about 1913. But I think a lot of that’s catalogued in Montville history.
DW: That’s good because we’ll be able to research that. So they then moved to Beerwah and the family home, with all of that rain I guess that slowed things up as far as building.
RT: It did and in those days you did what you could because it was not long after the war and materials weren’t available. If you had the money, I think you still needed tickets. I’m not sure. And people helped and the d:elling was built.
YT: That was to be the shed that’s why it was off to the side of the block of land and things got dearer. Like everyone said just build a little shed now, things are going to get cheaper. And you build your house later and it was to be in the centre of the block. Then of course more pitfalls came along and you know, it looked like we were stuck there so they just extended and extended again.
DW: And you went to school in Beerwah?
RT: Yes, we all went to primary school in Beerwah.
YT: Yes, for primary school and we all did our high school in Nambour.
DW: Did you catch the train up?
YT: Up and back every day. Yes.
DW: And your mother and father met during the Second World War? Is that right?
RT: No, before that.
Marie’s Pre-war Nursing Career
DW: They met before the war?
YT: Mum was nursing with Dad’s two sisters.
DW: Your mother was a nurse?
YT: Yes, and these girls she nursed with they used to talk about their wonderful brother and she went home one weekend and met him.
DW: Up in Montville?
DW: And she was nursing then. Where would she have been nursing in those days.
YT: I think from her training in the Royal Brisbane didn’t she go to the children’s hospital, in Brisbane? She was at the children’s hospital …
RT: No, the Royal Brisbane and then she joined the army from the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
DW: And then of course they married and that was before the war.
RT: No, No. During the war. Yes.
DW: During the war.
YT: Yes, Mum went away. Mum was in New Guinea. She came back and I just don’t know too much about dates when she came back. I’ve got her discharge papers in there. So she was back here and had Peter in 1943 when the war was still on.
DW: And the date of their marriage?
YT: Thirteenth of the tenth 1942.
DW: So they were married in the middle of the war.
DW: Yes. They married in Montville?
RT: There was a bit of a complication because Mum’s family were Catholic and Dad was an Anglican. The Catholic’s wouldn’t let you marry outside unless Dad changed. And it was quite a process of getting married and eventually they got married in a Methodist church.
YT: Neutral ground.
DW: And so you were raised as Catholics?
RT: Christianity not churchianity.
YT: I don’t ever remember them going to church though, you know.
RT: Weddings and funerals.
Beerwah Childhood: 1947/48
DW: Well, they were big events, weren’t they, in those times. And as small children what do you remember about Beerwah? What was it like?
RT: It was pretty bushy. I know I can remember there were lots of snakes.
DW: What sort of snakes?
RT: All sorts.
RT: And yes Mum used to have to shoot them.
DW: Your mother used to shoot the goannas.
RT: Up the tree.
DW: Was she a good shot?
RT: No, couldn’t shoot anything still. But she was fine if it ran. She wasn’t bad though.
YT: We used to have to hide. She’d shut us in the house.
RT: Just in case.
RT: She was scared we would laugh.
DW: So it sounds like you were a happy lot.
YT: Yes. Most of the time.
DW: And times they were hard I would guess in those early days.
RT: Well, you never thought of it as being hard because you never knew anything else.
DW: That’s right, so you would have had to grow everything and have a farm with chooks etc.
RT: I think we had a cow and some chooks. You know you could go to school with no shoes on and nobody would worry because you look at the old school photos and a lot of them had no shoes.
RT: And you never thought of that. And you wore second hand clothes and you ate what you could and you grew what you could. You know. And because we had never known anything else we never felt we were hard done by.
YT: Dad held down three jobs just to feed us. When he was starting out, when he came back from the war they were given an opportunity of doing an apprenticeship.
RT: Repatriation. They gave him a mechanic position. I remember that.
DW: So would his property have been like a soldier’s settlement there?
DW: No he purchased that freehold.
YT: Yes. Well they just bought a house block to start with. The last house down Simpson Street as your going towards the new high school, have you been down that way?
YT: And there’s houses on the right hand side and the railway line’ on the left-hand side. Well it’s the last house; we grew up on the last house on the right hand side. It’s got a little cottage like a granny flat with it right out the front.
RT: Well, Dad had a barber’s shop. He used to cut hair.
DW: He was a trained barber?
RT: He picked it up in the army. Nobody actually had training for that he just did a lot of hair cutting in the army.
YT: But he only did it at night down there because he had little jobs. Like I said he’d do those during the day and one thing and another thing he used to do in the afternoon.
DW: So he would cut peoples hair in Beerwah at night. Just the men or all.
RT: The men and boys. He’d charge two shillings.
YT: Yes, it was just a yarning place too. You know the men would all come in and they’d be over there at ten-o clock at night. And you’d hear them laughing and everything. It was like a yarning post.
RT: Winning the game and solving the nation’s problems.
DW: Can you recall the names of your teachers at school?
RT: Miss Pacey, she was in grade one. She was fat and horrible and bossy. She used to play the violin badly. And she’d stand up on parade and she’d have her stockings tied around in a knot above her knees. And from downstairs we could see where the stockings ended and the legs started.
YT: Then there was Mr and Mrs Fred Hodgens. Mr Hodgen was the headmaster.
RT: And Gracey used to teach too.
DW: Grace Hodgens?
YT: She’s still alive, yes. She’s a darling, isn’t she? She never was nasty.
DW: And she was a kind person was she?
RT: Before she started and went back to teaching, she would be over in the school house and she’d make lunches. Fred would go over and then all the kids would find an excuse to go over. Because she’d always give you a banana or sandwich or something. So Yvonne went over one day and said, “Mrs Hodgens, Valerie Hooton’s swearing”. So Gracey gave her the sandwich and then she’s chatting away. And she says, “How could a nice little girl like you know what swearing is? Yvonne replied, “I know Mum and Dad do it all the time”.
DW: Can you remember? You have talked about the cyclone episode were there any major floods or any natural disasters as young children or growing up then?
RT: I remember when there was a bush fire, everyone, and all the men would go down. All the women would make sandwiches. You know people would stay out for days until it was put out because there were no bush fire brigades or fire brigades or anything.
YT: One time Dad came home from a bush fire and he was really really furious. And we were all saying, what’s the problem? And television had just started and these cameramen came up from Brisbane to take movies for the news. And what had happened was these guys had spent two days or whatever putting out this fire and just then the cameramen arrived. And they lit a fire so they could film something! And you know the locals were really really furious because the city boys were coming up and doing that just so they had something to film.
DW: And so bush fires would have been the main concern not floods.
RT: There were some floods.
RT: The Coochin Creek would go over but that wasn’t near us.
DW: And your Dad in the Second World War, what area of the army was he in and what was his division?
RT: Second Tank Attack.
RT: And he was a truck driver and it amazed me they did all their driving at night on places that weren’t roads and countries they had never seen with no lights on because you didn’t want the enemy to see. And in the day he’d fix his truck up. And he also did driver training and licence testing in the army.
DW: And your Mother? She was a trained nurse so what was her area, in the army. What was her division?
RT: I’m not sure just the Women’s Army Nursing Service. And they went to Ipswich and trained there. And then at one stage she was on the hospital ship, Manunda that went up and down the coast and they were at Darwin and it got bombed just shortly after.
DW: Your mother wasn’t on then. And Yvonne you were saying that your Mother was supposed to be on the Centaur.
YT: Well, that’s what I understand.
DW: Yes, the Centaur met its fate but luckily she wasn’t on it.
YT: She was moved from one to the other. How close, I don’t know whether it was close or not.
Getting by in Beerwah: Post War
DW: So your father had that job which he had started. Would he have been the only male barber in Beerwah at that time?
YT: Yes. Basically he went down there and he continued with his mechanics. He went back to that. He did his apprenticeship to a mechanic. He used to drive to Caloundra every day. I think it was after he got through that, then he got a job with Walton Motors in Beerwah. Soon after that he opened his real estate business. That’s when he had to have all the extra jobs for income, because it was just starting up.
RT: Jumping back a bit before the war he was a saw miller and after the war he was partners in a mill at Maleny.
DW: Yes, and what was the name of that mill?
YT: Just the sawmill
DW: And it was where?
YT: At Reesville outside of Maleny.
DW: How long did he keep that for?
YT: Oh, the war finished in what 45 and they moved to Beerwah in 47 so it was only a couple of years.
DW: And was that successful?
YT: I would imagine so. It was still a going concern after Dad left.
RT: It was successful but it was, Dad had lots of trouble and lots of medical problems at the end of the war and it was too hard pushing the logs so he sold out.
DW: And the times in Beerwah as young children, you were saying he was a hard worker; he had to hold down three jobs in order to keep his family. Do you remember life as being happy as children?
RT: I used to think of Christmas and all the others like, whose parents weren’t older, you know younger parents than ours. They’d go and buy Christmas presents but Mum and Dad, like I can remember the year the tents came out, cowboy tents. Everybody got them you know cowboy tents with the picture painted on. So Dad and Mum sat up night after night sewing chaff bags together and made this army tent which they could stand up in. Everybody who had all their little tents up the road would come down and stand up in the army tent.
DW: So the hand made tent was the best tent.
RT: Because you could get in it and walk around.
RT: That was just Peter’s but they always made something, you know.
RT: Perkins boys. A whole lot of boys up there and they were always chopping their fingers off every school holidays. Myrtle would come down to Mum with one kid under the arm and something chopped off here or something chopped off there.
DW: Because you’re Mother was a nurse?
RT: And she had to fix them up.
YT: There was five boys, I think.
DW: And they lived just near you?
YT: They lived up closer to the town, about where the bank is now. There is a real estate office there now.
RT: I think Myrtle’s still going in Caloundra. She’s ninety something but Iris would know she keeps in touch.
DW: And so your Mother being a nurse she would be called upon in the crisis?
Marie’s Beerwah Nursing role – severe accidents 1960s
YT: Oh yes, this is why we know all these things you know. Just so many things that happened like because the highway went through the middle of town but there was no ambulances anywhere. We were under the control of Maleny and so we had to wait for a vehicle to come down the Old Maleny Road if there were any accidents, and of course Mum was always called on, she was the first one there. How many times did we have a blankets pulled off our bed? And never saw them again, you know. But yes, she’d go off and I know she’d always have a panic and Dad would be...
RT: She’d always have a panic attack and Dad would give her a Valium and drag her out of bed. Otherwise she couldn’t do it.
YT: Dad would be the calm one and say what the hells the matter with you, you can do it you know. And one time probably, some of the worst things that she went through. There was a motor vehicle accident, might have had three cars or something down near Beerburrum. It was a fatal accident; I don’t know how many fatalities there were. Can’t remember but I know she had them all organised. She had the fatalities in behind and the injured over this way. One girl was about twelve and because we had no seat belts in those days this girl had broken an arm or something and Mum didn’t realise it. She said now you sit down and here’s your little baby sister or brother. And this little girls going ‘oh’, you know. Mum came back for say half an hour or whatever, the ambulance men came and were doing the serious stuff. So Mum goes looking after these kids and this little girl lifted her arm or leg up or whatever it was and it was sort of, you know really, really, badly broken. And you know its just things that she was in. I can remember getting ready for school one day. And this is when we were getting a lot older, jumping again. I was getting ready for school and someone came and got Mum for you know another accident or something. Up the road she went. And then the Landsborough policeman, Vince Collins he came and used our phone because there were no mobile phones and things in cars then. He came in and used our phone. I’m getting ready for school and he said, “Oh, he’s reporting this triple murder and suicide”. And I’m thinking did I watch this on TV or is it real? You know it just didn’t sink in. Things like that, Mum was first on the scene before there was any ambulance.
DW: So where was that?
YT: That was in Beerwah in the mill houses up the top end of town. And the mill’s no longer there but there are three little wooden houses, you can actually see.
YT: Actually there’s a park on it now, on the mill site that we’re speaking of and its still Simpson Street. The north end, somewhere the library used to park up the top end of town. Remember when they used to park up the top end at the corner?
YT: Kilcoy Road and Simpson Street. Well in that area.
DW: That was the mill houses in there.
YT: No, the mill was there between that road and the railway line. And then further north on the other side of the road there was three little wooden houses. Still there, there have a little pink roof, little square things. And that’s in one of those houses that somebody killed their family. She shot her husband, two daughters, and herself.
DW: When was that?
RT: No, it will be 62 or 63. Something like that.
YT: So you know I mean massive things that Mum used to come in on.
DW: You’d have to cope with within the community.
RT: Yes, like the time the train ran into a car.
YT: Oh yes, that was another one. That was when I was working. So that’s further, that was in, later on in the sixties.
DW: And what happened there?
YT: On the pedestrian crossing there at Beerwah, yes. There was a train coming up, car travelling across clipped the train and carried it right up. Up, up, up passed all where the shops are now. And there was a guy in our shop and he was looking across and he says there’s a car on the front of that train. Anyway, this guy driving the car he was hurt pretty badly. Mum could actually see his brain and she just leaned on it and pressed it. Pressed her hand on it and got taken by the ambulance with him. You know he’s alive and he came back out, you know everyone thought he was going to die. He did come and see her after he was better.
DW: So your mother saved his life?
YT: Absolutely, yes. But there was another funny thing. Ted Smith’s probably a bit younger than me, and he was a real devil. He was always just a devil from Beerwah. He’s still down there. You know one wild child that’s right. He was always getting into trouble with the cops. Anyway, he happened to be around when the policeman, the ambulance and Mum were trying to hold this man together and get him in the ambulance. And Mum said there is no way I can hang onto him. Mum knew that with these head injuries you have a lot of body reaction. I don’t know what causes that, but this happens and she knew that she couldn’t just be the only person in the back. So the policeman said,”Right oh, Smithy in the back with her”. You know and I think it probably did make a big difference to this poor sod you know just going through something like that, helping Mum.
DW: So certainly she was very community minded as well as a caring person.
YT: Oh it was, Mum’s attitude that if something’s got to be done its got to be done whether you like it or not. You just get in. I mean a lot of times I’d said, “Well I don’t really want to do that”. And she said, “Yeah I know sometimes we don’t want to do anything, we have to. Just get in and do it”.
Italian Farmers in Beerwah 1960s
RT: The Italians used to like Dad because they’d say, “What’s he doing, what’s all this tax rubbish”. And they’d all just take their tax in and they’d all get it fixed. (DW: this is the Italians from?) From the farms. They didn’t have full control of the language which they didn’t understand. So Mum and Dad used to help them through.
DW: They’d come to your parents?
YT: They’d bring their cheque books in and that yes.
DW: Where was this, was this in the real estate office?
YT: Yes, sometimes when Dad would sell a property to you know the Queen Street farmers. Dentists and what have you, chemists in the city. That’s when they first started getting a loophole in the tax. So they’d have a farm that would offset the tax on their business or their practice or whatever they had. And you know Dad would say, “Come over”. I mean he’d sold a property, which was great. But he always used to say things like, oh Jesus, I don’t know, poor old you know. He says, he wouldn’t have a clue about growing whatever he’d bought pineapples and strawberries... And we’d spend a weekend, which was our entertainment, like a lot of the time we’d just go out and spend weekends with these Queen Street farmers. Helping them and Dad was helping educate them. We’d just help them pick strawberries and pack them or you know just giving them a hand.
DW: Giving your neighbours a helping hand. Maybe getting some fruit and things out of it.
YT: Even after, like you think about real estate now and think just how different it is.
RT: I can remember when Scoles came up once. They said, “I want you to list my farm for sale”. And Dad said”Don’t be bloody stupid”, he said, “I know you don’t want to run the farm as a farm any more”. He said, “That’s our advice just cut it up and sub divide it”. And he did that and he made lots more money than just selling the farm.
William ‘Sonny’ Real Estate Beerwah
DW: So your father advised people honestly and fairly. Their real estate business was it a success in the community?
YT: Oh, yes.
RT: I think the difference between he and the pushy ones was people kept coming back. Same buyers would come back several times.
YT: And referrals. We had some people that had stopped in a caravan park somewhere in northern NSW. Which is how you meet people in caravan parks you seem to do that. And they said, “Oh, we’ve been up here in Beerwah and if you’re looking for something, go and see Sonny”.
DW: Go and see Sonny, meaning your father, because that was his nickname.
YT: Yes, his nickname.
DW: And so, how long did the family keep the real estate business?
RT: A long time. I’m not sure.
DW: And where was that business located?
RT: It was located; there were a couple of different buildings. Yes there are photos about.
DW: So where the newsagent is, that was the first business was it? The first real estate business? And the other one would have been the second one?
YT: We ran it from down, well they ran it from down at the house at the far end of town. The far end of Simpson Street. I don’t know what year they bought that business up there. It was about fifty something.
RT: You would have been at primary school.
YT: Yes, see he operated from down the bottom at the house. He had that little hair cutting ‘buso’ and he also from there he ran the office that they used to have a fuel depot. You know how now farmers have fuel on their farm, they didn’t in those days. The fuel companies used to bring the big drums up and we stored them on, the big platform thing out the back? And they had the hair cutting, he did the fuel, he used to work for Redcomb poultry. And he’d ring around the local farmers and find out how many chooks this man had, how many that man had. When he got one truck full he’d sort of get the group, the areas where they picked up the poultry from, and organise trucks. Ring up Brisbane and say right we need three trucks for Wednesday and what have you. They’d come up with the driver and Dad would hop in and go and help him. And if anyone rang up for real estate while Dad was doing that Mum would ring the farmers, because she had the same list. She’d ring the farmers and say, ”Tell Sonny to come back”, and he’d have a quick shower into some clean clothes and he’d meet people. And another thing, an offshoot of that was the bags. The farmers used to buy their feed in bags. Another thing was Dad used to collect the empty bags. We used to have that; we got extra pocket money for this. Stack them, what was it? Twelve high I think, in those days it would have been twelve and that then that was folded over and stacked in beside our car. Amongst the car, and once you couldn’t fit the car inside the garage then he’d ring up and say right we need a bag truck. And he got commission on all these things.
DW: And you girls got some pocket money out of that. So he was very industrious?
YT: Well it’s a case of have to. Because there were no handouts and there were no jobs so you just had to create little bits of income.
DW: What sort of cars did your family own?
RT: Oh we had the most beautiful Oldsmobile. It had prickly seats Prickly was the sort of fabric it was prickly. You would sit in the back and it was so big. Do you remember?
RT: We would drive to Caloundra and you’d get to the top of the mountain, Little Mountain, and you couldn’t see out. And it was pretty big, well it was huge. When Mum learnt to drive she didn’t want to drive in this. There were no laws then. And everyone would hitch a ride. She’d have probably six kids in the back seat and a couple of us, because it was a bridge seat in the front. You know several in there and about eight big boys standing on the running board hanging on. Probably going five miles an hour, I think.
YT: An interesting thing too. When we used to go to school, there was no Peachester road up the top end, as we know it now. You used to go underneath the railway line and continue. That was the road we used to go to school on. That was the main road at that time from the bottom.
RT: And also, before Mum learnt to drive, people would come up and catch Rob. Rob was Rob Fullerton the farmer. Then he had this big flat back truck no sides on it. And he’d stop and give anyone a lift and this is when you used to have to go up to Wimberley’s… to catch that.
YT: Which is on the corner of Peachester Road?
RT: Yes, Peachester Road. And we’d jump on, there’d be kids everywhere. And I can remember being a little bit scared because I had nothing to hang on to; you know you’re sitting out there!
DW: On the back of the flat bed?
YT: Yes, you’re out there on your own.
RT: I guess they all went slow and there was no one being stupid coming the other way. It was always a big thrill to be able to catch Rob.
DW: What where the shops like? We’re talking about Wimbley’s there; can you describe some of the shops in the area?
YT: I can remember we used to have movies in the hall once a week. And right next to that was the newsagent. And the Bryce’s had the newsagent.
RT: Bryce’s yes. There are some of them still in Nambour.
DW: The Bryce’s from Maleny, same Bryce’s?
YT: They were cousins, yes.
RT: And they used to have in that there was a newsagency and general store and they used to have lovely ice creams. You’d go to the pictures and you’d get two shillings to go to the pictures. That would buy you your ticket and you could get a bag of lollies to have at the start of the movies and an ice-cream at half time.
YT: And do you remember they used to have to dig out each cone and she must have done it a lot beforehand because she used to just pull them out all done. And I used to think, “Oh how organised she was”. She used to work really fast. She was a little thin lady, and she used to move around.
YT: Her husband lived for a long long time. He was over ninety and going to dances. Old time dances at Palmwoods. Vernie Bryce his name was. I forget her name. He died a few years ago.
RT: She was just Mrs Bryce. Some people didn’t have names in those days. And there was only that and the butcher shop. And Wimbley’s and that was the most magnificent store it, had everything in the one big place. You’d go up to the counter and ask for what you wanted and they’d get it and serve you. And also too one day a week one of the boys or men would come down and take the order off someone like Mum who couldn’t get away because she was working. You know she’d say a pound of butter, two pounds of sugar and nutmeg and something and then they’d bring it back in the afternoon. So that was, it was always full service.
YT: I think you could do that now too. I still believe you could do that now. Go around and, you know it’s on the way back. I reckon there’s a lot of people don’t like shopping. People in nursing homes, people who don’t have cars, they must be lost.
Holidaying in Caloundra early years
DW: The train was always going through there and the main road, so do you recall going on holidays or anything like that? Catching the train anywhere? Or did you always stay?
RT: We didn’t have many holidays. Because you know, Dad always had people coming. We would go by car; we didn’t go on the train.
YT: Often what we did was say go to Caloundra or Donnybrook, put the tent up and Dad would be there. But he didn’t stay he used to go back and forwards each day
DW: So you had your family holidays close. And what was Caloundra like? Were they exciting times?
YT: Oh absolutely, because everywhere, everyone was safe then. It was like you could go places and walking.
RT: You didn’t have to worry about your stuff being stolen like your tent could just be left.
DW: So where was your camp site?
RT: It was on the beach. It was at Kings. Kings Beach.
1954 Caloundra Cyclone
YT: Right at the beach. I haven’t been there for years so I don’t know. There used to be a really big car park near the old ambulance and the water was this way. And we, Dad’s sister she always had to get the best spot. She’d go up a week early and put the two tents up and she’d stay there a little bit longer. It got hit by the cyclone once and she’s never been the same, Robyn’s never been the same since.
DW: What happened? Tell me what happened? When was this? Was this the cyclone in the fifties?
YT: Now this has got to be what people have told you. Because you wouldn’t remember would you?
RT: It has to be. I can remember some bits. It would have been the early fifties. And Mum said stay in here because…
DW: It was fifty-four there was a really bad cyclone, it was around Christmas time was it? Or January?
RT: Yeah, just after it. And this big wind came and lifted the tent up and the centre pole fell out, of course, the tent fell down. And the centre pole hit me on the head.
DW: Where was your Mum?
RT: Oh somewhere.
YT: Looking after me I think.
DW: So she had to look after her own daughter I suppose her being a nurse. She had to come back and revive Robyn.
RT: You know she actually took me to the doctor then. I can remember. I had to spend the rest of the holiday in bed. And it was so hot.
DW: Those times they were happy times obviously. And you’re saying that your aunt would come. Where would she come from?
YT: They came from Kallangur. That was one of Dad’s sisters.
DW: And they would come up and spend the Christmas.
YT: Yes, one of Dad’s sisters who Mum actually nursed with so they sort of went back a long way. And we had a lot of holidays together with them.
DW: So you enjoyed the beach. Did you learn to swim in Beerwah? Or did you learn.
YT: I don’t think I ever did learn to swim properly. I mean I can flounder but I can’t swim. Jump around in the surf.
RT: Well there’s nowhere to swim in Beerwah. There’s nowhere.
YT: I never went out past the breakers or that.
DW: You just enjoyed the seaside. And those holidays, how long would you go down to say Caloundra or Donnybrook?
YT: Probably just the school holidays at the time were.
RT: We didn’t go for the whole school holidays. We’d just go for a bit.
DW: You would have been cooked if they kept you there the whole time. And places like Donnybrook that would have been a big adventure. There wouldn’t have been much down there.
RT: There was nothing there. But we’d get lovely crabs.
YT: Yeah, well the men did. Dad and his mates and you know the men folk and the boys they’d all do that. And we’d get to cook and eat it.
RT: We’d get to cook it. You’d get hundreds at a time. You know lots of fish, lots of crabs. I’d like to tell you a funny thing about up the road.
DW: In Beerwah?
RT: Yeah. Behind Mrs Perkins’ place there was an old shed and there was an Indian in there. I don’t know what his name was but we all called him Muddy, so it must have started with that.
YT: I’d love to know his name that was because he was black, I guess.
RT: No, no Muddy because he was like the emus in the packing crates. And we used to sneak up.
YT: Oh that’s right. And you started trembling.
RT: We just lie down in the scrub and sneak up until I could see him and then he’d turn around and yell at us in some Indian or Packy voice. And send us home. Myrtle Perkins used to go out and take him food sometimes and clean up. And when he actually died, she was pulling down his hut. I think they owned it, but I don’t know how he got to be there. He just lived there.
1972 Cyclones and Flooding in Beerwah
YT: It was the middle of the night, cyclonic. Cyclone that was the cyclone?
RT: Cyclone with king tides so there was major flooding as well.
DW: What year was that?
RT: Seventy two. I said, “That’s the top of the courier mail truck”. So the Courier mail truck had gone in, you know that high pantec. That’s how deep it was at Coochin creek. So he turned around and drove back to Glasshouse. And parked under the garage you see because the wind was that strong.
DW: And how did you get home?
RT: Friends came; we went home on the Old Gympie Road, in a big truck.
YT: You see we didn’t have really major effects from cyclones because we were that far inland.
DW: What about drought?
YT: I don’t recall seeing it.
DW: But you always would have had to relay on a lot of tank water and things like that.
RT: Yes, we always had tank water and we had a well. I think most people then were self-sufficient. You didn’t wait until a disaster happened, you prepared beforehand.
YT: Even now, like my daughter, my other daughter, she lives on a property in Yandina. When they run out when it gets dry and they have to buy water. See, but there was none of that. You had a well, which they actually dug by hand. Remember them digging that?
DW: And postal services around there. Did you have to go off to town to get your mail?
RT: First one I remember was Mr Barns.
DW: You were saying that you didn’t go to church much. So you didn’t go to Sunday school?
YT: We did go to Sunday School.
Methodist Sunday School
RT: We went to Rays. That’s a girl’s club. You know at the Methodist Church.
DW: And that was in Beerwah?
RT: Yes, it was.
DW: Lots of kids in that?
YT: No, not really. I suppose there was about ten. They had different groups, different ages. Probably about 60 all together.
DW: And you always wanted to be a teacher?
RT: Yes, ever since I met Grace Hodgins.
DW: You decided that would be a nice, Grace Hodgins sort of steered your career through that. Did she tell you that it was a good career or did you decide that she was an angel?
RT: Yeah, that’s it.
Robyn’s Teaching career
DW: Where did you go to teacher’s college? In Brisbane?
RT: Gregory Terrace in Brisbane. It used to be the old American Army Barracks. We were the last group in it. There were sort of holes in the floor and rats everywhere. And the next year after we left everyone moved to a new College at Kelvin Grove.
DW: And so you did your leaving certificate in Nambour.
RT: In Nambour.
DW: Yes. And then you had to board in Brisbane I should imagine.
RT: Yes. I stayed at Raymont lodge a Methodist hostel.
DW: And Yvonne? Did you go on and further your career or did you marry?
YT: I just wanted to work with Dad. See, I didn’t have the desire to go and do anything else. I just wanted to leave school and work with my father. So I didn’t go to senior.
Yvonne continues the family Real Estate business: post 1966
DW: So you went into the family business at what age?
YT: Sixteen I think.
DW: How long did you stay in the family business Yvonne?
YT: It was 1966 I went to New Zealand for 12 months and came back and worked with him again. A New Zealander came back with me and we got married over here. He came into the business too. Our brother came back. He’d been working at North Gate Cannery and he gave up that and he came back and dad made the business into a company. So after, I think that Peter was only there a little while and then he got sick. And then he was sick for eighteen months. So things sort of got a little bit harder and Ian wasn’t getting on with dad. So it was, would be probably. We left twice I think Kirsty was a baby when we bought the shop at Palmwoods. She was a little just over a year.
DW: Where did you buy a shop?
YT: In Palmwoods.
DW: What sort of shop was that?
YT: A little corner store. So we worked seven days a week, that sort of thing. Had another daughter while we were there.
DW: What was the name of the other daughter?
YT: The first one was Kirsty and Hilary is the younger one.
DW: Hilary is the younger one. And Robyn, do you have children?
RT: Yes, I have got two sons. Jason was born in Newcastle in 1971 and he is a musician. And Leon is… and Leon was born in 73. And he’s a plasterer and he lives at Palmwoods now.
DW: When you had left the family business you were saying you went and got a little corner store, how did your Dad feel about all that? You being such a close family.
YT: Well I guess he was upset. He was always one for if its not going to work well you do something else that is going to work for you. But I don’t know it was probably better for our friendship for all of us to have done that. If we’d stayed there it would have got worse. Now, we did come back.
RT: He’d like to keep you and let Ian go, but it didn’t quite work like that.
YT: No well, we did go back for a little while after we sold the shop didn’t we. We went back down there bought a house and that year we…. Hilary was born in 1977 and yes, I suppose it was 1978 or something like that, back then. And then it didn’t work so that was it. We left again went back to Palmwoods and Ian went into real estate in Nambour. Yep.
DW: And your Mum, she lived for quite a few years after your father.
YT: She held on for about 14 years or something like that.
DW: And she stayed in Beerwah.
The Real Estate is sold 1978
YT: They had sold the business.
DW: When was that? When would the business have been sold? And what was the name of that business?
RT: S W Turner Real Estate.
YT: Oh, let me think. When did they do that? Well they were still in the old house up in Beerwah; they still had the business when Dad had his heart surgery. I remember the photos of him sitting there. And that was, I didn’t go to the hospital because I had Hilary and that was 1977. Must have been 1978, they would have sold the business and swapped for a nice house.
RT: Yes. It would have been 1978. Got him to swap the house.
DW: So that was 1978, so he only lived another 6 years after that. So he would have been in that business as a fairly old man wouldn’t he?
YT: He wasn’t retired for that long was he? I don’t think so. They were only in Glasshouse for a couple of years.
RT: Now, when was there fortieth anniversary?
YT: I don’t know. What did we say before? Married in 1942, 1982 would be their fortieth anniversary. They were living in Glasshouse in 1982. Glasshouse in 1982 and they were only in there about 18 months.
Sonny’s death 1984
DW: Yes, in 1984 he died. So he actually was, he stayed and active working man until quite a late period in his life.
YT: Oh yes, he was.
DW: And they moved to Glasshouse then did they after?
YT: After a while. He had a stroke while they were there and he went to hospital and lived only ten days. And because it was one and three quarter acres that it was a bit too much for mum to look after. And like the advice she had always given other women, don’t sell up straight away, see how you go. You know get used to the fact that your husband is not there, you’re not running away from anything. And she just knew she couldn’t look after all that land. We were down there mowing and things like that and she was feeling a bit bad so she sold that and bought a little house up the top end of Beerwah.
DW: And how did your Mum go once your father passed away? Was she ok, did she still stay strong?
YT: Yes, really strong. She did a lot of community work. I think she spent, just to stop being lonely and that, she would get out.
YT: She loved to travel, yes.
Marie’s community contributions in later life
DW: Can you just outline her community service in the community there? We’ve got some certificates here and awards. Can you just give me a bit of an overview of your mother’s service to the community first? She not only was a nurse in the community, but she obviously helped people and advised people.
RT: Once she went crook at me and said your doing too much you’ve got to slow down. And I said what about you? And she said I’m only on the executive of four committees and on sixteen others. You know she was, and that’s all written up in the report I’ve got you.
DW: Yeah, so that will be good. We’ll be able to put that with that.
RT: But she was involved in lots of things.
YT: So she would have been out quite a bit and she would have needed that license, get her license in those early days to get her around. And she was quite a capable driver and would think nothing going off to these types of things.
RT: She used to go out delivering Meals on Wheels to people who were probably fifteen years younger than herself.
YT: I remember her talking about one little old lady she went to bring up to Nambour to see and optometrist. And I said,”How old was she,” and she said,” Oh seventy-two”. And I said,”And how old are you?” and she said, “Seventy-five!” But she was a little old lady. You know, Mum was a feisty red haired go-getter. You know just go and do it.
DW: And your Dad he was well known in the community as well. You were saying that once your mother received an award that was a community service award and your father was saying, could you just fill me in on that because that’s quite a humorous story.
RT: Well you could never say he was jealous because he wouldn’t admit that. But he used to say,”Oh, this is a stupid thing. What a rot, absolutely lot of rot”.
DW: That she received a community award?
RT: Yeah. Or the recognition for the community service. And eventually when he was offered one he was not going to take it because he had always sort of boo hooed it. But we conned him into it and he actually got his own award.
DW: Yes that’s lovely. And your Dad what sort of things within the community did he do that would have, like he was community minded that’s why he got such an award, was it?
Establishing an ambulance centre in Beerwah 1977
RT: Yes. When he was in Lions when it was his year to be President he made it his sort of thing for the year was to get an ambulance centre.
DW: Can you fill me in on a bit about that?
RT: So he was the driving force behind that and eventually you know when we got the ambulance in it was just after Dad’s year finished. But you know the entire fund raising and the pushing and the need to have it was shown to the ambulance board.
DW: And that was Beerwah.
YT: When I was working in the office, at that time, and there were two of us. Carol Fullerton and I, we both had to type (DW: Carol Fullerton?) Carol Fullerton yes, still down there. And no such things as computers or anything then. To make it personal we typed a letter to every person in the area of Peachester-Beerwah-Glasshouse-Landsborough, and I don’t know whether Mooloolah was included. But we actually typed a personal letter to every person that resided in the area. About inviting them to the meetings and the contributions and things like that. It was a big effort to get those off.
DW: For the ambulance? And I guess your mother would have been a driving force there with that as well, realising that she had been a nurse and had to go through all of that as well.
YT: That was the catalyst of it you know, Dad’s; he knew the need was there because so many years that Mum had been at it.
DW: And there had been no doctor or anything there?
DW: Nothing? And so when did that, I know Beerwah didn’t have an ambulance service, so when would that have happened?
YT: It actually opened in seventy-seven. About August because I was there. Remember.
DW: You were having a baby. Yes. And so the ambulance went in and they received recognition, your father received recognition for that. What sort of committees was your father on? You were saying, Lions. Can you name some other groups that he belonged to in the community?
RT: The hall committee.
YT: He was a patron of a few different things.
RT: He was patron of the kindergarten.
YT: The kindergarten and the showground whatever they called that. And the hall committee.
DW: So the show ground they did, was there a show in Beerwah?
YT: No, just a ground for sports. Yeah sports ground.
RT: Sports field was all.
Beerwah Library built on Turner land
DW: The new Beerwah Library is located on your family property. Can you tell me a little bit about that and the donation that was made?
YT: Well Dad did a subdivision. He had an overall plan for this bit down here.
DW: This was how many acres? This original site was…
YT: About thirty-two I think. I think there is nineteen left. He had three stages of subdivision he was going to do. He did one and he died after that. But while he was doing that first one he was obliged to give so much land to the Council for parklands. And because that low part in the centre was too low to build on.
RT: Which is going to be where the lake is and I think that’s where.
YT: That’s where, that’s right, that’s why he gave them such a big piece of land because you can’t build on it.
DW: And now days we’ll be having a library there.
RT: But the library’s up on the high bit.
DW: Yes it is. I’ve been down just recently and we’re waiting on the roof at the moment, but it should be on any moment. But the man made lake had young ducks and everything on it the other day. Wild ducks. And so that was given, how would your father have felt about such a wonderful community resource going in there on that property.
RT: He’d be tickled.
YT: Yes, Oh yes.
DW: Did you always have books in the home?
YT: Yes, not a lot. Not like you see some people with big shelves.
DW: But you always had access to literature?
YT: Yes, the special stuff.
DW: He and your mother would have thought that the new library was a good thing?
YT: Anything for the community, anything at all. You know I mean they were even involved in the swimming pool. Another one what was it? The latest? I’ve forgotten what I was going to say. Something that they were really into in the last few years of their life.
RT: The swimming pool committee were raising money and they were going to start putting it on that parkland but they changed their mind. So they helped with fundraising and that.
YT: Yes, that’s right.
The Beerwah Dances
DW: We were talking about your Dad on the hall committee. Did you all attend dances in the community?
YT: Oh yes that was the whole point of life.
RT: The dances were good.
YT: All our social life that we had, as such, was to do with charity work. You’d have a dance raising money for something or you’d have another function whatever it might be. BBQ’s or fetes and things like that that you got involved in. That was your fun times and yet it was all contributing.
DW: So the people in the community would come along to the hall.
RT: That’s what the hall did. People would come for miles to Beerwah dances. They were even more important than Palmwoods I think.
DW: The Beerwah dances. Can you remember some of the musicians that might have played there?
YT: I can remember Ivy Garrad and husband George Garrad.
RT: And the Blue Hawaiians.
YT: That was their band, that was their band.
DW: The Blue Hawaiians was their band?
YT: The Blue Hawaiian Band. Yes, Ivy’s just stopped playing music in the last twelve months. She’s the one that lives in Palmwoods.
DW: So those dances would be once a month or something like that in Beerwah.
YT: Every fortnight they were.
DW: And all of the community would come along to those and the kids.
YT: The kids would go to sleep under the seats.
DW: And were your parents good dancers?
YT: Yes. They were lovely.
DW: They enjoyed dancing. Your mother would get dressed up.
YT: The times when they were dancing the bands were more brass type bands.
RT: Like ballroom dancing bands you know.
YT: Yes brass, like trumpets and saxophones and all that sort of thing. I can’t think of their names. That was too long ago. I was probably asleep under the seat.
DW: And go along in the car and then at the end of the night all go home?
YT: I think we did.
RT: We probably walked.
YT: No I think we did. I think we went in the car even though we didn’t live far away. Because if any of us went to sleep we’d just you know they’d lift us into the car? I can remember that happening.
DW: So they sounded like they were wonderful times fun, even though there wasn’t a lot of money with the family but they were so industrious.
RT: We weren’t the only ones without money. Everyone didn’t have money. We weren’t the worst off in town.
YT: Like now we have the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots” but in those days we were all “Have-Nots”.
Italian community in Beerwah
DW: Can you tell me a little bit about the Italian people that came into that community? Were they well received within the community?
RT: The men fitted into the community but the women often stayed at home and didn’t even learn the language. I think that was the only thing wrong they did.
YT: I think they got that wrong.
DW: But their children would have come on to school.
YT: Men folk I remember most of them, the first ones came down from North Queensland. They’d come out from Italy to North Queensland to grow tobacco. And it was failing up there for some reason and this was to be the best area for growing tobacco. The men had come here, young men would be here. And they would always go back to Italy to select a bride. They never married (DW: within the community) yes. And they’d bring these ladies out who didn’t speak English and this is why they were staying at home. They weren’t sort of moving out into the community. Their children had to learn, because they had to go to school.
RT: They picked it up really easily.
YT: Yes, well kids pick it up easy. Also they wouldn’t be going to school if they didn’t speak the language. So often they would educate their mothers. They would do a lot of things for their mothers. They used to do a lot of explaining for their mothers.
DW: So they would come to the community and interpret.
YT: Used to come in for shopping and things instead of their mother.
DW: Come in instead of the mothers or the mothers would come in?
YT: Mostly, mostly instead of their mothers.
DW: And would they have been in like the traditional dresses when someone passed away they would go into black and things like that?
DW: So everyone in the community treated them well?
YT: Yes, lovely. They fitted in.
DW: Any other people coming into the community like that? I mean the soldier settlers were in the Beerburrum area there.
YT: Not as a race or a group of people. I don’t notice.
DW: What about the bush fires? There was no fire brigade or anything like that so they would have to meet, I guess those sorts of people, and the volunteers would have to have had some sort of group as well. Or did everyone help when a fire came and the word got around.
RT: When the fire came the word got around and everyone went.
DW: Things like your shopping would you just stay in that community or would you go elsewhere to buy main things? Would you go to Brisbane once a year or anything like that?
YT: Occasionally there were things we had to go out of town for, such as the doctor. A doctor or a chemist.
DW: Where did you go for the doctor?
RT: Maleny or Nambour.
YT: Oh yes.
DW: Up to Maleny, up to Doctor?
YT: Cole, I think his name was Cole?
RT: I have to tell you about going to Nambour. On the rare occasion we went to Nambour, you wore a hat and gloves and stockings and got dressed up to the hilt. Now if you go to Nambour today you’d wear your dirty old work clothes and you’re too dressed up. But we really did.
DW: That was for the day with your parents in the car?
RT: Yes. Occasionally we’d catch the train.
Development and Industry change in Beerwah
DW: You would go in there for certain things. Would you meet other people within the community in Nambour? That was the central place. Can you just tell me a little bit about the pineapple industry? You were saying how the old days of packing pineapples.
YT: It being a lot more individual. A lot more individual? Pineapples used to be packed in crates and supported with straw or paper or something.
RT: Wood wool.
YT: Wood wool. Is that what it was? And each crate would have timber lids nailed onto it and loaded onto trucks and individually loaded onto trains. Whereas now it’s a lot more mechanised. Where you just pick your pineapple put it on a conveyor belt, which goes into a big bin, which is lifted onto a train.
DW: So the industry certainly changed. Are the pineapple farms in that area diminishing now because of export markets and importing?
YT: Only the unprofitable ones. The farmers who bought their neighbours out and got bigger farms they seem to be the ones that survived.
DW: Do you still have land down in that area as a family holding through the Turner family?
YT: We still have park, the land around the park from Peachester Road through to Roberts Street I think they’ve called it now. We’ve still got that land I suppose how would you describe the shape. Oh, this is all gone now I suppose it is like an L shape that is left, and our old house.
DW: And that skirts around the new library site.
RT: Around to the old house.
DW: And how do you feel about the changes in Beerwah amongst yourself? Seeing this library go up and the proposed community hall. Do you think it’s a good thing?
RT: I think it’s a brilliant thing but I go back down there and I don’t know anybody. (DW: it’s changed?) The population has changed.
YT: Yes, well the people, we all move on and do new things. But I like what’s happening with the development. The type of development that’s happening down there is probably its retaining its little rural community type thing. It’s still got centres. Like what’s going to be in, not only the library but all the other things that will be in the park.
RT: It’s really good to see them doing that.
DW: And if, we went back in time and there were committees as such to raise money for something. Now of course Local Government takes care of it. Do you think your father and mother might have gone on a committee to help get a library in town?
YT: They would do anything.
RT: I’ll tell you what else. Like this is changing. Another thing Dad and Mum did was because they knew the importance of Corbould Park. They were in the first fifty people I would think, or sixty people to put their names down and support that.
DW: Yes, your father liked to go to the horses? Race horses?
Early development in Caloundra 1970s
RT: Not particularly, but he just thought it was a good thing for the area.
YT: For the area.
DW: For the area. So he was broadminded?
RT: He was a broad-minded person.
YT: He always thought what we need. That’s why I think Beerwah grew as opposed to places like Landsborough. I mean Landsborough’s grown but in a different way it’s more residential. Although they tell me now that there’s lots and lots more shops and things. But in the time when we were growing up and Dad had brought the business up town. In that parcel of land there was a little tiny building and Dad used to rent it out but only to businesses that we needed. The first people I remember was the chemist from Maleny see we didn’t have a chemist. But by this time the doctor used to visit in the CWA hall one afternoon a week. (DW: who was that?) Doctor Cole and he used to come down. So Dad convinced the chemist from Maleny, Wally Burnett that he ought to come down and open up when the doctor was across the road in the CWA hall. So he did that and eventually it became a full time chemist and then young Rod McLachlin It was not enough room for him so he bought, on the other side from us he bought, or built a chemists shop which I think is still there. And so Dad had to find another tenant. But he would keep it open until he would go to Charlie and say, ‘What do we need? What do people go out of town for?’ They would go out for haircuts and they would go out for the TAB and they go out for a list of things. And that’s what they did as a community they tried to improve. But he could have got people into that shop and had it rented. But things like, I mean we appreciate them, but craft.
DW: He rented it out as a purpose built venture.
YT: To bring, yes, to stop people spending their money out of town. Not to stop them going out but to stop them spending their money out because he could see that the more money you spend in your town it all comes back to you.
RT: So he put the TAB in.
DW: He put the TAB in there.
YT: It took a lot of getting. To get an agency for that.
DW: Did he have the agency himself or put someone in there?
DW: Do you know who that person was, the first person to go in there?
RT: Yep, it was Elsa Fraser. Was it either Elsa or Lois?
YT: No it was someone else I think.
YT: She lives in Turner Street.
DW: When would that have been?
RT: That would have been in seventy four. No because I was thinking that we might do it.
DW: And if you had a TAB, I guess before that there would have been an SP bookie coming out of the pub or something like that.
YT: No, we didn’t have things like that back in those days. It was illegal wasn’t it?
RT: I think you could say there would be one but it wasn’t common knowledge in the kid’s world.
DW: And the hotel that would have been a very busy hotel, there too? Did people, stop over? That would have been busy because the road went through there. I guess travellers would have stopped.
YT: Yes. And we had an insurance agency.
RT: Yes, lots of travellers would stop.
YT: Well it’s another thing Dad used to do, have the insurance agency or several. And when the representatives from the insurance companies would come up they’d stay at the local pub overnight.
DW: So there was lots of things. And in those early times too, before electric train and diesel, the steam trains would have gone through that area there.
YT: The old coal trains?
DW: Yes. Did they stop anywhere there for water or anything like that?
RT: No they used to stop at Landsborough.
YT: Landsborough was a big rail centre. All trains used to spend ten minutes there for a refreshment stop. It was a refreshment place.
RT: And filling up with water.
DW: So they would have been really exciting too. And as little kids watching those trains go through the town?
YT: Yes. You know where it was. We lived right across the road from it. We got a little blasé about that. You know visitors would say I can hear one coming I can hear a train. They’d all stand up on the fence and wave but you know we just were used to it.
RT: And they would say don’t they keep you awake? And Mum would say the only time they’d keep you awake was when they were on strike and you are not hearing them.
DW: Also did your Mum enjoy a little house garden or herself or anything around the home? Like the family home.
YT: She wasn’t that sort. She used to like her roses and her Gerberas, but I don’t remember her spending a great amount of time out there.
RT: But she had a problem. She had a bit of a problem with gardening she had shrubs and every time she put one in Dad would mow it off.
YT: Oh yes. He just liked lawn.
RT: She had much nicer gardens in the Glasshouse, in the Pine Camp Road house.
YT: Yes, because they retired there.
DW: And also soil down there is so good too, in the Glasshouse region.
RT: Also I think water was a big problem. Like I can remember tipping out the bath water and putting that on the garden. And I think, maybe it was a great huge drought.
DW: What about the veggies? Did your Dad have a veggie garden?
YT: Pop, my Mum’s Dad lived with us for a while and he always had vegetables.
DW: What was his name?
YT: Jim Tinney.
DW: He lived with you?
YT: A long long time after.
RT: He came after grandma died.
DW: And where were they originally?
YT: In Kilcoy.
Peter’s Death 1972
DW: In Kilcoy and he came to live with you after your grandmother died. Your brother, this is your only brother, and he died you were saying from cancer. How did that affect the family?
YT: Well it was devastating. I can remember when Peter got sick and we were all working together and Dad he was just saying well you know it’s like when you’ve got a football team. If somebody gets injured and drops out the others have just got to cover him and make up for it. And that’s just how, we worked. Mum never ever got over it. Mum was bitter forever, she never (DW: bitter with the world) absolutely. I mean like I said she could handle anything, any disaster as long as it wasn’t her family. Yes, she never ever forgave.
DW: Had he married?
YT: Yes, he was married for eighteen months or a bit more. Had a little girl. She was seven months when he died.
DW: Was he buried in this area?
RT: He was cremated and put in the Albany Creek, but the ashes are now up at the family plot at Buderim.
YT: Mum, thought we would all go up there.
DW: That would have been a big funeral? Was that at Albany Creek?
YT: Yes, there were a lot of people that couldn’t get there because of the cyclone that we were talking about. The night Peter died there was flood rain.
DW: So you just got back that night and he’d passed away.
RT: No he’d died the day before and we came up. But the funeral had to be delayed the floods were on.
YT: They couldn’t even get him through. So yes, like Peter’s funeral and Dad’s and Mum’s they were all big. The three of them had lots and lots of people.
DW: Where are your Mum and Dad buried?
YT: Mum bought a family plot up in Buderim when Dad died. She had Peter’s ashes and Peter’s ashes are up there. Now Mum and Dad and Peter and Mum’s two sisters are there, you know.
DW: Do you go up and visit?
YT: Yes, I don’t go up and visit very often.
DW: What do you mean your Mum was bitter? In herself she was. Still, you were saying she was industrious. She’d still take about Meals on Wheels but she just felt that, that wasn’t fair.
YT: She didn’t have control over it. Most things she was, like I said she was feisty or something got to be done get in and do it. But she couldn’t do a damn thing about that. About Peter being sick it was just like…
RT: And all her faith in the medical profession went out the window. You know because they couldn’t do anything.
DW: And did she nurse him?
YT: No, he was married. He was renting a place not far from, where we were. Mum and Dad were next door to us. We were all in the same street. So you know you’d stay up when Peter was getting to the stage where he couldn’t do anything much and friends stopped coming around because he looked so awful and they didn’t know what to say. You know we’d go there every night and play cards until midnight things like that, yeah.
DW: You were still one family and you helped Peter through this?
YT: Helped him through it, yes.
DW: I’ve just got a picture here of your mother. She only looks a little thing too.
YT: She was, well I’m tallest. You were next and Mum was shortest.
DW: So how tall are you Yvonne?
YT: I’m five one and a half?
RT: I’d say I’m five foot and half an inch but I’m not.
YT: I’m five one and a half.
DW: And your Mum would have been about?
RT: Four foot eleven.
DW: You’re Mum so she was…
YT: She didn’t make five-foot.
RT: She had to, to get into the army she should have been five-foot so they shut their eyes and let her put her high heels on.
DW: She enjoyed her army life?
Post army career paths: Sonny and Marie
DW: And your Dad in his army career where did he go?
YT: He was in the Middle East. He was in New Guinea and Borneo.
RT: You’ve got the photos for it. He had to have met a lot of people over there.
DW: Yes, so they had active service and then they came home and they wouldn’t have seen each other for quite a long time in that period, would they? Like being married and going about their business and everything. She was a lieutenant and your father was a sergeant, so she was a higher rank.
RT: And he hated that because if they met in public he had to salute her. He was the original male chauvinist pig. If ever there was one.
DW: He also obviously let her have her head and do the things that she had to do. So he, like her being a lieutenant and him having to salute her that was like a bit of a joke was it.
RT: Yes, but I think deep down he, you know his male pride was everything.
DW: And did she continue on with friendships with any people from the military after they came out? Did people used to visit you from those days? Some of the old mates.
RT: They could sit and yarn for hours.
DW: At your home? Your home was like a central place, you were saying with the barbershop and everything like that. The men used to yarn and solve the world’s problems.
YT: We had a couple that turned up to look at a property in where dad was doing real estate from the old house down the bottom. This lady was really really tall and had a really deep voice, you know. And as soon as Mum saw her she knew who it was. It was somebody she had been in the army with and her name was Nance McPhee and it was just like the long and the short of it. You know one was really short and one was really tall, with a deep voice. And Dad’s mate used to come over
DW: So with your father and mother being in community, lots of community activities, did they ever go into Local Government? Or have any interest in that?
RT: Oh yes, very interested. Dad was interested and he used to be a scrutineer and support other people. You know talk them into standing and things like that.
DW: For the benefit of the community. So he was interested in politics and different things like that. Well I think that we’ve sort of covered a fair bit about your family today. I know that I’m going to get some more information from you, Robyn, on your Mum and Dad. Thanks very much for all this and no doubt we will get a lot of information that we can connect with our new library in Beerwah. Turner family history sounds a wonderful warm history that I’m looking forward to getting it transcribed.
Thanks very much ladies, thank you.