Interview with: Stanley (Stan) Whalley
Place of Interview: Nambour
Date of Interview: 28 February 1990
Interviewer: Caroline Foxon
Transcriber: Heidi Scott
The pioneering and industrious Whalley family is well known amongst the early residents in Nambour.
Images and documents about Stan Whalley in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image credit: Stan Whalley at Maroochydore, 1937.
Stan Whalley oral history [MP3 57MB]
CF: Stanley, I understand your grandfather, that`s James Whalley, came out with his family from England in 1883. Perhaps you could tell me something about that. Who was in the family and so on?
WHALLEY: Well, there were five children in the family at that time, there was his first wife and three children. She died about 1878. And he married again, and had two more children, and of course were only toddlers then when they came out in August 1883. They sailed to Australia in the S S Roma. News about the volcano Krakatoa was received from another passing ship as they were coming round the north of Australia. They came direct to Brisbane. Sailed through pumice in the ocean on the way around the north. They stayed at Tingalpa near a year, presumably while the father was gaining practical experience on farms.
CF: What had your grandfather done when he was in England? What was his background?
WHALLEY: He’d been a bookseller over there and, presumably studying all these books, he learnt a lot about Australia and about farming in general, possibly, but of course that wasn’t practical experience.
CF: What do you think directed them up towards the Nambour area, what would have interested them up here?
WHALLEY: Well there was the possibility of getting selection, but I don’t know how many areas they were available in, and he took up the selection here, what are the reasons for it, I don’t know at all.
CF: So, would he have come up first and had a bit of a look around.?
WHALLEY: I suspect he must have. Of course travel was very difficult in those times. There was the Cobb and Co coaches, but they had a high fare as well as being a few days of miserable jolting, so I don’t know.
CF: What would they have cost? What was the fare up from Brisbane?
WHALLEY: I never heard that, but I’d heard of another fare in some other area that was similar in distance, for about three pounds. And this was at a time when wages were about a pound a week for a normal workman.
CF: So it probably wasn’t the thing for ordinary people to travel by Cobb and Co then?
WHALLEY: Well they wouldn’t do day trips to Brisbane, that was certain.
CF: Right. Did you hear much or did people used to tell you much about the conditions when the coaches were travelling, what were they like?
WHALLEY: Well they would have been very bumpy over, it was just a track cleared through standing timber most of the way. I presume, I don’t know, there may have been a few cleared areas. Then, of course, the coach and wheels and the horse’s hoofs would have pounded it all to dust very quickly. Then the wheels had to bump all over the roots of the trees that came, well, interweaving you might say I suppose, and that would have given a very, much of a tossing ride, even at walking I would have thought. And then with this family came here in just a horse and cart, the cart would have been lurching a lot worse than those coaches would have.
CF: So, once your grandfather had made the selection up here then, he brought the whole family up with him?
WHALLEY: Yes, they all came up on the, well walking most of them, the mother and the little toddlers were on the cart, everything piled on the cart to set up the farm.
CF: How long would it have taken them to do the trip?
WHALLEY: That’s something I never heard, but presumably they came by cart all the way from Brisbane, there might have been a railway pathway by then, I'm not sure, but it would have taken at least three days to Palmwoods. They stayed at Palmwoods the last night on the way here. And they must have, I think they must have had to make two or three goes over some of the steeper hills.
CF: Pretty heavy going.
WHALLEY: Well they'd have a fairly heavily loaded cart I would think.
CF: And where exactly then was your grandfathers selection in Nambour?
WHALLEY: Well the selection was a hundred and sixty acres, which was a quarter mile by one mile. And the south-west corner of the selection just took in Dulong Lookout, to one mile east. And parts of Mapleton Road were within the northern boundary. Of course there was no road then, it was only a bullock wagon track to where they loaded their logs, and the only access to the property was this bullock wagon track, all the way from what's now Bli Bli turn-off corner.
CF: And they would have gone over land then along the bullock track from there?
WHALLEY: Well they followed up the Cobb and Co road down to that Bli Bli corner and then it was all the old original Nambour Station up there.
CF: That was the original cattle station?
CF: That was the one that Nambour was named after wasn’t it. The one that was called Nambah in those days.
WHALLEY: Yes. I'm not sure about the spelling, they've had a few changes in different ways.
CF: Had anyone been on that area before, you mentioned there was a bullock track up through there, who would have made that?
WHALLEY: Well, it was the timbergetters that were doing it, they'd been getting timber for perhaps twenty years before. I'm just not sure when they started.
CF: That was a very steep area, how would they have got timber out of there?
WHALLEY: Well, they just went over the tops of all the knobs that were in the way until they got up to the Dulong Range, and they couldn't haul timber down that, it was too steep. They got their wagons up somehow, up a very steep track, more about that later. Anyway tracks everywhere had to go up and down the ridges because the flats had too many gullies and boggy places, and they couldn't go off side slopes without overturning. There were some very steep hills. And the road from Brisbane, was one south of Eudlo, that was infamous, called the Sandy Pinch. And the road to Brisbane from Palmwoods was along the Montville Road, turns west and crosses the creek. It must have taken them three days to get to Palmwoods and they stayed over at Remingtons. Apparently they were running an early motel type of place. I have an idea it might have been about opposite where the school or sports grounds are now.
The old road between Palmwoods and Woombye is still there, west of the railway. It’s not clear where it turned east to reach Cobbs Camp, as they called Woombye then. The road to Nambour came up over the hill, halfway between what's known as Cobbs Road now. And then a bit further this way over the top of Kelks hill, and it’s very steep down the north side. I have an idea they would have had to unload the cart to go up or down those very steep hills, the horses wouldn't have been able to control it. They made two or three trips I would think. The old bullock wagon track went to just below the range, and their loading spot under the range where they tipped the logs over when they brought them from the Dulong area.
CF: So that was how they got the timber down the hill, they just dropped it over.
WHALLEY: Yes, some more on that after. One story is that the family camped in a slab hut that timbergetters had built, and while they built the start of their own home proper, on the knob south across the big gully, and that's just due east from Dulong Lookout, about nearly half a mile I suppose really.
CF: So the property was actually what is now the present Dulong Lookout?
WHALLEY: Yes, just in the south-east corner of that, that was in the south -east corner of the property.
CF: What was Nambour like in those days? There can't have been very much to it was there?
WHALLEY: There wasn't. There was only two houses in what's now Nambour town. Mr Tom Howard had one, about where Coles yard is now. He had a selection taking in a lot of the east side, suppose it was a quarter of a square mile area like the standard size. And Carroll's had a pub on the top of what was later called Showground Hill. Mostly cut away now, although on the western side it's still the original height, and a road running up there gives you an idea of what the hill was like.
CF: That was Matthew Carroll was it?
WHALLEY: I'm not sure of the name of which of them really had it. There were several of the family around afterwards, I suppose they were the boys of the family. Then there was a Tuckers blacksmith shop, was near the cross roads, where the bullock wagon crossed the Cobb and Co road. The bullockies took their timber down, some distance down the creek further, floated down to the mills. And that's a thing I never really sorted out, I think they must have left it up on a high ground until there was a fresh in the creek, otherwise it might have gone there at night or anything.
CF: And missed it.
WHALLEY: They must have left it on the high ground and then early in the morning they’d tip it in, arrange with the mill to be ready to collect it. And I would think that the place where they did that would have been just up on the western side of Tucker’s Creek, where that footballers ground is now.
CF: Right. Oh that's out where the sewerage works were, one of the Rafting Grounds, yes.
WHALLEY: Yes. That was where they tipped the logs in I would think. Then there was of course Mitchells Mill down in Rosemount. It was one that collected a lot of them. There was another mill that Pettigrews had down, well just exactly where Evans had their boats later.
CF: Down at Cotton Tree, or Mooloolaba?
WHALLEY: No, this was up the river, up the river, some distance up the river than the public wharf. Anyway, and where Evans had their launches and hire boats, anyway this big Pettgrew`s mill was there from the early days. In the thirties there were a couple of big sandstone pylons in the backyards of the places there, perhaps twenty or thirty yards apart. And something to do with a crane for the mill I understand, although it could have been heavy supports for something. Had a big bolt sticking up in the top of them. Never cleared up properly what they were, and there was some remains of an old jetty in the water riverbank.
CF: How did the family cope when they first arrived? Were they able to grow all of their food?
WHALLEY: Well they had to start growing as soon as they could. They had a lot of trouble with wallabies, they tried to plant corn, and the wallabies would scratch it out and eat it. They got over that by dipping the corn in tar and then rolling it in ashes. The wallabies didn't like the tar flavour I presume. How the corn managed to grow after it I'm not sure. That's how they planted it and then I would have thought there would have been a lot of trouble with the wallabies eating off the young corn when it came up. I think a rifle was the cure for that. Kept the family in meat that way a lot I think too.
CF: Would they have done a lot of hunting, that sort of thing?
WHALLEY: Well they had to keep the pests like that down.
CF: Were there things they had to buy in?
WHALLEY: Well they had to get supplies of flour and sugar as they always thought they had to have in those days, and I'm not sure how many other things. But that all had to come from Brisbane by the small ships, or what ever they called them, cutters as they were termed in those days. Whether they were paddle wheelers or what, I was never clear, or whether they were steam or sailing, I think most of them were powered.
CF: And they'd come all the way up the river to Nambour?
WHALLEY: They could only come up as far as Mitchell`s Mill, which was the same spot as Discount Paint Shop is now down at Petrie Creek Road. That acted as a depot for the settlers around the district. And there was another settler from Bli Bli area who had a punt which brought things up further on some occasions and unloaded then on the creek bank at a place just a bit east of where the new Nambour by-pass highway goes. It was a flat place on the bank there where the creek comes to the old road. If the settlers knew it was there it was alright, they could come and get it. But there was no way of telling them, and on one occasion they had some stuff washed away.
CF: How could they tell if the boat had come up?
WHALLEY: The boats themselves I believe when they came into the river they sounded a whistle to be heard all over the district.
CF: So it would be a fair trip down from your grandfather’s property down to there wouldn't it?
WHALLEY: Well the way I figured it would have been seven or eight miles, the way they had to go it, because they had to come down the Bli Bli corner first and there was no Rosemount Road, they had to go to the top of Kelks Hill and all the way along the top of the ridge, roughly where Panorama Drive is, until they got to Upper Rosemount, directly above the mill, and then down the spur to the mill. And of course retracing the route up the hill again . When they had a load such as a bag of flour, sixty pound bag, they'd split it, put half of it into a second bag and tip it up half and half across the horse, pack-saddle type.
CF: How old would your father have been then, this is your father James, when they arrived there? I mean he was obviously doing some fairly heavy work. How old was he then?
WHALLEY: He would have been eleven when they arrived in Nambour. Of course it wasn't very heavy work just leading a horse around. But he took on heavier work as he could I suppose. I'm not sure that he went to school here at all, there was a school established out a little bit past Bli Bli turn off somewhere, but when it was established I'm not quite sure. Anyway I doubt whether he went to school here anymore, it was probably his father taught him a few things at home.
CF: Right. And how long did he stay at home for?
WHALLEY: Oh he kept there until he turned twenty-one, then he took up another selection on his own.
CF: Right. Where was that?
WHALLEY: That was on the north side of Towen Mount Road, all down the steep hill side and running from somewhere a bit west of Mayers Road, to up to near the mountain itself I understand.
CF: And what was he growing there?
WHALLEY: I don't think he grew anything there, unless it was just a bit, a few bits of vegetables himself. The selection rules required that so much area be cleared every year, and they had to also build a house on it. So he had to put a little hut of some sort there and live there on his own. And that was, well from when he was twenty-one, he applied for his selection, would have been in the middle of 1884, 1894 rather. He was born in April 1873.
CF: I understand then he started - was it 1903 - he started his own sawmill.
WHALLEY: Yes, well he'd been studying books all he could, at nights up there and reading by a little kerosene lamp, studying various engineering books and learning all he needed I suppose to set up a sawmill. In getting and setting up that sawmill he got a special crank shaft made, that he needed for his big saws, by a Mr Etheridge, who had a foundry down Rosemount. It's a thing I've never heard about anyone else. This foundry was somewhere, I've never been quite clear of the place, he pointed it out one time when we were driving down there. It was in a southerly bend in the road just east of a bit of a ridge, I fancy it might be a place where there's a fairly recently built road runs up there now, I forget the name of it.
CF:: That would have been the one that was later then moved up to Eumundi.
WHALLEY: Well the Etheridges at Eumundi, I don't know whether they're relatives or not, but it's probable they are. But any rate this Etheridge had a foundry down Rosemount in 1903.
CF: Where did your father actually set up his sawmill?
WHALLEY: Well it's in a place where Ray Grace's cars are now, down Howard Street. Just on the eastern side of the shops, and he had a fair patch of land there and several allotments, I think it had been surveyed into allotments actually but of course there were no controls about what anybody built in those days. Built three small houses or four in fact on the allotments nearby.
CF: Was it a large mill? Did he have very many people working for him?
WHALLEY: Oh he didn't have anyone working for him. I'm not sure, it wasn't that big.
CF: But he did it all by himself?
WHALLEY: Managed it all by himself. That went all right until one occasion a log got out of control a bit and jammed him and he couldn't move. Pretty much bruised leg I believe too with it, but he had to yell for help and Mrs Swenson, who lived in one of the houses nearby came to see what was the matter and under his directions she managed to move the log enough for him for get free. He did his own doctoring after it, I don't know.
CF: What happened to people in those days, was there any medical service in Nambour?
WHALLEY: I don't know, there was nothing much until… Dr Penny was one of the early one, but when he started here I don't know.
CF: So what you just had to take care of your own sick?
WHALLEY: Well Dad broke his arm one time when he was in his teens, a fall from a horse I think it was, and he made his father just set it. It was never perfectly right but had to get away with it.
CF: Just had to cope.
WHALLEY: Yes. I think it always caused Dad a bit of trouble, I'm not sure. He was a great one for ignoring any pains, work it off was his attitude.
CF: And how long did he have the mill for?
WHALLEY: He used to say till 1916, but he got married at the beginning of 1916 and I don't think he was running it after that. He might have sold it off for removal I understand at that time.
CF: And had he met your mother here? Was she a local girl?
WHALLEY: Well she was with the Mayers family of course, and the Mayers family came to live, well just before he took up that selection actually I presume they would have been there. And just well practically next-door to that. And of course he got to know them well there and she was nearly ten years younger than Dad of course, just a little school girl, you might say in those days, but she was only about eleven at any rate. And he came round , fairly attractive looking girl, anyway he apparently thought she was worth waiting to grow up.
CF: Very romantic.
WHALLEY: Well they didn't get married until she was in her thirties for that matter. He was in mid -forties. And he built the house here, must have been late 1915.
CF: That's the house here, that we're in now is it?
WHALLEY: The timber part of it, been added to a lot since. Several occasions.
CF: So he'd given up the mill then, what did he do then?
WHALLEY: Well he thought he'd made enough money to retire, but he didn't take account of how much it cost being a married man, and he didn't take account of inflation. Something he'd never get used to somehow.
CF: And what was the community like then, how much had Nambour grown by then?
WHALLEY: I never heard much about that, course it was still pretty much of a small country town I suppose. The place gradually grew all the time. There was dirt roads everywhere in the early days. And the only way to get gravel was to get it from creeks, carted by horse and dray, load it by shovels, by hand I presume. Would have been pretty expensive and it took a long time to get any decent gravel roads. I know in the early 20s there was gravel through Currie Street of course, and fine white gravel they had, they didn't have any proper curbing then, they had much the same sort of thing for the footpaths. A few places they had a bit of a plank for edging for curbing and that was all. Just the sort of thing you'll find in any old western town now I suppose.
CF: Pretty rough and ready?
WHALLEY: Oh well it had to be of course.
CF: What were the schools like then? What year would you have started school?
WHALLEY: Well I was going about a year, I was going in about 1924 I suppose.
CF: And that would have been at Nambour Rural?
WHALLEY: The old Nambour Rural School, which was located up, well it used to be called Mill Street then, but it was later changed to Bury Street, approximately where the carpark is now. The east of that was in the same street, Wimmers had their soft drink factory. And the Baptist church was on the corner all where the Council offices are now.
CF: Yes. When they called it a rural school, what was the difference between a rural school and an ordinary school?
WHALLEY: Well they were giving them special classes for the older ones at any rate, special classes in connection with farm work and that sort of thing. I believe Nambour was the first one that started it as an experiment really. But I'm not sure what year that actually began either, it wasn't right at the beginning.
CF: Right. Would you have done farm sort of classes yourself?
WHALLEY: Well I missed a great deal of schooling through health troubles. I was going there for about a year when my mother reckoned I was too crook to go and I wasn't going again until… official schooling, cause I was learning a lot at home. Didn't do anymore official schooling until 1931 down at Maroochydore School.
CF: What, your family moved down to Maroochydore?
WHALLEY: Well Dad was down there on a big building job, that was the reason for it. And staying down there nearly six months. Of course I was going to school there then and it was an easier place to get going. Pretty easy going teacher there, but the difficulty came when I came back to Nambour School and the different ways of doing things.
CF: Yes of course. What was Maroochydore like in those days? Very much there?
WHALLEY: There was a fair bit of a town, but nothing near to what it is now of course. It was mostly a couple of rows of houses up the river and that was about all.
CF: How accessible was it? What sort of roads were there to Maroochydore?
WHALLEY: In 1925, we got our old, first car in 1925, a T-Ford. That was the family transport for thirty years, partly because Dad was getting to old to drive anything different, also a matter of money in the Depression. Any rate when we first started going to Maroochydore, the road was just winding through the trees, like the old original Cobb and Co road from Brisbane must have been, just a bush track.
CF: That's following the easiest path.
WHALLEY: Well of course it was a fairly made-up road through Woombye and down as far as, well as far as the Maroochydore turn off as its called now. There was no road down the Brisbane way, or Forest Glen or anything that I recall in those days. There might have been a bit of a track in. Anyway from there down it was just pretty poor sort of a bush track, and particularly across the Eudlo Creek and on, it was just winding through the trees and avoiding the biggest ones, then going to bog, no made stuff at all. Over the next few years it improved of course.
CF: How long would it have taken to make the trip in those early days by car?
WHALLEY: I can't recall that with all those bogs, I know on one occasion the old ford got bogged right in front of the Maroochydore School, the school was there then, got the kids to help us push us out. And I remember seeing, I don't know whether it was our car or another one lurching up and down over I suppose it was buried tree roots really, and rough through the half dried bog.
CF: And then you moved back to Nambour after that?
WHALLEY: Well yes, we had this shack down there of course, we kept that and we used to let it out to various people who wanted a holiday there, but it wasn't a satisfactory sort of game. We’d go there ourselves occasionally for bits.
CF: Tell me a bit about school then, when you came back to Nambour, to the Rural School. Who was the headmaster then?
WHALLEY: Mr Zerner was headmaster in those days.
CF: He was there a long time wasn't he?
WHALLEY: Yes, he was a pretty decent old chap I believe. I never had much to do with him of course. Then the teacher I had was Harry Bonnim.
CF: And what size would your class have been?
WHALLEY: I believe there was supposed to be forty-five in the class, although of course there were mostly a few away.
CF: Oh that was fairly large wasn't it?
WHALLEY: Well they can't seem to think they should manage it now, I don't know, don't think it made much difference.
CF: What sort of lessons did you used to have?
WHALLEY: Oh, wouldn't be much different to what they have now,
I’m not familiar with....
CF: The basic English, Maths and Geography and History, that sort of thing?
WHALLEY: Various subjects. I remember at Maroochydore School they were doing a few different things. One occasion down there, always stuck in my memory, a big magnolia flower, gave them to draw in an art lesson, to draw with the coloured crayons. And a lot of them were pretty hopeless.
CF: Right, you actually wanted to mention something about your grandfather's early selection, on the road getting there, and also the area. You were mentioning that it was actually the site original Nambah cattle station.
WHALLEY: Yes, well the cattle took in a large area, I don't know how big the area was, but it was most of the area west of Cobbs Road as it was called then apparently. And it was run by someone named Riley. There were three sets of slip rails across the road or bullock wagon track, but just as it was...
CF: What are slip rails Stanley?
WHALLEY: Well slip rails were made by sapling poles set into notches in heavy posts, what you might call gate posts. They mortised these in, there were just holes in one post, and in the other one there were holes with a sloping notch up out of them so that they could lift the rails out. The length of the poles had to be exact, of course, the notches were made about two inches deep or so. Animals learnt how to lift them off themselves in some cases, horses at any rate did. I don't know where they got over that quite. I heard of a few that did the trick.
CF: And where exactly was the cattle station then? Where is it in relation to present day Nambour?
WHALLEY: It was on the Mapleton Road, the road to it turned off at Bli Bli
corner, and the station homestead was on top of what's now Nambour Heights, round the Crescent Avenue area. So how far the station extended beyond that I don't know.
CF: You were talking earlier about the timbergetters who'd been there previously.
WHALLEY: Yeah, well they'd been there cutting out most of the lower country I suppose, and they were still getting it from up on Dulong. They managed to drag a wagon up the steep pinch, up the range there, possibly several of them. And the only road up was right up the steep spur right in front of Dulong Lookout, a few yards north to the platform. Loaded wagons could not be taken down such a steep hill, so they would unload it a bit further north and logs shot off over the cliff. There is a large near level area, in a bend at Mapleton Road below a cliff which obviously was formed by the dirt knocked from the cliff by the falling logs. The logs were tipped into the creek down Bli Bli Road.
CF: Right, then waited for the creek to float down...
WHALLEY: Time meant money even then. So the bullock teams kept going in wet weather until the road was impassable bog. This made it really difficult for settlers in the area to get their supplies in, even though a pack horse was the usual transport.
CF: You mentioned once your father had real trouble once when an enormous load came in with the supplies.
WHALLEY: Well he went without the horse one time, down to the Bli Bli place where it had been brought up by a punt, found a sixty pound sack of flour there. It couldn't be left because of horrible rain, so he just had to put it on his back and cart it. He was only a slim lad of sixteen, and he managed to cart it that way the four miles to the farm, resting it on tree stumps on the way. I understand that he was just about all in by the time he got there.
CF: Tell me were there any aboriginals in the area in those days?
WHALLEY: There were a few aboriginals around, but they were all pretty tame I understand. None of them dangerous.
CF: Right. Was there very much contact at all between the white settlers and the aboriginals?
WHALLEY: I don't know much about it.
CF: Nothing which you've heard.
WHALLEY: They never attacked anybody anyway.
CF: Right. Actually getting back to things like your school days and that sort of thing, what did people do in the area for entertainment in those days? Was there a Nambour Show then?
WHALLEY: Oh yes there were running the show from a good long way back, but they had the movie shows every Saturday night, I'm not sure if it was any more frequent, I never went.
CF: Where was the cinema in those days?
WHALLEY: It used to be in the old Town Hall originally I think.
WHALLEY: Then they had the one, was what they called the Vogue Theatre was built up, where was it? Might have been just above, above opposite Maud Street I think, up Currie Street. And then there was another one, what's the Paddy`s Market now took it over I think.
CF: Would you have gone to the pictures a lot yourself in those days?
WHALLEY: Very rarely.
WHALLEY: Not more than two or three occasions. We were always short of money because of health troubles and then the Depression of course.
CF: What was it like in Nambour during the Depression? Did it have a big impact on people?
WHALLEY? Well there were always fellas coming round hawking things that they've made and all this sort of thing. It was engineered by the banks I always reckon.
CF: So I suppose the town didn't grow very much during that period.
WHALLEY: Well Idon't suppose it grew during the Depression years very much, can't recall the differences very much, except that the new bridge over Petrie Creek was built. Well I'm not too sure whether it was during or before the Depression, might have been about 1928. There was a good timber bridge there originally, I forget what happened to that, whether there was a fire or a flood destroyed a lot of it. Kind of fancy it was a fire somehow.
CF: They had a few fires in Nambour over the years, did you ever witness any of them when you were young?
WHALLEY: Used to go down and look at them, catch one in the early evenings. I've got a number of photos of them, a lot of them in progress.
CF: There was a big one I heard that destroyed a fair bit of the town.
WHALLEY: That one was about 1924 or something...
CF: ‘26 or so, yeah.
WHALLEY: I'm not sure of the year now anyway, it wiped out all the shops on the eastern side of Currie Street from what is about now Lowe Street along to Howard Street. Then there were other big fires of the various pubs, often thought they were not exactly accidental.
CF: A little convenient perhaps. Your uncle William Whalley had a store in Currie Street then didn't he?
WHALLEY: Yes, well that was situated at, well partly covering the area of what's got, who is it now, there is a big shop there and two shops on the corner, it used to be Woolworths, and over Lowe Street area.
CF: Where the shoe shop is?
WHALLEY: Yes, shoe shop and up to what's Whalley Chambers now, and he had a shop there, and of course he had that brick building built there after the big fire in the mid ‘20s. He built that big brick building and then his own. The rest of this shop got burnt down in about, oh it must have been in the ‘40s or something before Nambour had a proper fire-brigade.
CF: How did your uncle get started, your uncle William, how did he get started in business?
WHALLEY: Well he loved plumbing as a boy, an apprentice plumber in Brisbane. He left the farm here at fifteen, and after that he came back and set up a plumbing business and a grocers shop up in Mitchell Street for a time. Then he moved down to the position in Currie Street. Kept on expanding, he took on the selling of cars when they came along. Set up his garage, used to do a lot more repair work on cars than they do now.
CF: Right. So he was a very successful local businessman?
WHALLEY: He seemed to make a living out of it. Of course a lot of people didn’t like him because he had to give people terms a lot during the Depression, but of course he couldn’t give them terms without some security. Same way as the bank would want security, various property items, and then of course if things went too far he had to foreclose on those. Course he was regarded as something awful more for doing that, but it couldn’t have kept going without.
CF: A very difficult situation. There was another prominent businessmen at the time, J.T.Lowe.
WHALLEY: Yes, well he was the Shire Chairman for a good many years, he had a butchers shop there just on the, well it took in a lot of Lowe Street, and bit further beyond I think, and it got wiped out in the fire the same as my uncle’s shop.
CF: Oh right. Did he relocate then?
WHALLEY: No, he just kept the grocery business going in the back of Whalley Chambers as it’s called now, well it would be the back of the chemist shop I suppose, part of it. Running it in there more or less as a side line - Henry Mondientz was in charge of all the grocery business there - course he kept it partly going to give him a job for that matter. And then the boys had the garage spare parts and Jim used to run that. Frank was running a drapery business on the southern side of the building, and then Les, I'm not sure, but he was doing all the bookkeeping, and I'm not sure what kept him occupied all together.
CF: So it was a real family concern?
WHALLEY: Yes well they kept that going until the boys got well, getting pretty old, to towards eighties or something or not quite that perhaps but they thought they were a bit too old to be bothered running a shop, and they gave it up. Well they sold it, I don't think they sold the place actually, but it was sort of leased out to other folk who wanted it. Corvette took over a lot of it.
CF: What other businesses would have been in town then?
WHALLEY: I can't recall all of them by any means. I remember when I started at the school there was a Mrs Pruntys shop, which really amounted to the school tuck shop, was located in Currie Street, just about where the big library building was built which was converted to a few other things since. It was Commonwealth Bank. It was built as a Commonwealth Bank I suppose really, I'm not quite sure.
CF: That's right, it was Commonwealth Bank and then became a library building and moved onto other things. So that was where everyone from the school went.
WHALLEY: That was approximately the position of Mrs Prunty's shop. I think. Well, she disappeared later but I don't remember noticing just when she disappeared but probably when the school moved out to its new location across the creek. And then there was a Henry Hill had the saddler shop over on the western side, just a bit south of the pub area. What's there now? There are a few small shops there on the front of the old picture theatre part.
CF: I was just thinking when you mentioned the saddlers, when the cars started to come in, did horses disappear very quickly from the streets?
WHALLEY: Not that quickly. I can remember plenty of horse drawn vehicles around in my young days, the 20s. I suppose by the 30s there weren't many of them. There's another thing about that road in the centre of Nambour there. There used to be a bridge over a gully somewhere about, well the gully must have crossed about where that picture theatre area was. To near the Westpac Bank, and by the lay of the land since I would think It cut across Howard Street and down the back of the shops. Then Mr Howard had his house down there somewhere Dad always reckoned. So he wouldn't have thought it would have been in the gully exactly.
CF: So what that was all filled in at some time?
WHALLEY: Well Howard Street was filled in a lot and Currie Street was filled in a lot. They were doing some excavating there some years ago and they found the remains of the old buried bridge. Somewhere approximately in front of the old Commonwealth Bank building there, I can't be sure just where.
CF: Were there a lot of churches being built in the area by then?
WHALLEY: Well, the Methodists I think were the first ones and then the Catholics up on the hill, I'm not sure what order the rest of them came. There was the Anglican was up, I think it's still there much the same place. And Baptist, Presbyterian was also up on the hill.
CF: And was Nambour a very strong church - going community?
WHALLEY: Well there seemed to be a pretty strong lot of Methodists in the early days. Mr James Whalley, my grandfather, was a local preacher for them. He used to go round, whether it was on horse back or walking to go to different groups. It was only meeting in private homes mostly round the district. And then of course he got too old for it eventually, I think he died at eightyone.
CF: Was Sunday very strictly observed in the district? I mean would there be sports or that sort of thing?
WHALLEY: Well I don't think there were any sports in those days, the Lord didn't allow it for one thing. I forget what they did with themselves.
CF: Right. What would your family have done for recreation say on a weekend, what would you do as a family group?
WHALLEY: Oh well, Mum and Dad were in the habit of always going to church, twice every Sunday for a good bit of time. Then I forget what else, might have been doing some reading, church papers and that sort of thing in the afternoons. I can't recall much of it now.
CF: Would you have had the radio in those days?
WHALLEY: No, didn't ever really have a radio until, well when was it? Well I was in my thirties pretty well I got an old second hand radio.
CF: So the family must have been very keen readers then would they?
WHALLEY: Well we got the daily papers of course. Papers came up by the train in those days.
CF: Oh, so would they have been that day that you got them?
WHALLEY: Oh yes, they'd get here about eleven thirty or something, morning train came up. Dad would walk up town nearly every day like that to get his paper.
CF: Did you read much in the way of books?
WHALLEY: Well there was a lot of technical books we used to get. I remember getting a lot of them in the 20s and 30s.
CF: How would you actually get your books? Was there a book shop up here?
WHALLEY: No, you'd get them on trips to Brisbane. My mother was taking me to Brisbane every couple of weeks for a long period in the mid- 20s, down by train. Think it was a waste of money as far as that goes, I’d been better off given some good food, but of course there never was good food in those days, nobody knew anything about vitamins.
CF: Nutrition or anything, no,
WHALLEY: These trips course we didn't do much shopping on those trips as I recall, but Dad used to go down trips sometimes and get various books. And of course by the time I got into my twenties, the War was on then, and I developed a duodenal ulcer as a result of getting a shanghaied out. And I was out like a hot potato.
CF: Was there much sort of impact in Nambour during the War, was it something that people were very conscious of?
WHALLEY: Well, had some big camps of soldiers somewhere, I forget where it was. There was one big camp of them, Victorians, a lot out Image Flat Road or somewhere. Some of them were coming to the church, and people got friendly with them, and of course they moved on suddenly, presumably to New Guinea. I never kept in touch with any of them.
CF: Did you have things like air-raid alarms?
WHALLEY: Oh yes, they had air-raid sirens in the town that they used to test occasionally and they had a lot of stupidity about black-out.
CF: You actually had to have black-outs here did you?
WHALLEY: Oh yes. I suppose not really showing any lights at all, and then the cars had hoods over their headlights, the amount of light they let out for driving by was practically useless.
CF: Would have been rather dangerous would it?
WHALLEY: Yeah. Everybody drove pretty slowly. They painted about a two inch white rim all around the edge of the mudguards to make them a bit more visible.
CF: Were people still able to move around freely?
WHALLEY: Yes, there weren't any restrictions on moving around that I recall. If you wanted to go into any...I don't think there were any restrictions travels within Australia, I don't think at all actually. You wouldn't have wanted to go to New Guinea for instance.
CF: No, no.
WHALLEY: During the War, of course we had petrol rationing, they'd cut that down to four gallons a month.
CF: So there wouldn't have been much travelling?
WHALLEY: Larger cars. The old T-Ford of course didn't go very far on four gallons. We were always experimenters and so we'd heard a bit about these charcoal gas plants that they were putting on some of their commercial vehicles, found out all we could about it, and built one of our own out of scrap, and well I'm not saying it was a very good one, but it worked. It was built on the old T-Ford utility, a burner drum in the back, and a couple of smaller filter drums, one on each mudguard. And it used to get along thirty-five miles an hour with it, and that's as fast as they used to go on petrol because it would drink too much if you went any harder.
CF: Oh, so you were independent then?
WHALLEY: Used to get to Brisbane in about, well the fastest trip I ever did was - it was bitumen road by that time - fastest trip I ever did was two hours and twenty minutes down to Kedron.
CF: That's with a charcoal burning engine?
WHALLEY: Used to go to Brisbane and back on a sack of charcoal. It was the equivalent of about six gallons of petrol.
CF: Very economical. One of the most interesting things probably that they had around Nambour - I guess kicking off in the First World War - would have been the Tramways. Mapleton Tramway would have gone up through, or very close to your grandfather’s property wouldn't it?
WHALLEY: I'm not sure that it actually went through any of the property, but probably it would have a bit. I know they used to, Dad mentioned once about loading cane trucks onto it there. It was used for carting cane to the Mill in that area. It'd crossed the road to the north side of Mapleton Road, at the foot of the one mile climb up the private road section, somewhere around the Day’s property I understand now. It did a hairpin turn in the gully just against the saddle between the knobs, then sharply left through a narrow cutting in the next spur, you couldn't see anymore of it from the road, but these earthworks used to be clearly visible from the edge of the road. Well the tramline itself of course, I remember seeing it on more than one occasion it poked around up there. Round about a quarter to half a mile along the Kureelpa Falls Road a few more small cuttings used to be visible beside the ridge crest. Then it crossed this road at the lowest point and ran west across the paddocks. So there was, that cutting in front of the Lookout had nothing whatever to do with the tramline. And Mr Arthur Neville, uncle of mine, was the driver of the Mapleton Tram for a number of years, until about the late 1920's. He said that curves on the line were thirty foot radius, and the climb was one in fourteen which was a fair grade even for a road. Two foot gauge tramline of course, the same as the Mill. He said that coming down that range with too big a load on, and wet rails was rather nerve- racking. They had to keep sand trickling on the rails to prevent the wheels from locking up with the brakes. If they had locked up, they would have gone into a slide and gathered speed and capsized.
CF: Did they have a lot of accidents?
WHALLEY: I never heard of any accidents at all, must have taken a lot of care all the time though. Then on the south side of Mapleton Road, a bit east from where the tram crossed it must have been, there was a tramline siding with a small shelter shed, I remember seeing some cream cans in it there one occasion. I presume it was used mainly for that sort of thing. And the Council had a law that all goods had to be carted on this tramline to keep it profitable. It was one way of monopoly if you like. People grumbled at it a lot after trucks came along. Also used to be used for carting cane to the Mill from small cane farms west of Nambour, and there was a direct line into the Mill tramline, at the top of Mill Street, just three points they were straight into them, into Mill Street. Shove the cane up into the Mill I suppose.
CF: Did the tramway carry people or just cane?
WHALLEY: I think there was some passengers taken on that Mapleton Tramline, I'm not quite clear about it. Then the Sugar Mill used to have its own mountain tramline bits over the Bli Bli range somewhere west of Camp Flat Road to go to Maroochy River and Coolum. And they had another one over the range in the very early days, over Rosemount Range to get to Paynters Creek Flats. That was the road down the south side of that Paynters Creek ridge, was actually where the tramline went. Trucks were drawn just by horses, I believe in those days, I don't think they ever took locos over that ridge. But that made a fairly easy grade of course for the tramline and that gradually developed into a road. Then on the eastern side, see in the thirties it used to be some bits of cutting and embankment visible among the gullies where the tramline wound down, but that all disappeared later, probably the farmers there didn't like it. And of course the whole area's been wiped by the big cutting of the new highway now. It was the first road to Paynters Creek, first tramline to Paynters Creek apparently. Then later of course after they got the locos they put the tramline right out down following the creek pretty well. I came out onto a bridge over Petrie Creek. I suppose it is there then.
CF: What do you think, now over the years you've been in Nambour, what do you think made the biggest changes in Nambour? I mean do you see that Nambour has changed much over the last thirty, forty years?
WHALLEY: Well it's developed enormously of course, but what particular item, the Mill of course has been the main money spinner for the district from the early years, it's what's really made Nambour. But a lot of it of course has been from various types of fruit farming and other types of farming I suppose. I never really studied that. It's just like any town, the bigger it gets, the more it grows on itself I suppose.
CF: So tell me, were there any other things then from back in the early days that you'd like to add, anything we may have left out?
WHALLEY: Well about the schooling in Nambour I was in the sixth grade of a class of about forty or forty-five generally. One occasion the teacher gave them an arithmetic, mental arithmetic test, one step after another to work out each step and then carry on to the next one. A lot of them gave up about halfway through, I think I was the only one to finish it and get it right, which was a bit of a joke on the others. In our later years, after I'd finished that, well I missed the last part of that class through getting sick, missed the exams and I wasn't going to go on and repeat it again at fifteen. So I did the rural school training as they called it then, there was no exam necessary to go into that, different days for different subjects, there was a lot of carpentry. Incidentally during that year I cleaned up the prizes at the show for carpentry. And it was an ironing table I made and a couple of sample things as well. Separate prizes for each of them. I took the first in the lot. And the kids got a bit sore about it.
CF: A bit greedy, yes.
WHALLEY: Anyway I was studying engineering, which was just a, well mainly theory stuff. And they had an old car engine pulled to pieces there to teach them a bit. I remember one occasion there a teacher was giving them some stuff about electric generators, and I’d studied this in books at home, I had to pull him up on one point. [Laughs] He was a good natured teacher. Anyway a few days later he looked it up to make sure about it and he told the class that I was right.
CF: Shows how much you can learn at home doesn't it.
WHALLEY: Oh my word it does. Anyway it was a bit of a joke that one. And then there was a blacksmithing that was conducted by a Mr Redsell of Yandina, the Yandina blacksmith in those days, great old salvation army chap. Anyway he was a bit of a joker too, and one of his tricks, he'd put a spot of water on the anvil and then hold a piece of red hot iron just above it and then hit it with a hammer, and it'd go off like a pistol shot, frightened the wits out of the kids. Then there was tinsmithing, and I can't remember much else.
CF: Pretty broad range.
WHALLEY: Suppose to be a bit of beekeeping too, Mr Redsell also conducted that. The teachers who were doing them, well there was a Mr Halverson who was doing the tinsmithing, partly the carpentry, and Mr Turner was doing the carpentry mainly, middle - aged chap pretty well then. And he also conducted the engineering. Can't remember very much others.
End of interview