Interview with: Bard Claffey
Date of Interview: 2 February 2000
Interviewer: Carol Kendall
Transcriber: Loraine Korving
Mr Claffey joined the Maroochydore Surf Club in 1954 and served as president, secretary and treasurer over a period of over 20 years. He was appointed Australia's first full-time surf club administrator in 1978, a position he occupied until 1987. Mr Claffey obtained his Bronze Medallion as a middle aged man in 1964. He was elected to life membership of Maroochydore SLSC in 1967 and life governor in 1988. Bard Claffey passed away in 2016.
Images and documents on Bard Claffey on Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
How life saving used to be
CK: Now, you’ve been involved in the surf lifesaving movement for quite a long number of years. How did you get involved in that?
CB: I had a brother, a young brother, Ron who has, used to come up and spend a lot of time with us when we lived here on the coast. And he got involved in Maroochydore Surf Club as a young lifesaver and when we moved from Palmwoods to Maroochydore in nineteen, January 53, we settled in and twelve months later in March 1954, somebody put the finger on me to be Secretary, no Treasurer, well Secretary/Treasurer of the club and that’s when my involvement started with the surf club, in March 1954.
CK: And can you describe the club at that stage for us?
CB: Yes. It was very different from what it is now. There would have been approximately 40 active, patrolling surf lifesavers in the club. There were some olden people in administrative positions and so on, but virtually there were about, how many, there were about four patrols in the club. Now there are sixteen.
CB: In each patrol there would have been about ten people. And conditions were totally different then because for a start nobody, well one or two people had motorcars, and they used to come to the surf club from Brisbane mainly. There were a few local members in the club.
CB: But most of them came from Brisbane. And they hitch hiked up on Friday afternoon after work, and those were the days when the Gold Coast lifesavers would be strung out along the Gold Coast Highway, or the Pacific Highway, all done up in their blazers and slacks.
CB: And people would recognise them as belonging to Tugun or Burleigh Heads or Tweed Heads, Coolangatta, or wherever, Surfers Paradise, by their blazers and their gear. And the same thing would happen up this way and people would pick up various ones that they knew, regularly, very often people coming along. The North Coast ones, this is what’s called then, before the Sunshine Coast became the terminology, they used to line up on the hill, up over the hill to Aspley from where Chermside Shopping Centre is now, because that was the end of the tram terminus.
CB: And all the lifesavers would get on the trams and get out to the terminus and then they’d walk up the hill and they’d string up out there. Maroochydore blokes would be in their black blazers with their slacks, and so on, and lots of people’d pick them up and ones from Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa, everywhere and they got to the beach that way every Friday night. Some would arrive in early, some would be there by half past four. Others would struggle in, depending on when they finished work and so on, some of them mightn’t get there ‘til ten o’clock at night. And the point about it was, you had them all weekend and they lived under the one roof for the weekend. And the whole patrol that was on, patrol number one...
CB: Would do everything at the club for the weekend.
CK: Oh right.
CB: They’d be responsible for fundraising, as well as duties on the beach, patrol duties on the beach, Club house duties, cleaning up the club and all that sort of thing, organising meals in the cookhouse. Which they used to do in those days.
CK: Was that for themselves?
CB: Yes for themselves, yeah, not meals for the public, just for themselves, that’s right. And I think they used to put in two bob a weekend in those days. Twenty cents as of now, and it used to be 2 shillings, two bob a weekend used to cover their meals.
CB: That was the way it went.
CB: And then on Sunday afternoon, they’d be all heading out on to Maroochydore Road, or up on the Buderim Road, catching lifts back to Brisbane or out onto the highway where they’d all catch lifts back to, back to town again.
CK: Right. So the members that lived up here, they would be in those patrols too?
CB: Oh yes. And they were, they were the lucky ones, or so the ‘Brisos’ reckon, that’s what they were called, the ‘Brisos’.
CK: Oh right.
CB: And the locals.
CK: So during the week, was it, was there any, no patrols on then in those days?
CB: No, no. Maroochy Shire Council, in fact, appointed the very first lifeguard on, anywhere in Queensland, north of Brisbane. There were some down the Gold Coast before they were up here, but, and I happened to be involved in that appointment too because a fellow, a Maroochydore lifesaver named Graham Curtis.
CB: He died only, a couple of years ago. But Graham Curtis was the first life guard ever appointed on a permanent basis, north of Brisbane. And it happened that, the council had been getting around to appointing permanent lifeguards, like they had on the Gold Coast.
CK: Yeah, that’s paid.
CB: Paid, yes that’s full time lifeguards.
CB: To patrol the beach, in the, during the week when there were no lifesavers on. Lifesavers have always patrolled weekends and public holidays and at the present time, it’s between the end of April and halfway through September. Ok. No the other way round, isn’t it.
CB: That’s the off season. From half way through September to the end of April, yes.
CB: Now, there was a Christmas, oh when would it have been, it would’ve been in the sixties. When I was round the beach a fair bit because during the week I was usually the only bloke left around the place involved with the club.
CB: And there was a man, especially in the Christmas holidays.
[Interrupted by telephone call]
Now there was one particular Christmas where the surf was very, very difficult. There was fairly big ground swells in the surf and these swells, when they broke, they swept up onto the banks and they swept right off and washed off, very rapidly into gutters on either side of the bank at the club house where people were surfing. And lots of people were getting pulled into these, rips on either side of the bank all the time. There was only me and a man named Arthur Evans, the late Arthur Evans, used to run a little business on the beach, hiring out surfer planes. And he and I, and he was pretty old then, he and I were trying to keep these people in the safe place on the bank and you know, it was beyond us. And Lou Lou Curtis, as his nickname was, Graham Curtis, had been waiting around, waiting for the council to appoint him. He had applied for the job, they had sort of, expressed interest in going ahead with this. And in the end, that particular day, there were bus loads of people, would pull up at the beach and they’d all run into the most dangerous places. And in the end I got desperate and I walked up to the club house, got on the phone, and rang the late David Low, who was the Maroochy Shire council chairman at the time, and he was actually in a council meeting but he, because I indicated that it was urgent, he came to the phone. And I said to him, “Are you gonna wait til somebody drowns down here before you appoint Graham Curtis to this job?”
CB: And he said “Why do you have a problem?” I said “I have such a problem that I can’t handle it any longer.” He said “Is that a fact?” I said “Somebody’ll drown here today if you don’t do something”. And Curtis was around and he was helping us anyway, you know?
CK: Yeah, yeah.
CB: So, he said to me “Alright, here’s what we’ll do. I’ll take responsibility for it, you go and appoint him to the job now on my behalf”.
CK: Oh, right.
CB: And that’s how the first life guard got appointed to the beach, and it was at Maroochydore, Graham Curtis was his name, way back in the sixties. And it was on that basis that that happened and subsequently, fellows like Mal Pratt, Geoff Leadbetter, from Maroochydore most of them, Kerry and Buzz Taylor, Brian Taylor, all the local identities. They ended up being life guards, as Graham gave it away and others took it on, you know?
CK: So as years progressed did the council employ them all or just only the one?
CB: Yes, yes. Then, you know it wasn’t too long before Mal Pratt was the lifeguard at Mooloolaba, for instance. Others were appointed at Caloundra, Col Roughsedge was a lifeguard at Caloundra for a long time. Noosa had life guards gradually, different councils up and started appointing lifeguards because the tourist industry and seaside popularity was getting such that, you know, it just had to be done or people were going to drown and that wasn’t going to do tourism much good.
CK: So how many would Maroochydore Surf club have now? Lifeguards?
CB: You mean paid…
CK: Full time, paid, yeah, I mean full time and paid regular …
CB: regular council employed life guards? They would have, well on Maroochydore beach at different times, there would be, in, in heavy times there’s always at least two.
CB: Like, and I’m talking about between Christmas and New Year, even in school holidays. And they work longer hours, they have shifts, some might come on at six o’clock in the morning, or something like that, and go ‘til about two.
CB: Others’d come on about twelve and go, maybe ten and go ‘til six so that they’ve got extra guards on when there’s a lot of people on the beach.
CK: So your early involvement, you said you were Secretary/Treasurer. Was that rather time consuming then?
CB: Very, very much so. As a matter of fact, the Secretary/Treasurer of the club that I took over from was an active patrolling lifesaver named Kevin Neale. He had an accountancy business in Maleny, and he still has his accountancy business in Maleny, and Kevin was one of the only members in the club that had a car. Yes, Kevin Neale that was one of the only members in the club that had a car and he had a big Chevrolet sedan, which was quite unusual. And when I took over from him, he said to me “I don’t know how much time you’ve got Bard but its pretty time consuming”. He said “As a matter of fact, there are some weeks when I don’t get around to doing any business for myself in my business, until about midday Tuesday.
CB: So you can see that. And they had a Treasurer appointed, but he was also captain of the club and he didn’t have time for his Treasurer so I ended up doing Secretary/Treasurer.
CB: Even though it wasn’t an official position…
CK: Right, no.
CB: …the Treasurer side of it. And I had to learn it all from go to woe because I had no experience in it at that stage of the game, 1954, March. And away we went. Many, I was teaching of course at Woombye, and many a night I found myself up doing books and trying to sort out these accounts and accounting procedures and all this at three o’clock in the morning and that’s the way it went on. It was pretty rough on the family and two little girls in the house and that sort of thing too, you know?
CK: So where did the money come from then? You said you were doing accounts from the club?
CB: Yes. There is a hand written annual report in the club somewhere, in the club archives, from about 1934, and in those days the gross turnover of the club, gross turnover, gross money raised was 34 pounds, some odd shillings and pence.
CB: And I guess that even in those days they would’ve had a surplus of income over expenditure. Nowadays, I know, that the gross turnover of the club is more than a million dollars. And it has to be.
CK: Well yeah.
CB: Because things have changed so much in costs, it’s so costly to do all the things the, the machinery, the technology and machinery that’s involved these days. It’s just incredibly costly. So, somewhere in that, it all started to happen. This development of the need for money, as things change but I guess in those days, we used to, when I first started, we would have had a gross turnover of about, two thousand pounds. And I think decimal currency came in in ‘66, didn’t it? And you know the next thing we were looking at ten thousand dollars. And then, then a big capitalist, in what happened in Maroochydore Club was we, we ran the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships at Maroochydore in 1980 and it was a tremendous success. The whole community got right behind it.
CK: Was that the first time they’d held a big competition like that?
CB: Maroochydore had always been a club that had hosted carnivals, Queensland Titles, Branch titles, but this was the first time we’d ever, the one and only time Maroochydore has ever run an Australian Title. Maroochydore, Mooloolaba had hosted an Australian Title in 1959. And that was a huge success too. Ours was 1980.
CB: I can’t really remember any other Australian Titles on the Sunshine Coast and nowadays they seem to be a fixture at Kurrawa on the Gold Coast.
Finances and chook raffles
CK: So most of, most of your income would be coming from the membership fees, or did you do fundraising?
CB: Ah, no.
CB: We used to do a lot of fund raising. Chook raffles, you’ve heard of the famous Chook raffles?
CB: And in those days, there was a routine that worked around having life savers up at the hotel, and there was only one hotel in Maroochydore, one hotel in Mooloolaba. Mooloolaba Hotel was Mooloolaba Surf Club’s fundraising venue. Maroochydore Hotel, commonly called “The Old Pub”, “The Pub”
CB: and then “The Old Pub”, when Stewart’s Hotel came in, was Maroochydore’s venue and lifesavers spent a fair bit of time up there because the captain, Doug Webster at the time I joined, he was pretty, he was only an eighteen year old but very astute and he used to insist that once the breakfast was over every morning, the club house duties were immediately done, the patrol went on the beach.
CB: Everybody else that wasn’t on patrol was up in the club house, cleaning the club house, the dormitories used to be spotless, the beds were all perfectly made like army style barracks. And then when all that was tidied up around the clubhouse, everybody that wasn’t on patrol had to go out the back swimming. And you had to be able to swim right out the back end where the back breakers were breaking and if you couldn’t, he’d just get you, and get some of the best swimmers and say “Come on, you’ve gotta be able to do this. You ever get out to make a rescue, you’ve gotta be able to make the rescue.”
CB: And he’d have ‘em out the back, say from half past nine, til eleven o’clock, half past eleven, and they’d be catching waves and there’d be a lot of yak going in, and yahooing going on and people’ll come to the beach and they’d see the flags, and they’d see people bathing between the flags. And they used to bath between the flags in those days.
CB: Very few used to bath outside. And everybody’d see this group of people, bodies way out the back and off the side, and you could bet you they’d have a good set of waves running on a bank there somewhere. But everybody knew, that’s the lifesavers.
CK: Yeah, ok.
CB: There were two reasons for it. One. That was the way you knew they could surf and handle the surf. And you knew that if they had to get a in a real line and belt, and swim out towing that line with the belt around them, that they were able to do it. And he used to keep me out there and they’d catch waves, and they’d try to catch biggest wave they could possibly see and all this sort of thing. But there was an ulterior motive in all this too, because he knew very well that while they were out there for an hour and a half, or two hours, they would get a good gullet full of salt water and they would develop an enormous thirst.
CB: So where, once they came back in and showered up, from their swimming escapade, where did they wanna head? Up the pub for a beer. And that suited him fine because then he had ‘em up there selling raffle tickets.
CK: Yeah, right.
CB: Selling the Chook Raffles and this sort of thing, you know. And these Chook raffles went on for years and years and years round the pub. Not only us, football clubs, everybody had to raise money with Chook raffles round pubs. And I remember the time when, the changeover happened from frozen Dixie chickens as they were in those days. And one of our blokes, a very successful insurance agent, Graham Ashton, a very successful boat captain in the club later, but he sold chickens and ran a Dixie Chickens. He drove a big van.
CK: Oh right, yeah.
CB: For Dixie Chickens. That’s where our frozen chooks came from, that we sold. And then the idea of barbequed chickens came in.
CK: Oh, right.
CB: Cooked chooks. And we worked out we’d better have a go at this. So we bought our own rotisserie as we called them. And you set it up on the wall of the club house. And we rotisseried our own chickens and we had the bags and all this sort of thing. We’d put ‘em in and you’d send the first bunch up to the club with the first batch of chickens out and you’d keep bringing more and sending more up the pub. But the first day was quite an experience. When people were told we were going to sell cooked chooks this day, nobody would buy the tickets.
CB: And nobody could understand why. And that first chook out in the beer garden at the back of Maroochydore Hotel, and there were a lot of people in there, but my god it took a long time to sell that first chook. And when it finally went off, big Paul O’Brien was there, and he walked across to the winner, with the chook in his hand like that and he said “There’s your chook, Sir” and guess what happened? The chook flew straight out the end of the packet. The packet came to pieces, it was no good. And we had to staple them after that. But this flew straight out the back and landed in the man’s stomach. And all he said was “Oh good that smells good, we’ll eat it now”.
CB: And the people round the table took in the smell of the cooked chook and we sold, we couldn’t keep the supply up. So, that was how the changeover the, from frozen chooks to cooked chooks happened in Maroochydore. And for years we had our own rotisserie there and barbequed our own chooks.
CK: Oh, right.
CB: Barbequed, stuffed for the meals in the club house and everything like that. So some interesting things happened. You asked the right questions Carol.
CK: Did you become involved in any other aspects of the club or were you just in the Secretary position?
CB: My job in the club, and I’ve been involved ever since, has always been on the administrative side, mostly.
CB: But I have also been involved practically, I did my bronze medallion when I went to teach, when I transferred from Woombye to Maroochydore High School in 1964 when the Maroochydore High School first opened. I was on the original staff and in 1964 I did my bronze medallion because it was handy when you were around a high school.
CB: Where there were plenty of kids you could recruit in or, hopefully entice to join the club. And I was 39 when I did my bronze, and I didn’t do a lot of patrols but every now and again something’d happen and they’d be short of a patrol so I’d go and do one. I had to do my proficiency exam every year, all lifesavers have to prove that they’re still proficient by doing their, what they call a proficiency test, every year.
CK: Yeah, right.
CB: And they have to pass it.
CB: And, I guess the last patrol I did was about five years ago.
CB: I became proficient again and that was the last time I became proficient. And I need this now like I need a hole in the head.
CK: Is that right?
CB: And yeah so, I left it to the young ones, but thank heavens they’ve got 250 patrolling lifesavers down there now with 16 patrols and about 16 patrol members in each patrol. So, I don’t have to do it any longer. So, but you know, my job, I very often have to supervise and just hang around and see, as well as being a life member of the club I’m one of the two life governors.
CK: Oh, right. What does that entail?
CB: Stan Wilcox is the other one. And it simply amounts to the fact that, he’s also a life member, of course, we would have about thirty, I suppose, life members now after the clubs been in existence now, this would be the, say the [thirty or fifty] fourth year. And the two life governors, he represents the club when there are things to be negotiated with, you know this and that and the other. Well it might be at State Centre or in a business situation he has a lot of contacts in Brisbane. He’s, he was formally involved in Government. He was head of the Department of Recreation and Sport, I think it was. He worked his way up in the public service to that. And he was in fact, when Sir Joe Bjelke-Peterson was Premier, there was quite a number of years when Stan was Sir Joe’s private secretary.
CK: So I a life governor, a gover – nor, have I got the term right, a life governor?
CB: A governor doesn’t signify, doesn’t indicate any particular administrative role. I’m the one that represents the club up here because I’ve been around a long time and if there’s something to be negotiated with council or somebody wants to find out something that’s important to the club they very often come to me and say, you know “Who would I go to, to talk about this?” Or, well yeah you need to talk to so and so. Would you like me to introduce you?
CK: Right, oh yeah.
CB: That sort of thing. That’s what my role is and what Stan’s role is in the Brisbane side of the thing.
CK: So, between the position you’ve got now and the one you started with, what other positions have you held in the club?
CB: I remained Secretary of the club for two years and then the Secretary/Treasurer’s job certainly as Don, Kevin Neal had told me, did get too much. And I took on Treasurer only, and I was Treasurer for eighteen years straight and by that time I’d done twenty years, because I’d been Secretary before that. Charlie Grimwade, who is Graham Ashton’s cousin, he came into the club and he remained, he took on the Secretary’s job and he remained Secretary for eleven years straight. So we had eleven years working together and Charlie’s a life member of the club now. He finished up his business life as Postmaster, Postal Manager at Tiaro and he still owns the Post Office building up there and lives there.
CK: Oh, right. So after Secretary what did you do?
CB: I then did Treasurer for eighteen years, what did I do then? I was President one year.
CK: How was that? Did you enjoy that?
CB: Yeah I did enjoy it. But I must have been a bit rough on them or something because they only let me be President for one year. But then I, what did I do next? Yes, I then became involved in running the big carnival that happens down there this weekend the ‘Just Jean’s Carnival’, which is this weekend coming up.
CK: Oh right.
CB: And we were the first club to get involved in big sponsored carnivals, virtually the first club in Australia. And as such, that Carnival is still the biggest club run carnival in Australia. And because of the sponsorship behind it, we learnt how to handle sponsorship. We learnt to know that sponsorship is not just getting a donation from somebody. To deal, you’ve got the money comes out of the sponsor’s advertising budget, so he’s gotta get value for his money and we learnt that. And gradually built up that, the expertise in how to deal with it and service the sponsor.
CK: Right, yeah.
CB: And now, you know, sponsorship is well known to everybody in surf life saving every where.
CK: So what kind of things do you have to do for the sponsor?
CB: You certainly have to give him exposure on the beach. You have to advertise the sponsor during the carnival, so he’s gotta be able to be seen and if he’s…
End Track 1/Track 2
CK: Bard, who, how did the idea of the markets come to fruition?
CB: Well, yep, first of all I was going to tell you, with your permission, what I did next. I was appointed in 1979, January, no July, as a paid administrator at the club.
CK: Oh right.
CB: To get the club through the Australian Titles. Because everybody realised there was too much work involved in that, for honorary officers to be doing it and do it properly in their spare time. And we did that and did it successfully. And then the club had to make up their mind after the Australian Titles were over in 1980, whether they wanted me to continue on as a paid officer of the club or whether I went back teaching or what I did, you know? Because I’d given teaching away.
CK: Oh right.
CB: Which I had to do. So it came to the crunch at the annual general meeting in 1980, June 1980, and I laid down my terms as to what I was prepared to do and the conditions I required and the salary I required. And I sort of set my salary requirement as what I would get if I went back teaching, because I knew it had to be that, at least, because it would be hardly be, it would be difficult to negotiate a rise in pay in a surf club for a while, because surf club funds are directed towards surf club needs, mostly, and it’s pretty hard to get any of it for administrators and this sort of thing. So I, we, they, the club bit the bullet and said yes we’ll appoint you.
CK: So was that a full time position?
CB: I was the first ever, anywhere in the world I think, Surf Club administrator, now called C-E-O-s of course. And you know, it wasn’t too long after that, that other clubs started appointing administrators. There had been State Centre, state administrators and a National administrator
CB: But I was the first one, Maroochydore was the first club ever to appoint a paid administrator to a salaried position. Now they’re everywhere and they’ve gotta be because they’re so big. And they’ve grown into licensed clubs and they had to do that because the cost of, you know, electronic equipment, the cost of motorised equipment and all this sort of stuff, is staggeringly dear. They just couldn’t handle it.
CB: Yes, so I remained administrator from 1979 to 1987, eight years, eight full years. I started on the first of July ‘79, finished up on the 30 June ‘87. And Kerry Taylor, the current CEO down there, he took over from me.
CB: And he does a wonderful job too. You know the club runs very smoothly. Now what did I do after that? Yeah, I sort of just, I was appointed, Stan Wilcox had already been appointed a life governor and when I pulled the pin as administrator, I got appointed a life governor too, there were two of us. Me to represent the club up in this area, Stan to represent the club in Brisbane. And it seems to works pretty well. And I still fulfil that role, I meet with the administration committee, once a month.
CK: Oh right.
CB: Stan’s always involved with the instructional side of the club. Teaching, he is a branch instructor and so he’s likely to be involved in examining bronze medallion, people going for their bronze medallions at Mooloolaba, or Coolum or anywhere like that. I sort of always remained close to base. Stan has been the club President too, and he has also been State Centre President, he’s been the State President. In fact, he was State Centre President in Queensland when he supervised the entry of women into the patrolling ranks of surf life saving.
CK: Right. Out of all your jobs then, with - have you enjoyed one more than another? At the Surf Club?
CB: I’ve enjoyed them all.
CK: Oh well that’s good.
CB: It’s been intensely rewarding because I’ve enjoyed getting along with the young people and as life governor, even now I spend a fair bit of time, when I’ve got it, with them on the beach. They all seem to get to know me. They get to know Stanley too.
CB: Because he’s around them all the time, too. And, but,
CK: You did mention…
CK: Oh sorry… you just mentioned ladies in the club?
CK: So they weren’t allowed to be members when you first joined Maroochydore?
CB: Which was a strange thing Carol but there used to be lady lifesavers way back in the 20s, I think.
CB: Maybe they were lifesavers at places like Kings Beach, Caloundra. But I rather think clubs like Alexandra Headlands had a, had women in the club.
CK: Oh right. But you didn’t at Maroochydore?
CB: Yes we must have had because the Suosaari family brothers, five brothers, all were wonderful lifesavers in our club. And Vic Suosaari was a great lifesaver and, and an organiser and administrator in the club.
CB: And he was wonderful at running the old rescue and resuscitation squads and he was wonderful at drilling in them. And he married a lady named Dorrie Cooper and Dorrie Cooper was a lifesaver.
CK: Oh right.
CB: And now she might have been a lifesaver with the Neptunes. And I think the Neptunes might have made a, I’m not too sure about all that involvement of the women, but they were back in those days and then they disappeared out of it.
CK: Oh right.
Women in the Surf Club
CB: And then there was a group called the MAHMS-Girls Group. Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headlands, Maroochydore Girls Support Group. And they used to support the three clubs and, but that was only a social thing. They used to raise funds, run functions, that sort of thing. But, you know, with the growing feminist movement and gender equity and all this sort of thing, women had to get their chance and they were breaking their necks to become lifesavers and why they were ever held back, I don’t know, because women are brilliant in the club. They, you know, and you seem to get the impression that women are the weaker sex well, I tell you what, if you’ve ever been hit up the ribs with one of these girls when they’re charging into the water to get a position in a surf race or something like that, you’d think “Boy! They’re not so, there’s nothing weak about them” and anyway...
CK: No, no.
CB: The girls have incredible strength, especially when they’ve trained fully, you know. And Stan as State Centre President had to supervise the entry of women into the clubs in Queensland. And nowadays, we’ve got to the stage where there are women training officers in the club, there are women patrol captains in the club. We have a number of women patrol captains in Maroochydore club. We have Rita Kelly over there now is our Chief Training Officer. Some clubs have, have women Club captains. Mooloolaba’s had a woman club captain. I have no doubt in due course, there are women club presidents.
CK: Mmm, yeah.
CB: And I have no doubt that in due course there’ll be women as State Centre Presidents. And women in due course will become life members of the clubs and that will be really something different. But take the Kelly family for instance, in our club at the moment. Paul Kelly, the father is the President of the club, his wife Sue is the Club Secretary and he is also liaison with our Nippers Club. The eldest girl, Jasmine is, has been an Australian Surf-Ski Champion. In fact, she was the first woman Single-Ski Champion of Australia.
CB: The second girl, Rita is currently our Chief Training Officer and she has done an incredible job, in fact last year she was Queensland Training Officer of the year, for Queensland. And we have a sister club arrangement with Shimoda Club, just south of Tokyo in Japan.
CK: Oh right.
CB: And the Japanese kids from Shimoda Club come over here, they have been over here this Christmas and done Bronze Medallions, Australian bronze…
CK: Oh right, yeah.
CB: And our kids will go back there in the off season for here and they’ll go to Shimoda. Rita went with them last time and when she came back from there she stayed longer than the rest of the kids from over there, obviously training Japanese Instructors and so on. She came back here and she got asked to go to India on an instructional tour over in India and that’s still to happen, she’s still, that appointment is still to happen, I just don’t know when it will happen but Rita will be off to India in due course.
CK: Oh yeah and …
CB: So she’s the fourth one in that family and the fifth one is Sean and he’s held Australian Championships too. So the whole family is involved, girls and all.
CK: Yeah, yeah. You mentioned earlier about David Low, that you rang him up. Did you know him terribly well at all?
CB: I did know Dave Low very well, yes. And, yes, when things had to happen, he was a good operator, and had no fear about taking responsibility and making decisions. What’s the old story, committee of one with power to act, when you have to, you have to do things and...
CK: Oh yeah.
CB: He did that, that day and it took a tremendous load off my mind, and Arthur Evans’ mind. And they, between them, they were able to, the clubs with various lifeguards at each club, and they were able to put together a back-up system. Where, if somebody needed help, a lifeguard, a permanent lifeguard, needed help at one beach, he could get back-up from others and so on. Before that it was an alarming situation, if I wasn’t anywhere round the club, and there was a need for, somebody was in trouble in the water, there was a siren at Maroochydore Surf Club.
CB: And the sign told people, ‘Press the button’. And I’d hear that siren right over this side of town and I had to immediately charge off to the beach. And Hayden Kenny, and Norman Weir and this one, you’d charge off to the beach and hopefully got there in time, to be able to organise some rescues.
CK: So that was if, if they needed more help?
CB: Yeah, yeah.
CK: Right. And did that happen very often?
CB: Well I heard that siren, I suppose, see I’d be teaching at Woombye most of the day. But I suppose that even on weekends in the winter time, when there were no patrols on the beach. I would hear that, I would’ve heard it half a dozen times. But Norm Weir, he had round his engineering shop, right near the beach and right near the Surf Club. He was the closest one and he was in the water every week pulling somebody out. And
CK: You know the situation that they’ve got down there at Maroochydore Beach at the moment, with the heavy surf is taking the sand away? Is that sort of been a bit of a regular occurrence, during your time there?
CB: When I first came here in 1953 and joined the Club in ’54 the beach was in worse condition then, than it is now.
CB: And the river was south of Pin Cushion. And the opening, south of Pin Cushion was much wider at it’s widest part. And I have no doubt it started the same way back in, probably the 30s or 40s. I think it was, around 1933 to ’34, according to John Weir, the man that just rang me on the phone then. He has more information about it again. And he told me that he was a teenager when his brother, Norm Weir tried to stop the river from breaking through, back in those days, and that was round ’33 - ‘34. But it did break through and the gap widened out, and it got wider like it is now and eventually I have established that it will end up about a five hundred metre opening and right across to the Caravan Park, right across to where the permanent Caravan Sites are. The powered sites right up against them and you know, it’ll open up this five hundred metre spread which I have no doubt again and that means that big ocean swells can go in through there and get into the river and it can create a different scene all together.
CK: Did the bridge come back though? Back to the, in the fifties?
CB: Yes, what happened is that as the river alters from now on, if it follows the same course as it did last time and I have no doubt it will, it’s so far done that.
CB: The river has two courses. Sometimes in it’s history, the main river channel comes down from the big high level bridge up at the top end of the pot hole, right down the long, the big long straight, and comes right down to the back of where Twin Waters Resort is now and there, because it runs into the base of the big sand spit that comes across the river, it turns south, almost at right angles and runs out south of Pin Cushion and then in a, on the run-out tide the water is running in a direct course from Twin Waters, past the back of Pin Cushion and straight down the beach past Maroochydore Club, right down to Alex.
CB: On a run-in tide the water goes the opposite direction somehow. Now, the other way that the river can come when the river is not open, the mouth is not open south of Pin Cushion, when the river mouth is north of Pin Cushion, the river tends to come around past the back of Maroochydore CBD, right down into the Cotton Tree and turn around and go out north of Pin Cushion.
CK: And is that where it brings the sand back?
CB: Well yes. What happens, will happen now you’ll find that in the process of changing steadily, slowly from the Cotton Tree course, back to the northern course and once it establishes itself and the water slows down and there’s still water in the Cotton Tree area there’s no significant river flow there. It’s all flowing down the long, northern channel, turning at right angles at the back of Pin Cushion and heading south past Pin Cushion and the Surf Club. At that time, that corner at the back of Pin Cushion starts to erode through the base of the big sand spit because of the pressure on the water swirling in the corner. And as it does that it gradually over the years, eats its way right through that sand spit and opens the new mouth north of Pin Cushion. And once that’s opened, the main course goes straight out from, right from the big, high level bridge straight down, and straight out to sea there.
CK: So is this what happened back in the fifties
CB: Yes, yes it did happen.
CK: and the beach..
CB: Jimmy Cash says it happened in 1958 and Graham Ashton says it happened in 1958. I thought it was ’62 but I stand to be corrected, they are probably right. So that busted through then, now with the water flowing out there and it opens up very rapidly and becomes a very big mouth very quickly. That takes a lot of that flow away from the south side, the south opening starts to silt up because there’s nothing washing the sand away. It closes off and all the water is then running out north of Pin Cushion. And from what I can work out, from the time it broke through south of Pin Cushion in 1933, to the time it broke through south Pin Cushion next time, was 1999, that’s about roughly a 66 year cycle…
CK: Oh yeah.
CB: And I would think the cycles are about sixty year cycles. If nobody does anything to, manage the river to, make it stay, where it would stop eroding a lot of us feel…
CK: At the club? Does this, does this kind of beach erosion affect the club itself?
CB: Yes. It affects the club in this way, and like, this is an opinion of mine and it is an opinion of a lot of other people. There is a different body of opinion, Jimmy Cash is one of them and Councillor Herman Schwabe is another one of them.
CK: But your thoughts are?
CB: Who Believe?
CK: Well can you just tell me
CB: Like there’s a lot of sand, already gone off Maroochydore beach. And the rocks in front of, there’s the coffee rock that underlies all this land here, has been exposed at Maroochydore already. because the sand has disappeared and where’s it gone? It was all there until the river opened south of Pin Cushion.
CB: But once that river opens south of Pin Cushion the big waves, the big ground swells coming into the beach when they wash up onto the beach they always swing one way or the other they level out the water level again into rips and that sort of thing. They, with that opening at the river they tend to swing north, and go, the waves will run along the front of the beach, carve out the sand, they done it and they just absolutely just about destroyed the big, sand hill right up, the sand dune that fronted onto the beach right up to Pin Cushion. That’s all been now washed into the river.
CB: That sands now all gone…
CK: how’s it affecting the club and the members? Are the guys still coming into surf and the kids still coming there?
CB: Yes people still come to surf there and there is no problem with them being able to surf. It becomes difficult at times to find a bank, a sand bank that’s safe enough and wide enough. And when I say wide enough, every sand bank has a rip at each end of it, where the water runs back out to sea and that’s where people get into trouble and that’s where lifesavers have to keep them out of.
CK: So you’re having trouble finding those safe sand banks?
CB: Sometimes you do. Say about a month, six weeks ago, it was very difficult to find a safe bank at Maroochy, there were holes and rips everywhere. At the moment it’s beautiful.
CK: Oh right, yeah.
CB: Now how long it’ll be before that’s how we’re hoping it certainly lasts until after this weekend when the big carnival is on.
CK: Yeah that’s right.
CB: Because it’s very important to have that. But yes, because all the water, once that gap opens south of Pin Cushion, as the waves sweep in and sweep north, it sweeps the sand off the beach into the river. And the river is filling up at the back of Cotton Tree and all the trees that get washed away, as the sand gets washed into the river, they have to be picked up by Council and heaped up in heaps and burnt or otherwise they’ll all end up floating around in the river.
CK: Oh right, yeah, that’s crazy. How, did you start, was it your idea to start the markets, Bard?
CB: No it wasn’t. I was round the club but I wasn’t involved in the market when it first started in nineteen, now well where are we, about 1992. In those days, the Cotton Tree was a pretty quiet place on Sunday mornings. And the Cotton Tree Traders was an organisation that the shop keepers and Cotton Tree had formed and they apparently got their heads together and approached the club to, somebody must have come up with the idea, a market in the street would be a good idea it would provide some activity in the shopping centre on Sunday mornings. So they approached the club and asked them to apply to the Council for a permit for a market.
CK: Oh yeah.
CB: With the Surf Club as the beneficiary and, as to complement the operation of the shops in Cotton Tree. Well, Jim Graham who still lives in the area, he was the first manager, for one year. And then Glen Nixon, he was the son of the club’s Secretary, the late Athol Nixon at the time, he was the second manager for one year and in early 1994 they had a series, a very wet, wet season.
CB: And I went to the market on Sunday, I didn’t have much to do with it at all. I went into the market one Sunday and, to get something, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was hardly anything there, in fact that day there were nineteen stalls there and they were all just about ready to go and give the place away because they’d had thirteen wet Sundays in a row.
CK: Oh dear.
CB: And it had really wreaked havoc. And I thought, boy oh boy what’s going on here? This is more of an embarrassment and liability to the club than an asset. So I went back and spoke to Kerry Taylor the CEO and he said, he asked me if I’d like to have a go at it. And I said “Well, you know, it can’t go any worse, surely, so I’ll give it a go.” So I did because Glen Nixon had left and his father, Athol, the Secretary of the club was trying and he was not very well and able man, and it was too much for him and he was doing his best. So I got involved and started to learn what markets were all about. Started to learn what you need to know about them and started to build the market with the assistance of the stall holders and the shop keepers.
CK: So what was your plan of attack? How did you go about doing all this then? You can’t stop the rain, though can you?
CB: No, no, no. You have to work out ways and means to try and minimise the affect of that sort of thing, if you can. And there’s not a lot you can do you can just encourage stall holders to make their stalls more weather proof and if you can to give them some incentive for that. So, one of the things I did was, to stay in the market the whole of the time the markets in operation. Most market managers apparently don’t do that. I don’t know, I’ve never been involved in any other market but the Cotton Tree.
CB: But, I decided if I’m going to manage this thing, I’ll manage it and try and make it work through thorough management of it right from go to woe. So I’d stay there and I’d devised a little spinning wheel with my mate Frank Conway from Lions, who’s a builder, and he built me a spinning wheel and I started to raise funds with the spinning wheel. Only thirty numbers on it, so you only sell thirty tickets at a time.
CB: And the life savers let me, as manager of the market, use that money that I generated with that, to promote the market. And that involved also, providing incentives for the stall holders to try and help them to get established and to help them to get through wet periods and to help them to handle windy days. So I devised a scheme whereby new stall holders were encouraged to come to the market because they’d pay the first day they came, that gave them a chance to have a look at it, the market, to see if it was their kettle of fish.
CB: And it gave me a chance to have a look them and see if they were compatible with the market, the things they sold, and all that sort of thing.
CB: But once they fitted in and I squared them away and gave them the ok, then I gave them four free Sundays in a row. The next four Sundays, and I still do that.
CK: Oh right, but you don’t tell them? Do you tell them?
CB: Yes. As soon as they show up and they pay the first day, and I’ve squared them away. They are compatible with the market, I say to them “OK now, if you continue to come back you’ll get the next four Sundays free and don’t forget they are the next four Sundays. If you miss one of the next four, you’re gone”. Because it’s an encouragement, it’s an incentive to remain permanent with us. So you’re going to show me that you’re going to be permanent by being here the next four Sundays. And they appreciate that because that $40, it’s $10 a site per Sunday for the month, that $40 helps them to get a bit of correct cover, a waterproof cover and that sort of thing.
CK: Yeah get a bit of clientele
CB: Yeah that’s right and get some customers round them. Give them a chance to show off their wares. And that, enabled us to get on our feet. And then, I was able to generate enough funds with raffles to put a weekly advertisement display ad in the Sunshine Coast Daily every Saturday. That cost $52 odd. And then we have another gimmick where I set aside $50 every Sunday that goes into what we call a ‘lucky docket draw’. We print special market dockets, a hundred per book, we sell them to the stall holders for one dollar a book. And every time a customer makes a purchase, they hand the customer a docket. The customer puts the name and phone number on the back. The phone number is for identification purposes if I don’t know the person who wins…
CB: And they put the docket, and my tickets from the spinning wheel, whether they’re winners or losers, put their name and phone number on the back and that goes into a white carton that’s on display in the market all the time. During the next week I will transfer all those dockets from the white carton into a barrel, a spinning barrel. And on the following Sunday, the people whose dockets and tickets are in there for the spin, are the ones who were there the previous Sunday if you get me. It’s a gimmick to get them coming back to the...
CK: Oh, you’ve got to be there to win?
CB: You’ve gotta be there to win, at nine o’clock every Sunday morning. So it does work, they do come back for the spinning wheel draw because the minimum they…..
End of interview