Interview with: Cliff Croughan
Date of Interview: 13 November 1997
Interviewer: Di Warner
Transcriber: Colwyn Boulton
Interviewing Mr. Cliff Croughan early Royal Life Saver and Metropolitan Life Saver who operated out of Bribie Island later the club transferred to Caloundra, as a Metropolitan Caloundra life saver .Instrumental in helping to set up Dicky Beach Surf Life Saving Club Member of Bribie Island and formative member of Metropolitan Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club
Images and documents on Cliff Croughan Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image: North Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club members pictured with the belt and reel which was used to rescue those drowning, ca 1950.
Cliff Croughan oral history - part one [MP3 44MB]
Cliff Croughan oral history - part two [MP3 44MB]
Cliff Croughan oral history - part three [MP3 40MB]
Cliff Croughan oral history - part four [MP3 44MB]
DW Interview with Cliff Croughan early life saver
CC That’s right
Early Royal Life Saving formative years and location
DW Cliff you are a known identity in Metropolitan Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club and formative member of North Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club (later to be called Dicky Bach Surf Life Saving Club.
CC I’ll give you my version of it we came on patrol was we came to Caloundra for Easter.
DW You were patrolling at Bribie Island then?
CC. We were at Bribie Island and we came up here and there were six of us. There was myself, there was Jimmy Fraser, Doug Mabin, Sid and Les Hardcastle they were elder members in the club. I’m going back to like when we came, I’m only talking about when we came to Caloundra - our first patrol in Caloundra, more or less. But anyway the point was there were six of us altogether
Yes, well anyway to cut the whole story short. Ken, he got the information about the start of the club or the club patrolling, not starting it. And incidentally, digressing for a moment, those people that were at Mooloolah, they had nothing to do with the life saving club, they didn’t patrol, once we took over the beach that was it.
DW Yes they were gone. Wally Warner had gone then, you see that was 1928 when the Royal Life Savers were on Kings Beach.
CC Well 1928, well it must have been 1930, that’s right, when we got there.
CC 1930 -that’s right it was Easter of 1930 and make sure that this is correct. I’ve got confirmation of this. Ken O’Connell was going to get it. You see I don’t know where all the paper work that I dug up and photos and different things are. There weren’t many photos but the few that I had and the paper work and things that he wrote down. Jimmy Fraser came along with stuff - paper and yarning and going back all over the different things. He had all this and of course he’s a very astute man, Ken he was a businessman and a man with paper work, no worries to him. I have a different problem, I’m useless at.it. Why I’m saying that is that he asked certain questions on the way through querying what we were saying. This is what I’m more or less suggesting to you. If I said that a certain bod was at a certain place but I wasn’t too sure of it and you happened to put it down. if there are any members in or outside the club that could come along and say no he’s way out on that one. You have only got to make a few mistakes like that. Your information then right throughout is more or less useless. That’s where Ken O’Connell was, he was number one with it because of the questions. The thing was as I say we used to sit there of the night time, anywhere from 9 till 10 o’clock at night just the two of us. Even when Jimmy Fraser was there and Doug Mabin we sat around and these questions were flying at each other and we brought it all together. Therefore, I thought that I had some information I had written bits and pieces down. I will ask him when next time I am going to see him.
CC I thought I had that in this back room. Well, I went through that back room three times and I must’ve given him the lot. So I have nothing. The only thing I have is -
DW Is your memory Cliff.
CC Yes and that’s a bit doubtful at times. It’s not doubtful from the point of view of the club or the members but it’s doubtful of times and things like that.
DW That is ok
CC I can’t understand it. Is it possible not to get hold of him and get this information because he was that keen?
DW I’ve had a letter from Ken.
CC. Oh you have?
DW Yes, he left it at the club.
CC Oh I see.
DW No-one knows where it is now he’s contacted the club.
CC Oh I see
DW Yes, I contacted the chief life guard down there who’s going to try and chase it up as well but at this stage no-one knows where that information is, that early history. Whether it’s in someone’s garage, or you know, just someone’s put it somewhere and forgotten where it is, but it’s very unfortunate.
DW How old were you when you joined the lifesavers?
CC When I joined the lifesavers club, you had to be seventeen to join a lifesavers club and that was in late 1920’s - 1930 I think it was. Anyway, I was over sixteen.
DW You lived on Bribie?
DW You lived at Bribie Island?
CC No, I lived in Brisbane.
DW You lived in Brisbane, whereabouts was that?
CC Over West End or Hill End it was at the time.
DW Where did you learn to swim?
CC Beg your pardon?
DW Where did you learn to swim?
CC Well, I can’t remember that. I just seem to know water was around and hop in and then I joined the club. How I came to join the club was well, I didn’t know about life saving or anything else but I was still nearly a kid. My mother took me down there was an apprenticeship going. I was only just sixteen at the time and I was taken in to see these bosses in this place. It was a motor body building, factory. In those days they used to send the chassis out a lot of Dodge stuff it was. They used to send the chassis out and we used to build around it. This was what I was apprenticed to do. Jimmy Fraser was a foreman of one of the departments. Well, there were about ten apprentices. Why I’m bringing this up- it has nothing to do with the life saving side of it. The point was that in there you were issued with each day one of the men or some of the men would want an apprentice and you did all the messy work or bits and pieces. And anyway, eventually I was with this Jimmy Fraser. Well you did it the hard way those days and, to cut a long story short, Jimmy Fraser took a yen to me. The point was we were down in a place on Commercial Road at Bulimba just round from there. I don’t know if you know Brisbane do you?
DW I do, yes.
Valley Pool training with the champions
CC Well, Commercial Road it was the building across the road from where this factory was where we were.
DW What was the name of the factory?
CC B.H. Connors Motor Body Conveyances and what have you. And anyway they finished up. Jimmy Fraser one day said to me - this was after I’d been there about three months, and he said to me, ‘What about coming swimming?’ Now he used to walk around to the Valley Pool from there which is, I suppose about a mile away. I had to knock him back because I had no money. I mean I couldn’t afford to get into that pool. So eventually, he woke up to this and he said, ‘For the first month you can get in, if you’re only young you can get into the pool for a month’. Being an idiot well I thought, yes, and I got into that pool and it was one of the finest things that ever happened to me. Tommy Boast one of Australia’s champions and Theo Thynne they were all there. All these fellows were training there and also there was Americans coming out and training.
When I went round with Jimmy Fraser he was a great friend of all these fellows and they used to train together. When I came anyway, these blokes in their own way used to get hold of me at different times and show me little points and this and the other. That’s where I started from there. Anyway, the point was then he got me into the club and as I say I was just sixteen. I was supposed to be seventeen. I was just under seventeen
DW So you swam at the pool at the Valley for about how long?
CC Oh, quite a while.
DW Twelve months or was it more?
Metropolitan Club early Royal Life Savers
CC Well eventually when we used to go down to the Valley Pool I used to go down when I finished my trade and everything else and I was put in charge of a department there. I used to go down myself straight after work. I used to live in the water in the end. I used to like training and all that sort of thing, you see. And then of course with the club, well then with Metropolitan Club itself. Well there was a funny thing there, it was Royal Life Saving in those days, not surf life saving. Yes, the Royal Life Saving, Metropolitan were I suppose between all the clubs. I’m talking about more or less south, coast clubs and that.
CC I never knew much about them but in the Royal Life Saving, Metropolitan was number one at it. I say that like they were, their name was number one or well up in it.
DW Swimming skills and everything
CC Everything, that’s right. It was Royal there was no surfers, no surf life saving. You were in the Royal Life Saving.
DW Yes, they had the governing body sort of thing did they, the Royal Life Saving?
CC Well they were Royal Life Saving yes. I’ll explain it in a few minutes. This is going on the air is it?
CC Oh right well.
DW Yes, that’s alright, we need to know all of these historical things.
Royal Life Savers transfer to Surf Life Savers
CC Well the point is that the Royal Life Saving is more or less still water stuff but those days it was surf stuff. There was no such thing there was no surf name then. I mean even if you were in the surf it was named Royal Life Saving. Anyway the point was I was training to get my bronze, surf bronze. The day after I was to get it I’d gone right through the whole lot. I wasn’t the only one. I’ll only tell you about me and the instructors and everything else and the next day they said to me, ‘You’d better start again’. I said, ‘why?’, and they said, ‘that’s the Royal Life.’ We had heard that the life saving movement had come in, and it was in Sydney. Later it was the surf life saving movement. It was the same sort of thing only the methods were different. Anyway the point was that I finished up I didn’t get the medal, I didn’t get the surf bronze even though I had passed it. I had to start again with different types of methods which was only a matter of time till I got it. I don’t know some weeks or something.
DW How long did it take you to train for your Royal Life saving medal?
CC For my medal?
DW Yes, to get that actual accreditation to pass your tests in order to receive your medals
CC Well not the surf, do you mean to surf?
DW No, I’m just talking about the Royals for the moment.
CC Royal Life Saving?
DW Yes before you were ready to be a Royal I was told by the gentleman from Mooloolah, Wally Warner, that it took him nearly a year to complete his training. He has written here, ‘Wally trained for his bronze medallion while still living at Mooloolah; he attained his Royal Life Saving medal and Life Saving medal there too. It took him about twelve months training in order to pass the test. Testing for the bronze was carried out at Alexandra Headlands.’
DW Royal Life saving medal tests entails swimming in the Maroochy River. Wally and others in training had to swim across in front of the Maroochy Hotel. Did you have to do that?
CC No, well as it was all in the pool at Ithaca Baths. It was our headquarters as a matter of fact. The point was that the Royals when it came to the medals, well even though I was doing this surf, the Royal Life Saving were still the Royals. You got the Royal bronze and you got the silver and then you got it was two or three others. The point was that, when it stopped there, I was also training for the Royals but the methods in the Royals were baths, all bath stuff. Like you tow a patient and then there was when it came to the silver. I think it was fully clothed, you had to be fully clothed. I think it was the silver or it was one of the others, anyway I got three of them but the point was the life saving methods of the Royals were in their own way more adequate for the average person to know. Particularly today when you’ve got a swimming pool and a little kid falls into a pool. I’m not saying that the life savers, the blokes in the surf couldn’t do the same thing but I mean the knowledge of the Royals. I mean the methods of resuscitation and all that sort of thing, it was all good.
DW It seemed to take a long time by what he said there, at the start of training in order to pass the test, twelve months that seemed to be fairly lengthy.
CC Yes, you couldn’t do it in a day.
DW A thorough testing process
CC All your methods with the Royals, the bronze was the first medal, first one you could get. I think you had to swim fifty yards or a hundred yards, anyway breaststroke.
DW Are you saying there are fifty yards breaststroke, fifty yards backstroke and one hundred yards freestyle?
CC Right. Well in the next one the silver was different, you had to do more distance and then there was the other one you got where you were fully clothed. The point was I did everything in fully clothed the first trip and I couldn’t, I couldn’t float. They had what you call a pendulum float and I was lying on the water and just went down about a foot and stayed there. So anyway, came up, I’d finished all the rest of the swims and everything else and they knocked me back. So I had to go again which was about a fortnight afterwards and I got knocked back again because I couldn’t float. You wouldn’t credit that. There was me still about a foot under the water looking up at the officials. Anyway the Royal Life Saving actually, to my way of thinking was for pools and baths and different things. I used to later on when I got further up in the game and I went through it as an instructor and examiner and different things, then I used to go out with it. One was Joe Betts, heard of Joe?
Royal Life Saver members – Caloundra region
CC And Pop Venning, they were, they were top brass in the Royals.
DW Yes, Wally’s saying here, ‘Secretary of the Caloundra Life Savers in ’1927 1928 was Ben Hapgood
CC Who? Maurie Hapgood?
DW He’s got Ben here.
CC Oh, Ben Hapgood
DW Well maybe it was Maurie Hapgood and he’s got the name wrong there.
DW How old would Maurie Hapgood have been?
CC He would have been pretty old in those days. He would’ve been about twenty four.
DW Perhaps that might be Wally’s (meaning) because there are some things he’s not really sure of too. Well he was actually the Secretary there if that’s right then, from 1927 to 1928. And I’m just looking here for Betts because I believe he was the one that used to go with them. They used to sometimes go to Cooroy in the early days and Pop Venning came to Cooroy. Wally was telling me that the Cooroy Life Savers were the Noosa Life Savers. Early trainer at both the Caloundra and Noosa Clubs was Jack Hibbert.
CC Hibbert, yes that’s right.
DW Gus Weir
CC I wouldn’t know.
DW They must have gone. Hibbert was there was he when you were there, Jack Hibbert?
CC Well, you see they would be different clubs.
DW I thought that after Metropolitan Caloundra came in, perhaps they then amalgamated those little clubs for training?
CC A club like say Mooloolaba or Maroochydore or Metropolitan, they have their own members and they train their own members. If they were going to go for exams or the medals then the executive of the Royal Life Saving used to come along, they were the examiners and they would examine any of them, any clubs it didn’t matter who they were. I mean the actual members you really met later on in competition stuff when you’d probably go to one of their beaches or they’d come down to your beach and things like that. So, that’s where you’d meet a lot of ordinary members in the place, not only in surf too.
DW You said you knew the name of Jack Hibbert who was the fellow that trained them on the Mooloolah Railway Station. He was the night officer on the trains. Wally Warner, he was the person that gave me the other interview that started this off. I’ll just read that again, ‘We trained on the Mooloolah Railway Station platform, most of us came from Mooloolah, the training used to take place in the evening after we had knocked off work. We did our drill on the platform; we trained for our first aid in Mooloolah Railway Station. The chap who trained us was Jack Hibbert’. He must’ve had his first aid. He would have been a little older than Wally because Wally was only seventeen.
CC Yes, you see I met some of these people later on. I’m talking about what was the other name you mentioned?
DW Jack Brandenburg
DW Who is now deceased Wally says. He says the only one alive that he knows of - from those men I’ll read their names to you. I have their oral interview here as well as Mooloolah memories. They were some of the original lifesavers from the Mooloolah district who helped start life saving at Kings Beach. Their names were Wally Warner, Frank Griffin, Jack Brandenburg, Walter McAndrew, Vic Paulsen, Hapgood and Hilton Perkins.
DW Hilton Perkins
CC Perkins, yes
DW Frank Griffin
DW Frank Griffin.
CC Griffin, yes
DW Vic Paulsen and Walter MacAndrew?
DW He went on to be a police inspector.
CC I know the names but, Jack Brandenburg?
DW He still lived in this area because Wally used to come down here and see him.
CC That’s right, he came to me one day -
DW That’s what I’d like to hear.
CC It’s going back awhile now. Well, he came one day and he said to me, ‘Cliff’ he said, I don’t know how it came out but he said, ‘We were in this set up here in this club on this beach before you were you see’. We were talking a few minutes about it and I never took much stock in the fact that I knew that. He wasn’t - there was no baloney about it. I mean he was saying that and that’s all there was to it. There would be no argument, I mean as a matter of fact, whether he ever told Les and Sid Hardcastle because they finished up very top brass in our club. Les and Sid it’s a pity that Les is gone. Les Hardcastle’s wife’s only just died in the last few months. She was a great supporter of Mets. Not only that, she was a great supporter to all. I guess you ought to say me but the point is she was, she knew everybody and everybody knew her. Well, she just passed away I think - I was told the other day, or the other week. But see, Les Hardcastle and Sid Hardcastle, well they used to be up here a lot and there was also Jack Brandenburg, I think he was in Caloundra a long, long time, going back now. There was a fellow by the name of Dud Ryan in our club and a fellow by the name of Lennie Taylor. Dud Ryan was the sixth bloke in that first patrol we were on. Dud Ryan was a Royal.
CC Dudley yes. Anyway he was a builder and Lennie Taylor was and they were both mates. Dud Ryan was a builder and Lennie Taylor was a plumber I suppose you’d call it - but anyway they put roofs and different roofs and things on, cement roofs, bitumen, and metal roofs on. That was in Brisbane when we were there. They were members of Mets long before I knew about Mets and then they came up to Caloundra some years later but they were great mates.
DW Wally said sometimes there were Brisbane members who would come to Kings Beach in the early days but not many. He said you might’ve got one or two on patrol. He said his family moved to Noosa. He went to Noosa, to Cooroy, and they started the Noosa Club, or Noosa had started but he joined Noosa and his younger brother Len too. He said sometimes there was a couple of those fellows came from Bribie and so perhaps those men that you’re talking about now may have been that sort of middle link there after his time. Brandenburg and everyone from that period and then the next generation started. I suppose they would have been that little bit younger. Wally is now 87 years old.
CC The thing is that in the surf movement, life saving movement, there was no such thing as animosity between different clubs
DW That’s what he says; we used to just go from club to club.
CC. That’s right. There was no such thing as animosity and you’d probably go and have a drink together. The next day you’d fight each other in the surf, you know or whatever you’re doing. Well that’s how I was brought up and boy did it really make me a better human being then. But anyway the point was that Dud Ryan and Lennie Taylor came up here. This was another thing - apparently work down there wasn’t so good, so they came up to Caloundra. They worked around Caloundra here and around the local coast. I don’t know if it was because of a fellow by the name of Jack Corkery or Sid Hardcastle.Then there was a fellow by the name of Ivan Soden and his brother. Well, what I’m going to say- Soden, the Soden brothers, and Pop Soden finished up, he was Soden’s Carrying Company. They had a gigantic outfit in Brisbane and we used to go and have our meetings there. I’m going back a hundred years here.
DW The meetings were at Soden’s?
CC. They used to be in Pop Soden’s, down at the bottom of Creek Street right facing the wharves.
There used to be a ferry used to come across to Creek Street. I mean Creek Street there was this big complex and this factory we went to. They were carriers and they used to bring whatever they had you know into the place. That’s all I knew about it, I mean there was trucks and different things there. And then we used to have our meetings there and later on.
DW What, the Bribie Club too?
CC Life saving, yes there was Metropolitan Club too.
DW I guess that’s where it got the name Metropolitan, because it was a Brisbane based group.
CC Club, yes that’s right. The point was that they when I first went it was 1930, that was the first, patrol we went for. We broke away - we didn’t break away we came up here too. Well I was only a kid anyway.
DW Who asked you to come here? Did Mets asked you to come?
CC No, not the Mets, Landsborough Shire Council.
DW They were actually paying, they were paying to keep this early days club to come and these early days fellows. Wally told me that they used to give to them; I think it was five pounds at Easter and ten pounds at Christmas, for the patrols.
CC It was a lot of money. Yes well, that’s why we did this first patrol that Easter and some money was given to the club and to a lot of these people it didn’t make any difference. We never saw the money it had nothing to do with us, we paid our own way.
DW You paid your own way up here to patrol. You had to pay for your own food and everything like that?
CC. Own food and everything else and you were talking about Jack Brandenburg and you were talking about tents, now the thing was digressing for a moment to get into Caloundra those days, and I’m talking about the early days do you know where the turn-off, at Mooloolah Cemetery is?
CC Well, there was no road past there, the road used to come down - it was a track and, and you come from Landsborough we used to catch a train up there and then there was Billy King, the only boarding house here you know, he used to have this sedan car.
CC. Well, it was a sedan car and he could fit about fifteen bods in it and we used to be outside of it.
DW All the life savers would be on King’s transport.
CC Yes, that’s right.
DW On the roof of it?
CC Yes, and anywhere we could hang on.
DW Did he charge you?
CC Any older people like aged about 22, or 23 they were sitting inside but anyway, not only that we had to push it if it got bogged.
DW Did he charge you to get to Kings Beach?
CC Yes, but I don’t know what - it was a shilling or something like that. But the point was that we used to come, you’d come up to where the cemetery was - that was not this side of the cemetery but the other side - and the track use to go up and pass I assume now because we used to go up to this track. There was no road other than that we used to go up until we got to the top of the hill and then we used to go down and come round where the - what’s it called now the road round the back there.(Sugarbag Road)
DW Nicklin Way?
CC Anyway, we came round and it was still only track stuff. We came round and down and went along the small hill in front of where the garage is down here now. He came out down there and we went across, it was all sand dunes there, there was no houses no nothing there and in some of the times it would be flood waters would be like great heaps of water around there but it used to go across and it was Fristrom’s place. You couldn’t get any further than that it was all sand dunes right in amongst the dunes and that’s where they put the tents, you were talking about.
DW A camp there, they camped there too?
CC. Yes there were two tents there for us. The council put them up but the funny part about it was.
DW Landsborough Shire Council put the tents up.
CC Oh yes, they put them up. We had nothing the first time. We had a blanket each and Mrs Fristrom gave us a meal.
DW Wally said it was pretty rough.
CC Oh yes it was rough alright, it couldn’t be any rougher.
DW The Royals would go and buy their food at Fristrom’s and that she was quite kind to them.
CC Well the funny part about that digressing for a moment when we got there the first times- we got there about five o’clock in the evening and all of us all we had was small suitcases and different things. Anyway, there was a crowd of people in the boarding house, like running around and Fristrom’s. You know where Fristroms were in the old days?
DW I don’t come from this area but I’m getting to know the names due to my work.
CC Well, they had a shop. Then there was a petition and a dining room behind it. So when we got there. I don’t know whether she’d known or not. (Mrs. Fristrom)
DW You’d come on a Friday night would you?
CC It was a Friday night because Easter was on.
CC When we got there, whether Mrs Fristrom had written to the club and asked she told us you know she’d be interested in feeding us. When we got there I forget what it was, so much a meal, a shilling a meal whatever it was. That’s right we were standing there and, and she said it would cost a shilling a meal and if you wanted to back up it would cost you one and six. This Sid Hardcastle always reckoned he wasn’t miserable he was just careful. He was (really broke) and Les’s just his opposite, his brother I mean. He was one of the top brass in the club anyhow but he wasn’t with us and Sid said, ‘Oh’ he said, he always growled. He said, ‘I don’t know about that’. We said, ‘Shut up Sid’. We were thinking of our stomachs. Anyway, you couldn’t go any further up there; it was all, all just sand amongst everything else.
DW Plenty of wild flowers?
CC Oh yes, well later years there was coming past here there was wild flowers all the way up the coast here. There was a little bloke there used to, he used to live with the blacks and he used to go every day and go up and come back with a great heap off these wild flowers and he’d sell them around the town there.
DW What, around Caloundra?
DW He lived with the aboriginal people?
CC No, he was a white man. Well the aboriginals, they were living do you remember the old Francis Hotel? Well that used to be there and it still is but I mean there was nothing there only it was a bit of a track around from Kings Beach through Billy King’s house, a boarding house it was. There was a bit of a track through to the street there. It wasn’t a street only a track anyway. But on the corner was this piece of land which has now got housing on it and that’s where they, some of these blokes used to live. They were nice there are still some of those boys around here.
DW Who were they, do you know their names?
CC No, I do know their names but I just can’t think.
DW And everyone got on well?
CC Oh yes no worries. There were a couple of families of them and there were two or three boys you know. There was no, never any worries well they were just nice people. The point was that was the only way and the only amusement we ever had was lifesaving, was only later on as the years went by conditions improved. When we patrolled on the first morning we had a rescue and all the people that came here those days used to live in tents. They had their own tents and where that park is it was all sandy. There was only the one Fristrom shop. There were tents all over the place there, right through the back and everything else. They were all country people. Well they’d come down on the beach and they’d fish and swim.
Metropolitan Life Saving Club transfers to Caloundra from Bribie Island
CC The next thing when we took a collection around I think we went back with about ten pounds I think it was and that was terrific. Then, later on, a few years later on we of course we decided when we went back that we wanted to move from Bribie. We didn’t want to give the club away but we wanted to come and patrol at Caloundra.
DW You wanted to come to Caloundra; you decided that was best?
CC Yes, but they said no, they’d stay on so more or less through the top brass of our club and they, we came here and some of them stayed down there at Bribie Island.
DW So there was this split or, was it an amiable split?
CC. Oh yes, there was no arguments there. It’s just that there was a change. There was Wally Smith and his wife; he was one of the head serangs in the taxation department. Wally was a president and what have you.
DW He was the president of?
CC. Les Hardcastle was the president of the club and then he came over. There was Pop, not Pop Venning but Pop Soden who was a patron of the club. He was the one with the knowhow and his two sons. Well they came, and they sometimes I was given to understand they told me themselves that they used to come here (Kings Beach) at different times when the club wasn’t operating.
CC The funny thing about all this. You know talking about the life saving side of it and all the rest of it was the friendship side of it. Through all these years we could mention names and these chaps patrolling would come up every weekend and everything’s like you know, it finalized the set up.
DW You started to come every weekend then in the summer season?
CC Yes. The point was the patrols were organised to come, there was six members organised and there’d have been anyone else to come, fair enough. Well then eventually we built this - we had the hut built, it was only a small hut but anyway that was the first clubhouse. I would have been about nineteen then. These other fellows - what I’m coming to is this other part of it, the friendship side of it.
These different fellows met girls on the beach and like it was a different sort of life. If you were on the beach, if you went down the beach today you’d probably be on your own. I mean in those days when you got down there, there were some women or somebody to talk to you. Then when we were sitting around they knew you or knew us and everybody sat round and talked. And what, what used to happen then these fellows finished up meeting these girls and getting themselves married. I knew all their wives. Not only me, I’m not only talking about me but all the other members, everybody. Every member knew the girl and the bloke and what have you, you see. So we went through life which is a terrific thing you know. Even some of those, some of the women folk, not many but some of them are still alive today. I mean when they come up they sing out you know, to you and what have you -that’s if you’re down there. Now I am getting back to the ridgy didge side of it, the memberships and all that. It is something that you would have to be absolute sure about. This is where Ken O’Connell would’ve had that he had everything. If I mention something, it was either Jimmy Fraser or even Les Hardcastle there and he’d say, ‘Well I think it was so and so” so then you talk about it. The thing was because it had to be ridgy didge the whole thing.
DW It is important I have this early story here and some people are just astounded that Mooloolah had these young men coming down here in 1927, ’28, and it’s important to get lots of versions and then look at the whole picture because someone’s interpretation of an event might not be the same as someone else’s.
CC That’s right, that’s the thing I was coming to. I was lucky in the respect that Jimmy Fraser was an older member, not in age and an older member. Ken O’Connell would ask a question and I would imagine something and Jimmy Fraser would come in and say, ’I don’t think that’s right.’ It’s not a case of truth but it’s a case of knowledge. Jimmy Fraser passed away, I went to his funeral. He lived down the Gold Coast. Well I went to all their funerals. Then there was Freddy Riddle he was a great, terrific member. They were all good people but he died a couple of years ago now.
DW Why was he a good swimmer?
CC They were all good swimmers, they’re all gone, they were all terrific swimmers.
DW Why was he a terrific member?
CC. He was a quiet sort of chap and he would do anything for anybody, for anybody, whether you were a lifesaver or somebody outside. He always wanted to do something for somebody in his own quiet way you know and also he had a personality.
DW He lived at Caloundra?
CC. He did live at Caloundra, yes. And the funny part, he would do anything for anybody he was the sort of a bloke that was a quiet sort of a chap you know. He had a beautiful physique on him, oh he was as brown as a berry and to look at him he could’ve gone on one of these shows.
DW Modelling shows?
DW Yes, well that’s very interesting too. Your early days going back to when the first hut was built, I suppose that was a luxury after living in the tents?
CC Oh yes.
DW You had beds and things like that?
CC No, they made bunks, it was a bunk room. This is a bit peculiar too, there was this bunk room. They were double bunks. There were, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 - there was sixteen, two or three, two, sixteen, (I’m talking to myself here), there was sixteen bunks. They were wooden framed things, and even the frame was wooden slats. Slats were on it and then the club bought some mattresses. It was up to you to look after them see. Well then there was sometimes there’d be twenty bods and there was Eddie Fisher. He died recently, he was a terrific still water swimmer he was a beauty a quiet bloke. Eddie, couldn’t get one, he never had a bunk, so the funny part there was no ceiling there was rafters, so he gets two pieces of wood and puts them across these rafters and eventually he gets hold of some, I don’t know if somebody got him a mattress and he used to climb up there and he used to have a candle that he used to read up in the rafters.
DW He must have been keen.
CC Oh yes. But we had some good memberships and on top of that later on.
DW A strong membership once you sorted out up here.
CC Oh yes, we had champions- a lot of, a lot of good swimmers in the club too. There was one chap, he came from Sydney he was a champion breast stroke swimmer Noel Morrison. Noel was a big man he was about six foot three. We were training for the still water championships then and he came one night and said to me, ‘What about you and I training together?’ I said ‘yeah, righty ho.’ Anyway we used to go training and on top of that he was a great still water person. I mean Royal Life Saving and we used to be asked to go out and instruct and look at different groups including the scouts. I went out to the Catholic College at Goodna is it? It was a Catholic brick college there.
CC Nundah. I went there and I went there for - and also they never had a swimming pool there then - but the first night I got there, I went out on a train, there was no bus and I couldn’t afford a car. I had to walk about two miles to get to the station I think it was. But anyway, it was ‘Morrie’ and I, we trained together and we went through the Inter-Dominion Championships, we got picked for that and we went down there to Sydney and Melbourne.
DW When would that have been?
CC. 1938 - I tell you what it was the Inter-dominion Championships was that year and the following year it was all, all the different countries. When I say all the different countries, Great Britain, America and a couple of others but anyway the point was the next year they changed it over, or two years later, I’m not sure when they changed it over. Well they still call it the, not the Inter-dominion Championship, oh, I’ve forgotten the name for it. But they classed March Past, R & R, and then the still water side of it. There were two branches of that side well I was in the surf side of it and this is funny too. There were two branches of this surf and still water.
DW Royal Life Saving and the Surf Life Saving?
CC. Yes, it’s Inter-dominion Championships, and there were two branches. It was like there was one branch in the surf and one for still. Anyway we were in Sydney and we were in Sydney on the Saturday night, in the Astra Hotel we all stayed. There was another group South Africa was up on the next floor to us but anyway the Astra Hotel was right on Sydney Beach.
DW What, Manly or Bondi?
CC. Not Manly - Bondi
CC Anyway we got there the Saturday evening and anyway the next morning there was gigantic seas running and all of a sudden we were called out to rescues. Well I wasn’t with them they were called out to help. They couldn’t cope; the Bondi team couldn’t cope with the people who were in trouble and in all the huge seas.
I think it was the same day that there was an American, I might be guessing on this or wrong but there was this American warship, there was a warship going out of Sydney Harbour (US Louisville) and this ferry had all the people on it who were all waving to these sailors to the Americans. Anyway it went over on its side.
DW The name of that craft was the Rodney, yes I know the story. (The Rodney turned over in Sydney Harbour on 14 February, 1939 with 5 drowned and many missing)
CC Well the Americans hopped overboard to save some of the people in the Harbour. There were many people drowned
DW How did you go at the meet when you went to Sydney and swam down there? How did you go when you went down? Did the club do any good?
CC. Well, we were the club, yes we were the club. We were a state, we were Queensland. Oh we won; of course there were some of the top, swimmers like Tommy Boast.
DW Venning was supposed to be a very good swimmer too.
CC Snow Venning, but he was still water.
DW Was he a champion?
CC He was a champion yes. He was a free styler and he was also a champion diver off his own tower. Did you ever go to the Ithaca Baths?
DW Ithaca Baths, no.
CC The tower used to be on the side of the pool and when you climbed up and looked down the pool looked to be about that size. It was only an ordinary pool. But you had a, for this Royal Life Saving stuff you used to have to jump, dive from two towers and you’d get up there and look down and you think you’re going to hit the other side.
CC What happened was that, when the life savers got there the night before they got ready for the competition I was told I had to go over to another hotel in the city.
CC Yes, because I was with the still water stuff, and Noel Morrison, I never knew and I was just led over to this place, it was just up in Pitt Street it was, up a side street there. There was an underground railway just at the top of it. When I got there this next day and the people that were there - it was a private hotel. It had about three storeys and they took me up to this beautiful room, two big double beds - I tell you a lie, a big double bed and a single bed. I think it was about the second storey up and I never took much notice I just threw my stuff in and then that night the train blokes, they came down by train -there was no plane service. They couldn’t afford plane service.
DW This was the Queensland boys?
CC. Yes well also it was a ladies team too, the Neptunes, there was the Queensland ladies and the men came down. A lot of them, a lot of Neptune’s in it, they were mixed - it would have been a mixed bunch I think. The point was Nancy Holmes I knew quite well. I coached some of them for a little while. Then later on as adult and lady lifesavers I was coaching them for a little while.
CC Anyway, the point was who should come out. I went down to the station to see who it was.
DW Down to Central Station?
CC. Yes, and Noel Morrison was there. ‘I’m Captain’ he said, ‘You’ve got an order straight away.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’ He said, ‘Go and buy me a beer!’
DW He was captain of Queensland?
CC. He was captain of the Queensland team. The ladies, they had their own but what I’m coming to we all knew each other. Most of the ladies and us knew each other. When I was going they said there’s one person here that’ll be in your room. I didn’t take any notice of it anyway it was Noel Morrison. When we came in and we came up to the room he said, ‘you little beauty’. The funny part about it was all the girls were up in different rooms up on the next floor and little places and that and they came down, well they were going to throw me out they reckoned.
DW They wanted the room.
CC. It was a wedding room we reckoned we were in.
DW Had you been to Sydney before?
CC. Oh yes, I’d been to Sydney before but not for swimming. We were training at the Olympic Pool across the other side of the Harbor Bridge. We had free access to the pool you know and the train. The train used to pull up alongside of the pool there. We were going over and hopping into a train at six o’clock in the morning, the girls as well.
DW North Sydney Pool
CC Yes the Olympic Pool. One morning there a chap he was training there with some Americans. He came out here for the still water championships anyway of course we all got on pretty well with each other, all the teams. Well he used to be short sighted he couldn’t see the end of the pool. When he broke all the world’s records and everything else in the place you wouldn’t credit it would you? He was a big chap, very quiet. This Noel Morrison he was a beauty too. They were funny days I’ll say.
DW Did the clubs pay for you to go to Sydney?
CC Yes. We were the Queensland team and we were all paid for.
DW Did any dignitaries see you off to go down there to compete for - ?
CC Oh yes, there was Mick (Kirwin) and there was a number of people there. I can’t think of their names anymore. I’ll tell you one bloke that was there old Pop Venning. I mean he used to be around everything those days. He was well and truly up in life saving, particularly in the Royal Life Saving movement.
DW He was an Englishman wasn’t he? Is that right?
CC. He was an Englishman, yes
DW Where did they see you off, South Brisbane Railway?
CC The point was that we, they had all of us; we swam in a pool different nights and what have you they had this other championship on at Manly. Well Manly, do you know Manly at all? When you get off the ferry there was a closed enclosure, like a wall actually it’s a pool.
DW Yes kids used to dive in there for pennies.
CC. Yes it goes for 200 yards along it would be roughly about a 100 yards out and there was a tiny little sandy beach. This particular day we were picked to go for this still water stuff. …Two methods, one swimming one way and one the other and Morrison and I were picked. You had to do two, there were two styles, and one was breaststroke towing a patient lying down the one who’s swimming the breaststroke is swimming on top of the patient. We went across the pool which would be I suppose a hundred yards wide and when you get to the other side it’s only these slats you know down.
When you got there you turned round and the patient that was going across finished up being the rescuer and you - in a method which was a, the fifth method which was the arms over the shoulder and underneath the arm and you tow him. I’m telling you ….vice versa it was coming back was the breaststroke and Noel Morrison was the breaststroker and I was the patient. Well that’s what we’d been picked for we didn’t put in we were just picked for this. Anyway we went across and came back and we were leading all the way back and blow me down we didn’t know, there was a bloke - two, chaps with a piece of rope stood out in the water like that, and from the sand the water was about two foot six deep and we’re swimming away there coming in and one of them moved over and - Western Australia was close to the rope and he won the competition, the swim. Well we weren’t very happy with that but we got nowhere with it because they told us that. We said, oh well forget about it so we did.
DW You believe you were done in there?
CC Yes. This other place we competed too. It wasn’t far from the city. What happened there was this beach and it came round and two walls came in like it was a sort of a gutter but it was about twenty yards wide and it was when the tide was out, the tide ran in and out….rocks on the side of it and ran in and out and we had part of the competition there. It was dive in pick a patient and bring it back across. That was a dead loss too, I mean they should’ve had better than that but then we went down through - in the surf side of it we went down through, oh through the mountains down to the Bulli Pass. We got down there, anyway it was (belt swim’s) on. This is for the safety.
DW You better tell me about the belts, tell me a little bit about the belts. What were the belts?
CC. Oh the belt swim, anyway the thing was we started swimming and next thing they started ringing the bell, a shark attack but the point was we didn’t take any notice of it we kept going out because we’re used to this, that sort of thing up here. Anyway we thought well we’d got them beat but we hadn’t we had to start again. They reckoned we should have been towed in. Our mob wouldn’t tow anybody in.
DW So what was the belt like Cliff that you used then? Were they still the cork?
CC. They had the cork belts, they had the cork belts those days and later on they got rid of those and they just had canvas, it was a piece of canvas like this, and your liners like in the back because those corks were dead losses. If you stopped anywhere these corks would float up and hit you in the chin and all sorts of silly things. They were a bit of a dead loss those things, they were funny though.
DW So they advanced in things like the equipment and it became safer I suppose.
CC. Well it was a lot better with those belts.
DW The canvas belts
CC The canvas belts, oh yes.
DW Was there anything else like as far, you had your reel and your belt. There was nothing much else then. Did you have any boats?
CC. Yes we bought we had our first boat here.
DW When would have that been Cliff?
CC. The funny part about it, it was before the war because it was, it was, a clinker built boat and it cost us about two hundred pounds to build it, to have the thing but the funny part about it was we had been given a boat before this and I - somebody in Bribie I think it was - and we were given this boat. Anyway - you needed a (great) bucket to keep the water out of it.
DW She leaked like a sieve. No wonder they gave it to you.
CC. That’s right, that’s what we reckoned. But anyway we bought this; we had this other one built.
DW When would that have been do you think?
CC Well, the funny part about it, the bloke that built it is still alive and lives in Caloundra. His name is Claude Boyd. I was talking to him in Coles the other day, Claude and Mary Boyd. He bought a block of land on the top of the hill there going out of Caloundra. It was a saw mill there in the old days. Have you been here many years?
DW I come from Noosa I do know the Sunshine Coast reasonably well but I’m you know, this is all new to me but I’m familiar with the area but as you probably know I’m a New South Wales girl.
CC. Oh, yes, you know going up to, if you were going out of Caloundra up the hill.
DW Caloundra, Little Mountain.
CC. Little Mountain, that’s right. Well the point was, that’s where the road, the track came up and across that Little Mountain and down to Sugarbag Road -
DW Meridan Downs is it? You’ve got Meridan Downs out further?
CC. Yes, well Meridan Downs. Used to belong to the Westaway's and I was Miriam Westaway’s pet. When I came up here I was so young but I used to stay there at different times in the winter time and go horse riding all over this country to - now all this Meridan right through to Mooloolah, through Mooloolah River and also to Mooloolaba. I should say they had properties, they had cattle stations out the back of the other side, the back of Mooloolah and those places and they had another one, another cattle property somewhere out there. And why I’m saying that, I was invited up there for a couple of days. -
DW As a young life saver?
CC. Oh yes I was only young and they’d driven these cattle from the railway station at Landsborough, or wherever.
CC Mooloolah yes. They drove these cattle to sell and they used to put them in this finishing paddock where the road is now, well it was only a bit of a track then. They gave the road free, you know, to the council but anyway the point was there were Miriam Westaway and Bill Westaway - they were one. Cliffy Westaway was across the road, there were five families altogether there. Terrific people, they were great sticklers at the club too; they did a hell of a lot of things for the club in their own way.
DW Wally, the man from Mooloolah - that was in the earlier days when he used to take a horse and cart out there - used to deliver things out to them and they were very friendly with him as well.
CC They were terrific people. Actually they were terrific. They thought the sun shone out of us the Westaways. They started this club all free - got women together and they started this club and they started a ladies committee for feeding the teams when they used to come into Caloundra for competition stuff.
DW So they’d bring down the food to the boys in the new hut - the fellow was still up in the roof?
CC Oh yes, Eddie Fisher. They used to do some funny things and the funny part about it was the latter part of the setup of that clubhouse, later years there was gigantic cyclone came along and everybody moved the club back.
CC Yes and everybody got out. Maurie Schaefer he was a builder in Caloundra - Maurie was a great member of the club. He used to buy a big chunk of corned beef and he’d boil it, you know we had a wood stove there and anyway I went up there, I don’t know if it was a week or it was 10 days and he said (if) I’d like to go halves with him I could have some meat, so I had to cook it too. I’m the worst cook in Australia. Anyway we had this corned beef we used to chew. But anyway the thing was that, Maurie had an idea for sunburn and he got this bottle it was like a glass container, it was a bottle or jug or whatever not a jug it was like a wine container.
CC Anyway, he made this brew up for sunburn and we’d a bloke there, Dud Ryan, and Dud Ryan was as black as the ace of spades he wasn’t a darkie, far from it but he used to get that way and he was in perfect condition but his lips used to get burnt to hell. Maurie let him have some of this stuff - it was methylated spirits, a drop of oil and some acid he used to put into it. We all used to use it in the end but it got to the stage where Maurie used to buy it and the boys used to use it and they wouldn’t put their dough in for it.
DW Did it work on his lips?
CC Oh yes it was terrific. I always used to use it and I never used to get burnt. I’d get brown and that sort of thing.
DW You never burned.
CC No, I never had a skin cancer.
DW Maybe it was the the brew that he made up.
CC No Maurie bought it and Maurie used to hide it and they’d know where he hid it.
DW We were talking about this boat, this first boat after the one that leaked that someone donated from Bribie, that Claude Boyd built - that was a proper surf boat was it that you purchased?
CC The first boat we had one before that. We had a boat built and it was built by some people in Brisbane they were down the creek, Breakfast Creek down that way somewhere, getting near the mouth of the river, or facing the mouth of the river. (Norman Wright) Anyway we got that from them and then the next boat we had - Claude built it because he was a terrific builder, I think that’s the way it was.
DW. So the first boat that you got that was the boat that, that came from Brisbane, which was the one that was the leaking boat and then the next boat, was Claude’s boat.
CC. I think that’s the way it was.
DW. Do you know did it have a name?
CC. I think it was called Caloundra; I’m not sure, the Caloundra I think it was called.
CC I was put in as skipper of the boat, or one of them, I don’t know which one it was now but then we used to get some great surf…that too, go out in the big stuff, beautiful.
DW You were all brave.
CC. Oh no, that was an amusement. But of course with the boats today I mean they’re a different problem, I mean they’re much lighter. This one, this second one we had and I don’t know whether I, I wouldn’t be game to say who built that one but it was, or was it another one. Anyway it was like you know, a deck boat but what happened was when the war broke out the navy took the boat over. I don’t know which one it was now because I had disappeared in the meantime (Cliff joined the RAAF went to war) and anyway the point was after the war they bought this boat back, it had been sitting on a wharf on the Brisbane River somewhere for years.
Yes, it was useless; I mean you know it was leaking and everything else. But, the boats, of course they were a good thing. Another thing too was in those days it was in the middle of around about 1936, 1937, something like that, there were people by the name of, and had a property at the bottom of the Toowoomba Range. Wealthy people and this Hugo Barassi was his name they had this home, they bought this home in Caloundra. It’s a double name it might come to me, but anyway they had this home just where the Caloundra Hotel is. There was a house just diagonally across there and Hugo Barassi came up with them. We had a surf ski that this Dud Ryan had built and I bought this surf ski off him, I didn’t pay anything for it. I still owed him for it. But anyway, this Hugo, this man came around, he was a tall man, he was about six foot something.
CC He said, ’My name’s Hugo Barassi,’ and shook hands with us. Then one day he asked could he, borrow this ski, so, anyway he was loaned the ski. I don’t know who, whether it was me or somebody else that he asked and so he borrowed the ski. I think I must have said he could use it. Anyway because next thing he used to come around and have a yarn with us and that. He was an upper, top brass Englishman he was as brown as a berry he was - anyway his father was Lord Barassi. We never knew that at the time but when we found out did our mob have some names for him. I better not mention them. Anyway the point was that he was a terrific bloke and he went to Hawaii for a holiday. I don’t know how long he was away for and those days the clubhouse had a veranda on the front and it was open, it was just a roof on it, there was no deck.
CC. If you go in a straight line towards the passage you go 50 yards, maybe 75 yards and all sand dunes there and that water that runs out there now it was always running out, fresh water it was. There is an internal creek there somewhere but at the club house it was all sand dunes and it was all tea-tree and everything else, there were no roads or anything. Where it used to swamp the place out and everything else like that but this clubhouse was there and nothing around it -
DW Where the water used to flow down and is now a drain.
CC Yes right back towards, go near the Passage not quite that far but near that and it was all sand dunes up in the back of it, there were no houses or anything like that and anyway this clubhouse had this veranda on it. The veranda was about the width of this and just the ceiling on it.
Anyway this particular day I came up or we came up or some of us. I go on the veranda for something and there’s this long surfboard I reckon it would be about ten feet long and it is what they call a cork board, it was made out of cork and, and edged all round. A beautiful thing it was just standing there. We said, ‘You little ‘beauty who owns this?’ Nobody knew who owned it so we left it there - needless to say fancy leaving it on the veranda, it had been there a couple of weeks before and we didn’t know this. Next thing I don’t know when it was, the following weekend or something like that and this Hugo Barassi comes around. He’s talking for awhile - he says, ‘You used the board yet?’ We said, ‘Which board?’ He said, ‘The surf board, I bought that for you people’. He’d bought it all the way back from Hawaii oft the life savers. So anyway it was a beautiful board.
DW You all mastered that board?
CC. Oh yes well we were, we were doing surf, we were doing surf, , ski riding and there was two members of the club had their own ski - later on this is only - when I say later on in the last five or six years maybe, it might’ve been…about that, and these two blokes on a double ski it was, they’d go out and they pick up these, all the big shoots, all the way down, they could handle it like nobody’s business - I’m trying to think of their name. One day I was watching them and they went out to where the bar is and they went out - there was big seas running out - and they went straight out and they picked up this one that was sitting right on top of it and one bloke stands on his head and the other bloke’s just guiding it and they run all the way down and right in up the Passage, it was absolutely amazing.
DW When would that have been?
CC I reckon that would have - I’m losing years now - but I reckon that would’ve been probably 10 – 20 years ago I’d say. The bar was different those days than to the way it is today it was wider, and there was - you’d get a big sea that could run in and also it, it’d die out in the Passage. I’m trying to think of their names, they were renowned for it. They would’ve been surf board riders, would have been no worries. The surf board set up I mean it is a terrific thing all people today you know. I watched the other night there was a program on and these fellows were standing up and running along the side of waves, this is in Sydney.
CC My father-in-law, he was the head chef at Duntroon Military College and we went there- later on - of course my wife came from Canberra. Her sister still lives down there and the whole family came from Canberra. They had a show there when we were there one time we’d been invited. An official show, all the top brass were there.
DW Surf Life Savers?
CC. No, this was military and what have you and we were invited to this, meals and food and free drink and everything else on but all the top brass of Australia were there, you know the lords and ladies of the land - the only no hoper was me.
DW. Did you have a uniform?
CC. Club uniform? Yes we had a, we had a blue sweater and had the one, the earlier one, the blue sweater I think it had a red and white edge around the side, sky blue it was. A proper sweater, you’re talking about now or we wore a blazer. A proper blazer and we had the emblem on it you know a Metropolitan Caloundra blazer. That was done up in red and white, our togs were a blue and white togs for the march past.
DW Would they have been like a one piece?
CC Yes one piece yes, like the - now you - those days the march past you had to have all that then if it was the ordinary competition use, very light togs and you had a badge like with the wording Metropolitan Caloundra badge on it. But all the togs were the same.
DW What about rescues Cliff, were a lot of rescues I suppose, people -
CC. Yes we had a lot over the years we had a lot of rescues.
DW How long were you in the club, like in an active member of the club?
CC. Well, I was there until 1939 when war broke out. I was an inspector in the Ford Company by that time.
DW Still living in Brisbane?
CC. I was still living in Brisbane and I was single and the point was that when war broke out, I was then making money, you see I was getting about 30 odd pound a week which was a lot. I had just come from just working on the line because I gave my own trade away, well it wasn’t that I gave it away but it was nothing doing and there was this better pay. I say that, anyway one day I was doing this stuff and the war had broken out and I thought to myself I might as well pack it in here. I might as well go and do something for the country. So, I just told the big boss I was leaving, anyway that was in 1939 when I joined, and then I went away.
Cliff Croughan enlists in WWII
DW You joined the army, did you?
CC No the Air Force.
DW. It’s a wonder you didn’t go to the Navy with all that love of the sea.
CC. Yes well, but the thing was that I don’t know why. Anyway I went down Sydney, I was trained down there for different things and then I disappeared for a while - I was six years away.
DW You were where, where were you?
CC At war
DW Where did you go?
CC I was right through New Guinea, then up in to finish up in Arnhem Land went across to Islands and from there over to places - we were a fighter squadron. The last place on top of the Gulf - I met a bloke there I hadn’t seen for about a 100 years and he looked a 100 years old too. It was up at Malaya anyway, it was I can’t think of the place now but he got wiped out while we were there. But anyway, the thing was it was war.
DW You said you’d met him, you hadn’t seen him for a long time?
CC. He was an Australian. He was with a British fighter outfit. They got wiped out anyway. The point was when I came back, war finished when we were just coming into Singapore it was supposed to be finished but there was a - we went round for a look in one corner of the place and they opened up on us and we didn’t like that. Then I had to go back then to Borneo.
DW Would be about 1944 or 1945?
CC. 1945, the war had just finished and I went back there and the funny part about it was they were sending a lot of us - they was recruiting people here to go and go up to Japan.
CC. Yes, peace-keeping. Anyway when I got over there back into, into Borneo the powers that be - they said, ‘what are you going to do now?’ I said, ‘Go home’ I said, ‘What do you think I’m going to do?’ All our gang had gone and all these recruits were coming in, anyway, there was one old bloke there, he was really old he must have been about 50. He was sitting in a tent on his own and somebody said to him - there’s an Aussie down there do you want to see him. So, I went down and he was, he’d come in to finish the area, there was stuff around it different things like that and he was a flight officer. He was speaking to us but he was an elderly man I think he’d been in WWI - but ….a gentleman. So, I said, ‘How do I get home?’ He said, ‘I don’t know, you’ll have to walk.’ Anyway he said to me, ‘Well what I’ll do’ he said, ‘There’ll be an aircraft coming in one day’. He said, ‘I’ll let you know’. It was only two days later and he around in a Jeep, he said, ‘get all your gear’. Well all my gear compiled of a pair of Yankee underpants and a shirt that had been torn in the back - that’s all I had left. So anyway, I go up and who should be on this plane but a bloke I did me rookies with, he was a squadron leader. He came from South Australia and he said, ‘Boy will I give you a bloody ride home’ he said. Anyway, that was it for me.
DW So you came back to Australia?
CC. Yes, I came back to Darwin and I had the first, you know like fresh food when we got there about seven o’clock at night. Then he had to go back out, go the same night so anyway, I was booked - like stayed in a camp there an air force camp. Anyway they gave me some tea, or a meal, I think I came outside, I was that sick, the next morning they gave me breakfast and I was that sick again they raced around and got the doctor. What it was, I’d never had fresh food in probably four years, nearly four years since I’d had fresh food and I was eating this and loving it but boy was I crook.
DW It was playing up on you.
CC. Yes she’s a funny old world with the different people you meet. Incidentally this, Macka, he was a flight lieutenant when I was at Wagga Wagga. I was put up there doing one of these special courses. The river was the Murrumbidgee and it is a deep river it’s only about 50 yards wide and they had a clubhouse there on the side. It’s a well-known river and it’s always running, you know, crystal clear but running and deep. I went down this day with a couple of bods for a bit of a surf, a bit of a swim, we had no togs we just had underpants on when we went in for a swim, anyway the point was that they, when we came out there was two blokes there talking to us and they were members of the city council that was there. They said, ‘we saw you across the other side,’ it was only 50 yards wide but it was running like nobody’s business. It pretty cool the water too and anyway we ran across there and came back again a couple of times and what have you and he said, ‘how long are you here for?’ We said, ‘oh wouldn’t have a clue,’ we said, ‘we’re here for life’. So anyway we talked about this clubhouse and that he could get into it, he had a key or something. He just said, eventually anyway what it was, I don’t know how it was said but we were asked if we’d like to start a club there. So anyway, we went back to my camp and he went back to his and we met a few days later. I saw one of our boys, one of our officers there and I said to him about the request. I asked him, told him what the story was and he said, ‘I’ll be in that’ so anyway we started a club there.
Establishing a surf life saving club during the war years at Wagga and Coffs Harbor.
CC Well it was a swimming pool we patrolled it and the funny part about it was we patrolled this club off and on, but you see we were doing different things, I was training at certain things and going places and he was the same way but when we got together we organised a team and there was also some ladies life saving-, not life savers Air Force people. They joined, there was some others joined.
Yes, well, but they joined the club and, and they kept it going as a matter of fact, like they weren’t, they weren’t touring around like we were. They could go and do the patrols week ends was the time we used to patrol. Oh the locals, yes the locals used to come down they were quite happy about it and the Lord Mayor. I was called into the Lord Mayor’s office one day and he thanked us profusely and what have you. Two two days later I disappeared you see with the Air Force so the point there was that, they were so friendly the people there in those places you know.
DW You finished off at Kapooka and you came back to Queensland after the war, after you had finished in the Air Force.
CC. Well I went away in 1939 I left here. I was sent to places to train and eventually we were doing this anti-sub stuff up and down the coast here. You know there were a few Jap submarines running around the place they reckon and we were doing these night patrols. Well we were going from Nabiac in New South Wales right up as far as Mackay. It all depended on what sort of weather it was whether we got in and out of these places.
DW What sort of planes would they have been?
CC. Anson’s we were using, you know the little planes.
DW Where did you come from for that, was that at Amberley? Where did you take off from to patrol around Williamstown?
CC No, we were taking off from Sydney, Richmond, one part of the piece, then we were…..even run out to Melbourne but the point was that most of this stuff, I didn’t do a lot of it, I only did a bit of it. I was pushed somewhere else but the point was that they used to come back and they would land. I am trying to think of this place - Coffs Harbor. I finished up there for a while, and I said, ‘this’ll do me’. I started another life saving club there. We went out and we used to fly across from where the Air Force was. It was an ordinary, Air Force strip there. You know like the civil aviation lines had a strip there and when we got there apparently we took it over. I’m sorry we don’t want to talk about the Air Force. I was in camp this particular day and one of the boys came over and he said, ‘what about going for surf?’ Well in Coffs Harbor itself which was a beautiful little place there. Anyway I said, ‘Yeah’ I said, ‘where do we go?’ So he said, ‘we’ve got a bit of a walk to do,’ so we had to walk across this strip and across a big wide piece of land and up in amongst the sand dunes and it was on this main beach.
DW Was it called Sawtell?
CC It was meant to be Sawtell. We went down to Sawtell a little later on for a day and we got some beautiful crabs down there. Anyway, the point was that we finished up, we got in, in after this bank, we were catching surf and it was just like, it was only small stuff running up, it was a big out further. There was this sand bank and there was this big stuff further out. So I went across to this spot the bloke was a Sydney surfer, anyway we went across this bank and we caught a couple of these big ones in. Then we had to come back because we had something to do. We came back and next day there was a bloke - we went across again and the bloke was trying to get in - he’d got in trouble. I went and grabbed him and dragged him out. The point was that the top brass in the place said you can’t, you’re not allowed to go there anymore. I went up to see the Commanding Officer at the time and I asked him was it true. ‘Couldn’t we go there and start a club there’. He said, ‘no’ so I said, ‘oh well, fair enough’. But the funny part about it was, coming back we walked up to where there was a couple of other bods there. We walked up towards, as if we were going to Coffs Harbour and then we said, ‘Oh, blow it; we’re all getting all scrubby’. So, we came across a bit of a gully and there was about 20 or 30 drums of petrol there, 44 gallon drums of petrol. There was a lighthouse there. Coffs Harbor just dropped down away to it. Anyway we had a look at this Coffs and it was about a week later and I asked the CO we knew. He was a thorough gentleman this bloke. He was a Melbournite and he said to me, ‘You’re a madman on this surf aren’t you?’ I said, ‘no’, I says, ‘I like surf but,’ I said, ‘I’m not a madman on it,’ so he said, ‘well’ he said, ‘some of the boys want to do some surfing’ he said, ‘do you think we could start something?’ so I said ‘I don’t know, so anyway I’ll find out’. So I went down this afternoon with two or three others, we went round to the beach where they surf and the little island was there and the surf - I’m trying to think of the name.
CC I went round and it was ok. I went to the clubhouse and it was sitting on the side of the hill - actually it was more or less looking across the bay, what you would call it - not the river, the bay
CC Harbour. Anyway, the point was there was this other chap and myself and we had a look at this clubhouse. What we did do we went and we were looking around and the next thing these two ladies came along. They said, ‘are you looking for somebody?’ I explained to them - they were elderly people, well at the time we thought they were elderly. I suppose they were about forty at the time - we were only in our twenties. The point was that I said to this lady, ‘we’re looking for somebody who is responsible for the clubhouse.’ They said, ‘what for’. I said, ‘I was going to approach them about if we could start a surf club.’ I told them that we would be patrolling it. I told them who I was and this other bloke who he was. ‘He was a Victorian’ I said. ‘Gee’ they said, ’that would be a good idea.’ They said, ‘Well, we’re responsible for the getting in and out of this clubhouse’. Anyway they finished up with this and allowed it. So we used our own members of the forces we were straight in you know. They had a reel there so we took the reel out and we started patrolling on the Sunday, well gee it was amazing the people that came down to surf. Ordinary people you know not military people.
Anyway we were doing all this and I was quite happy. Our CO said to me one afternoon, he said, ‘How do you like what you’re doing there?’ That was on top of what he used to give us permission to do. But we were doing, we probably had to go somewhere or do something, because we were doing this flying (side) sort of thing. He used to give us permission to get off that and, and take a team down see. We used to march down and there’d probably be fifty, sixty, seventy soldiers, they’d do their surfing and then march back again. So anyway we did that for a while and next thing he said to me, on this particular day he said, ‘how do you, how you going with all this?’ so I said ‘pretty good’. Then I said, ‘really good’. He said ‘good idea’ he said, ‘I must bring my wife down. You have to teach her to swim’.
There was a little river at the back of that Coffs, only there were banks on either side of it, only a tiny place. There was a little girl who was diving, training for diving. I happened to be walking past- I don’t know why I was round there this day because it wasn’t far away from the main beach. Anyway this man was looking at this girl. She was only a girl round about oh I suppose ten, twelve maybe. She was coming onto the board and diving. Anyway this chap came to me he was around about forty five I suppose at the time. I said, ‘Gee, she’s going well. What’s she doing, training for?’ She was going to Sydney for some competition that was down there. So he said, ‘Who are you and what are you?’ They were talking and he said, ‘Do you think you can give us a bit of a hand?’ and I said, ‘yes sure’ so anyway we watched the girl and what have you and anyway, she went well. There was another girl came along also her brother he was a good, a nice freestyle swimmer in this little lake or whatever they called it. This other girl, the other girl of the two, she was a beautiful diver and she’d never been taught or anything. I said, I told this chap, ‘do you know about her?’ Well’ he said, ‘she’s not mine, she’s with somebody else’. Anyway to cut a long story short, he said “will you come round tomorrow?” He said, ‘oh no, I better not make it tomorrow, make it Saturday’. So I said, ‘alright’, so he said, ‘come around then,’ he said ‘We will just have a look at them then,’ I said, ‘I still had the little bloke swimming up and down, you know’. I made a few alterations with his style and that. I said, ‘yes good’. So, I went back to camp, got back to camp and there was a note there to pack my gear, I was on a plane that night, I was away up in the air and onto this side of Cairns. It was a military outfit air force outfit, so that buggered that putting it crudely.
Cyclones on the coastal beaches
DW You get there and had to leave the surf life saving well those things are all interesting Cliff. When you were saying about the big cyclones and I suppose because there was nothing around these parts it would be the beaches that would cop it?
CC. Yes, well what happened was this - there were cyclones and it didn’t worry us, because we had nothing anyway. We had no house to worry about but this hut, we christened it was all tea-trees at the bottom of the hollow; at the back of the hut we had two water tanks.
DW This is at Kings Beach.
CC Kings Beach, yes. And we had the two tanks and that, they comprised of two one thousand gallon tanks, and that comprised our water supply for METS.
DW Did the life savers build the clubhouse? Who built the clubhouse?
CC. Well I think Dud Ryan and Lennie Taylor built a lot of it. I think they did, it was built for practically peanuts you know. There were cement underneath you could walk, when you come up you could have a shower underneath, you could walk underneath the house, just an ordinary shower set up. Anyway, it finished up that this particular storm started coming up at the Bowery. It was what; we called this place at the back. That is where Miriam Westaway and her people used to get all these tables, it was in amongst these trees in this hollow and the Westaways they used to bring all this food for all the clubs, you know right through further up the coast.
DW What Maroochy, Mooloolaba?
CC. Oh, the whole lot yes.
Insert image of METS hut being pulled back from the sea
CC. Yes the Westaways they’d bring great cans of milk and everything else like that with them, you know. It absolutely marvelous but anyway, what I’m coming to is, wait for this, this cyclone came. It, started bashing everything around, tearing the entire front away and everything else and Maurie (Schafer) said, ‘I’m getting out of here’, and he had a block of land up the hill and he had a shack on it He was building a house which he built a big one afterwards. I didn’t know where to go so I had to stay there and the next morning the mob came along, all the builders - that night they’d been round and seen it and they were all around the local pub, at the Francis Hotel which was the only pub there those days. They organized themselves and next morning they came around and they towed that hut - they brought different things - and they towed that hut right back - more or less to where the street is. And, I was in it!
DW. Inside the hut when they towed you?
DW. How’d they do that, dragged on logs?
CC. Well they had big heavy timbers they put on. They were tradesmen those blokes - they knew what they were doing and they put this stuff in, it laid like that for quite a while -
DW And you pulled it away from the heavy seas?
CC. Oh yes well the seas were coming right up.
DW When would that have been?
CC. It would’ve been, would’ve been about 1938, 1939 I think?
DW So you survived the cyclone and you survived the ride in the clubhouse being pulled backwards?
CC. They reckoned they were going to charge me for it.
DW Well it would seem like there was a lot of team spirit in those days.
CC. Oh, yes, oh terrific, yes.
DW Big seas like that and a cyclone too. Were there still people starting to come here for holidays and big crowds then on the beach?
CC. Well, those seas at that time were coming up and smacking the complete hut and hitting the club verandah. I mean it wasn’t just running up it was absolutely stirring up the place you know. That was until they moved it back and they knew darn well that the whole thing’d collapse because it was only sand that the thing was on you see. Well actually the club started getting people, a couple of years before that at holiday time. We were patrolling by this time every weekend, the four days of Easter and a fortnight at Christmas.
CC. Incidentally, digressing for a moment, where Fristrom’s were concerned, they supported us - we had those meals there, marvelous. We came to the following Christmas, Christmas Day and Mrs, Mrs Fristrom used to do all the cooking. She had a big stove along the side and, Carl Fristrom - he still lives in Caloundra here. I was only talking to Carl a few weeks ago, he was going to a college in, Sydney I think it was at the time. I was her pet boy and we were told if when we were eating there - we were told if we went out and brought in some pieces of timber, they were already chopped up by somebody or other, and we brought those in we’d get a cuppa tea. So, we used to do that see, but the only thing was, outside, we’d walk out -
DW To collect the firewood for the stove?
CC Yes well the only thing was, we’d go out the door and they had a parrot that used to sit there and say g’day to us. Well, we started swearing at it, so -
DW You taught it to swear.
CC. Calling it everything, well she hit the roof later on. She said the only thing we ever did was to teach this parrot to swear.
DW The young life savers of Caloundra?
CC. But the funny part about that also too was, and this Easter-, this Christmas, ah, was coming on the eve, Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and anyway, I don’t know what - I think it was Les Hardcastle had been talking to her and she was worrying how she was going to feed all this - all these people inside there like you know because it’s, there weren’t too many places to go to and well there’s only two and anyway her place was the major one and had all the young people there -
DW It was called Surf House.
CC. Yes, that’s right yes. Anyway Les Hardcastle - of course he was an old bloke, he was around about 25 at the time. We were only young folk. Anyway, he told her, he said, ‘I can organize that’, he said, and ‘the boys will do the serving the waiting on’. So he got hold of us, well we said ‘you little beauty’. Well the place was in an uproar, we were going around and handing food to girls and they said ‘we don’t want that one’, so we said you have got do without it so bang we gave the food to the next one and they were all, they were all in the fun of it.
DW So the Caloundra lifesavers became the waiters.
CC Only for that day, only for that evening. We had a lot of fun she gave us a beautiful meal afterwards too, she looked after us.
DW Yes, that’s what Wally Warner said, they looked after them.
Ruby Fristrom supports the life savers
CC. She kidded on, she was stern and all that, but she wasn’t. She told me, she used to read Carl’s letters to me, throughout the year you know when we were patrolling. And like a - we ate a lot over there. And any way when Carl (Fristrom) wrote a letter to his mum she used to read these letters out to me. I was absolutely amazed with her, with everything she did for me, and everything – it was very good.
DW. Yes, they’ve certainly changed since then. So the cyclones caused the club to be pulled back up away. Landsborough Shire Council were they very supportive? I mean they gave you this certain amount of money and apparently that amount of money was given to Noosa too. Wally said they got about the same amount up there as they received here before he left Kings Beach for Noosa. .
DW. You were involved from when you were just a young man.
CC. I started at Bribie I’d say 1927-28 somewhere around there.
DW Coming to Caloundra in the early 1930’s. How did you get here?
CC The thing was that we used to come up on the train eventually we got a, a cut from the railways; it cost us six shillings return; we had a private compartment on the train.
DW. How long did it take to get up?
CC. Well we used to leave, we used to leave Central Station at one and used to get up here at a quarter to four, at a Landsborough at quarter to four and then it’d be after four when we got in the Kings car.
DW And how long would that take you to get down here in the car?
CC. About an hour I suppose.
DW Well the roads must have been getting a little bit better.
CC. Yes, it was getting better then. And on top of it when the roads were all developed they had a big bus that used to pick us up, you know?
DW To bring you down?
Life Savers travel on the back of a truck Brisbane to Kings Beach and to carnivals
CC. But then later on when the roads were all the way to Brisbane and what have you. We had a fellow by the name of Billy Winstone and he had his own trucking business and he joined the club. He got some seats and he put them on the back of the truck and we used to come up by truck.
DW In the back, and the young ones, they weren’t hanging out the back like on the King’s car?
CC. No, it was all seats and on top of that then we were more sophisticated by this time.
DW Did you have a roof?
CC. No, no roof it was just open, just open.
DW So if it rained you were wet?
CC. Just open top. Then on top of that we’d get up to the different carnivals on this truck - (Doug Wilmott’s) -
DW.I was wondering how you got to compete at the other places.
CC. Yes well, we used to get buses too from Caloundra. We would hire a bus. I’m trying to think of the fella who had the buses down here. George Watson - he had these buses. He had the white buses but he finished up with other buses. Where the bank is on the corner down there, he used to be a big shed there in Caloundra.
DW Which bank was that?
CC Metway, there used to be a big shed there, nothing else. He used to have his buses in there. Well anyway, but not only that, the thing was that he used to charge half price for the bus, for us.
DW The life savers
CC. Well we never had money anyway.
DW No, it sounded like a lot, even the train fare, six shillings, was quite a lot of money.
CC. Well it was, yes.
DW You would have gone to work to pay for your weekend away being a surf life saver. You wouldn’t have that much money left after - in your apprenticeship days?
CC. Well you know, in apprenticeship days I was getting 14 shillings a week and I couldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t go even, when it came to the swimming pool. Well that was it, but at 21 - the next wage was 21 shillings a week. I could do a bit more then and then I got on to 35 shillings I think it was.
DW You would go off on the buses, from down here and compete at the beaches. To go to Noosa you’d have to come in at Cooroy?
CC. Yes the funny part about that. I think we were on Billy Winston’s truck that particular day we went up there. The funny part about that was we went up to turn off in to Noosa, it was, it was a low area and there was tea-tree on either side and we ran into swamp, all swamp.
DW. It would be about near Tewantin there coming down the Tinbeerwah range.
CC. Yes, no we were on the flat, we were on the flat going in there near the beach.
DW Yes you have to come down that big steep hill from Cooroy at Tinbeerwah. It would be at the bottom of that hill there was a lot of tea-tree and a saw mill and things out that way and then you’d come into Tewantin.
CC. Yes, well there was, I think it was a different way those days because we came through this and they’d put, somebody before us had put tea-trees across to get through this bit of swamp. Then when we got across the other side it was a track and it wasn’t so bad. But the funny part about this was that we had by this time a captain, fellow by the name of Jack Corkery, he was club captain.
DW Captain of the surf life savers.
CC. Yes he was captain for a long time afterwards. He was a school teacher too was Corkery. We came into the first part of the beach we saw what would’ve been Noosa, wouldn’t it? Noosa was where we were going to for this carnival and it’s like a bay. The surf was beautiful. Cork’s telling us what he won’t do and what we won’t do, this is on the truck. When we get off and we see this beautiful surf we raced into the clubhouse. They had a small tin place I think it was at the time and we raced in there, switched, and got into our togs and Cork’s still outside arguing with some bods. We were all out about 200 yards catching this beautiful surf. It used to roll in it was beautiful.
DW It’s always good summer surf and they get the tail end of cyclones it’s always big surf.
CC. Anyway, he was going to put us all on a charge and everything else and we said, ‘Alright we’ll agree with you’ and this sort of thing. But later on we came around competitions and we came onto the coast further back this way and ran around - this is quite awhile later - ran around on, on, through the hills -
DW. Yes National -
CC. Rocky, yes it was …there were quite a number of houses there -
DW It would be down towards Sunshine Beach.
CC. We came down onto the beach there, yes.
DW The life savers, the first life savers in Noosa patrolled both the main beach and Sunshine Beach too which is around the heads, around through the National Park. Then you come to the main stretch of beach that runs right down the coast. You have got Noosa, it’s a protected beach and then you’ve got Sunshine
CC Yes, that’s right.
DW Well, the first clubhouse there was at Sunshine Beach for the Noosa boys and then they eventually built at Noosa.
CC. That’s right yes then I’m trying to think of this Noosa bloke. There was a bloke there and he was a cheeky little sod. He was one of the best surfers I’ve seen for quite a while. McWhinney was his name. What I’m coming to is, we got on like a house on fire together because I mean we were always chiacking each other about something the whole lot of us, you know we would go to their clubhouse
CC Course this is going back a few years now. Anyway the funny part about all this is anyway as I say the whole lot of us would be chiacking each other; nobody gave a hoot about anything anyway. It was rubbishing each other just for fun. The point was, there was one place where there was a skeleton hanging from a chain. This was at Bundaberg this true complete skeleton. Anyway, when the local war effort started and I was sent up to buy the tents for the crew, this was at Bankstown. I could see some huts and then some tents around, so I went up
DW You’re at Bankstown now?
CC. This is eight o’clock at night, so I go up and see a bloke at the door and I ask him, “have you got any spare tents around?” he said, “yes, we have got ‘em in here’ he said. ‘Would you like to take one out with you?’ and I said, ‘don’t be funny’. He was only fooling when I told him he said, ‘go across, that’s the officers’ mess over there’, so there was a proper building. I go across - it’s a proper hut but a long one. I try and get him to the door and I can’t so I bash on the door and next thing - I bashed a few times. I could hear them all, they’re all drinking grog inside and what have you and my mob are down there trying to find a place to camp for the night.
DW To sleep,
CC. Anyway next thing the door opens and this head pokes out and looks at me, slams the door and says, ‘go away!’ I said, ‘I’ll pull the bloody place down.’ So he opens again and it’s this chap from Noosa - McWhinney. He says, ‘come on in and have a drink’. I said, ‘I can’t’. I said, ‘we will come back later’. He got a hut for us as a matter of fact.
DW Probably got the royal treatment.
CC. But he was a, what he was, he was a sergeant mess cook or whatever they are and he was in charge of this area.
DW You’d have done alright out of food and huts-
CC. Yes, so anyway I went back and got sorted .He said, ‘come straight back and I’ll show you something’. We all go into this bar and of course some of our - at least two of our bods were higher ranks than some of the characters in there and anyway we all got a few free drinks. The funny part about that was I disappeared again, I suppose for about twelve months. I came back and I was going for a drink with two bods that I’d met- characters I’d met up here at different times. We were down at Circular Quay in Sydney and there was a, a, there was a (coming) up, there was trams those days and we caught this tram - I caught the tram at - well three of us caught the tram at Circular Quay and we came up this hill and there was this, old hotel. The trams went around and there was this little park in the centre of it, nice place it was. I can’t think of the name of this place but it was a hotel, so anyway we got off there and we bowled in and who should be there but this McWhinney or whatever his name was. He was sitting there and he had this army girl. He said “no” he said, “I can’t stomach this” he says, anyway we were all introduced to the, to his girl and his, his proposed, he didn’t say then but also there was another girl came in just a little while later and she was an air force girl and that was - we didn’t know then - but that was her sister. He said to me - we went, we went and bought some drinks and we’re sitting there and the next thing a little while later he came over and he said ah, “come and see me for a while”. So I went over and he says, “How long are you here for?” I said, “Oh, we’re camped here for two or three days” so he said, “Oh good” he said, “what about being best man at my wedding” so I said, “when is that?’, he said, “tomorrow!”.
So anyway, it was at the Church of England’s church, oh it was a cathedral, glittering cathedral. Just round from this old place, I forget all these places -
DW St. Mary’s Cathedral?
CC Beg pardon?
DW. St. Mary’s Cathedral the big Catholic cathedral or is it the Church of England?
CC. It was a Protestant cathedral.
DW. I don’t know (St Stephens)
CC. No anyway, the point why I’m saying that - the funny part about it was I reckon there were about eight or ten yanks sitting at a table, a bit away. Anyway I went to get some drinks and one bloke said, ‘Where have you blokes come from?’ so I told him where we’d been and what we were doing. He said, ‘oh so’ he said ‘who are the girls?’ I told him, I said, ‘they’re getting married tomorrow’ so we got a few drinks. I went and got some drinks and we were sitting down when we were ready to go when this Yankee bloke said to me, ‘I’ll tell you what’ he said, “where are they going to get married?” so I said, ‘oh I don’t know’ I said, ‘up at the church’. He said, ‘will you be around tomorrow?’ I said, ‘yes we’ve got to meet here’. He said, ‘good’. So he’s got his mob organised, he’s got about a dozen Yanks, I come in and out - there’s four of us - and next thing, I’m best man at this wedding and I’ve got the junkiest old bloody military uniform you’ve ever seen,….thread bitten -
DW That was before you were posted overseas?
CC. Yes so anyway we finished up, we, we go up and there was about ten Yanks- when we got there. Incidentally we caught a tram. This was a funny thing - and they’re long trams and we caught this tram and there was a lady conductress on the tram and we caught this tram ah, and she came along and she said, “where are you going to?” so I said, “we’ve got to go where there’s a cathedral” I said “they’re going to get married you see” so I said, “can you tell me where it is?”. They knew I think but anyway she said “oh yes, I’ll put you off” she said, so she said, “Who’s getting married?”, so I told her and she said “oh good on them”, so she said “oh well it’s free”. So we got a free tram ride, anyway the point was that we went up and I reckon there would’ve been fifteen, twelve to fifteen lots of people waiting in the, in the foyer, in the ha-, in the lead up to the church all waiting to get married with their, with their people. But we came in and there was some people getting married and there was a, a priest or parson or one of these people and he came down and I had this bit of paper that, that’d been issued to me so I came down and anyway next thing he - I handed this to him and we went straight up and they got married. But the funny part about it we came back and we caught the tram back and we got a free tram ride back, we go into this place - oh the Yanks, the Yanks are sitting in the pew when they were getting married but the trouble was they couldn’t get any further up and we were right up the front of this place and then we came out a side door. We got back and they’ve got this special brew going, this big table of this, of these people, so you couldn’t wish for a better set up than that.
DW. No, no. They got it all set up like a lunch or something like that for everyone?
CC. Yes was a meal for them and ah, well we played around there for oh, I don’t know how many hours but yeah, I -
DW. That was your friend from Noosa?
CC. Yes I only ever saw him once later and we called in there, we were up at…and we called in there one - at ah, Richmond - and we called in there one day or one evening and ah, he was just going out so he said, “oh, I’ll see you when I get back” so I said, “oh righto” anyway I didn’t because we disappeared the next day. But anyway the thing was that ah I’ve never seen him since, I don’t know whether he - what happened to him but ah - well course it’s umpteen years. I never ever went back up the coast when I came back out here.
DW So when you came back from the war you went back to Bribie Island did you, or to Brisbane. You continued on with the surf life saving. When was that period?
CC. Yes I was a single man and when I came back ah, and there was nowhere for me to go, nothing for me to do so Jack Clark was the secretary of the club and he was in charge of the Commonwealth (power) board and the funny part about it was he was, he was getting married and I was his best man - this is before the war - and all of a sudden two nights later that, that I was ah, he asked me and Bunty Drummond - are you in a hurry?
DW. No, no, I’m just checking to see if it’s still going that’s all
CC. Because the point is that anyway in some earlier piece going back all our gang was a funny mob, you wouldn’t wish to meet a better mob than them and they’d never do any real harm to anybody. And anyway, we went out, we were invited out to Bunty Drummond’s parents place, six of us.
DW. Where was that?
CC. That was on the way to ah, ah, there was a cemetery near them, going out East Brisbane way.
DW. Oh yeah, yeah. Mt Gravatt, somewhere like that?
CC. Yes, yeah, anyway so we went out this night -
DW. This is the life savers?
CC. The life savers, I think it was seven, there were seven of us I think and anyway this Jacky Murphy, he was the funniest coot you’d ever wish to meet. He was always doing some damage to someone else in fun, anyway. Bunty, the old man, her old man was a carpenter on the Brisbane - no an engineer on the Brisbane railways not a driving engineer a working engineer and he was a Scot
DW. This was the girl that he –
CC. Bunty, yes she’s still alive.
DW. What’s her name?
CC. Bunty Drummond, oh the name was Drummond but now it is Bunty Clark because she married Jack but anyway the point was - I introduced her to him - and anyway the point was that ah, she, there was seven elephants on a sill over a fireplace, you know these black elephants.
DW. With the ivory tusks, yes, my mother and father had some.
CC. There was a big one and it went down to a small one. It was winter time when we went because we all had overcoats and we went out there and the funny part about it was that Murphy disappeared outside, came back up and he said to Bunty, ‘I’ve got a small parcel for you’. And I - where he got it from I don’t know. It was a little box and he had this parcel and he said give it to your Dad when we leave. Anyway, I heard him say it but I never took any notice of him so next thing when we’re ready to go, Jack Clark - he wasn’t married to Bunty he was only going with her. We all went out to be friendly to the family, they’re beautiful people anyway Clarky puts his overcoat on, we put all ours on and next thing we’re about to go and the old man’s there and his wife’s there and Bunty’s there. We are just about to go and, Murphy turns around and he says to Bunty, ‘I think you ought to check this bloke before he goes’. So she said, ‘why?’, ‘oh gee’ he said, ‘I don’t like what he’s doing’ so she said, ‘What’s he doing?’ she said, ‘Go through his pockets’ he said. So anyway, of course we were standing there we knew something would happen, so anyway he was standing there and Clarky was standing there and he didn’t know what it was so they said, ‘pull your pocket out Clarky!’. So anyway, Clarky pulls out, he’s got one of these elephants in his pocket, and Murphy had put it in. She went round - she got hold of Murphy and started shaking his neck, she said, ‘you sod Murphy!’
DW. Oh that was the little parcel.
DW. Was that the little parcel?
CC. No, no, the parcel was half a bottle of rum. The father he used to have his rum and used to drink it out the front of the house which was level with the footpath but the - apparently dropped right down like that, well it did, not apparently and the back of the house was, you could walk underneath it and, and there was, there was, where this ….came down there was sort of clay and he dug a hole in it and put his rum in it. This is what, Murphy told me, he saw it there when he was coming up.
DW. Keep it cool.
DW. Keep it cool and have a drop outside with…-
CC. Well, he had it hidden I suppose.
DW. So he wouldn’t get into trouble.
DW. So he’d found it and wrapped it up.
CC. Yes he wrapped it up and said, “Give it to him”. I don’t know what happened, I don’t know, well they wouldn’t tell us I don’t think.
DW. Yes, we were talking to, we’ll get through this part and then we might go on to the Neptune’s Club and the women. Talk a bit about the women?
CC. Yes, sure.
DW. Your years of involvement, you came back from the war and you weren’t married at that stage -
DW. And you started to - at like - I heard that ah, the life savers died right down when the war was on, there wasn’t that many people around to, to do that -
CC. Yeah, well I went away in ’39, I joined in 1939, I never saw (anything) until 1939, 40 ah, 1945, 46. I was six years away.
DW. And you came back to Brisbane after that?
CC. Yeah well, I flew in with this, with this ah, with this mate of mine who was flying this thing and ah, I went out to my place but we never had a house there I don’t know what happened to it. So anyway, I ah, there was a bloke there I knew and he put me up in a, in a room one night, this night, so the next day I came back and I didn’t know what to do so I came back into Brisbane and ah, I ah, went to see Clarky and I said, “how’s the clubhouse going?” so he said, “alright” so I said, I said , “we’ll have to go up there” so he said, “yes, no worries”. So anyway, he gave me the key to it so I ah, then I was in there for awhile.
DW. You came back to Caloundra after those many years away at the war. It must have felt like heaven.
CC. Oh, it was, it was, and it was, yes.
DW. So that period of time after you came back after the war, was there much more growth coming in to Caloundra?
CC. Ah yes, there was even before the war there was a lot. The place started to go ahead with people coming in, there was a lot of fishing going on and then after the war the prawners came. I’m not saying that they brought custom in but the buildings were going up, there were a lot of buildings and also a lot of people were sort of trying to get out of Brisbane I think, more or less, you know.
DW People started to probably retire a bit, I think basically use the places as their holiday homes. Any famous local identities that you recall in the clubs that you know as far as the Bribie Island side of it. Then when coming up to Caloundra any identities who visited the clubs in those years that you know of?
CC. Well the people belonging to the clubs like, Pop Soden, now he was one of the head serangs of the club and his boys of course, they were married of course after the war .Les Hardcastle now his - - his sister was a great tennis player - Hardcastle, don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him?
CC. Les and Sid, they were both brothers and they came up here. Well then there was a top brass in the Mets, in the Mets original club. I’m trying to think. Nicklin had a pineapple farm out here - he was top brass of Queensland. Gee my mind is wandering. He was knighted in the end.
DW. They were like patrons of the club were they?
Governor Sir Leslie Wilson goes down the line in the Metropolitan Caloundra surf boat with big Doug Mabin on sweep
CC. Oh yes, well yes, they were patrons of the club. Ah, there was the shipping people (Colonel Dan Evans – Evans Deakin) now there was Kath Evans (McArthur) there were three girls and one of the boys. They were great stickers, in their own way they were great stickers of the club. They sort of helped the club monetarily and different things like that. But they built a nice home up on Canberra Terrace .Sir Leslie Wilson, he came that was another thing too getting back to the early days - Sir Leslie Wilson when he came here he was living up on Canberra Terrace I think it was called and he used to come down to the clubhouse this is the older original clubhouse with its front veranda. Lady Wilson used to come down and we had a special chair for her to sit in, she used to sit there, anyway he said one day that he’d love to go out fishing, out to (Bray’s Reef). Our cheeky mob they said, ‘Right, we’ll take you out’, so they take him out - he’s got a fishing line and everything else - they put him in the surf boat.
DW. They take him out in a boat?
CC. In a surf boat, yes
DW Was this the boat that Claude Boyd had built?
CC. No, it was another one by this time. And anyway so they take him out - this was the boat I think they’d been sitting on - no, I don’t know, I’d be guessing on that - I was going to say sitting on the wharf for years after the war- anyway they take him out to (Bray’s) Reef out there and he’s got the line over and they’re hopping over and having a swim round and when they, came back in they turned around and said, “you’d better sit back here Sir Leslie, in case we go down the line’ Anyway this is what I was told I wasn’t with them - so next thing - big Doug Mabin was the skipper - and he turned round and he, and somebody said, “what’ll we catch, we’d better ease it off.’ He said, ‘no, let’s get the biggest one there is’, and they did too. Anyway they came in no worries.
DW. Sir Leslie go out again with the boys?
CC. No. He, what he did, there was, there was Benny Bennett’s father old man Bennett and he and the bloke next door, it was Tytherleighs, Tytherleighs had a shop, a big shopping complex here but the Tytherleighs they were in a big way here I think it was him - I’m trying to guess - anyway but they, they lived up on Canberra Terrace, oh the Terrace too, it wasn’t Canberra Terrace, just Terrace and ah that was the Tytherleighs. Well they stayed there for years and Ted Tytherleigh eventually, well there was, there was the younger boys and then Ted eventually took over and ……they all, they all died and one of the girls is married to ah, one of our chaps now ah, ah, I think it’s to ah, what’s his name, he’s always in the clubhouse anyway. So, ah, and he’s a, he’s a - I don’t know if he’s still married to her but she was a rather a snobbish sort of a person - nice girl - but she didn’t want to be mixing with every Tom, Dick and Harry which is fair enough anyway. Ah, I can’t think of his name but there was, there was quite a number of top brass people all backing the club and the funny part about it was…….…one night up on the Terrace ah, Sir Leslie Wilson invited all the boys up for a meal and the funny part about it was there was a chap there he was about six foot thirteen tall this bloke, big man, he was the boss of the Ford Company down there. And ah, when I went down there and I was finished up as an inspector -
DW. In Brisbane?
CC. He came along this day and he had a look at me, he never said anything but afterwards - I was in clover I mean it was different things - nobody could do any wrong where I was concerned, it was only, it was only for a little while anyway because I had given it away but what I’m coming to is, Sir Leslie organizes when everybody is there a hat and when everybody came in the front door - not us, we were just life savers - they had to empty their pockets out into this hat and it wouldn’t matter what they had and I don’t know we finished up with a couple hundred dollars or pounds, no pounds -
DW. Oh they took the hat round that night that was a good night, fundraising wasn’t it, and so they really had to empty their pockets.
CC. Oh, yes, well it didn’t worry them because I mean, , they were all backers of the club anyway but ah, he was a, he was a ……I went to, I went to a do with him or to his place, well there was, there was Peter Wilson - did you ever meet Peter? - he was a tall bloke too, and I’ve bumped into him in, - that’s another thing - I was put on a charge, in Narrandera and I was shoved in the cells and then from there I was taken out and put on night guard, all night guard.
DW. This was?
CC. During the war years.
DW. For the Air Force?
CC. Air Force -
DW. What did you do?
DW. Give a bit of cheek?
CC. I didn’t do anything wasn’t me at all, anyway I got blamed for it. I didn’t even know about it but anyway they, the little mongrel that was in charge the C.O., I told him off. I told him I ought to resign from the Air Force that was about the worst thing you could say. Did you ever see the home of Wilson’s?
Formation of North Caloundra Surf Life Saving Club now known as Dicky Beach
CC. It was a big home, big block of land, right on the side of the beach and the first clubhouse that was built at North Caloundra was close to it. I started that club through a rescue that I had around there. When I say, well I did start it but I mean the point was the people around here. As well the things they did, they did everything, I did the, I did the life saving part of it. I organised getting top brass lifesaver, the top -
DW. That’s for Caloundra, North Caloundra?
CC. This is North Caloundra.
DW. What year was that Cliff?
CC. That’s not going back such a long way, I suppose it would’ve been twenty years ago I suppose, I don’t know I’m guessing now but anyway, the point was that it was on Sunday afternoon and my father-in-law -
CC Anyway we were sitting there, just after lunch it was - but see it’s a bad beach that always is and always was the beach around here, Moffat Headlands, there’s a swell comes in and runs straight out and, it’s, there’s not a lot of sea but it’s usually low, it really moves. Anyway, this particular day, Sunday it was it was about, I don’t know what time about twelve o’clock, one o’clock or something, next thing my eldest daughter she was there she raced, she raced in, she said, “there’s a man drowning round - there’s some people drowning round on the beach”. So anyway, I raced straight out, straight round, I saw this bloke he was only out from about here to across the road away and he wasn’t making much noise or anything so I thought I’d get him and went out to him and grabbed him and there was no movement out of him and someone screamed out about two children but when I was getting in I said to them, I said “…somebody else is just some people there” and they said “they picked the kids up”. There was two children, what the story was - they went out and got into trouble and they were his children apparently and he went out to get them and of course he got into trouble, although he was dead when I got him, anyway I tried to pump him and what have you but the doctor eventually came around. I was screaming out for - to get some, because we had containers over there to put in the nose, you can breathe with it but ah, I couldn’t get anybody and when eventually our mob came round it was too late. But ah, he ah, he, the doctor said, “you, would be wasting your time”, and the trouble was I was pumping him right in front of where the shop was and there was all sand there and his wife sat along side me while I was trying to revive him. I was there for half an hour or more. I knew that I was wasting my time but I didn’t want to do that but the point was, eventually the doctor came back and ah, some people came and got hold of the lady. But anyway, that was that, and ah, it was about oh, I don’t know, a month or six weeks - I was working in by workshop at the time -
DW. You were living here?
DW. You were living here at that stage?
CC. Yes. And ah, next thing they, these people came - rang me up first and asked me if they could see me - so I said, “sure” so anyway they came around and they asked me would I be prepared to try and start a life saving club around there, they’re local people, all local but anyway what I’m coming to, so I said, “sure” I said, but I said “there’s no way in the wide world” I said, “will you get a life saving club on the beach there”. I said, “I think that the nearest one would be Dicky Beach” so I said to her, but I said “not - I don’t think the, the association will allow this” - I knew it wouldn’t -
DW. It’s too unsafe.
DW. Too unsafe?
CC. I knew this but I didn’t like to say that. These people, there’s Mrs Somerset, there was the Parkers, Parkinsons - Parkers - Parks, they were, they were all money people, more so he, Parkses were ah, ex- ah, er, aw building inspector, not inspector, building manufacturers and things like that. Anyway, cut a long story short, that was that and ah, when they - these people came….we had a talk and I said, “well” I said, I, I said, “I’ll find out for you” but I said, I said, “I’ll, I’ll…but what about if -” oh, oh I did. So anyway, first I got in touch with the local council and ah, they came to see me and they said, “no way Cliff, you, you know that you’ve had it” so…that sort of thing, so I said, “fair enough”. So anyway in the meantime I’d got in touch with some of the top brass in Brisbane -
DW. Life saving?
CC. Life savers, yeah. And ah, they came up, there was two of them came up.
DW. Who was that?
CC. Joe Best was one of them and ah, Billy, Billy ah - god, cheeky sort he was….ah it’ll come to me but anyway, ah, anyway it finished up they came up and, and also there was another - the next day there was three more came up, officials, I didn’t know who they were but they were Royal Life Saving officials - oh, life saving officials. Anyway they said ah, “well, no way in the wide world would you get a ….clubhouse here” and I said, “I know that” but I said, “I just make sure about it”. So they put it down in writing for me, anyway the point was that they said, “Well, Dicky Beach is a different problem”. So ah, we patrolled Dicky Beach before this when the Governor first came into his house there, Jack Corkery was captain of the club and he was also a school teacher, Cork used to be pretty friendly with the, ah, the bloke… -
CC. Governor, yeah. Anyway, we finished up - we used to - he put a patrol on one day for them, ten o’clock in the morning and it….Benny Bennett, Doug Mabin and myself. And Gordon Summers at Moffat Beach (jacked) a patrol reel off and it weighed about two ton, and they said you gotta go to Dicky Beach and patrol it ‘til ten o’clock in the morning. So anyway, we waded across the lagoon there with about four feet of water running out but it didn’t make any difference of course. Anyway we got over there and there was nobody on the beach, not a soul ‘cause those days was before they - you know they - opening up the place and about half an hour later down comes a character and he said, “would you boys like a drink?” so we said, “yes!”. So anyway, he brings down a big pot of tea, so -
DW. Cup of tea on the beach.
CC. Yeah, well we, w - that was fair enough because I mean it didn’t worry us and all, ‘cause there was no, there was, they were in this house but that was all, and there was no, we had no where to go we were sitting out in the open. Anyway at three o’clock in the afternoon they’d had a ….they came down and had a swim and we, the strict instructions were; when the Governor comes down with his crowd - there was about twelve people there - you all go in the water with him and make sure he doesn’t get drowned So alright, so -
DW. It’s alright to put him on that boat and make him come in really fast wasn’t it?
CC. He came round and he was always, quite a friendly man he used to come round and have a yarn with us. Anyway, he came down and ah, we were a bit browned off, we hadn’t had lunch or anything and this is from ten o’clock in the morning, so we knew we wouldn’t get any lunch ‘til we got back we had to wait for the tea. And anyway the point was he ah, came down with all these young people and what have you, it was about a dozen of them and …..(hanging) around the place and the next thing they all go back and all waved and we waved back so we said, “oh well, we’d better go”. So next thing, down comes this waiter again, or steward or what ever you call it and he’s got four bottles of beer for us, so we decided to stay. Anyway we drank our four bottles of beer and then we got up and we, we don’t know whether to take the, take the reel or not…..so we put the reel up the hill and we come across - it went to our heads this beer because we weren’t drinkers in those days -
DW. And you hadn’t eaten either.
CC. That’s right. Anyway, we went across, we thought there’d be someone to meet us across the lagoon - we had to walk all the way home, and well, we weren’t very happy so we Corkery what we thought of him and the club and everything else. And the next morning there was a detail to go over to Dicky Beach again and we thought, “you little beauty, it’s somebody else” it was all our names again; we were put on a charge. So we didn’t bother to tell him about the beer but the funny part about that was, when we said, “oh well we’ll go over” he looked, ‘cause he was a shrewdy….., instead of going - hitting the roof like we should’ve done and all that sort of thing, we didn’t do that, we sort of moaned and groaned and that, and he was a shrewdy too Corkery I mean a bigger shrewdy there’ll ever be - he thought to himself, “these fellows have got something up their sleeves”. So what happened was we went back over there, it was about eleven o’clock in the morning when we got back over there and we’re, next thing we came out and we went in the water with them and Sir Leslie came back and they brought a - he brought a - a bloke brought a plate of sandwiches down. Anyway -
DW. They feed you this time?
CC. Oh, yes it was very nice anyway so, because they didn’t know the story, they didn’t know we were starving -
DW. That’s right.
CC. Anyway, next thing it’s about half past one and down comes four large bottles of beer for us and we said, “you little beauty”. So anyway, we get the four bottles of beer and we’re sitting on the beach, ….like there’s a bit of a raise like that and next thing who should be coming around the sand dunes but this Jack Corkery so we buried the beer, we buried it in, in the sand, not on the sand dune but in the sand itself. Yeah anyway, next thing he came over and he had a look round and he said, “oh well, you can pack up now and come home”. So anyway we, we left the reel and ah Corkery said, he to-, I was the first one - he said, “you’re, you’re here tomorrow” and ah, big Doug Mabin he was the other one who was - oh Ian Griffiths he wasn’t in it but he was in the second one, he was a cheeky fellow - anyway, we go, we all march back and we’re trying to fathom out how can we go back and get this bottle of beer see. And we said, “did you walk over Cork?” he said, “No, there’s a truck here” so we had to get in the truck too. So we said, “Oh we’ll leave it ‘til the morning”. The next morning I go over, with ah this - I think it’s Ian Griffiths and a couple of others - and we talk about this beer, we said “we’ll get it as soon as we get over there” and there’d been a heavy run up of the sea the night before and the whole lot had been washed away and we never ever found it.
DW. You lost your beer? Oh they were funny days. You were talking about the - I think we’ve gone through mostly everything to do with the club and fund raising and that was all before the war you were talking about there when you went up and, and patrolled for the Governor?
DW. So when you came back to the coast after the war and things you know, started to move I suppose. The area became quite industrious and when did you move to Caloundra?
CC. After the war you mean?
CC. Well I came in, I came back in, I came back on a Friday, I was dropped in town, Friday, seven o’clock at night. No, I’m telling lies a Thursday, Wednesday and ah, that was on a, yeah on a Thursday night ah, the next morning I went to the town and I tried it on myself, a couple of clothes, you know shirts and different things. A pair - I only had a pair of flying boots, that’s all I had - bloody dreadful. So anyway I get to throw them away and get some other stuff and then I finished up ah, I went up to see Jack Clark and I told him I’d be going up the Coast, he said “good on you”. So anyway I came up then ah, and I never ever went back.
DW. You stayed on in Caloundra?
CC. Well I had nowhere else to go anyway.
DW. You met your wife in Caloundra?
CC. Yes, the funny part about that was, it was this truck came up on the Saturday - just fill you in starting with this truck - and there was Amy wife Jessie, she had two cousins, they’re still here. Ones married to Eric Ray and the other one, she’s living in Brisbane but they were all living up here then. There was a dance on, on the Saturday night in aid of the life savers -
DW. And where was that?
CC. That was at Mooloolah.
CC. And so -
DW. And was that at the, ah, like at the hall or -
CC. At the hall yes,
DW. Glenview Hall was that the Glenview Hall or - ?
CC. It was across at the railway line -
DW. Or Maltman’s, Maltman’s Hall was in Caloundra wasn’t it?
CC. No, not Maltman’s, Maltman’s did have a hall here?
DW. Yes I know that there was a hall in Glenview that they used to use but maybe - sorry we’ll get - I -
CC. This hall, this hall looked like a small church to me but ah, the point was we ah, went in - of course it was about, it was about seven o’clock at night when we got there because we went in the truck from the clubhouse -
DW. And it was in aid of the life savers?
CC. Yes -
DW. That’d be about 1946, was it?
CC. Yes it would’ve been 1946 yes. Ah, and the - earlier ’46 - the point was that the, the girls liked this truck. Billy Winstone he picked up the girls on the truck and also there was a couple of other people and ourselves and we went to to the dance-
CC. To the dance. And when we, we came back - it was about eleven o’clock at night we came back, was nice dance too and they’d put on food for us and everything else like that ah, and I think they, I think they made about, roughly about fifty pounds. You know and all the, they’re all, they’re all, ah ah well, they’re all local people and all from buildings and all, anyway farms around - friendly people. But that was, that was alright, so the next, all - this Jack Corkery was with us - and anyway it was, it was about, about a month, roughly sometime later about a month - oh, anyway in the meantime I met Jessie there, I started going round with her and ah, we finished up getting married. But anyway the point was that ah, there’s about a month - this a while later but anyway the point was - about a month later at Glass House they had a do for us, they put on a show and this Jack Corkery……told us straight. He said, “don’t forget this” he said, “the people that come to these dances don’t want to sit and just watch you idiots” he said, “what you’re going to do” he said, “is, you’re going to dance with a separate person each dance and you get up all the time” he said, “if you don’t” he said, “I’ll fix you tomorrow” so he said, “right!”. So anyway, so -
DW. You’re like the celebrities weren’t you really in a way the lifesavers. They treated you quite regally -
CC. Yes well we were, we were, we were sort of a breath of fresh air I suppose you’d call it. But anyway the funny part about this was this big Mabin said to me, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do” he said, “I’ll pick an older woman than you’ve got to dance with” so I said, “righty”. So anyway ah, this ah, oh anyway, Murphy, this cheeky sod he said, “I’ll beat the lot of you”. So here we are having about four dances altogether, picking all the old ladies up and all the kids, girls and that, eighteen and - left sitting -
DW. They’re all lined up wanting a dance - left them behind.
CC. So we got into an argument over that, we weren’t happy about that. But they took it in all in good fun you know. We went to, they -
DW. Where was Jessie when all of this was going on? Was she, did she go to the Glass House Mountains dance?
CC. Yes she went to the dance. She could see the humorous side of it she had a terrific sense of humour. And ah, but the point was that the, there was, we had a, we went up to Maleny we had a ball up at Maleny there was a dinner…in winter and we had to wear dinner suits. -
DW. That was for the life savers?
CC. Yes dinner suits.
DW. Where was that Cliff?
CC. At Maleny, oh when?
CC. There was a big hall in the main street - was there a dance hall there?
DW. I’m not sure -
CC. I think there was.
DW. We can find that out anyway…
CC. I think there was a dance hall there but anyway I’m trying to think of the people that had the, they had the - they had the house down here too - they had the ah, bakers and everything else like that. They were great stickers for the - ……one of the best things that ever happened - we never knew - was mixing with all these people, going to these dances and different things and everybody getting to know you. Like I mean it wasn’t the case of strangers when they came on the beach they knew who you were, Bill, Jack, Cliff or whatever it is -
DW. And they supported the club.
CC. Yes that’s right and then the young blood; they were more interested actually than the older ones even though the older ones were interested in the young ones enjoying themselves. So the point was it, it paid dividends you know in a way, we enjoyed ourselves too. We had -
DW. When did you marry? What year did you marry?
CC. Oh boy, ’49. It was a, 19 ah, 19 ah, I only married her, it was about three months after I’d met her, ah 19, when was that, it was -
DW. She’ll be looking over your shoulder now that you don’t know this date.
DW. I said, she’ll be looking over your shoulder now going crook that you don’t know this date.
DW. You come back from the war 1945.
CC. Yeah. I reckon it would’ve been, probably a couple of months later.
DW. So you met her not long after you came back from the war?
CC. Oh it was only a, only a week I think. I’d met her, I’d met her a couple of times ah, she was serving, she was a, a ah, she was in a unit, in a, when they were in Canberra, she was in the office there she was a secretary of something but when they got up here she finished up, she was working as a waitress in, in the ah, -
DW. Family business.
CC. In the Hotel Francis. Paddy Stewart was there, he was a great sticker for the club too
DW. The Hotel Francis?
CC. Yes, yeah. Well she was a very - well her kids are clever, not from me but her side of the thing, they’re pretty brainy. But anyway the thing was that ah, she was, she was very good to me but anyway ah, I reckon it was, would’ve been about two months I s’pose -
DW. So how old were you then Cliff - what year were you born? I should ask you that.
CC. I was born, I was born in 19, the 2nd of June 1912, so I’m forty - I’m eighty four now. Ah, I would’ve been - I was - well I reckon that ah, I’m trying to guess when we were married. Well the eldest is - we oh, we would’ve been married twenty odd years ago but ah, probably more than that.
DW. Well it would be more than twenty because if she’s been gone umm, if your, if you came back from the war in 1946 and you met just after that, so about 1947 you married.
CC. Yeah, I’d reckon so, yes.
DW. So that is, fifty years ago.
CC. That’s right, yeah, yeah.
DW. Yeah. And how many children have you got?
CC. I’ve got three. There’s ah, Michelle, she’s - I thought that would’ve been her on the phone - but no, she’s a cheeky sod she is, she’s married and she’s got two children they’re down the Gold Co- live on the Gold Coast. Ah, he’s a - been a…high tech manufacturing gigantic ah earth….., not so much earth…..but special types of motors and things like that but ah, he travels, he’s travelling all over the place. And then I’ve got Phillip, he’s ah, Phillip’s - I don’t know what age he is - oh and I’ve got Sandra, she’s forty seven, she’s ah, she lives in Italy, she’s married to a specialist over there. Ah, Romano, ah there’s a bottle of wine out -
DW. I saw that.
CC. No that’s not mine, that’s ah, Olive’s and they’ve got their own, they’ve got their own vineyards ah, he’s got, he’s got about eight or nine acres of this and there’s this old building - we’ve been there -
DW. Oh, wonderful.
CC. Yeah, and the building - he grows his own grapes, that’s his hobby and I said to her one time, “what does he do with all the wine?” she said, “oh, he gives it away”, but ah, it’s beautiful wine.
DW. Bet if you life savers were around in those days you would’ve made short work of it then.
CC. Funny part about it was in - over at Dicky Beach there was a, there was a - ah we used to take bods over from our club and when there was a couple of members here …..club and they were training for their bronze surf clubs and there was Maurie (Schafer), he was the instructor and he used to take two or three bods were training over there and mix the two lots together and go over here and do a session over here. But there was nothing - you have six members for your patrol, one is a patient, well the point was that she - Sandra - she was a madman, always in the water. Anyway, there was only five this day over here, so she was over there with me and what have you, so she’s made a patient for this six or these other bods and then another day over here she was over there and they were short so she was -
DW. Kings Beach?
CC. Yes so anyway and also Phillip joined the club as a junior and he was good. They were training for the position of surf, surf mob. Anyway what happened there was the bloke, one of the old boys - he was a fellow round about eighteen or twenty, Phillip was only about twelve or thirteen then - and he had this surf board. Phillip was talking to him and he said, “I’ll sell it to you”. I didn’t know this and I don’t know what it was, I think it was twelve, I think it was twelve pounds, or twelve, it was twelve pounds I think. It was a big board, I never knew anything about it, you see he used to keep it quiet; he came home and told his Mum that he, you know, had this board. So she gave him the money, anyway and he went and bought this board. The next time we were going down the beach - I didn’t know the board was here he said - we had a, a little Hillman at the time. He said, “how am I going to fit that in - can you put a rack on top?” I said, “what for?” he said, “my board” I said, “what board?” and he had this gigantic board. Anyway, to cut a long story short so he gave the surf lie saving away, he, he mucked around with his board.
DW. Surfboard riding?
CC. Yeah. Well, Sandra this - she’s got a surfboard so they’re doing a bit of surfing up where she lives. They live up on the, hills and ah, it’s a beautiful area though really. The house - they’ve got some awful laws and rules and regulations - you can’t paint a house or do anything, you could only paint the colours of the area that the rest of the houses are in. Which I s’pose is alright -
DW. Well it keeps it to the, to the traditions and everything of that era
DW. But it’s changed in these parts hasn’t it all the early - yes.
CC. Oh yes
DW When you, you were talking about being involved with the women life savers the Neptune’s. They were at Bribie Island, the Neptune group, were they?
CC. Yes well they, they never had a beach, they never had a beach to patrol but they became I suppose connected with Mets. They used to come down to Bribie for the weekends the same as we did. We used to get a cut on the transport over.-
DW Where were they, they didn’t have a beach?
DW. They were from Brisbane, yes.
CC. They used to get a cut; they used to get a discount. We used to get a. a cut on the fare on the Koopa - you could only get down by boat those days there was no bridge, there was no other way of getting across.
DW. What from Bribie to Brisbane?
CC To Brisbane, to North Quay.
DW North Quay.
CC. Not North Quay, further up Wharf Street. You know where, the old Custom House was. Well, we used to get on there to go on the Koopa and the Doomba to Bribie Island. These was the two boats and, the beauty of it was that the powers that be that owned those ships, they were the people that chartered Bribie Island and because we being like patrolling the Island we were given a cut. We used to get down there and back for two shillings on the boats but I think it used to cost about four shillings. -
DW If you were a life saver?
CC. Well then I think, I don’t know but I think that the ….I think with Jack Corkery or somebody when the girls - no it wasn’t Corkery it was before him. It was one of the others - oh that’s right he was a, he was a (Head) master of the Southport College It was Big McKenzie I think he organized a bit of a cut for the, for the girls coming down. Ah, but they used to come down and those little houses or huts along there that they could you know, sort of rent cheaply. So they were more or less connected, unofficially to, to Mets. Well I ah, they asked me to give some coaching of them one time or coaching sometime and ah, there was, there was, one, one was a baker’s daughter - she ended up ah, up on the terrace, ah -
DW. What up here?
CC. Not here, no, in Brisbane. Ah, my mind’s gone all blank.
DW. That’s alright, you’re doing very well. I’m just going to show you a picture of them in 1937 there. I thought I’d leave you that book to have a bit of a look at. You might be able to identify some of them.
CC. Nancy Holmes! She was the one that was - they were, they were bakers up in ah, Maleny ah, in ah, oh what’s - can’t think of it.
DW. Just shows them there in that picture. So you, you trained them. How long did you train them for Cliff?
CC Oh, it wasn’t that long, I was coaching them for a little while ah, and then I don’t know what happened there was - they were coming up to Caloundra and the house had been organised for them by the club - I, I wouldn’t be able to say who, who they are really -
CC. Anyway they’re younger and I wouldn’t know but anyway the point is that ah, they ah, they ah, were coming up this weekend and I was - I used to be down - we used to always swim in Ithaca pool, we had a - and we had a clubhouse underneath the stairs there ah, and then ah - this is the old days - and then ah, we used to, we used to even do our training there, Morrison, another Morrison and I used to go out there nearly every night and then sometimes when there was a bit of a dispute about something or another, little bit of bellyaching here and there, anyway -
DW. ..I’m just looking at the time there on that clock -
CC. There’s a watch here, that’ll be -
DW. Go ahead, you’re right.
CC. Anyway we finished up. I used to go down to all the pools, well anywhere wherever it was. Sometimes I’d go to South Brisbane. I used to go of the night time and coach some of these Royals. - You know, take the Royal Life saving business on. People asked me to anyway I’d go and give them a bit of tuition…, we went down to, we went down to that college on the way to Toowoomba there’s a school down there or it was a farming school.
CC Gatton College yes. Well we went down there, Pop Venning took me down and I went down. We went down three times in a row. I coached down there, did some coaching. It was a main road and there was a tiny little weir and we were swimming up and down there, it was quite nice too.
DW So back to the Neptune girls -
CC Ah yes. Well anyway, what happened was, it was over this but I came into it. Just to go into the place it was three pence or sixpence whatever it was. One of the girls that owned the place was there. I don’t know what was said, something was said but the Neptune girls had been coming up to Caloundra. There was I thinking there was a competition on and they were going to, you know march on the following weekend. The next morning I get a phone call and I’m hauled over the coals in our place in our clubhouse, or not the club. So I went -
DW. Was this at Bribie or Caloundra?
CC. No, this is at Brisbane.
CC. And anyway ah, so when I go - this is the, this is the full club then, I mean it wasn’t ah, we, we, like we’d more -
DW. Had you disbanded at that stage?
CC. Yes anyway the point was that when I got in there I was rubbished. They reckoned I’d said that we didn’t want these girls there, they were only a nuisance. I didn’t and I still don’t know why, anyway of course from there on I wasn’t popular.
DW With the girls or others?
CC Oh with the girls.
CC And I told, I told this fellow he -I’m trying to think - he sold - he came from Sydney he was a terrific, terrific breaststroke and backstroke swimmer. We used to train together and he sold these drinks, bottles like a type of cordial. They were Minor Products.
DW Minor Cordial they’re a well known cordial.
CC Clive Myers, well Clive Myers he owned this place in Sydney. He came up to Brisbane to sell it. He started over South Brisbane and the first bloke he came in contact with was me apparently. Then there was Noel Morrison. He and I used to train together. So anyway Clive said to me one day, he said, ‘where do you train?’ so I told him. I said we go down to the - we go down to the main pool down in the Valley. So he said, ‘Do you mind if I come down with you?’’ I said, “No, by all means”. So anyway, he did one better he picked me up and took me down in the truck but we - so anyway, from there on we - the three of us ah, Morrison was a, he was a terrific style in breaststroke, his, his actions were absolutely - he was a big man too. Anyway up at - Clive was the same way - so we all stuck together. Anyway, when this all happened and I, I - I don’t know how it came about - Clive said to me, “you look in a bit of strife” so I said, “yeah, I think I’ll give the club away” so he said, “why’s that?” so I told him the story, I said, “I don’t get the message on this”. So anyway he tried to find out - he couldn’t find out, nobody would tell him - he asked the girls, he asked them, some of the Neptune girls, nobody said anything. So anyway from there on I wasn’t popular but the funny part about it was, when I experienced this I thought blow this I’ll really get out of this club because there’s other clubs I can go to. This was our club and I didn’t want to but anyway well I thought I’ll give it away I was that wild
DW You were a bit hurt by the sound of it.
CC. Oh yes. Anyway, next thing ah, Jack Corkery came to see me and he’d been talking to Noel Morrison. Noel said he, (they’re) going to lose him. So anyway Cork said, ‘What was all the trouble?’ I said, ‘Oh’ I said, ‘You’re the one that started it’ so I said, ‘so you better finish it’. So anyway, to cut a long story short we patched it up.
DW Patched up your differences.
CC. We wiped it out and that was it -
DW. Do you think the feeling, like there was ill feeling against women getting involved in life saving or do you think that most of the men felt that way?
CC. No, I think the attitude, the attitude of the person - we’ll say male first - that’s interested in life saving, he’s interested in his club to make sure that it’s a nice club, he’s interested in all the things the bits and pieces that go around, he’s interested in the water, he’s interested in people coming down and he’s interested in people being interested. And if the ladies’ club which Mets… the ladies club started - and they were, they were going for quite a long while there in the early piece - We were all with them and there was no problems, I doubt whether they had problems.
DW There was no sort of trouble?
CC. There wouldn’t have been any antagonism or any sort of
CC. And that’s what I couldn’t understand, I was……to get in and next thing these two, two of the girls oh boy they were really wild -
DW And then - like after that you did a bit of training there with them. Did any of those women start to come to Caloundra did -
CC. Oh yes, they still came up as a matter of fact.
DW. They, that’s what I’m trying to get to this part now where Metropolitan Caloundra there was a woman’s group as well, was there here? That’s something the library hasn’t got a lot on and that was something -
CC. No, there was the Metropolitan Caloundra Club and the Neptune Lady Life Savers -
DW. Were Ithaca based were they?
CC. Eh, pardon, what?
DW. They were Ithaca based.
CC. Ithaca based yes, and they were, they were being coached - well let’s put it this way by a member of the Metropolitan Caloundra Club. Now the next thing, along comes the Dolphin Lady Life Savers and I was approached about coaching them.
DW. Were they still Bribie end or -?
CC. No they, no Bribie’s was finished then.
CC. Bribie had finished then, we were at Kings Beach -
DW. That’s the Dolphin women from Caloundra, was it the Dolphin Lady Life Savers?
CC. Yes, and the point was the Church of England Cathedral in Ann Street where the, where the fire brigade used to be, wasn’t it?
CC. Just down from that was another small church the same, looked the same as a Cathedral but it was a double story place and ah, when I, when they approached me Eunice Long and, and also Jack, Jack Spender’s wife she was even - because she hadn’t approached me -
DW. What was her name?
DW. What was her surname?
CC. Drummond, Betty Drummond. Anyway to, to cut it short, when I was, I was in the - I don’t know where I was - I was in the, in the valley I think and, and, and one of the girls this Eunice Long came up to me and said - nah, must have been somewhere else but anyway she came to me and said, “we wanted to have a talk with you, would you come along to our meeting?”. I was outside somewhere anyway and this meeting was in this little double storey-, beautiful little place, my - it’s still there I think - and anyway ah -
DW. In Ann Street.
DW. Ann Street.
CC. In Ann Street yes. It’s in along; the front of it’s facing into Ann Street. Anyway so the meeting was on this night anyway. I popped along to it and they asked me then would I coach them. Well not only did I coach them and they were, they were good, they were (damn) good. They used to do their training in this hall and then some of the girls wanted to become better swimmers and they said to me, “where do you train” and I said, “Oh I go anywhere”. So they said, “Well will you go down to the Valley pool?” I said “yes” so they said, “Can we come down once a week with you?” and I said, “Oh, you don’t have to ask me that”. So there was a couple of girls came down and then some of those girls used to train, now there, some of them used to train over the West End Pool too. They were all good swimmers -
DW. And so that was the -
DW. The Dolphins - and then they moved, they started in Caloundra they sort of got -
CC. They used to come up to Caloundra, they, they did that -
DW. What were their names do you know any other names from that group, the Dolphins and what year would that have been?
CC. You mean the individual names?
DW. Well any names that you can remember and roughly what year that was. So it was before the war so it’d have to be in the mid 30’s.
CC. Yes, I’d say it would be ah, funny part, it’s only just after this bash with the, with Neptunes and they were a terrific crowd of girls too you know - I could never make that out, I still can’t, I mean it annoys me -
DW. Just someone’s said something- yeah.
CC. Somebody really said something. If it had’ve been one of the boys like Murphy to say something I would have said well, well fair enough, I mean he’d say anything I mean but the girls would know too and wouldn’t take any notice but they were that wild. Anyway, but, the Dolphins, there was this girl - her father was one of the head serangs of a big company of trucks and cars but they had the depot like they were selling these brand new cars internationally what ever it was. And they had their depot in ah - where the, where the City Hall is and across the road from City Hall as if you were going towards Roma Street there’s a pub on the corner - I think and then either there or a couple of doors down there’s this big building and they have all these trucks and things…international, international… -
DW. Harvester or something like that.
CC. Something like that.
DW. So how many of those were …in the early days like in the start of the Dolphins how many would’ve started that - you know like the group there…., how many of those women used to come up?
CC. What the women….?
DW. Yes Dolphins, the Dolphins Club, how many women were in the club in the early days when it first started?
CC. I reckon it would’ve started with about ’30, ’35.
DW. It was quite a strong club?
DW. And then they’d come up to Caloundra and there was a special house here for them.
CC. Well there’s, there was those houses next to Fristrom's ah, a couple of houses there that - rental houses and…. they used to rent their houses. We, we - I don’t think we had anything to do with it, I mean they did their own -
DW Their own thing.
CC. Although it could’ve, it could’ve been some of our members, I mean our -
DW And they’d go on patrol?
CC Oh no, no they weren’t attached to the club at all. No we only had a male, there was only a male club, ah like, there was no, there was no ah, anything else -
DW But what were they called the Dolphin Surf Life -?
CC The Dolphin Lady Life Savers.
DW So what did they save, what did they do if they weren’t on patrol?
CC. Well, they, they used to - well they weren’t, they weren’t on patrol - they used to do march pasts and all that sort of thing -
DW But they didn’t actually get in and do any rescues or -
CC. Not at that time but I believe later on, I don’t know, I don’t know when but a lot later on they ah, well there are, there’s ladies life saver clubs now I think that still doing that sort of thing -
DW Well we’ve got through a lot today haven’t we?.
CC. Is it that long is it?
DW It’s been wonderful Cliff and you know, I think I’ll turn this off at the moment. I’ve got to get that car back at two today. I could sit here all afternoon.