Fred and Dulcie Fink
Fred lived most of his life in Yandina, where he worked as a cane cutter
Interview with: Dulcie and Fred Fink
Date of Interview: 12 March 1985
Interviewer: Caroline Foxon
Transcriber: Valarie Poole
Fred John Fink lived most of his life in Yandina, where he worked as a cane cutter. After serving in the 2/15 Battalion during World War II he returned to cane cutting and also took up banana farming. He continued to grow bananas until his crop, on the southern slopes of Mount Ninderry, was wiped out during a cyclone in 1974. Fred was a keen supporter of organisations in the Yandina community including the Yandina School of Arts, the Historical Society and the Returned Services League.
Dulice and Fred Fink oral history [MP3 56MB]
Images and documents of the Fink Family in the Sunshine Coast Libraries Catalogue.
Image: Fred Fink with his wife Dulcie, residents of Yandina, 1982.
CF: Fred, let’s start with your early history, and you can tell me where and when you were born.
FINK: Well I was born the 18th December 1915, and at that time my father was a dairy farmer at Eagle Farm. As a matter of fact the house that we first lived in would be about under the control tower of Eagle Farm Airport… now. (LAUGHS)
I was born in Brisbane of course, and about 1918 my family moved up to Yandina. They brought with them a Friesian dairy herd. I forgot to say that my father was a milkman – a milk producer and a milkman – in Brisbane. Well, he brought this herd up to Yandina just in time to be a part of the 1919 drought. That was a particularly disastrous drought in this area, because at that time Yandina was a dairy farming community. Well my father’s herd – first class Friesians – all but one of them died during the drought, so that it was a battle from then on. Our farm was on the Wappa Falls Road and while I was a youngster, they had a go at everything actually; dairying, canegrowing, small crops growing, the usual thing around here at that time.
CF: Did your mother come from Brisbane as well, Fred?
FINK: Yes. Of course I just don’t know too much detail about that period, but as far as I know, possibly my father came up a few months in advance. They moved into quite a good home that had been built on the property. It’s still there. As far as I know my mother came up very shortly; well she must have because my next brother was born in Yandina, and he’s only a couple of years younger than I am.
CF: And your mother was a Low. Is that correct?
FINK: Yes, my mother was one of the Low family, related – a cousin or second cousin – to the Lows of Yandina.
CF: That’s a very famous family in Yandina?
FINK: I suppose you could say that James Low is the Founding Father probably not only of Yandina but also of the Sunshine Coast.
CF: Perhaps you could tell me something about James Low.
FINK: Well, James Low first came to the mouth of Mooloolah, to operate a depot for William Pettigrew, the Brisbane saw-miller. That was in 1864. They established a store at the mouth of the Mooloolah, and this would be the first commercial enterprise on the Sunshine Coast. In fact, James Low has quite a string of firsts.
The store was not a success and he eventually moved as Pettigrew’s agent to Dunethin Rock, just down the river here. While he was there, gold was discovered at Gympie and James Low, at Pettigrew’s instigation, with a party of timber-getters, developed a road to the Gympie goldfields, and that road was in use during the early years of Gympie. While he ws there the Yandina Post Office was established at Dunethin Rock and James Low was the first Postmaster.
Later the same year he took up a selection, again the first selection under the Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1868 – and that selection was where the present-day Bruce Highway crosses the South Maroochy River. He established a depot and moved the Post Office to this depot in time for the first coach run by Cobb & Co. in November 1868. The next year he was granted a liquor license for this depot and so became the first hotel keeper on the Sunshine Coast.
Well, James Low continued in the timber business. He also took up quite a number of selections. He became one of the largest land holders in the district. He was responsible for establishing the Maroochy Provisional School in 1879. This was the second school to become a member of the Caboolture Divisional Board, and in 1883 he died.
CF: So he achieved quite a lot in the area?
FINK: He was really the first person to actually develop the area.
CF: Did your mother talk much about the family? Did this sort of information come through the family?
FINK: Oh yes, they were all quite proud of the Low family. I can recall an Auntie of mine in talking about them when John Low, my grandfather was given his first piece of land by his uncle James Low and my Aunty, who was a very forceful woman, described the occasion of how the family greed this, becoming an owner. Because they had been crofters in Scotland and to own land was really to put them away up in the world. So as my aunty describes it, the family said, “Our John’s a laird! Our John’s a laird!” on the rising inflection. It was really an occasion in the family.
Yandina State School
CF: So your family survived the 1919 drought. At this stage how old would you have been? Would you have started school?
FINK: No, I started school in 1921, August 1921.
CF: And where did you go to school?
FINK: At the Yandina State School. At that time it was only a small building, a single room. The two classrooms were divided by a passage down the middle, but there was no partitions. It was very overcrowded in that time. Actually at that time there was quite an increase in enrolments. I think 1921 and 1924 were the highest enrolments to that date, and the same number of enrolments didn’t occur again until many years later. So we were very overcrowded at the school and we used to have some of the classes out under the camphor laurel trees in front, in the play shed, or on the verandah if it was wet.
CF: How many pupils were there?
FINK: At that time there would have been about 160 pupils at the school. No, I think I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself there. I think there would have possibly 120.
CF: And how many teachers were responsible for you?
FINK: About three teachers at that time.
CF: What were your favourite subjects when you were at school?
FINK: I don’t know that I had any favourite subjects. (LAUGHS) I wasn’t particularly bright; I wasn’t particularly dumb. I seemed to coast through school days pretty well. At the end of my school days I sat for the Scholarship, and in 1929 – I thin in that year the success rate for the whole of Queensland was something under fifty percent – I managed to scrape through.
CF: Were things like sports and games important to you at school?
FINK: Not to me personally, but the School was very well-served by the teachers of the day. They were very keen on sport. We played all the usual things: cricket, football; the girls played basketball, swimming. The school took part in all the inter-school competitions. But I was not a very sport-minded person. I took part, but only just.
CF: Did you have activities outside the School? Would you go on excursions or picnics, things like that?
FINK: Yes and no. No, we didn’t travel very far, but there were activities that were associated with the mainly farming community at the time. For instance, one hour twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we spent gardening. The Yandina School grounds at that time had beautiful gardens. They had vegetable gardens, a citrus orchard, all of which were attended to by the children. And I might say that the parents were not particularly enthusiastic about these activities, because they believed we were there to learn “The Three R’s” and we could do the gardening, etcetera at home. But I must say that the teacher, William Slatter, probably was far ahead of most of the local farmers in the latest in agricultural practices. We really did learn something there.
CF: Were the parents very involved in school activities? You say they weren’t very keen on your agricultural pursuits, but did parents in those days tend to get very involved in the school activities?
FINK: Well at the time there was not a Parents and Citizens Committee; there was a School Committee which was elected every three years. I think it was restricted to about seven. Some of the time I was at a school, my father was on the School Committee. From time to time they made efforts to improve the school grounds. Since then I’ve studied the minutes of their meetings and I have to say that they achieved very little.
CF: And your own parents, were they interested in what you were doing at school?
FINK: Oh very much so. My mother was a bit of a tiger actually. She was likely to turn up at school and front up teacher if she thought her children were not being well looked after. She was a very strong-willed woman and she had a habit of embarrassing us very much.
CF: Because she would come up to the school herself?
FINK: She would come up to the school and dress the teacher down. But my mother was a fairly well-educated woman, actually a city born woman, and the move to the country must have been a great shock to her. She was very interested in plays and concerts and such like. She would recite at the local concerts. She joined the local CWA and all that sort of thing. She was very active. She read a lot; and politically she was a strict Tory. Very conservative. On the other hand, I think my father tended to be a good Labour man, but he kept it very quiet while Mum was around.
CF: So there was never any political conflict?
FINK: Not outwardly. But they definitely had different views on politics.
CF: During the time when you were at school, your home life then, were things better after the drought? How were the family going?
FINK: Oh yes, we were never hungry. We were always as well dressed as the fellow pupils. We had no hardship. We had a happy family life.
CF: How many children were in the family?
FINK: Four boys and a girl. In later years we always looked back on our home life with a great deal of nostalgia.
CF: Were you involved in having to do chores before and after school?
FINK: No, unlike many other children, my father had the view that we would get enough work when we grew up. His idea was, that as long as we could find something to do, something to play at, okay. But if we started to brawl amongst ourselves – as the modern children say, we became bored – then we were promptly found a job. And equally as promptly we then found something to agree on. So apart from chopping wood for the kitchen, and milking a few cows later on when we’d gone out of the dairy business, we were not overworked when we were children.
CF: And what sort of things did you used to occupy yourselves with? Did you have hobbies?
FINK: No, we were great wanderers. The country surrounding us was all, and still is, forest land; and we spent our time swimming, making canoes, wandering around. Later when we managed to scrounge a pea rifle, we would go out shooting – never hitting much – but still we spent a few pence on bullets for our pea rifle. That was the type of thing: building houses, tree houses, together with the other children. We’d get together; we formed a group and these were the sort of things we used to do.
CF: As a family, did you have family entertainment? Was music and that sort of thing important in your home?
FINK: No. Music? We were all non-musical. We had no musical instruments whatsoever in our home. We were all great readers.
CF: Would you say that was your mother’s influence?
FINK: Oh, I don’t know. My father also was a great reader; particularly the local papers, he would read from cover to cover. He’d spend a couple of hours at night-time reading the paper.
CF: What sort of books and magazines did you have in the home?
FINK: The usual books of the time. I think we were all escapists, just the same as people are now. We read detectives and novels and perhaps a few travel books.
CF: Do you remember any of your favourite authors or your favourite stories from that time?
FINK: (LAUGHS) Particularly, a joy of mine – my mother went for the … I can’t think of the authors off-hand, but all the popular authors of the time – but my favourite author was Edgar Wallace, the detective stories.
CF: Did you get magazines in the home, do you remember any of those?
FINK: No. There wasn’t much in the way of magazines at the time. Our principal reading was books that we obtained from the local library, and the newspapers. That was our principal reading.
Visits to Coolum Beach
CF: Outside the home, what entertainment would your family have?
FINK: Well I think you could say visits to the beach would be the main entertainment or activity away from home.
CF: Which beach would that be?
FINK: Coolum Beach. At the time when I first started school, the first land sales had just been held at Coolum, and I think I was present at the first land sale. I’m not absolutely certain, but around 1923. We used to drive from out at the Wappa Falls down to Coolum in a horse and sulky. At that time the road was said by people of the time to be an excellent road; but I can remember coming home from Coolum and seeing the people with horses and sulkies having to unharness their horses and pull the people in the Dodges and Fords out of the bog. (LAUGHS) It was a corduroy road and by the time we were travelling it, it was broken up and the cars would slip through the corduroy and become hopelessly bogged.
CF: Pardon my ignorance, but what is a corduroy?
FINK: Corduroy is logs laid crossways, tea tree logs in this case, side by side across the road. They make a fairly firm surface, but very rough as you can imagine, going up and down.
CF: What distance would that go for?
FINK: You’ve probably been on the Coolum Road now, and you know the road’s across swamps. Well, those entire swamps, both the swamp on the Yandina side and the one on the Coolum side, they were corduroy.
CF: When were those roads laid?
FINK: They were laid in – the first road from Yandina to Coolum was opened in 1923.
CF: So you were early travellers on it?
FINK: Yes. Previous to that there were ways to Coolum, but they were a long way round over the mountains of Ninderry.
CF: So going to the beach was a very popular pastime?
FINK: Yes, and then we went to Maroochydore. At that time and for many years before, a boat service ran from Yandina to Maroochydore. Incidentally that was started about 1909. In the 1920s we would come by sulky to the wharf on the North Maroochy River, just up the road from here, and go by boat to Maroochydore. If it was high tide, the boat would go right down to the Cotton Tree. If it was low tide, it would pull into the wharf near the Maroochydore Hotel today; the public wharf is still there.
CF: And that would be a day trip?
FINK: That would be a day trip. A couple of hours trip down, perhaps three or four hours down there, and home again.
CF: Tell me something about the sort of fashions people would wear to the beach? What were the bathing costumes like?
FINK: Yes. Well. I think that can be summed up by saying whenever the people went out anywhere, it was absolutely the thing to do to dress up. The local farmers would not come into town with the cream without putting on a clean white shirt and their waistcoat. To come in in your working clothes was just not the done thing. And similarly the ladies. No matter how small the occasion, the ladies would dress up, you know, in their long skirt; in fact by that time almost the short skirt was starting to come in. Of course, prior to that they had the much longer gowns. Going to the beach was no different; they dressed up. In those very early days, I can’t really say, I don’t think my mother would have ever gone in swimming.
CF: Because she didn’t want to? Or because it wasn’t accepted?
FINK: People did, but my mother didn’t. It was as simple as that. Probably the younger women did.
CF: What sort of costumes would the men have worn?
FINK: I’m not too sure what the old men would have worn. The boys wore a one-piece cotton, very tight fitting, one piece cotton type of togs and as far as I know the young girls wore exactly the same. But the older men tended to wear as well shorts or trunks, with a skirt in front of them.
CF: Oh, all very modest?
FINK: All very modest, yes.
CF: Obviously going to the beach was a big pastime. What other things would you have done around the Yandina area? What entertainments were there?
FINK: Oh I think the most popular type of entertainment, as far as young people like myself were concerned, would have been the various church bazaars, concerts. Concerts were the big things at the time; there were school concerts, Sunday School concerts, concerts put on by the older people. Of course, there was the local picture show too. At that time, the pictures were shown by travelling picture show proprietors.
CF: Where would they show them?
FINK: In the local School of Arts, in the case of Yandina. The power for their projectors was provided by an old Model-T Ford, the rear wheel jacked up, and that drove a generator which provided the power for the picture show.
CF: How often would they come around?
FINK: I’m not too sure now. I think it gradually became a weekly thing, but in the early stages I think it was probably just periodical visits.
CF: Do you remember any of the films that you saw then?
FINK: I’m afraid not.
CF: Do you remember if any of them would have been Australian films?
FINK: No, I’m afraid I just haven’t got any clues to what they were. Probably if I thought of it for a while, I could, but off the cuff I just can’t think.
CF: Do you remember any of the other things you used to do for entertainment?
FINK: No, I think we’ve just about covered the full range. Oh, of course, school sport. We used to play neighbouring towns football, cricket, etc. That was an occasion on itself. It was always on a Saturday. We paid our own train fare. If we went down to play Maroochy River, we travelled by boat. That would have been one of the highlights actually of our sporting activities.
CF: How old would you have been when you left school?
CF: You went into your first job then, did you?
End Side A/Begin Side B
FINK: Yes, my parents were keen that I should have a good job. My mother particularly didn’t want me to be a farmer. So I went off to the city with the intention of becoming an electrical engineer. When I fronted up at the Technical College, I found that it probably would have been twenty years later before I could have got an apprencticeship. So that was wiped.
And I got a job in a saddlery warehouse and I spent a couple of years in Brisbane. Actually it was probably a very good education. My job was sort of cum-messenger-boy, assistant packer, delivery boy, which took me all around Brisbane and suburbs per push bike. It staggers me now when I think of the loads that I carried on that push bike: piled up on the handle bars, strapped on the carrier at the back and then swung on my own back. I read an article in The Courier Mail recently, describing the life of messenger boys of that period, around Brisbane – the way we used to tear around, whip round traffic cops, hang on to the back of brewery wagons, even horse-drawn ones, to save pedaling around or up-hill.
CF: Did you used to do that sort of thing, Fred?
FINK: I did it all. And on one occasion I collected a pedestrian, flat-out, and ended up in the hospital with a busted knee.
CF: How many years did you spend in Brisbane?
FINK: About two and a half years I spent in Brisbane. By that time I was feeling the urge to come back to the country, so I came back to Yandina again and from that time on I did the usual things of a young fellow – worked on the farms around the district. Soon as I was eighteen, I wasn’t even eighteen, I went cane-cutting which was a big money spinner in those days. In between cane seasons, being at the adventurous age, we would go up to the Burnett district, grass-seed cutting, and cotton picking; and some years to Kingaroy are, picking peanuts.
CF: Would a group of you go to these areas?
FINK: Yes, we’d do it in a group of three or four. Travel on push bikes. In fact I thin the furthest I got on a push bike was to Mackay. We did that in easy stages, but I rode back non-stop on my own in a week, to start the cane season down here.
CF: Was this during the depression years, Fred?
FINK: Yes, all this happened during the Depression years. Actually, I left school to step right into the Depression. The Depression started in 1929 and the next three years were probably the worst. So I was in Brisbane for most of the Depression.
CF: And did you see much of the effects of the Depression? Were you conscious of it?
FINK: Oh yes, particularly where I worked at the saddlery firm. Next door to us was the chocolate manufacturers of MacRobertsons, and from time to time they used to throw out stale stock, etcetera, into the rubbish bin together with all the leavings from the saddlery business. And when we came to work in the morning, we’d see people scavenging through these bins trying to find whatever food that they could get.
CF: When you came back to the country, was it as obvious in the country? Did people feel the Depression in the country?
FINK: No, they felt it, but not nearly as badly. There was never a time when I couldn’t get a job, but for very low wages. At the time, the going thing on a farm would be from ten to fifteen shillings a week, a dollar to a dollar-fifty a week, with board and lodging of course. It sounds a small amount now but actually at the time, it was reasonable. You could have quite a bit of fun on a dollar a week.
CF: And did you see much of the people who were wandering the country looking for jobs? Did they come through the area?
FINK: Yes, particularly when we were travelling around ourselves. We never had to draw rations, but we encountered hundreds of people on the track. The thing then was you had to, if you got your rations in Nambour this week, you had to be at least in Cooroy or Gympie to get your next lot of rations. The idea was to keep people on the move. Naturally as we were moving about the country, we met many of these people. Their rations were valued at sixty cents a week. You could just live on it; there would be nothing over apart from food.
CF: Were they all single men that were travelling through? Were there ever families?
FINK: Not necessarily. There were a lot of family men too, on the move, but later they brought in the Relief Scheme, whereby a relief tax was levied on all people in employment. That money was used to provide employment for people unemployed, usually depending on the size of the family, perhaps two or three days a fortnight.
CF: In that time, or perhaps earlier, did you used to get much in the way of travelling salesmen through the area?
FINK: Well we lived off the beaten track, but they definitely were a feature of the period. You have people and also tinkers, plumbers, handymen that would come round, but I might say here that on the provision of supplies other than foodstuffs, most people got their drapery, clothing, larger items from the big retail shops in Brisbane: T.C. Biernes, McWhirters, McDonnell and East, etcetera. They were the standard source for all your requirements other than incidentals, apart from meat, bread and groceries.
CF: You mean people would travel down to Brisbane and have a big shop?
FINK: No. They would on occasions. That was a real outing. But mostly it was done by mail order. These firms got out catalogues and people did their shopping from the catalogues. The postal service and the railway service, although they got complaints then, just as they do now, they were very efficient. You could send an order down to Brisbane, post it today and by the following night, if you liked to meet the train, your parcel would arrive.
CF: Did religion as such play a big part in your family life? Was it a very religious family?
FINK: Not overly religious, but we all went to Sunday School. Although I recall one of my brothers went a couple of Sundays and knew it all, so he didn’t have to go anymore. (LAUGHS)
CF: Was there a local church in the area in those days, or did you have to travel very far?
FINK: Oh no. Yandina, in common with all towns, small towns, it was well supplied with churches. Just off-hand I couldn’t say whether there was four, five or six. At various times there would have been up to six churches in Yandina.
CF: Which particular one did your family attend?
FINK: We were Baptists. We went to the Baptist Church. My mother was a strong Baptist. Her father had been a lay preacher.
CF: Was there a full-time preacher for each of these churches in the area, or did they travel around?
FINK: No. They were mostly part of a circuit, with the preachers living either in Nambour or Eumundi. I don’t think there was any actually locally-based preachers in Yandina.
CF: Did you get married before the War?
FINK: No, that was during the War.
World War II
CF: Perhaps you might tell me of the effects on you when the War was announced. What was the impact on you?
FINK: Oh well, before the War, when the War was in the offing, the Government decided to expand the Citizens Military Forces, and enrollment in this area was very high. As a matter of fact, it was probably the highest in Australia.
CF: Why do you think that was?
FINK: Well I’m not sure why, whether we were a particularly patriotic crowd or whether we had good organizers. But the result of it was the Defense Department built a Drill Hall at Yandina, Nambour and Cooroy, and of course, Yandina and Eumundi members of the C.M.F. were trained at the Yandina Drill Hall.
CF: How many days or nights a week would you have to put into this?
FINK: It was round about one night a week, and there were extra days, and then there were bivouacs down at the beach. First bivouac we held was at Coolum in Easter 1939, so that by the time the War actually broke out, we were – most of the young men around here – were conditioned (for war). Like the War was expected. It seemed to be coming and we felt that we were going to be part of it. So soon after the War broke out, members of the C.M.F. started enlisting in the A.I.F. I enlisted in the A.I.F. in June 1940.
CF: And did you see overseas service?
FINK: yes, I went to the Middle East. I was at Tobruk and Alamein, and then came back to Australia and went to New Guinea. Came back from New Guinea. I did an Officers Training Course down in Woodside, in South Australia, and Seymour in Victoria, and after that I got married, and back to the War.
CF: You met Dulcie during the War did you.
FINK: Oh no. We were going together before the War.
CF: We might just finish the War experiences then; when did you come back to Australia finally?
FINK: Finally, after getting married I went to Borneo, saw that campaign out, and at the end of the War, I came back home and I was discharged in October 1945.
CF: Did you find any difficulty in adjusting when you came back home?
FINK: I didn’t have time. The cane season was in full swing when I came back and I promptly went back to my old trade of cane-cutting, and I suffered severely. The last few months of the War had been – had been very leisurely and I was soft as butter, so I sweated blood and tears getting back into trim again. After that I became involved in cane growing, so I haven’t really felt any great problems in readjusting to civil life.
CF: When you came back, after you’d got married, did you have your own home then?
FINK: No, I went into a partnership with my brother-in-law on a cane farm and we lived in the house over the road belonging to the farm, until we built this home a couple of years later.
End of interview with Fred Fink
Start of interview with Dulcie Fink (47 minutes and 40 seconds)
CF: Dulcie, just to start with, perhaps you might tell me where and when you were born?
FINK: I was born in Bangalow on the 30th July, 1922.
CF: Did you family then move to this area?
FINK: My family moved to Queensland when I was six months old.
CF: To Yandina?
FINK: Yes, to Maroochy River; bought a cane farm
CF: When did you go to school? When did you start school?
FINK: Started school when I was five. I was five in July and I started school that month.
CF: Where did you go to school? Did you go to the Yandina school?
FINK: No, I went to school on Maroochy River.
CF: Oh right, and how did you get to school?
FINK: We went to school by a boat. There was a boat used to pick us up at a jetty about eight o’clock in the morning, and drop us off about three-thirty in the afternoon.
CF: Who used to run the boat, do you remember?
FINK: Yes, it was Mr. Edwards.
CF: And he ran it all that time. Were there many children at school?
FINK: About eighty at the time.
CF: Right, and did everybody come by boat?
FINK: Those who lived along the river, yes. But others used to walk to school.
CF: What was it like in very rough weather, or very rainy weather? Could you still go by boat?
FINK: Yes, we still went by boat providing there were no floods.
CF: That would stop it of course.
FINK: That would stop it.
CF: How long were you at the school for? When did you leave school?
FINK: Eight years. I left school in December. I was fourteen in July and I left in December.
CF: What did you do when you left school?
FINK: I worked on the farm. That’s while the Depression was still on.
CF: Did your parents, were they very affected by the Depression?
FINK: Well, we didn’t seem to think so at the time, no.
CF: Tell me the sort of thing you did then, when you were working on the farm?
FINK: We used to plant cane, or strip cane, pull out weeds.
CF: And the girls had to do all this as well?
FINK: My sister and I.
CF: How many children were in the family?
FINK: Two boys and two girls. Everybody worked on the farm.
CF: What sort of thing did your mother do? Was she more in the house?
FINK: Yes, all the cooking. My mother sewed everything, all our clothes. Baked her own bread, jams, everything.
CF: How did she do the cooking? What sort of oven did she have?
FINK: She had a wood stove.
CF: And she spent a lot of time jam-making as well?
FINK: Yes, made everything.
CF: Did you grow your own fruit?
FINK: We grew a lot of our own fruit, like citrus fruits and things like that.
CF: So she made the jam from that?
FINK: That’s right.
CF: And were you and your sister involved in that?
FINK: Yes, we used to love cooking.
CF: What other sort of things did you have to do in the home? What sort of jobs around the house itself?
FINK: Oh, cleaning the silver, and polishing the door knobs.
That seemed to be our Saturday’s work, was cleaning the silver.
CF: Was it very different those days, things like washing and ironing, were obviously a bit different?
FINK: I suppose, thought we didn’t notice it at the time, but we used to have to heat the Potts’ Irons on the stove – that was for ironing.
CF: What did you heat?
FINK: Potts’ Irons they called them then, and you’d heat them on the stove and then do your ironing and when they got cool, you reheated them again.
Entertainment and family life
CF: Tell me about some of the other things you would have done say for entertainment. Did you do things as a family group?
FINK: Yes, we always used to have people coming in weekends and having a meal with us. I think we used to socialize more those days; you’d go out for afternoon tea; you’d have people come in for afternoon teas.
CF: Were you a musical family?
FINK: Yes, we all played the piano. Used to sing round the piano, someone would play and we’d all sing. My grandfather lived with us then, my father’s father, and he used to play the piano and we’d all stand round him and sing.
CF: What else would you do for entertainment outside the house, around Yandina, was there very much in that way?
FINK: Dances, we used to go to dances every Saturday night.
CF: Where were they held?
FINK: Usually down the river, the hall called Dunethin Rock Hall, or up in Yandina.
CF: What sort of dances would you do there?
FINK: Old-time, like the Lancers.
CF: Oh, what other sort of ones.
FINK: Barn dances and the Gypsy Tap. You know all the really old dances.
CF: What sort of age group would go to the dances?
FINK: All age groups, right from nine or ten years old, right to the grandmothers. Everybody went, yes.
CF: What other sort of things would there be? Picnics?
FINK: Yes, when the school picnics were on at the end of the year, we would go about eight o’clock in the morning and stay all day, have our tea there, and then dance at night; went right till midnight.
CF: In the early Thirties, when you had the dances, what sort of things did women wear to the dances?
FINK: Mainly all short frocks, you know. There were no ball gowns those days.
CF: It was getting modern?
FINK: That’s right.
CF: When you were at home, did your mother ever use any home remedies?
FINK: Yes, I remember one quite clearly. If we ever got a cold, she would have onion chopped up in a saucer I think it was, with water and sugar on it, and simmer it on the side of the wooden stove. We always had that when we had a cold.
CF: Did you find it worked?
FINK: Yes, very good.
CF: Do you remember any others?
FINK: Oh, the good old castor oil bottle, and that’s about it I would say.
CF: Do you remember any favorite recipes in those days? Did you eat different sorts of things than you eat now?
FINK: No I think we ate… you know, we used to make our own sponge cakes and tarts – cream tarts and things – more so than we do these days.
CF: More sort of sweet things you mean?
FINK: Yes, because you can buy those sorts of things in the shops these days, whereas we made them.
CF: Did you used to do very much shopping? Would you get a lot from outside the home?
FINK: Well groceries used to be delivered by boat, and the meat and bread – everything was delivered by boat. We didn’t have to go shopping.
CF: Where did they come from?
CF: So you were actually living right on the river bank?
FINK: yes, my father used to go to Nambour, I think once a month. He’d get anything we’d really need.
CF: What sort of stores would they have come from in Yandina? Do you remember the names of them?
FINK: Yes, the Maroochy Cooperative Store they called it those days.
CF: So you ordered everything from the Co-op?
FINK: Yes, my father’s brothers were Directors of the store.
CF: Tell me, did religion play a big part in your family life?
FINK: Yes, we went to Sunday School, every Sunday, also down at Dunethin Rock, any denomination; but everybody congregated there every Sunday for Sunday School.
CF: Was that considered a fairly social sort of thing?
FINK: Yes, I think so, yes.
CF: Did you used to have picnics?
FINK: Yes, Sunday School picnics, yes.
CF: Where would you go to for those?
FINK: Down Dunethin Rock. They sort of had a picnic area there, always held where we went to school. They used the same ground area for their races.
CF: What sort of things would you do at the picnics?
FINK: Mainly race, I think, and they used to give us bags of sweets and bags of fruit.
CF: And you’d have a lot to eat at them?
FINK: Oh too much.
CF: Fred had mentioned that you got married during the War, and then he went back off overseas again. What was it like in the area during the War – obviously a lot of the men had left the area – was it very difficult for the women then?
FINK: No, I don’t think so. We used to have plenty of dances, because the soldiers were camped in this area. Round the hill here, round our house. Yes this is where the Victorian soldiers were camped for approximately four months I would say. As they went, another lot came in. No, the dances were very popular, about three nights a week, I’d say, we went to the dances.
CF: So they’d continue on through?
CF: So you didn’t really feel the effects much in the area of the men not being here?
FINK: No no, not really, no.
CF: That is from a social point of view. How about the work point of view? Did it make a big difference to the area?
FINK: It probably did but we didn’t notice it. Coming off a farm, you don’t notice those things so much.
CF: What other sort of entertainments would you have had in the ‘30s?
FINK: There was a picture show in Yandina.
CF: That was the travelling picture man?
FINK: No, he came from Eumundi. I can’t think of his name now, but they ran pictures there every Saturday night.
CF: Do you remember any of the pictures at all?
FINK: No, not really.
CF: What other sort of things would you do? Did the family go away from the area on holidays.
FINK: Yes, we used to go camping at Maroochydore, every Christmas, for four weeks, and always on North Shore. We used to go down by boat, we had our own boat; and my father used to go across to the town area, and pick up bread and meat, and water. We used to have water in kerosene tins.
CF: Do you remember the name of the stores that were down there then?
FINK: Butts, Mr. Butts.
CF: While you were camping down there for four weeks, what would you do?
FINK: Fishing. My father was a keen fisherman. We used to go fishing with him.
CF: You’d live in tents down there?
FINK: In tents, yes.
CF: Did you think your mother used to find that difficult coping?
FINK: She used to love it. Used to love it.
CF: Really. And how would you do the cooking?
FINK: Probably in camp ovens. You know dug in the sand.
CF: And during the day, your father would be out fishing and so on?
CF: Was there entertainment when you were down there?
FINK: No, we never used to go across to the town area at all.
CF: So the North Shore was really quite separate?
CF: And were there many other campers down there?
FINK: No, not a great lot. Just anybody that was keen on fishing.
CF: So the fishermen would tend to be over on the North Shore. And were there a lot of campers over around Maroochydore itself?
FINK: Oh yes, there would be.
CF: Were there any other places you used to go to?
FINK: Tewantin, mainly at Munna Point. We used to camp there.
CF: To go fishing?
CF: And how would you get up there?
FINK: Oh when we started to go to Munna Point, my father had a car then.
CF: What sort of car was it?
FINK: Oh it was a T-Model Ford, probably one of the first in the area. We used to think it was great.
CF: What were the medical services like, say in the ‘20s and ‘30s? Was there a local doctor?
FINK: No, we had to go to Nambour to see a doctor. I remember one time I had earache, and my father had to take me by boat about five mile down the river where we connected with a tram service and go into Nambour, which took about half an hour.
CF: So that was really quite difficult?
FINK: Yes, it was quite a big thing to go to a doctor those days.
CF: How about for women having babies and so on? How did they cope in those days?
FINK: Well I think a lot of them had the midwife.
CF: So there would have been a local midwife come in and help them?
FINK: That’s right.
CF: And do you remember any other difficulties in the area because of the lack of medical service?
FINK: No, I don’t think so. When we were going to school, we were immunised at school for diptheria and all that type of thing.
CF: Was it the same sort of thing with the dentist? Did you have to travel to go to the dentist as well?
FINK: Yes the same way, yes. I don’t ever remember going to a dentist until I went to high school. Never ever had toothache.
CF: Did anyone in your family ever have any serious accidents where they needed medical attention?
FINK: Yes, I can remember one time, my father was bit by a black snake, and he had to row himself across the river and get the neighbour to help to get him to Nambour.