1960 to 1997 By Sheila Wharton Tanner
In The Beginning »
The Mudjimba Residents Association came to life on 13 October 1960 at a specially convened meeting in the Canegrower’s Hall, Nambour, with an immediate mission on a biblical theme – “Let there be light”. At that stage in the fledgling settlement’s life there was neither electricity nor piped town water in the area and although water tanks kept one necessity of life flowing, power became a top priority.
The recorded names from that first meeting of the Mudjimba Residents Association were: President, Mr Nagel; Secretary, Merv Johnston; and committee members, Vernardes, Anderson and Laffey.
The development at Mudjimba Beach was called Surfrider Estate with tree covered lots bounded by tarred roads. This was an incredible mod con for the time, as few roads on the Sunshine Coast, away from main highways, were tarred and not all of them. In fact, the Association pushed for the bitumening of the main Bli Bli Road in 1961.
In that year the first moves were made towards gaining a Community Hall with Mr Kallay agreeing “to supply a block of land with free title to a public body who may wish to build a hall in the area”. At the same meeting plans were already in the pipeline for the birth of Pacific Paradise Bowls Club with Mr Kallay again playing a generous role with an offer of 20 loads of top soil for the greens. Wages were set for a greenkeeper at 21 pound ($42) per week to care for two greens of 18 ($36) to look after one.
There was an established camping ground where the beachfront Power Memorial Park in today, complete with tank water and wood-burning stove to heat the shower water. One can imagine the huge influx of visitors – mostly from Brisbane and Ipswich – at weekends and holidays to camp on their pieces of land or in the camping ground. There were already 75 holiday homes in Mudjimba, varying from liveable houses to simple garages.
This writer worked as a Census Collector in the mid 1970’s and the ‘dwellings’ from the Maroochy River to Surfair Hotel totalled a mere 220 (excluding caravan/camping grounds). My worksheet must have raised laughs among city deskbound civil servants, with reminders of where I had put each census form so that collecting them all in was that much quicker from the many ‘residences’ not occupied on census night – ‘in the top drawer of chest on back porch, behind caravan flyscreen door, under water tank, under mat, under bricks as side’ and so on with a handwritten note stuck in the front door alerting the owner to the whereabouts of the census form. A delivered postal service was many years away meaning very few post boxes around in which the leave anything.
Mrs Gorton at the Esplanade shop was postmistress in the 1970’s and the shop became a village meeting place around 1pm when the mail arrived and was sorted into pigeon holes before being handed out to the waiting throng.
The shop was the centre of Mudjimba’s universe, with phone messages handled, as few houses had phones then. Brisbane fold would phone to check the weather before setting forth for a weekend on the coast. Strangers and visitors were pointed in the right direction. Mudjimba Beach was on few maps until recent times, with members urging the association to keep the place a secret for those who had already happened upon it, by chance, or word of mouth.
Towards 2000 »
As we approach the new millennium, the Mudjimba Residents Association looks back on almost forty (40) years of involvement with the community, developers, councillors, environmental groups and State Governments. Most of what you see today, in the way of facilities and services, shows the end results of ongoing sagas of continual quiet negotiation, gentle pushing, nagging persuasion and occasional bursts of public outrage, over four decades, to improve living standards without losing the natural beauty of the place we all call home.
Wherever there was a call for a new amenity, to improve and upgrade the existing, from protecting the Maroochy River, the Nature Reserve, to aiding local youth and adult groups get their organisation off the ground – Pacific Paradise Bowls Club, Mudjimba RSL, North Shore Kindy, Schools, Beach Patrols, Fire Brigade and so on …. – the Association was always there, sometimes leading the move and sometimes quietly pushing from behind the scenes.
In between the big events and achievements, the regular routine of pressing for cleansing and upgrading the drains, maintenance of parks and dunes, provision of road signs and public notices.
The minutes, over four decades, (and sadly some are missing) gave little away in their formality. Sudden, unexplained resignations appear – was there a row or were the bland ‘personal reasons’ given due to ill-health or other involvement elsewhere? We shall never know, but whatever the reason for Executive Members coming and going, at least they WERE THERE. For a short time, or the long haul of many years, they all did their stint as best they could.
The Association has been close to collapsing on some occasions, but there were always a few who would never stand by and let that happen. Once or twice the Association has been reduced to caretaker mode, until eventually support increase, or returned, making a full executive and well-attended meetings again possible.
The Presidents have their names in gold on the Honour Board in the Community Hall so perhaps the history should be dedicated to all the others who handled the secretariat, guarded the piggy bank, assisted the President, volunteered as delegates to outside meetings or just turned up regularly at meetings.
The following achievements of the Mudjimba Residents Association as listed in alphabetical order, for so many were ongoing for years – even decades – they overlap with other projects chronologically.
The Airport »
The Maroochy Airport has been where it is for longer than the Mudjimba Residents Association has existed. In the early days it was simply known as the “aerodrome” and one long-time resident tells an interesting story of its early days. Residents in Mudjimba Beach were asked to drive out one night and line their cards up along both sides of the runway with lights ablaze to aid a small aircraft coming in after dark.
East West Airlines were the pioneers in bringing tourists from the south with weekly flights to Sydney and later Melbourne. The Mudjimba REsidents Association has always been involved in plans for the airport and most especially recent plans for changing the north-south runway to an east-west one in a bid to get the best deal it can for its citizens.
Beaches & Dunes »
At the second meeting of the Residents Association in 1960, a motion asking for the dunes to be lowered was answered by a Maroochy Shire councillor suggesting a better plan would be to push the dunes back.
Happily neither suggestion took root and it soon became a constant issue raised at meetings – to preserve the dunes. The dunal system was not only open to the sea on the east, but wide open to hoons in vehicles on the west and yet others carting sand away by the tonne in trucks.
Time and again, requests went to Council following cyclones and high tides, pleading for protection of the dunes or thanks for coming to the rescue with loads of rocks as the sea tried to break through the dunes and inundate the village.
Eventually the dunes were given full protection by Council putting up fences along both the road and beach leaving fenced designated pathways for pedestrians only.
At that time, residents were urged to dump big garden refuse (tree trunks and branches) over the fences, to allow the littoral wind to dump sand that would stay in the lee of the refuse, gradually building up, with natural growth taking root and making the entire systems more stable. This practice was outlawed some years later due to exotic plants being introduced into the natural vegetation. Another factor was that the dumped litter dried out quickly, thus becoming instant and volatile fuel for fires in the dunes.
Mudjimba Beach residents have always been quite “twitchy” about the dunes which are after all, the last line of defence against the sea invading the streets of the village.
The Bush Fire Brigade »
A Bush Fire Brigade was first mentioned at the Mudjimba Resident Association meeting of 7 January 1967 by none other than today’s (1997) Mudjimba Beach Rural Fire Warden, Bill Kear. After investigation and consultation, the matter was left for the future, as the population at that time did not warrant such a service.
The matter lay dormant for many years, until in March 1984, the Mudjimba Residents Association President, Harry Stuart resurrected the idea and now that the population had grown, the brigade became a reality. Harry Stuart became Fire Warden in February 1985 when the Brigade lost its “bush” originals and became the Mudjimba Rural Fire Brigade. After Harry’s death the Brigade carried on, with Dennis Hope until he left the area at the end of 1988.
The following year, the Present Mudjimba Residents Association President, Bill Kear, joined the brigade that he had first promoted 22 years earlier, and he became Fire Warden in October 1989. With his wife Marlene as Secretary, the brigade took on a new lease of life and full membership of fit, active and energetic young men and women.
The Brigade now has its own premises in Cottonwood Street, covers the vast North Shore area, issuing burn-off permits when necessary, and turning out whenever a fire breaks out. Members are all unpaid volunteers and deserve the community’s undying thanks for their devotion to a difficult, unpleasant and highly dangerous task.
Mudjimba Community Hall »
The proposed community hall became a prime project of the Association for the first time in January 1972 with a fund-raising programme started by Julie Roberts and Marlene Kear and Syd and Beattie Seabrook co-opted to gauge residents’ opinions on the proposed hall.
The minute books for the period mid-1972 to April 1976 are missing, but we come back into Association affairs in April 1976 to find the fist Annual Fair in full swing, raising funds for a Community Hall. Talks took place the following year with CWA for a joint venture on their land in Cottonwood Street. However, nothing came of the idea, and this writer proposed at the July meeting the following year, the “the Association withdraw plans to build the Recreation Hall with CWA on their land, and to investigate possibilities of erecting such a hall on the Association’s own block of land”.
Memory ill serves us all, but vague memories persist, that a stumbling block was that CWA was part of the state wide organisation and therefore difficult to a local branch to engage in a joint venture like this.
The fact that by this meeting in 1978 there was talk of the Association’s own piece of land for the first time. Whether the hall land was the original promised by Mr Kallay is doubtful – perhaps his offer was taken up by CWA and became theirs to eventually build, not a hall, but flats for needy pensioners.
Many people may have a memories of the history, but nothing is officially recorded, and means that the missing years of minute books keep secret any negotiations and final handover of the land.
In his President’s report of 1978 Harry Power pays tribute to Cr Tom Shaw for his help in getting the promise of the original airport terminal building – soon to be replaced – for removal to Mudjimba as an instant Community Hall. Then came high drama and plenty of farce with this writer involved in many scatterbrained schemes to get the building into suit. It could not be removed by road as the terminal was on a concrete slab and would have needed expensive bracing to support the walls. A suggestion that it could be moved by helicopter, flown directly out to sea and in over the North Shore was taken to the highest possible authority – Defence Minister Killen. He took up the cause, but the air force knocked it back as the down draught from a big helicopter would disintegrate the entire building in one blast.
With the demolition of the old terminal approaching, decisions were taken on the run. The new terminal was up and ready for operations towards the end of November 1979. Architect Mr Tame of Noosa, planned to demolish the old building after the last flight one Sunday afternoon and clean up and landscape the area overnight so that all would be pristine and spanking new for operations the next day.
The Mudjimba Residents Association sadly gave up the idea of an instant hall and instead was given the go-ahead to remove anything from the terminal we could use. Work was delayed until the last flight had departed and time was limited, as darkness and imminent. Everyone and their kids turned up armed with screwdrivers, hammers, crow bars and axes and systematically removed everything removable. Kitchen cupboards, sinks, doors, mirrors, light and power switches, heavy wooden French doors, windows and frames – even the men’s’ urinal. All were taken away by trailer and stashed under residents’ houses, in sheds, garages and carports until needed for a new hall.
A hilarious sequel came years later, in 1991, when main sewerage came to Mudjimba Beach. This was long after the Community Hall was built, which included a brand new urinal, as the original one had gone missing. The sewerage contractor, chatting to Bill and Marlene Kear said he thought he had seen everything until he happened upon a stainless steel urinal in someone’s garden – full of flowers. Alas! He could not recall where he had seen it.
In August 1980 George Monaghan’s quote of $10,200 for a small Stage One of the Community Hall was accepted with the Association having to borrow $1,500 from the bank. President Beryl Draper signed the papers and took expert advice to install a toilet area to accommodate the ultimate size of the hall in future, as plumbing was always the most expensive component. As a result this writer’s husband dubbed the completed hall the biggest loo in Mudjimba. Although the hall was small, it hosted many events, activities and regular meetings for the next seven years.
In late 1987 a windfall arrived, via Cr Parry from the Maroochy Shire Council, in the form of a grant of $5,000 to extend the hall. With a total of $10,000 cash, it was decided to go for broke, borrow the extra $7,000 needed and have the extensions built. This was a bold move and gave Treasurers Margaret Coles and Marlene Kear many headaches over the years, as they juggled the figures to keep loan payments paid up on time, – often dipping into their own piggy banks to meet deadlines.
On Saturday 20 April 1996 a DEBT-FREE PARTY was held in the hall to celebrate a financial success and the last payment of the hall loan. Over the years, every conceivable government grant was sought without success. Neighbours, RSL and Kindy, were successful applicants for land and grant schemes from the government, but alas never the Mudjimba Hall. The Maroochy Shire Council has always been generous with $500 here towards flooring, paint or carpets, but the rest was sheer hard slog of fund-raising and trying for any help. Hats off the Marlene Kear in her endeavours which involved countless applications that arrives in book, not even leaflet form, requiring hours of work, affidavits, bank statements, quotes, etc. At last Marlene did pull a ripe plum, in the Goss government’s awards from pokie machine profits to aid small fundraisers, when the old airport kitchen was replaced by a spanking new, designer label, colour co-ordinated dream kitchen.
Often, groups or individuals seeking to hire the hall grumble that if it’s a Community Hall it should be free. Perhaps the history of the hall and its ongoing costs may answer their question.
The Environmental Park »
The first talk of preserving an area of flora and fauna came in March 1970, when the Progress Association sought help from the Sunshine Coast Progress Council, to create a National Park on the North Short between Mudjimba and the Maroochy River. By the beginning of 1972 Maroochy Shire Chairman, E O De Vere, MBE had made personal representations to government department heads in Brisbane, urging the creation of a National Park on the North Shore. In March of that year, Mr S Flewell-Smith was reported in the local paper as the new honorary protector of Mudjimba under the Fauna and Flora Act.
Again, the missing years of Minute Books break the continuity of events, but by the lat 1970s there was an established Nature Reserve (not a national park) known as R301 on the North Shore. The area was 590 acres and bounded by the old dirt road (now tarred and named Ocean Drive) and Nojoor Road.
A motion at a meeting in 1978 pushed for help from MLA Gordon Simpson and others, to declare the reserve an Environmental Park – the first time this name had been used. The years roll on with periodic pushes for the area to become an environmental park.
When the action really got rolling in the 1990s it was, for the first time, a great combination of the developers for Twin Waters, State MLA Ray Barber, the Maroochy Shire Council, environmental agencies, both Government and local, Sunshine Coast Environmental Council and the Mudjimba Progress Association.
On 23 March 1994 the official opening took place at Twin Waters, and after morning tea, Councillor Robin Dunn led a happy team on a walk through the length of the park from Ocean Drive to Cottonwood Street.
Power Memorial Park »
By 1977, the beachfront caravan/camping ground had been removed to an upgraded park in Cottonwood Street, leaving the beachfront park empty, desolate and prone to flooding. A few children’s swings and roundabouts, a shed and toilet block were all that remained.
Mudjimba Residents Association President, Harry Power took the site seriously, and planned for its brighter future. He organised Design Access Group students from Queensland Institute of Technology and Queensland University, to take it on as an unpaid but challenging project. Harry and Beryl Power hosted the students over many weekends as they drew plans for a delightful park of undulating humps and dips, dotted with native bushes and shaded by tall trees. Areas for different activities were mapped out, and along with a beach restoration plan, received a good response from Council.
When Harry and Beryl opted out of standing for office in 1979, it was for a very happy reason. The couple planned a drive around Australia, stopping off wherever the fancy took them. Despite being far away on the other side of the continent by August, neither forgot the great event in Mudjimba’s annual calendar – the annual fair. A telegram which arrived on the eve of the great day was sent by them, wishing the Mudjimba Progress Association success with the fair. The fair day stated off bright and early, cheery and happy, until the entire community was suddenly devastated by news that arrived from Western Australia telling of the deaths of both in a road accident near Derby. This was probably the worst day in Mudjimba’s history, and the decision was almost instant to name the beachfront park after them.
The beautification had been their dream and theirs alone, the work of involving students and hosting them over many weekends was theirs and theirs alone and as the park became theirs and theirs alone. The original plans have been changed over the years to accommodate different interests and different activities, but the name will remain forever their memorial.
Power, Water & Drainage »
There was continual discussion on the lack of power in Mudjimba Beach, from the start of the Mudjimba Residents Association. Frequent references to costs per consumer seemed to delay the introduction for years. Guarantees to the electricity utility are mentioned, but not described so it is not known what exactly was demanded from the consumers, who included local cane farmers.
In his Annual Report, President Ansell spoke at the Annual General Meeting on 27 December 1969 that “with the building of the hotel (Surfair) the area will go ahead quickly and that the guarantee to the South East Authority for electricity should be off in the near future”. Three months later on 28 March 1970, in a list of complaints to go to Council on the state of the camping ground (today’s Power Memorial Park) point 3 states “too few power poles for caravans and that many were turned away because of the shortfall”. So, at last, after almost ten years, the power had been turned on without much fanfare.
Town water was laid on in 1974 without much ado, and water tanks were discouraged by Council, due to rusting, until in later year’s fibreglass tanks began to appear in some gardens.
Drainage, or the lack of it, has been a constant complaint throughout the decades, with almost every Mudjimba Progress Association meeting listing problems. The medieval ditches were meant to be short-term until piped and covered over, making safe pathways to the beach. Lack of money for the area was a constant; broken only by questions on how much does the area contribute to rates?
In the late 1970s when Council brought in new “fill” levels requiring all plots to be built up according to the Australian Height Datum levels, to save future house flooding, there was horror in the permanent populace. Those living in houses at natural levels faced being surrounded by houses built on higher plots and more in danger of flooding then before. The Association fought that issue hard, but alas, the battle and the war were lost.
In 1991 sewerage finally came to Mudjimba Beach, and the next few years saw massive funding by governments, to put into effect the flood mitigation projects over the entire area. 1990s President, Bill Kear has followed this diligently, in the interests of residents. Never content with accepting what was dished out by various government agencies; he has researched and investigated and, most importantly queried every plan.
His reward came with the renaming of Mudjimba’s main ditch drain to “The Bill Kear Waterway”. Oh well, Bill, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!
Time was, when local primary students were bussed by local residents Rosemary and Justin Dax to the Bli Bli Primary School for their education. High school students were bussed to Nambour High. There were no private schools at either level except the Catholic primary and high school.
Plans were built in to Mudjimba’s development with a primary school site set aside in Nojoor Road and despite the Mudjimba Residents Association pushing for the eventual primary school to be built there, the school went to Pacific Paradise. A new high school at Coolum Beach provided places for local students and latterly, many travel to Maroochydore High with many private schools taking students from the area too.
It was thanks to active Residents Association members Mary Dillon, Sandy Doody and Pat Hammond, that the North Shore Kindy became a going concern in Cottonwood Street, and now, renamed the Mudjimba Pre-School and Kindy, serves a dual purpose.
Local mothers organise playgroup for younger children in the Community Hall twice a week.
Sports & Recreation »
There have been attempts over .latter years to provide various sporting facilities in the area. Keith Royal Drive Park near the airport was an early, if flood-prone, facility used firstly for cricket and then soccer. With the setting aside of an area in Nojoor Road, and talk of Council sponsored facilities somewhere in the Shire, the North Shore’s existing ground took on new significance in 1995.
The North Shore Soccer Club used the ground regularly, and approached the Mudjimba Progress Association to help set up a North Shore Community Sports Association in 1995. Based at the Nojoor Road ground, it is hoped that it will be used by many different sports clubs.
Surf Lifesaving Clubs »
A close relationship existed for decades between the Marcoola Surf Lifesaving Club and Mudjimba Residents Association with many local youngsters in the nippers and active lifesavers.
In the early 1990s Marcoola Surf Lifesaving Club extended its operations, despite having one of the longest stretches of coast in the country to oversee. A permanent presence at Mudjimba Beach on summer weekends and holidays began. One lifesaver on duty seemed to serve a growing population well.
One public holiday in 1994, Sid Hillier, doyen of Marcoola Surf Club, did his own survey of the crowds at Marcoola and Mudjimba, and the results were staggering. Some 200 people on the fully patrolled Marcoola Beach and close on a thousand at Mudjimba Beach. Following a meeting with the Mudjimba Progress Association where Mr Hillier stressed the urgency of the situation, the Association took up the cause immediately. A committee was formed, and from this, the fledgling Mudjimba Beach Surf Lifesaving Club appeared on the surf scene in 1996. Regular patrols operate during summer weekends and public holidays with an enthusiastic crowd of volunteers taking over the entire operation.
A shed to house gear is destine for a corner in Power Memorial Park and though many may regret the loss of public park land, the fact in that the surf lifesaving movement requires facilities to be as close to the beach as possible – for obvious reasons.
Public Transport »
This was another facility that only came to Mudjimba after constant pushing over many years. The Nambour school bus allowed fare paying adult passengers to use the service at 7.30am and return at 3.30pm. Skennars direct service to Brisbane via Maroochydore was amended to travel through Mudjimba Beach, and by 1978 there were five buses a day available to local residents.
From time to time, shopping bus trips were proposed, and even trialled, but nothing came of there ventures until State Government changed the entire system of carriers’ rights over different sectors of the coast. From the end of 1996 a regular Tewantin to Maroochydore service operates via Mudjimba with onwards journeys to Brisbane and Nambour available from Maroochydore.
Corporate Mudjimba »
When incorporation of the Mudjimba Progress Association was sought, and granted in 1985, primarily to protect the Executive from legal action, it finally brought the Association’s rules and regulations onto a professional basis. No longer could members turn up at the door for the Annual General Meeting, pay their dues and vote. No longer could one member of the family vote for everyone in that family, as was the case when membership was a slap-happy $2 per family. No longer could nominations appear from the floor out of the blue.
The Justice Department sets the rules which are firm, yet easy to follow. With nominations for office to be received two weeks before the Annual General Meeting, the entire procedure is more orderly – not that this stopped a potential “takeover bid” that turned farcical, when several nominations for office, from non-financial candidates, nominated by equally non-financial proposers and seconders, were dropped into the Secretary’s post box minutes before nominations closed.
The current boundaries for membership were set for several reasons. Several times in earlier decades, Pacific Paradise Progress Association fell on hard times, with support dropping away completely. The Mudjimba Residents Association was asked to amalgamate, but no-one was prepared to serve on the Mudjimba Residents Association Executive, to help serve Pacific Paradise. The feeling was strong that the Mudjimba Residents Association had enough work looking after its own area, without adding on place from the periphery. With developments afoot on the periphery, it was felt that the Mudjimba Residents Association local membership could well be outnumbered in future by those living outside Mudjimba and thus the core area might suffer.
Another valid reason was to prevent outside organisations, be they political, pro or anti-development, or whatever, taking over the Mudjimba Residents Association for their own ends.
That Marcoola South is included in the membership is historical. From the days when there was only a handful of houses there, it was affectionately known as No Man’s Land (for it was neither in Mudjimba or Marcoola) and the Mudjimba Progress Associatio0n has always looked after its interests.
Associate, (non-voting) membership is available to those who live elsewhere, or do not own or rent land or property in Mudjimba Beach.
And so, on to a new millennium, with a vibrant ratepayer/resident group girding its loins to beet new challenges and new changes, taking with it current work involved with several ongoing organisations and projects. The Maroochy Shire Flood Mitigation Committee, The Environment Park Consultation Committee, North Shore Sports Association, Mudjimba Surf Lifesaving Club, North Short Soccer Club, Maroochy River Catchment Area Network and the Surfrider Foundation’s local branch – an organisation more concerned with preserving dunal vegetation than taking to the surf on boards.
Finally, it has been fun and a privilege to research and write this history of the Mudjimba Progress Association. For that is what it is – a history of a group that has served the area for 40 years. Not a complete history of the area for that is in the capable hands of Bennie Alcorn of Pacific Paradise, who is writing the history of the entire North Shore. She will make a great job of it.
The copyright and any proceeds from the sale of this history are donated to the Mudjimba Residents’ Association (Inc)