Local reminiscences

by Sonia Isaacs Clark

OUR previous Hinterland Heritage article (GC&M News, June 22) highlighted how Facebook can be used to create local history pages that spark community interest, memories and conversations.

The article featured the Facebook page recently created by Beerwah local Darren Howard called ‘Beerwah and district memories of times past’.

Darren, who is in his mid 50s, has some great reminiscences of growing up in the area that give an interesting insight into local history.

Darren is the fourth generation of his family to live in the area. His great grandmother Alice Prosser (nee Clatworthy) moved to the area from Brisbane in the early 1900s and settled in Youngs Road, Glass House Mountains. Her daughter Elsie, Darren’s grandmother, was a keen photographer.

“My grandmother loved taking pictures all her life and that’s why I have such a good collection of old black and white pictures from the area,” Darren said.

“She had an old box Brownie camera that she took everywhere with her, and a lot of the photos I’ve used for the Facebook page have come from our family photo albums.”

Darren said Elsie went to Glass House Mountains school and first met his grandfather, Les Howard, when he moved to the Beerwah area in the 1930s looking for work.

Les lived with the Neilson family on a property near a sawmill at Back Creek Road. Darren thinks his grandmother would have walked through the property on her way to town as, at the time, not many people had cars.

The couple married when Elsie was around 16 years old and lived just over the creek from Beerwah primary school, opposite what was then George Walton’s place. Darren said his grandfather Les worked for more than 25 years for the Wimberley family in what was then the corner shop at Beerwah.

Darren’s father Kevin was born in 1940 and, while the old house is gone, the paddock on the right just over the Coochin Creek bridge at the school is still an open paddock.

Darren’s mum Beryl (nee Peters) owned the Beerwah bakery with her first husband John Errington before marrying Kevin in 1965.

The family lived in a house on Simpson Street, where Darren was born, just behind where Vianta stands today. The Vianta site was originally the front yard.

Darren’s dad was a dozer contractor and helped clear a lot of the land that became farms and later new housing estates and current businesses.

As part of his local history interest, Darren is keen to chronicle the various new housing estates in Beerwah and provide an insight into the farms that existed on the land and the names of some of the original owners.

“Pine View estate used to be an old tobacco farm and Millbrook estate was originally land that had a sawmill owned by Dudley Crompton. When I was growing up, everywhere was pineapple farms and a lot of housing estates are built on those,” Darren said.

“I am proud to call Beerwah my home and I always felt part of the greater community of original families and kids who grew up here. There was a real spirit in this town years ago and it’s still in many of the older faces of the district.

“I hope that this local history Facebook page might lift that spirit and reignite what was so special about those times we all remember,” he said.


Photo: Darren Howard

Les Howard at Wimberleys shop in Beerwah in the 1970s
Henry Lewis and Les Howard at Beerwah in the1930’s
Kevin Howard with his mum Elsie Howard in 1946
Alice Prosser (nee Clatworthy)