My memories of Pialba
There is wonderful history associated with this small section of our foreshore, dating back to early last century.
At the instigation of councillor T.A.Bromiley, funds were set aside to bring amenities and improvements along the foreshore.
One of these was the planting of fig trees along that section of the Esplanade from the end of Main St to the end of Beach Rd.
The idea promoting this move was to provide shade trees for future visitors and during the ensuing 100 plus years, these wide spreading trees have afforded cool shade to many thousands of people and pay tribute to a thoughtful councillor and citizen of long ago.
Originally this area was known as the Pialba camping area as families from near and far pitched their tents and set up camp ... no caravans back then.
One funny story is told by Billy McLiver, a direct descendent from the pioneering butchering McLiver family.
He was a young lad in the early 50s, helping his dad, Dudley, with cattle brought to the Bay by train and unloaded into a holding pen behind their butcher shop in Main St before being
taken out of town to await slaughter.
On one particular day, Bill’s dad told him to secure the gate properly, but Bill did not heed his dad instructions and it did not take the cattle long to notice his mistake.
He says the cattle took off down Main St towards the camping area, leaving their calling cards all along the street (although they are not the exact words Bill used) and down the hill and straight through the campers and their tents.
Bill remembers men and women grabbing kids, clothes off lines and anything else they could rescue before the mob of cattle tore through their camping area.
A lot of tents came to grief as the legs of the cattle pulled the tent ropes and pegs out of the sandy soil and the 22 head of cattle ended up on the beach. Three swam out to sea and had to be guided back to shore by fishermen in a boat.
Bill says his father never ever let him forget that incident and I’d say it is still as clear today in Bill’s memory as it was then.
With time, the camping area progressed from tents to small oval shaped bond wood vans that appeared in the late 50s to fibreglass and aluminium caravans and now, the huge modern luxurious vans and motor homes we see today, all fitted out with every mod con imaginable.
The Pialba Caravan Park plays host to many families on holidays, grey nomads travelling Australia and the invasion of southerners during the winter months.
The kiosk has its own interesting history. It was a Maryborough Army hut and brought in during the late 40s by George and Mabel Cooper. It is debateable whether it was called the Pialba or Cooper’s Kiosk and it served the caravan park.
In 1957, the kiosk was bought by Reg and Mavis Baird and renamed Banana Ridge, because of the bananas that grew on either side of the road that went up the hill to Pialba.
An area at the back of the kiosk was used for outdoor eating and also dancing as there was no other place for people to socialise at that time, Reg said.
There have been several owners and name changes including in recent times, The Shed and now Whale Tail, which also serves WetSide Water Park.
Bev Cornwell, Hervey Bay Historian