FOND MEMORIES: Judy Fischer at Ozcare Hervey Bay Aged Care Facility reflecting on past times and sharing fond memories of her grandfather Kenneth Miller.
FOND MEMORIES: Judy Fischer at Ozcare Hervey Bay Aged Care Facility reflecting on past times and sharing fond memories of her grandfather Kenneth Miller. Jodie Callcott

STORY OF: A granddaughter of Fraser Island tourism pioneers

JUDY Fischer reflects on a time when she could walk to the beach with her friends and feel absolutely free.

The only houses in Hervey Bay lined the Esplanade and there were only a few holiday houses on the street behind.

There was a big dam on the corner of Torquay Rd and Main St and an ice factory would pump water from the dam and deliver ice blocks to families because there were no fridges.

She was born in a house that still stands today and was delivered by Dr Webb and a midwife who had a street named after her.

"That's who Hunter St was name after," Judy said.

One of Judy's fondest memories was of a concert at Scarness.

It was New Year's Eve and the men in the district used to dress like babies and were run down the Esplanade in a wheelbarrow.

The Davis girls used to do the hula dance in the back of a truck and the men would cheer and insist they kept dancing.

 

Judy Fischer as a teenager.
Judy Fischer as a teenager. Contributed

But as Judy sits in her chair at Ozcare Hervey Bay Aged Care Facility, it's the memories of her grandfather that spark such emotion.

She opens a binder with plastic sleeves that are preserving more than a century of her family's history.

Her grandfather, Kenneth Miller, and his wife, Dinah, were pioneers in tourism on Fraser Island.

Judy says her grandfather, nicknamed Papa, had a boat that he used to run the sawmill workers to and from Fraser Island.

He would sometimes take Judy in the boat when she was a child but it wasn't until 2006 that she visited the "back beach" with her family.

"Papa had a paid lease on a piece of crowned land and I don't know whether it was Stan Warry but one of the Warrys went in with him and they built Happy Valley," Judy said.

She said there were many stories about how Happy Valley got its name but there was only one real story.

Reading from a Maryborough Chronicle article dated from 1930, the real story in which Happy Valley was named was as follows:

Some of the first tourists on the island at Happy Valley were Mr and Mrs Miller, who had charge of the resort.

A condiment was being used for their meal and it attracted the notice of Mr Jackson, who asked the brand.

The brand was Happy Valley.

 

Banjo, one of the Butchulla tribe, Gus Meyers from Maryborough and Judy's grandfather Kenneth Miller.
Banjo, one of the Butchulla tribe, Gus Meyers from Maryborough and Judy's grandfather Kenneth Miller. Contributed

 

That was before the war started and Judy's grandfather lost his lease for a training ground for soldiers.

He shared memories with Judy about the Butchulla tribe and how he used to play with Aboriginal children who lived on the island.

"My grandfather was there when the Butchulla tribe were in the middle of the island and the cannibals were up at Sandy Cape," she said.

"Papa used to play with the Aboriginal children and he wasn't allowed to go any further because there were still cannibals on the island.

"He had become friendly with the Aborigines which lived on the mission station.

"Most of the Aborigines were eventually moved to Cherbourg but the few who remained were always tremendous help to him.

"They taught him to fish, taught him their bush craft and welcomed him as a brother."

Judy said her Papa watched as members of the Butchulla tribe were taken off the island in chains.

"Papa said it was the saddest thing he had ever seen," she said.

"Free people in chains being put on the rail motor and taken to Cherbourg."

After the war the island became a private enterprise and the Happy Valley Resort was dismantled.

The material was later used to build a block of flats at Scarness.

Judy's mother and father owned the only newsagency and casket agency in Pialba and as the business progressed her father bought the other two shops in the arcade and made one big newsagency.

Judy was a teenager when she met her late husband, Allan.

They were 18 and 19 when they were married in 1956 and had three children, Debra, Colin and Rick.

Allan suffered a massive stroke when he was 43 and Judy nursed him at home until he passed away 12 years later.

These days Judy enjoys participating in various activities at Ozcare and visits from her children and grandchildren.



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