Sunday, May 8, 2016

BRM 5.4 Commercial Growth in Barrett Street

In 1973 some major commercial developments were in the underway.  But before they began the residents were asked to vote whether they wanted a Tavern and Shops or not.

Carlton and United Brewery began construction of the Bracken Ridge Tavern gaining approval in 1973.  There was so much opposition from the community, who didn't want to see a "pub" in their midst.  Those living near the site, were totally against it!    In fact some "friendly" neighbourhood debate was quite spirited.  We voted Yes.

The "Yes" won!  

Adjoining the Tavern was a shopping centre, which was called The Tavern Shopping Centre. Both developments and were built at the same time.  The Shopping Centre was due to open around September 1973.  

Our business was a baby and children's wear shop called Michelle's Baby-wear.  Our friends Cheryl and Trevor Tinworth opened a men's wear shop.  Both of us had bought our summer stock in anticipation of trading in summer.  Instead our stock sat in boxes in the spare rooms. 

The political climate at the time contributed to numerous delays in business.

Then disaster struck.  In January 1974, the rains came.  And they didn't stop.

There had been a cyclone, called Wanda, and it brought the incredible rainfall that followed.  On Friday 24th January, 1974, people were being sent home from work.  Navigating the flooded creeks and causeways meant lengthy delays.  Sandgate Road was flooded in many parts, especially around Downfall Creek at Virginia.

Bald Hills Creek flooded, and Bracken Ridge Road was impassable, at the lagoons.  Our choices were getting very narrow.  Then Cabbage Tree Creek flooded onto Board Street at Deagon.   Now we were nearly cut off completely.  Then a culvert collapsed.

As residents we became "isolated".  There was no way out of Bracken Ridge.  There was a culvert over the junction of Depot Road and Handford Road,.  Cabbage Tree Creek flooded, and the culvert collapsed.  The culvert ended  up in the Creek. 

Major structural works were needed and a bridge was built instead of the old culvert.    Telegraph Road was flooded, we were surrounded by water, and we were isolated.

 We listened to the radio reports of the serious flooding in the Bremer River and Ipswich, on the Sunday night, but were totally unprepared for the flood that hit Brisbane.  A ship came adrift in the Brisbane River and two tugs had to try to retrieve it.

A dredge lost its moorings and became stuck in the river near Jindalee at the Centenary Bridge.  The floodwaters simply rose and rose. Thousands of homes were flooded.  The University became surrounded by a sea of water.

Over the years, and at Keith Murray's instigation, the entrance to Bracken Ridge became defined with a roundabout, and it very hard to imagine just how different in looked 30 years ago.

Delays were still happening with the construction of the shopping centre, and now materials and manpower were focused towards the flood work.  Our suppliers had warehouses in the city near the Gardens.  Their buildings were flooded , their stock ruined.  Perhaps the strongest memory for me, is the smell. 

The mould, the mud, the grease all mixed together was very unpleasant, then as it is still these days.
Finally the shops opened sometime in April/May 1974.  Cheryl was pregnant with her first child, and he was born in the April, before the shops opened.  That must have been catching, as our first son was born in December 1974.

The business consisted of a Cut Price Store, a rather large supermarket, a butcher, delicatessen, fruit shop, Alan Hartland Chemist, a doctor, a dentist, hairdresser, a gift shop, Chinese restaurant , carpet shop, Westpac bank and a hardware.   Probably missing one out of that lot, it may have been a real estate agency.  

But for the first time, we had a service station.  Wendy and Tony Elms had the lease of the Ampol Service Station.  Things were looking up, we didn't have to leave the suburb to do our shopping any more.

Being pregnant and owning a baby and children's wear shop did have its benefits.  Bracken Ridge was in a "baby boom".  All those white nappies fluttering in the breeze.  All in the days before disposable nappies, we had to wash the stains out of ours, because you wouldn't want your next door neighbour to see any discoloured nappies on your Hills Hoist!   As we mostly had 3 foot high chain wire fences, our backyards were very visible from all quarters. 

1974 was a year that began with a flood and ended with a cyclone.  Darwin was almost completely demolished when Cyclone Tracey hit on Christmas Eve.

The Ampol Service Station is no more, Caltex has taken its place.  The shops are not as 'tired" as they once looked, and the vacant land between the Tavern and the Shops, after decades of trying to obtain approvals,  now the site of a Woolworths supermarket. 

Development in the eastern side of Bracken Ridge was hampered by the lack of capacity with the sewer.Generally development delays were due to the need for additional sewage pumping stations.   Their capacity governed the developments which could be built upstream.

The construction of the pub completed, and Bob and Laurel Hagen were the first licensees.

The Bracken Ridge Tavern opened on St. Patrick's Day 1975.  Bob was a rather impressive person, a larger than life figure in the world of Rugby League, who had some pretty important roles to play in the sport.

He even has a mention in Wikipedia:

Bob Hagan  is an Australian former rugby league footballer, and coach. He played for the Easts (Brisbane) in Queensland and for the Canterbury Bulldogs in New South Wales, representing both states as well as playing for the Australian national side, he also played for Huddersfield in England.  Bob Hagan represented Commonwealth XIII while at Huddersfield in 1965 against New Zealand at Crystal Palace National Recreation Centre, London on Wednesday 18 August 1965

Bob's brother Michael Hagen is currently involved with Rugby League.

Bob and Laurel now live on the Sunshine Coast, and she shared with me some of her memories.  One of those included Wickety Wak.

 Not one person who lived in Bracken Ridge back then could possibly forget the amazing talent of the boys, who began their career at the Bracken Ridge Tavern.

Greg Doolan, Tony Jeffrey, Pahnie Jantzen, Rob Rosenlund, and Peter Mackay.  Each one had their own individual style.  But Pahnie's renditions of Louis Armstrong songs, brought out the goosebumps. 

Rob's  impersonation of Kermit the Frog (from Sesame Street) and Peter's take on Joe Cocker and Willie Nelson were crowd pleasers. 

The one thing that was certain, was that they were fun, and they certainly gave our endorphins a work out.  Laugh till you cried.   All in a time when the world around us was in a much different place, not quite as serious as it is now. 

Sadly Pahnie died and the Group is now the called the Wak.  Rob Rosenlund also performs solo and is still composing music and poems.

Rob was a local resident.  These days you can still see them perform, 40 years later.   Still singing those very popular songs, and still dressing up in their favourite costumes.  Thanks for the memories guys!

A Word from Rob Rosenlund
Hi Kris,

Thanks for your email.

Yes Bob & Laurel are lovely friends of all the guys in Wickety Wak.

As you say, The Brackenridge Tavern means a lot of great memories for all those who were there during the shows that we did in the mid to late 70's.

We would have a talent quest night usually held on a Wednesday.  Some acts were great and some not so good, but regardless it was fun.

Wayne Roberts (Radio Announcer from 4BK - At the time) would sometimes appear during our shows and that was the start of our our working relationship with him.

On one of the talent quest night's, there was this young guy about the age of 16 (he was only small) who played this big acoustic guitar that he could hardly hold on to.

He sang John Denvers' "Thank God I'm a Country Boy".

All of the Wickety Wak members would then decide from all the performers, who would win the talent quest.

I remember saying to the others that night, I vote for him as the winner, he was great, and the crowd loved his performance.

Nowadays, he is much better known to all as Keith Urban.

I even met some of my own relatives for the first time at The Brackenridge Tavern.

I will always thank Bob and Laurel Hagen for their support and friendship, and I do believe that they managed The Brackenridge Tavern brilliantly.

Bob and Laurel and all their staff became wonderful friends of us all.

A great era.

Please feel free to quote my remarks above.

Take care and good luck with your book.

Kind regards,

Rob Rosenlund
Wickety Wak


In 1980, Bob and Laurel Hagen moved on, and new owners Michael and Jenny White,  took over, and began their very long association with the Community. 

Their son Ben now is the manager, and the Bracken Ridge Tavern has certainly changed dramatically over the years.  

Michael and Jenny have always been very mindful of their role within the community, and Michael was always willing to do whatever he could to promote Bracken Ridge.

But in Ben's words:  

"After four memorable decades, the Bracken Ridge Tavern is set to turn back time with a massive seventies-themed bash to celebrate its 40th anniversary.   Kicking off from noon on Saturday, March 14, the BRT will bring back the spirit of 1970s funk and disco, with an array of themed food, beverages and music on offer.

Owner Ben White says the evening will be a great opportunity for past and present staff, suppliers and patrons to reunite, reminisce and celebrate.  “The hotel was opened in the 1970s, so we are winding back the clock with dishes and beverages from the era, including Hardy’s wine, which was served at the time,” Ben says.

“Suppliers will be providing great games for patrons to play and some pretty cool prizes will be also be up for grabs.” The tavern’s rich history began in March 1975, with the White family acquiring it in 1980. Michael and Jenny White, together with their son Ben, have operated the tavern for the past 35 years.

The Whites, who have always been innovative in their management of the popular watering hole, have steered the BRT through many phases throughout the years, and general manager Ben White says the family prides itself on providing “something for everyone”. “We like to go the extra mile and get a real kick when someone new comes to the BRT, and we exceed their expectations with what we offer here,” he says.

The 40th birthday bash will feature drinks at 1975 prices from noon to 2pm, free entry and DJ Hunter will hit the stage from 8pm to spin all your faves from the era of huge afros and towering platform shoes. “It’s going to be a great occasion where staff and supporters, both old and new, can come together and reconnect,” Ben says.

“We have employed many staff and served many patrons over the years, so everyone is excited to come back and catch up at the event.” 

The BRT as it is known, became the social meeting place within the suburb  A place where we could dine in a restaurant in our own suburb for the first time.  Many clubs and organisations used the tavern as their home base, and we conducted many auctions in the lounge.

Graham Readfearn     The Courier-Mail     July 03, 2007

 Another modern venue is the Bracken Ridge Tavern, in northern Brisbane.

Michael White bought the place 26 years ago and he and wife, Jenny, have overseen a slow, but fundamental, change.

"It was a suburban pub driven by a big public bar and a drive-through bottleshop and you would have to say the males dominated the place," White says. Now, his pub is a prime example of the new-age Brisbane hotel. There is a bistro, a sports bar, an outdoor bar, a beer garden, a plethora of televisions, a gelato station and even a Gloria Jean's cafe.

"That is a true evolution," White says. "You would not recognise the place now – the fabric is still there, but there's nothing internally that you'd recognise at all from a couple of decades ago, even down to the toilets. We've been trying to concentrate on what the wider community wants. The idea of a coffee bar was to soften the experience for people.

"We work very hard to be seen to be the hub of the community because, basically, we are."


No comments:

Post a Comment