Genealogy Sunshine Coast 

By 1928, Mooloolaba had become the playground for the people of Buderim. They came to swim, picnic, camp and enjoy a holiday. Among those catering for the tourist trade was Charles Clarke.

Born in 1891 in Aspley to Samuel John Clarke and Anne Catherine Ayres, Charles Clarke was known as an even-tempered, caring person. From 1907 to 1912, he had a number of jobs including butcher, farmhand and carpenter. He then joined Queensland Railways and worked as a porter at Woombye while he lived in rented premises in Buderim.  

In the summer of 1911, Miss Minnie Neumann, accompanied by a couple of lady friends, took the train to Southport. She left her small suitcase on the train and the railway porter who returned the case was Charles Clarke. They were married on April 17, 1915, by the Reverend G.H. Taylor in Woombye Methodist Church. They had four children: Jack, Sid, Gertie and Alan. 

Clarke left the railway when offered the position of manager of the Buderim to Palmwoods Tramway, and he and Minnie settled in Buderim. In 1920 he resigned because the strain of braking trams down the mountain was “too nerve-racking”. He then conducted a carrying business delivering mail from Buderim to Mooloolaba. Day visitors and holiday makers travelled on the truck with the groceries, milk and meat. 

Charles and Minnie took their four children to their shack on the Mooloolah River frontage to holiday from May to the end of July. For the rest of the year the shack was rented to other holiday makers. There was one memorable moment when their daughter, Gertie, who was three years old, fell out of a boat and her eldest brother, Jack, pulled her back in by her plaits. 

Clarke recognised that Mooloolaba had the potential to develop into a tourist destination, so in 1925 he bought land on the southern side of a creek on the River Esplanade. Three years later a building containing a boarding house, cafe and store was erected on the site by Lanham Brothers. Clarke chose the name ‘Bondoola’, meaning abundance of water.  At times there were as many as 40 guests and the Clarke children had to sleep in tents in the backyard. 

From 1928 to 1968, Clark maintained the navigational lights at the mouth of the Mooloolah River; voluntarily at first until the Marine Board officially appointed him to the position of lightkeeper. 

In 1938, he was involved in establishing the Mooloolaba Bowls Club in the backyard of Bondoola, and served as first president. For a brief period until ill health took toll, he was a Maroochy Shire councillor. Later, he became patron of the Sunshine Coast Bowls Association. 

To recognise his service to the community, the Mooloolaba-Alexandra Headlands Progress Association requested that Maroochy Shire Council name the recreational land along the river frontage Charles Clarke Park in his honour. 

Story from the book People of Maroochy, published by Genealogy Sunshine Coast and available for sale. The Genealogy Sunshine Coast Resource Centre in Petrie Park Rd, Nambour (just opposite the swimming pool), is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9am-4.30pm. Visit sites.google.com/site/genealogysunshinecoastinc or facebook.com/gscnambour, phone 5329 2315 or email genealogysc@gmail.com.

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