The History of Waddy Lodge Fraser Island
Events leading up to the establishment of Waddy Lodge.
No doubt there are many of our shareholders and friends who are far more familiar with the early development at the top end of the island than I am, but it is hoped that the compilation of these memories of mine will prompt others to come forward to correct or add to the details as presented.
The earliest fishermen's shacks were established at the back of Waddy Point. Firstly they were very primitive shelters used by the net fishermen who netted the beach and later upgraded enough to be rented by fishing parties but still very primitive. These shacks were equipped with wood stoves, kerosene refrigeration, straw mattresses and an outside toilet. These shacks were at a later stage leased from the Forestry Department by the two families who eventually built the house and units where Waddy Lodge now stands. The cost of the leases was one pound per year and these leases remained current until the late eighties when the leases were terminated and the buildings demolished. The area now remains a revegetation area.
The first major development was that of the Orchid Beach Resort which was commenced in 1965 and was completed in 1967. It was developed in this area because of the naturally flat land which had the potential to be converted into an airstrip. Large areas of flat land were not available along the coastline and when an lrish Baron, Sir Reginald Barnwell, together with Don Adams, the operator of a small airline saw the potential of the area they decided it was an ideal place for the development of a tourist resort. I believe the resort was named after a small native orchid which grows in the scrub surrounding the property. Apparently the resort was never a great success, due to lack of surrounding infrastructure, dangerous swimming conditions and lack of transport facilities.
Shortly after this development, a thirty year lease was granted on two 24 perch allotments just south of Orchid Beach. These were taken up by the Wieden and Schultz families on 1st of December 1968. The cottage was built by the Wiedel family between 1968 and 1969 and the units by the Schultz family in 1971. The unit block was later purchased by the Wieden family in 1972 and remained with the family until the purchase by Waddy Pty Ltd. During this period the cottage and units were let out to fishing parties and the venue became a regular holiday destination for many - some still return for their week's fishing. I was first invited to visit Fraser Island in 1972 by Bob Henderson, who at the time was one of the well known and well respected stockbrokers of Brisbane, in a company called Corser Henderson & Hale. I believe his father was a founding partner of that firm. Bob invited some of his friends and a couple of clients to join a party for a week's fishing trip to Waddy Point on Fraser Island. There were eight in the party, two were state bank managers, one a noted surgeon and the rest of us merely incompetent fishermen partial to a rum and milk early in the morning before setting forth.
Waddy Point on Fraser Island was a destination most of us had never heard of before, but somehow Bob learnt from some of his contacts that a house could be rented from a person called Keith Wieden with whom we became very friendly. So started a yearly "must" to be included in a group to enjoy a week's fishing which would be hard to surpass as a time of great expectations, great comradeship, excellent fishing, fine food and wines and many laughs.
Keith Wieden lived in Hervey Bay and the arrangement was that we would travel by cars from Brisbane to Urangan where Keith would meet us and introduce us to his relatively small cruiser. Most of our week's supplies had to be manhandled from the various cars to the cruiser. Some items had been purchased locally by Keith, as a result of much organising by Bob and his wife Judy, long before our departure from Brisbane.
Our trip from Brisbane required an assembly at Bob's house to organise our personal gear, bait and liquid supplies. There was the allotment of personnel to the various vehicles and at the time of departure there was an air of excitement which was in fact almost childish. We had a stop outside Yandina where we had drinks with biscuits and cake and a chance to stretch the legs or change drivers. (This procedure became a yearly ritual and the cars were packed accordingly, to provide ready access to the necessities.)
The arrival in Urangan was determined of course by the condition of the tide and everything was going nicely according to plan until the loading of the cruiser, where disaster struck. The friendly, well respected medico of the group, dropped and broke one of Bob's treasured possessions; a bottle of Galway Pipe port, which at the time was in short supply and if you could obtain a bottle from your favourite hotel every now and again you were fortunate indeed. At this early stage of our adventure Bob displayed his ability to lose his temper even with close friends.
By the time all provisions and personal items were accounted for and safely on board, we climbed aboard with the result that the cruiser was laden to capacity and we set off across the bay headed for Moon Point, Fraser Island, with very little freeboard. Along the way Keith explained the details of the journey still ahead of us. We were to arrive at Moon Point when there was sufficient height in the tide to allow the cruiser to enter the small bay behind the point and once there we were to wait on board for the tide to drop, thus allowing unloading onto the beach. At this stage Keith did a magic act and produced his four wheel drive from a thick area of scrub where he left the vehicle whenever he went back to the mainland. One of the photos shows the cruiser at low tide and supplies
Welcome to Fraser Island!! At last we were there!
We had been organising for weeks, travelling for many hours and now, after having risked our lives crossing the bay in a very heavily loaded cruiser with little freeboard, we were ready for the next stage of our island education. We soon learned that our trip ahead would not be very comfortable. Most of the space in the rear of the vehicle was occupied by our gear and there was not much room remaining for the fishermen. Seated on the side panels which formed the seats, it was necessary to put one's feet on the supplies, resulting in a trip with knees in your chest for a considerable time. Bob of course retained the leadership role and travelled in the front cabin with Keith the driver.
As we did not know any details of the island, we were amazed at the number of water sources discharging from the interior into Platypus Bay. Some of these formed wide creeks and in many cases crossings for the unwary can be quite dangerous, and can be soft enough to trap a vehicle. As a result, at each of the major waterways, we vacated our cramped positions to walk the creeks to ensure the sand was sufficiently hard to carry the vehicle and the depth of water at the point of crossing was not too deep. This actually became a happy task, giving us an opportunity to stretch our legs and also take a good look at the bay and the island terrain behind and in front of us.
The island appeared to stretch forever and we could not see any area which looked like it would give us access to the east coast until we came to Watoomba Creek. For those who have not travelled along this western beach an exciting trip has been missed. The welcome sight of the creek, the opportunity to stretch legs and indulge in chatter whilst having a refreshing drink before crossing the island is a happy occasion.
The trip across the island was an unimpressive event. After miles of looking out the back window at monotonous scrub, it was a great relief to hit the beach near Orchid Beach Resort and head along the sand to our destination. The sight of the house upon our arrival did not really create excitement, nor did the appearance of the surrounds. You will see what I mean if you look at the photo showing the house and the area around the cleaning bench. However this was to be our home for a week and by the end of that time we had become very attached to our new- found retreat. As a result we were to return many times in the years ahead. Comfort inside was certainly not of any star class. We had two small bedrooms with two double-decker beds each and if you were lucky you were able to nab the bottom bunk. Other facilities were also fairly minimal but this was a fisherman's getaway and we had travelled along way to enjoy the occasion.
On arrival at Waddy, one of the group was shown how to start and stop the generator and light the kerosene refrigerators. Then Keith was of and we were Ieft to fend for ourselves for the week until he returned to take us back to Urangan.
As none of us had a four wheel drive vehicle we hired an old tractor from Keith and it was our means of transport during our stay. It was equipped with a utility type tray which carried all of our group and their equipment. It was not a large vehicle but it was awfully hard to steer and almost had a mind of its own. As a result, the strongest of our group, Keith Winning was elected driver and even he had difficulty coping. Luckily we did not travel far in those days, only fishing the front beach, the rocks and South Waddy. Some of the group were good fishermen, some not, but fish were plentiful in those early years and our catches were bountiful. The tractor was eventually purchased with the house and became a necessity for a few years.
We continued to spend one week per year at the house, renting from Keith until the transfer of ownership. Gradually we became so enthusiastic we bought four wheel drive vehicles. We no longer needed the tractor and its limitations, but no doubt the greatest fun we had was the result of us all travelling in that tractor. Great memories of those trips remain for me and those of us still around to remember and share them. So this was the pattern for a number of years and then Bob greeted me one day with a big smirk on his face advising that Keith Wieden was going to sell Waddy and we must buy it. So began another chapter.
Bob was a motivator and he began recruiting friends to form a syndicate which could afford to outbid others who were interested in the purchase. Bob's objective was to buy the property, requiring a relatively small investment from each of the thirty interested parties and to retain the buildings as a holiday venue for parties or families interested in a fishing holiday or a break from the crowds. This action proved wise, and our offer was successful. We obtained the property for a formation expense of$89,000 in which the cost of the land and improvements, plants and furniture was $81,642, issued and paid up capital was 90,000 one dollar shares. An inspired promotion by Bob Henderson!
Keith Wieden's desire to sell and our eventual purchase of the two properties arose as the result of a boating accident on a sand bank in front of the house in 1977. A twelve metre ocean going sailing yacht called Sisca II was off the Island's coast when the owner may have fallen asleep and the yacht drifted, lost the keel on the sand bank about 150 yards from the shore and finally washed up onto the beach in front of the cottage. The yacht was designed and built by Rolley Tasker, an Olympic sailor, well respected designer and boat builder in Western Australia, so the yacht was quite valuable. The owner made a claim against his insurance company and a representative was sent to the island to reclaim as much as possible and bum the remainder.
At the time Keith happened to be nearby. As well as many other things, he is a competent diver and he quickly fixed a buoy to the keel and then carried out an inspection of the flooded hull to assess the extent of the damage. He found there was no major structural damage only a hull full of water and chlorine gas from the batteries.
The insurance assessor assumed that the craft could not be salvaged and Keith was requested to remove the ship's chandlery or other items of value and then bum the remaining damaged hull. Keith queried what value the insurance company had placed on the salvageable items and was told $6,000. This seemed too good to be true and so he offered this amount to the company to purchase the yacht. He and his wife had had a yearning to sail the high seas for many years and decided that this was a heaven sent opportunity.
Although this would be a great purchasing there would also be sizeable sums to be spent to refloat the yacht and restore it to achieve their goal. To obtain the necessary money to finance their dream they decided that the properties at Waddy would be sold. Luckily, Bob managed to get word of this and of course our offer was the one accepted and Waddy Pty Ltd was born. Keith now had to set about salvaging his ship. Whilst the hull was easily accessible, the keel weighed eight ton and was nine feet deep. There appeared to be no way of retrieving it. It was now well buried in the sand bar and there was no equipment available to lift such a weight from the seabed so it was decided that somehow it would have to be dragged to the beach.
Luckily at the time the weather was good, the seas were calm and Keith had to act as quickly as possible to make the most of these conditions. He had a timber cutter friend, Andy Poston, working at Central station, who offered help. Between them they devised an ingenious way of retrieving the keel. Andy brought a six wheel drive truck and timber snigger to the beach where a large hole was dug to bury the tray of the truck to the sand level and they then snigged the keel ashore and onto the tray. It was then driven to one of the creeks down south where a crane was available to lift it onto a barge to be eventually taken to Mooloolaba Harbour. The hull was a sandwich construction of plywood, styrene foam and plywood all covered with a fibre glass finish and damage was minimal. When the keel hit the sandbank the bolts shared without causing any further damage. It was towed to Urangan Harbour and then to Mooloolaba Harbour where the yacht was reassembled, made seaworthy, was painted bright red and renamed Red Rooster. The boat was later entered in Brisbane to Gladstone ocean races and finished second over the line behind Apollo in 1979. Keith his partner and their wives had a holiday sailing around the Whitsundays before entering it in the Sydney to Hobart race of 1979 -1980. Whilst in Sydney at its moorings, Keith and his partner were offered a sizeable sum for it and accepted. The yacht, now renamed to its former title Sisca II, is now still sailing the Whitsundays but I don't know whether it is red or white.
Whilst much money was spent restoring the yacht to former glory, nothing spent was as important as the fee paid to Andy the timber cutter who received food and booze whilst carrying out the rescue operation on the beach.
Keith Wieden still lives in Hervey Bay and after spending a few years as a charter boat operator on whale watching excursions has now returned and does not visit Fraser Island anymore. He likes to remember the early good old days enjoyed on the island and is now content to travel with his wife to other venues of interest.
So Waddy Pty Limited took over the complex on 1st of June 1978 although the group was assembled in March of that year. Bob elected a committee of five other members, making a total of six Directors with himself as Chairman. When Bob delivered the first address at the AGM held on 7th December 1978 he advised of our first loss, amounting to $980, and the trading form the 1st of June 1978, but of course a lot of money had been spent during that time. The National Bank saw fit to make an overdraft available to the value of$10,000 and as a result the resident state manager of that bank was invited to join our trip with Bob each year. As a result we were always indebted to the support received from the bank in those development years. This relationship still exists though we have lost contact with the State Management.
One of the first requirements was to engage a competent caretaker once Keith's assistance was no longer available. We interviewed several people for the position eventually offering the position to Roy Jacklin and his wife Val who were residents of Hervey Bay, knew the island well and in fact had wanted to purchase the property but could not match our offer. Roy was an expert fisherman and wormer and whilst he was willing to catch worms for our tenants he was very reluctant to reveal his favourite fishing spots. His wife Val was a well-read and highly respected lady who was a great support to Roy. Unfortunately she had to have a hip replacement which handicapped her activity and the position became too difficult to cope with in time.
With the purchase came tie commitments to bookings and it was arranged with Keith Wieden that we would honour any bookings up to the end of December 1978. We were fortunate that after that time we were able to provide the accommodation needs of shareholders and retain the support of other tenants who frequented the place during the Keith Wieden ownership. The occupancy rate from July to December was recorded as 88.2% which was quite good under the circumstances.
One decision made was that we would look into the extension of the lease. We registered in the name of Waddy Pty Ltd two special leases numbers 32644 and 32645 described at Portions 16 and 17 parish of Watoomba Waddy Point, Fraser Island. Each of these leases were issued in 1969 with a tenure of thirty years. Each lease had 21 years run and it was our desire to improve our tenure. Bob made contact with a senior minister in the Queensland Government to ascertain if it would be possible to freehold the land. The reply was immediate that freehold would not be possible under any circumstances but it may be possible to obtain a new lease with a tenure of75 years. This was later acted upon and in October 1981 we had the lease extended to 30 years. This will be
MEMORANDUM TO: Shareholders of Waddy Pty Ltd
1. As a result of an application made, the Land Administration Commission has forwarded a new Lease for our property at Waddy Point, Fraser Island.
a) The period of the Lease shall be for 30 years from 1st October, I98I.
The policy adopted by the directors was that steps would be taken to effect improvements on the property and buildings as quickly as funds would permit and this policy is still being pursued by your Directors.
Bob and I then set about purchasing good quality crockery cutlery glassware and furnishings. Our selection of cooking utensils was the result of close liaison with Mr John Hall commonly known as "Festival" who was the owner of a company supplying these items to the hotel trade. We were dedicated to buying good quality items where ever they were replaced and so far what we did purchase has stood the test of time. It has been the human element which has caused us most concern.
The units had to be changed as the original design provided a continuous narrow veranda across the front and as a result there was no privacy for either of the tenants. plans were prepared in February 1971 to extend the dining area out to the edge of the veranda then to extend the remaining section of veranda out into the garden. This solution provided privacy for the living areas and the new verandas. At this time new kitchen cupboards were provided for the house and Sebel Integra chairs were provided to the whole complex. Replacement of equipment, general repairs and upgrading continued until our founder Bob Henderson passed away in 1986 after a long illness. As a mark of respect to Bob and to perpetuate his immense input into the establishment of Waddy Pty Ltd, we created the barbecue area in lion front of the units in the hope that it could be a meeting place for all tenants at any one time to gather and to get to know one another by sharing drinks and a barbeque. This area was christened Bob Henderson Place and it appears to be used as intended.
As I had been closely associated with Bob in the decision making, I took over as chairman after his death. All of the original directors remain and John Mitchell was asked to be a director to retain the six directorships.
In 1989, after spending a lot of capital on upgrading equipment, we decided that we should commence on a programme of general improvements to our accommodation facilities. Our first priority in this regard was directed towards the house, caretakers' quarters and our machinery shed.
We considered the house to be cramped with insufficient space in the bedrooms and the dining area. The caretakers' quarters were inadequate to retain the interests of a couple who were interested in their surroundings, while the machinery shed was merely a tin shed and totally inadequate for our needs. We had a change of caretaker in the meantime, Ray and Kath Muckert replacing Roy and Val Jacklin. Ray had been involved in the building industry and we thought
Plans were prepared in 1989 and Council approval obtained and building work commenced in February 1990. It proved to be one of the worst times we could have chosen. Wet weather delayed progress, damaged joinery items we were wanting to reuse and much of the timber we received was adversely affected by the wet conditions. Our object was to complete the alterations before our busy letting period commenced in April. This was not achieved, although the place was liveable and some follow up work was attended to as vacancies permitted. We had the machinery shed prefabricated in Brisbane by one of our shareholders at the time, Mr Bob James. Ray undertook to carry out repairs and the extension to the caretakers' quarters. We are indebted to many people for assistance received during this difficult period, particularly one of our directors Mr Sam Southey, who took time off to spend it on site looking after the builder's needs and Messrs Bill Ball and Brian Toomey who attended to our timber supply at particularly good rates.
The following year we sent another two builders up to finish off the various sections of work. The builders originally on site did not have time to complete the house veranda and the machinery shed and Ray and not done what was expected to his own quarters. So the project which was reasonably scheduled for completion in the one period of vacancy dragged on longer than expected. Another director, Keith Winning, my wife and I, took painters up to complete the house to a liveable condition just prior to April 1990.
This building exercise dampened our enthusiasm for a while but we decided that the end unit should be enlarged by absorbing the old store room at the back and converting it into a two bedroom alcove arrangement similar to the house. This programme worked well. A larger veranda was added and this upgraded unit was completed in 1995 and the veranda in 1996. Once this was completed we created another problem for ourselves because tenants when booking all wanted the end unit. The intention originally was to have a suitable and acceptable alternative to the house when we had a request from more than one shareholder requiring accommodation at the same time.
We now faced a problem with the demand for the end unit not being able to be met. Our first action was to put a larger veranda on the middle unit and a couple of glass panels below the front window sill to enable a view of the ocean. This work was completed in October 1996. It was then our intention to renovate this unit in a manner similar to the end unit. To enable this work to be carried out, we installed a new septic tank for the units as the concrete top of the existing tank was beginning to crumble. As the entire concrete pathway between the caretakers' unit and the units at the rear was in very bad condition, we laid a new concrete pathway and extended it to cover over the old septic tank. This allowed us to relocate the laundry and incorporate the old laundry into
Our director John Mitchell organised builders and friends to tackle this work which was carried out in late 1997. To make these two units even more comfortable for those using them, we have planned an extension of the bathroom facilities, adding an additional toilet for each so that the entire complex should, before the high occupancy expected in 1998, be very comfortable. Some of us are intending to go up on a working bee at the end of February 1998 to complete this work.
We have carried out this work as a result of your support in removing our overdraft and we will shortly be free of any major building commitment so other general refinements will be investigated. One item which comes to mind is the installation of flyscreens throughout. I'm sure such an addition would be well received by all the ladies who visit waddy.
As chairman I thank my fellow directors, all shareholders and repeat tenants, for their confidence and support. We are lucky to have such a unique establishment and I sincerely hope we can continue to make it a wonderful place to visit. My task has been aided by good support from the various caretakers who have spent quite a few of their yeasr with us. To them I say "thank you'. To our present caretakers, Kay and Jean Brown, we have to pay special tribute. They took over from the previous caretakers when things were a little difficult. They have made the place their home and tend it accordingly. They are very fussy about all aspects of the development and expect everyone of us who visit to act accordingly.
I hope we can continue to improve Waddy to your satisfaction and look forward to an extension for our tenure in due course.
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