LOOK­ING BACK: COL AN­DREASSEN

Colin An­dreassen’s gruff ex­te­rior be­lies a warm-hearted, hard­work­ing man with many a story to tell, as Moya Stevens dis­cov­ered

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

Colin An­dreassen takes pride in telling of his 80 years liv­ing and work­ing in Dou­glas. Colin’s Nor­we­gian grand­fa­ther, Sev­erin Berner An­dreassen, landed in Syd­ney in 1885 and soon moved to Far North Queens­land where he worked ini­tially on the con­struc­tion of a bridge just north of Cook­town.

Sev­erin bought a boat in Cairns and be­came in­volved with cargo trans­port be­tween Port Dou­glas and Cook­town.

“He leased Snap­per Is­land, col­lect­ing beche de mer (sea slugs) and ended up serv­ing as a coun­cil­lor on the Dou­glas Coun­cil for years,” Colin said.

Colin’s fa­ther, Sev­erin Berner Jnr, also served on the coun­cil and grew cane in the Mow­bray Val­ley. “There were seven chil­dren in my fam­ily and we went to the Mow­bray school and I sup­pose you could say I did cause a bit of mis­chief,” Col con­fessed.

Col would turn the hands of clock for­ward when the teacher wasn’t look­ing and they “got out of school early – some­times an hour early.

“My mate Jack Con­nelly and I took off early one morn­ing and herded up some wild horses and put them into the school’s ten­nis court,” Colin laughed, “and the horses went crazy and broke down all the fenc­ing around the court.

“The teacher, Jack Daniels, came along and, well let’s just say, we got heaps of cuts from the cane,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Colin, he would get lots of cuts from the teacher, in fact he re­calls he was in trou­ble “ev­ery few days”. To add in­sult to in­jury, the teacher would tell Col and his mates to gather up some lawyer­cane for their ‘cuts’.

“We would get three widths of cane and we names them Boris, Ho­rus and Mor­ris,” he laughed, “and they all hurt the same but I would laugh when I got the cuts.”

Col left school at 14 and, af­ter work­ing on farms around the place he re­ceived from his fa­ther 9ha which he cleared and planted cane on.

In 1961 Colin mar­ried Grace Hansen and by 1965 they had their first crop of cane ready for harvest, which was all but de­stroyed by a thun­der­storm.

Later he bought 20 acres from his brother who had in­her­ited the fam­ily cane farm when his par­ents re­tired.

Colin be­came in­volved with heavy ma­chin­ery and, in the ’80s was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of res­i­den­tial al­lot­ments at Cow Bay, the build­ing of Quaid’s Dam, fill­ing and lev­el­ling the Sher­a­ton Re­sort land, con­struc­tion of the Dain­tree to Cape Tribu­la­tion sealed road and con­struc­tion of the Bloom­field Track.

“I had three trucks and a loader and we had trou­ble with the gree­nies, so we had to have guards on our equip­ment and worked stopped of­ten,” he said, “but they were good days – we worked in rain, hail and shine.”

The day came when the track was to be of­fi­cially opened, and Colin’s job was to en­sure the track was clear for the of­fi­cial en­tourage.

Although Colin was re­luc­tant to give too many de­tails, he ex­plained that he was on his loader, check­ing the road and came across a car wreck which he picked up and put on the back of the truck fol­low­ing him. Then he came across an­other car which was ablaze and also put that on the back of the truck. He had to get rid of the wrecks be­fore the of­fi­cial con­voy came through so he dug a hole in the road and buried the two vehicles. He still re­fuses to say ex­actly where they were buried but the of­fi­cial cer­e­mony to open the track and the dig­ni­taries’ drive along the route went unim­peded.

Colin was con­tracted for many years to main­tain the road, and owned a mo­tel at Cow Bay and a fruit orchard ‘over the river’.

In 1995 Colin and Grace moved to their new home at Port Dou­glas Views, Miallo, and Colin took over the con- tract to run the Dain­tree Ferry.

“There were some chal­leng­ing times with the ferry,” he ex­plained, “with floods, sand build up and ves­sel re­pairs and main­te­nance.”

“In 2006 the sand build up was so bad we couldn’t run the ferry, and there was a dis­pute be­tween two con­trac­tors about the dredg­ing,” Colin said, “and we would get stuck in the mid­dle of the river for up to three hours some days.

“We got abuse from all the users ev­ery bloody day and coun­cil wouldn’t sort out the prob­lem and we ended up clos­ing the ferry for three days.”

Slow­ing down was in­evitable for Colin and soon he found him­self in­volved in the Moss­man Bowls Club and tak­ing over­seas trips.

Colin and Grace had four boys, one of whom trag­i­cally died af­ter a road ac­ci­dent, but en­joy the com­pany of their six grand­chil­dren.

Col’s list of des­ti­na­tions in­cludes North Amer­ica, New Zealand, South East Asia, Tahiti and China and a cruise from Sin­ga­pore to Cairns.

“I re­ally en­joyed the cruise – not so much the places we stopped but the peo­ple I met,” he said, “and I am look­ing at do­ing an­other one, maybe to New Guinea.”

My mate Jack Con­nelly and I took off early one morn­ing and herded up some wild horses and put them into the school’s ten­nis court

NEXT WEEK IN LOOK­ING BACK: Who is this in­trigu­ing lady?

Colin An­dreassen at home to­day. In­set: Dredg­ing the Dain­tree, 2006

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