COAST’S LOST LITTLE BROTHER
Beenleigh will soon celebrate 150 years and, though it’s no longer a Gold Coast township, its community spirit lives on
THE Gold Coast lost a township. This place was once proudly all fire and cane, renowned for its rum. Beenleigh, you could be forgiven for thinking, is buggered, but you’re wrong.
Families are about to celebrate 150 years of pioneering spirit.
Community worker June Hintz called your columnist, desperate to get the word out that organisers of the celebrations promoted by the Beenleigh Historical Village and Museum were trying to track down the town’s oldest promotional models.
The Glitter Strip has its glorious history of meter maids but Beenleigh had Cane Queens and an annual street parade which in the 1960s attracted more than 20,000.
“We have spent months looking around town with little success. What we learnt talking to people is most have either moved to the Gold Coast or gone elsewhere,” Ms Hintz wrote.
The Cane Queens quest continued until a few years ago. One of the last entrants was a bloke.
“We as a town where the postcode attacks snobbery – well, this single event gave our kids hope,” Ms Hintz said.
The signs of struggle are always there now. Nearby factories close, farms on the Logan River fight the prawn white spot disease.
A giant shopping mall project – you can see it at the Beenleigh exit on the eastern side of the Pacific Motorway – is abandoned. The only visitors are budding graffiti artists.
How did a mate, an underdog with community spirit, get removed from the Coast, shoved around between authorities like an orphan?
Beenleigh was the thriving northern civic centre when the Coast had two councils – Albert looking after the farming and growth communities in the north and Gold Coast City covering the Glitter Strip and canal estates. Albert became part of the new Gold Coast City Council in 1995 but Beenleigh a decade later drafted into Logan City. Imagine going from the Coast to Logan?
Anne Hackwood, who or- ganised the Cane Queen Quest, knows the history better than anyone. Her husband Ray, a straight shooter, was elected to all three councils.
“I can tell you that most of the people in Beenleigh would still rather be in the Gold Coast. We’re on the south side of the Logan River,” Mrs Hackwood told your columnist.
“There was a sign – Welcome to the Gold Coast. We used to like having it up. I think we always should be part of it.”
The Pacific Motorway bypassing Beenleigh, the transport links like rail opening and closing across the decades, none of this helped.
When June Hintz thinks about the future weekend celebrations planned from November 3, her thoughts turn to the past and writer Mark Twain travelling in London in the late 1890s.
Gold Coast people, you’ve heard the rumours of your lost brother Beenleigh’s death. They are greatly exaggerated.
George St, Beenleigh in 1895, when it was still a Gold Coast township.
A car crossing the Logan River Bridge at Beenleigh circa 1930; and former councillor Ray Hackwood with his wife Anne.