Visionary plants kernel for growth
At the [ Charters Towers] Police Court on Wednesday before magistrate Mr C. A. M. Morris, a Chinaman named Ah Sam was charged with being of unsound mind. He was seen on the top of the poppet legs of the Hit or Miss Mine and when questioned said he would come down after the earthquake had passed over Charters Towers. Accused was discharged. Mr A. S. Pinch, who has been tortoise- shell getting among the islands in Whitsunday Passage, arrived in town ( says the Port Denison Times, Bowen) bringing with him six large turtle which he intends freezing and sending to London in the vessel taking the frozen meat as an experiment. Call to Queenslanders 30 men or more wanted daily: Age 18 to 35; minimum chest measurement 33in; minimum height 5ft 3in. Rates or pay: Lieutenant, 21s per day; sergeant 10s 6d; corporal 10s; privates 6s. Separation allowance to married men receiving less than 8s per day; ( a) for wife living at home, 1s 5d per day; ( b) for each child under 16 years of age, 4 ½ d per day. With a view to lessening the risks attendant at night, particularly to pedestrians in the blackout hours, the Chief Air Warden ( Mr J. C. Butler) on Wednesday stressed the need for persons walking along the roads to wear at least a white armlet so that they can be distinguished by the drivers of motor vehicles. The Hayles launch service had some unusual passengers from Magnetic Island on Thursday. They comprised three cows and four calves, which had been purchased by a mainland resident from Nelly Bay. Townsville listed company Kern Bros Ltd launches its massive Willows Estate in 1976, five months before the death of the firm’s founder Ron Kern, aged 53 KERN Bros Ltd launched their 3500- lot Willows Residential Estate in June, 1976, with a tree- planting ceremony on Townsville’s Chinee applestubbled western fringe.
Thuringowa Shire chairman Dan Gleeson planted the first tree in a spot described by the Townsville Bulletin on June 9, 1978, as the junction of Herveys Range Rd and Ross River Rd.
The council had approved a town plan for this area in 1970.
Barry Paul, general manager of Kern Bros, a Townsville- based, publicly listed property development and construction company, said the first blocks would be available for sale by the end of the month.
He said the 467ha estate would include a regional shop- ping centre, an 18 hole golf course and a 12ha sporting complex for rugby, soccer, hockey and lawn bowls.
Kern Bros had already embarked on three large developments in the Kirwan- Mount Louisa area, the 365- lot Dalrymple Park Estate, the 640lot Mountain View Estate and 550- lot Hi Vista Estate.
Chairman and managing director Ron Kern took pride in announcing at the firm’s 1974 annual general meeting that profits had risen every year since 1960.
He founded the business in Townsville in 1947 with broth- ers Stan and Lionel, after seeing potential in the North while recovering from being wounded in action while serving with the 2nd/ 28th AIF Battalion in World War II.
Floated on the Brisbane stock exchange in 1966, Kern Bros diversified during the 1950s from house- building to developing residential subdivisions in Brisbane, Townsville, Gladstone, Ipswich and Rockhampton.
By early 1970 the company’s land holdings for residential development included 824ac [ 333 ha] in Townsville, 484ac [ 195ha] Ipswich, the Bulletin re- ported on September 23, 1970.
The company’s subsidiary, Centenary Homes Pty Ltd, also held a 1175ac [ 475ha] property in Thuringowa Shire, with 420ac [ 170ha] zoned residential and 755ac [ 305ha] rural.
In 1976, the Willows Estate development eclipsed Kern Bros’ earlier Townsville projects in size and ambition, being intended as a community of interlinked, quiet and leafy neighbourhoods with separate parks for each 50 to 100 homes.
The planners’ road layout was intended to tame traffic and ensure “the ultimate in quiet living”, Mr Paul said at the launching.
He gave Mr Gleeson a bonsai plant to mark the occasion, pledging the firm would plant 15,000 trees while developing the estate.
Work had begun on establishing a plant nursery to provide new residents with trees and shrubs to enhance their neighbourhoods, he said.
Ron Kern died a few months later, in October, 1976, aged 53, leaving very little beyond Kern Bros Drive to link his name with the melaleucashaded drives of Thuringowa Central.
The Bulletin described him on October 5, 1976, as a self- effacing pioneer with a natural genius for organisation and a visionary belief in Townsville’s future.
The Kern building, corner of Denham St and Melton Tce, Townsville CBD, built in 1896 for wine merchant William Lennon.
Ron Kern, c. 1970.