Last month, we began our tour of local heritage places at the Wallaby Hotel in Mudgeeraba. The township is said to have sprung from its watering holes, after all. This month, we continue to look around Mudgeeraba at other sites of cultural significance. We visit three heritage places that have played an ongoing role in building this strong bush community.
Mudgeeraba is a shining example of how a community can grow by recognising and preserving its heritage. Its historical sites play an ongoing role as community hubs. Local lore, memories and nostalgia have been continuously carried through these hubs over generations, even when a building undergoes physical change.
These sites offer the public access to increasingly rare communal spaces used for ceremonial, recreational and social activities.
Gold Coast Hinterland Heritage Museum, Mudgeeraba
If you really want an insight into the lives of early pioneering families in the Gold Coast hinterland areas, this museum is definitely worth a visit. Several buildings of significant heritage have been relocated to the site from nearby districts, forming a historical village of its own.
One building is the former Nerang Railway Station, built in 1889. After closing in 1964, the station lay dormant until transported to its current home in 2007. The reconstructed station features four rooms, perhaps one of those more interesting being what was once a waiting room to the ‘Ladies WC’. This tiny room displays an enviable collection of cameras in a range of different ages. Other rooms are set up with items of bygone eras – a rail station master’s room, a gaslit classroom and a saddle room laced with military artefacts.
Open Sundays 10am-2pm at 238 Mudgeeraba Rd, Mudgeeraba.
Check out gchheritagemuseum.org.au for more info.
The Old Presbyterian Church
By late 19th century, the southern districts were still lacking spiritual houses. Tallebudgera, Mudgeeraba and Southport were all without resident clergymen until the turn of the 20th century.
Now part of the Uniting Church, the Old Presbyterian Church has been a part of the Mudgeeraba community for over 130 years and is the oldest church on the Gold Coast. The little chapel remains in its original location, on land donated by pioneer settler, William Laver.
The church is still used for traditional worship and as a place of quiet prayer. Worship services every Sunday at 9am at 89 Franklin Drive, Mudgeeraba.
Mudgeeraba School of Arts Memorial Hall
Cultural heritage is made of people as much as buildings. This is exemplified by the Mudgeeraba School of Arts Memorial Hall. Built in 1922, the original hall was the largest in the South Coast.
The hall played host to any and every social event in the village – celebratory occasions, ceremonies, school events, dances. It was renowned for its beautiful dancefloor cut from locally hewn timber. It even served as an exhibition space for the Mudgeeraba Show. The hall was a true cultural hub and gathering place for the local community.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck in the week leading up to ANZAC Day in 1993 when the hall went up in flames. Just like that, it was gone. The profound loss was felt by the community, exacerbated by the recent death of local legend, world champion wood-chopper, John ‘The Local Butcher’ Franklin.
The community did what it had always done and came together. Locals decided to rebuild a new hall in a similar style to the old (including a bespoke ash timber dancefloor). Connections, memories and nostalgia of the growing bush community deeply motivated locals to return the site to what it had always been. Two years later on ANZAC Day 1995, the new building was in service once again as the community’s hub.
Today the hall continues to play a vital role in providing space for public to gather and participate in a wide range of activities from fitness classes to nationally acclaimed art exhibitions. 62 Railway St, Mudgeeraba. The prestigious D’Arcy Doyle Art Awards will display over 500 artworks at the hall from 23 June to 4 July. Opening Night 6-9pm on 24 June. darcydoyleartawards.com.au.
Historical images supplied by Gold Coast City Libraries.