House debates

Monday, 3 June 2013


Roberston Electorate

9:53 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (Robertson, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise with considerable pride to speak on another wonderful community initiative that I was able to celebrate on Sunday, 26 May—just a little over a week ago—with the local community at the Wagstaffe community hall.

The book that I have before me, to which I will refer this evening—People, Place and Progress: A History of the Association at Wagstaffe and Pretty Beach,by Robyn Warburton—was the book we were celebrating on that occasion. I have mentioned in this place what a beautiful place I live in and the Bouddi Headland, where the Wagstaffe, Pretty Beach and Hardys Bay communities live, was very much a drawcard for people from Sydney who went on holidays. There were many stories about the ferry ride across from Woy Woy—as people got off the train, they made their way to the ferry and headed from Woy Woy over to the peninsula. We heard many of these wonderful stories on that Sunday.

Robyn Warburton is a semiretired teacher who was very happy with her career but, in retirement, has taken on this incredible endeavour of telling the story of our local community. On the day of the launch, she reminded us once again of how she arrived when the Wagstaffe hall was undergoing a massive clean-up. Having finally been delivered to the local community on Christmas Eve 1953, the hall later fell into quite a state of disrepair. It was not until the nineties that two amazing women, Fay Gunther and Gwen Perry, got together and put this hall back into shape. Now it is a real hub for us to celebrate all the achievements—the many birthdays, parties and celebrations—that go on there; and live music with no-one speaking, just sitting and enjoying the music, is now another of the things we can do at Wagstaffe hall.

On that Sunday afternoon we were treated to a beautiful visual and verbal history of the 1950s. John Herron spoke of his father, the projectionist, who was critical in getting the hall established in the first place. John's father, Laurie, was a draughtsman and actually did the drawings and plans for the building. John had this to say:

After coming home on Friday night and having a quick tea, he was off down to the hall to put the pictures on. He was then not an iceman, not a draughtsman, not a designer, but a projectionist. He was the projectionist—the picture show man, in living black and white.

That sense of the community gathering on Friday evenings at Hardys Bay, to experience the films they were able to show in their own community, was tremendous. John Herron told us about the fifties through his eyes as a child and recalled the wonderful challenges they faced and rose to.

Jim McFadyen, who is a local Labor councillor, spoke about the 1960s, and it was a real pleasure to see the projectionist put up pictures of Pam, his wife, in her teenage years. Jim and Pam are wonderful mainstays of our local community. Bev Walther spoke about the seventies. Robert Bell, an independent councillor who was one of the longest-serving mayors of our region, spoke about the 1980s, when there was a real burgeoning of progress associations and their impact in our community more broadly. I mentioned Fay Gunther and Gwen Perry, who were instrumental in bringing the old hall back to life and, funnily enough, changing its orientation from looking into the community—turning it around so you can look out through the glass, now, over the ferry wharf at Wagstaffe to the beautiful Brisbane Water. Finally, we were treated to a version of 'what does it cost a person to be involved in the community' by Graham Anderson, who spoke about the journey of the noughties.

This community on the Bouddi Peninsula is setting a standard for local communities in terms of really celebrating our history and keeping it alive, and the power of individuals to get together to work as citizens and call for the things they need for their community. Robyn commences the book with the very first mention of the community getting together; she there regales us with a story of parents putting their signatures to a request for a school in the local area. These documents that she has gathered together—the photographs, the stories, the oral histories and written stories that come from the progress association—were about to be turfed out in the nineties as that reparation was about to begin. Robyn is a woman of great integrity and love of community who has a passion for telling stories in an authentic and articulate way, and I think she has done a great service to our community in the provision of this book. (Time expired)