The 11 December 2015 Re-Opening of Jack Cook Park

It was rather dark for 6 o’clock on a summers evening. Clouds circled above with the promise of rain which did not eventuate. The BrizWest Community Ensemble (about 15 in all) had unpacked their brass & percussion to strike out at Carols for a bit of a sing-a-long.
A film screen had been pitched for the scheduled 7pm showing of “Home Alone”. Lying beyond the screen picnic blankets paraded across the grounds with a few wise old chairs for the older sitters behind. Amid all of this, with the children chasing about, the sausage sizzle began. The crowd had swelled just short of 200 and the queues came to quite a length. All remained very well behaved as free Sausages, Coffee & Hot Chocolate were sought. Free Face Painting was also available.

Early in the evening I was introduced to Rick Hedges, who is the current administrator of Little Athletics and the Toowong Harriers. I took this as a good opportunity to present one of my Dad’s old club badges (pictured right) back to the Harriers as a visual icon of their history. My dad was Harold Cook, youngest brother to Jack. The other person of interest I met was my cousin Denis Cook who was in attendance with his wife Helen. Denis was Jack Cook’s son.
What is now known as Jack Cook Memorial Park was originally land that was established as part of Robert Cribb’s Farm (1852). After WW1 it became known as Heroes Park and transferred to the council as a trust to operate as a park.
Currently the park is often used for sports clubs and by personal fitness instructors. One club meets Thursday nights to play cricket and the grounds are frequented by an older citizens walking group (mainly from the retirement village next door). The Little Athletics and the Toowong Harriers both meet in the park and make use of the clubhouse.
An application for it to be gazetted as parkland was made successfully on 1 May 1984 and it was named as Jack Cook Memorial Park. The submission was made by both the Toowong Harriers and the Toowong RSL Sub-branch. Soon after a clubhouse was erected for the Toowong Harriers after which a dedication was given and Denver Beanland MLA officiated its opening.
The reopening of this park was effected by a speech from the Councillor for the Walter Taylor Ward, Julian Simmons, who outlined extensive work done to remove the hazardous rubbish from the topsoil, seal the base clay pan & backfill with fresh topsoil while also providing an inbuilt irrigation system certain to help save time. The remediation was also important, given the 2011 flood damage to the area.
It was noted that completion of the topsoil had not yet been finalized, with the expectation that all would be well over the next three weeks. The ceremony was finalized with a few words from Denis Cook about his father Jack and his long involvement with the club (since 1923 to his passing in 1984) and his desire that there be a home for the Harriers.
Thank you to Jack Cook’s niece Genean Wildesen for writing this report of the event

Childhood memories of roaming Toowong’s streets

Roden_smlStuart Roden’s family came to settle in Toowong in about 1919 or 1920 when his father Olof Clarence (‘Clarrie’) Roden purchased land at 8 Augustus Street, three doors up from Bennett Street, and had the family residence built on this land.

Starting with memories of his childhood home, Stuart recalls nearby local streets and the people who lived here, and concludes at Toowong Memorial Park, the source of many wonderful childhood memories for Stuart.

According to McNaughts, our topside neighbours, the 1893 flood just reached the bottom side fence. Extensions were later added to the house. It was the place of birth for all three of us — Clarence James, who was known as ‘Jim’, born in 1921 Stuart (me), born in 1925 and my sister Eleanor Vera, born in 1926. Dr Wheeler, of Sherwood Road, delivered all three.Sherwood_Road

Originally, there was an ‘out-house’ dunny in the backyard. Augustus Street was one of the earlier streets in Brisbane to be connected to the main sewer to Pinkenba. The street was bituminised during the Great Depression by ‘Relief’ workers. The milkman, whose name was Mr Shields, delivered milk in big quart metal pots and pint pot. He had a utility truck covered at the back, with two big milk cans with taps on them and he’d fill our containers.

Delungra Street, off the north side of Augustus Street, was an easement which was lined with huge old gum trees on its eastern side and belonged to the Swain family who lived in a large old house down the easement. There was a white picket fence with double gates on Augustus Street. The hearse with the body of the grandfather of my friend, Wally Swain (full name: Walter Edward Swain) came out those gates, probably around 1937.

In Golding Street, that part of the street east of Earle Street was opened up in the mid-1930s with five look-a-like houses built on the north side. The area covered by the five houses and the extension of Golding Street was previously a big paddock which belonged to the Swain Senior family.

My friend Wally lived in a house on the eastern end of the old Golding Street, on the topside, with their northern fence on what was then a paddock. Cowboys and Indians and building cubby houses out of small trees in the paddock were what sometimes occupied my friend Wally and me. My mother took me to school (at the Toowong State School) on my first day and I was expected to find my way home. But Wally’s mother brought me home on the first day of school (along with Wally) from Toowong State School through their yard, the Swain Senior’s yard, the easement and the double gates on Augustus Street. Wally was a life-long friend until the day he died! He was my best friend at school and later I was his Best Man.

Next door, on the top side of Wally’s place, were the Fardons. Then there was a pedestrian lane here between Golding Street and Augustus Street. The lane is now closed. Then there were the Cribbs (he was a dentist); the Steers (and this house was later bought by the McGregor Lowndes) and then Charles Elliott, who was on the corner of Golding and Jephson Street. The latter was a stockbroker. On the right-hand side was the fire station, which I will discuss later. There was an easement from the lower end of the new part of Golding Street to Standring Street, which ran eastward to Bennett Street.

Church_St_Toowong

Church Street, now Jephson Street

Earle Street ran from Golding Street to Sylvan Road. Sylvan Road met Croydon Street at the corner with Church Street (now Jephson) and ran westwards to Milton Road. Just near the corner of Croydon Street on Milton Road was the Elite Picture Theatre where I used to go to the pictures with the family on Saturday nights. My father used to ring up and book our seats and we used to walk down and home again. Your eyes became accustomed to the dark and you didn’t really need a torch. You could see the Milky Way clearly in those days and it was beautiful to see!

Lands’ Wholesale/Retail Butcher Shop and Ice Works was on the corner of Earle Street and Sylvan Road. Augustus Street and Golding Street joined Jephson Street, formerly Church Street, as did Sylvan Road, which continued westward to Milton Road near the Brisbane General Cemetery (or Toowong Cemetery).