Backward Glance: Reminiscences of courting days gone by
  • Wednesday 10 February 2016
The day before Valentine’s Day, we take a look at how courtship rituals have changed throughout the years.

Courtships were often conducted from a distance due to isolation and lack of transport.

Dancing to the strains of a popular band in the old dance halls, making your debut, going to the beach, bush walking, meeting for a game of tennis, or watching the cricket all provided opportunities to meet other young people.

Sometimes a family considered a struggling farmer, serviceman or teamster well beneath their daughter but mostly love prevailed.

The story of Australian explorer William Landsborough’s courtship and subsequent marriage to his second wife Maria Theresa identifies Maria as a strong feisty woman.
William certainly had to learn about the importance of communication in a relationship. That is one thing that hasn’t changed.

After their wedding in 1873, the bridal couple left Brisbane on horseback to spend their honeymoon at Bankfoot House situated in the Glass House Mountains.
He was very silent as they rode.

Suddenly the new Mrs Landsborough turned her horse around and whipped it into a gallop.

An aghast William saw her disappearing towards Brisbane and the more furiously he galloped after the experienced horsewoman, the faster she went.

When he drew rein, William asked his bride why she galloped away. “You rode 17 miles (34 kilometres) without speaking a word. I thought I had married a man not a post,” was her reply.

The railway changed lives significantly. Not only was it a faster means of travel, it could provide the latest news if you visited the station and met up with old friends or picked up the mail.

Always a busy place, the Landsborough Railway Station had “Refreshment Rooms” which required plenty of female staff.

Excuses were made by single sons to pick up a visiting passenger or perhaps offer to take the produce or freight to the railway to be sold in Brisbane.

Mooloolah Station was a place where courtships took place in the 1920s.

The lads of Mooloolah would come into town when the train, known as Number 99, came through on a Friday or Saturday night about 8pm.

The station master played the fiddle and his daughter the violin when the night train arrived.

Some of the young ladies from town would perhaps wander over, chaperoned of course. It was the main event.

Once the train left the young men of the district would get on their horses and ride many miles home.

The bus depot in Caloundra was also a place where the local youth in the 1950s waited to see who got off the Caloundra bus bringing the holidaymakers from Landsborough Station.

Many a love interest was first seen getting off the local bus, while lifesavers had the chance to meet a pretty girl when on patrol.

These stories and memories are from an era when, perhaps, the father met the young gentlemen before his daughter was allowed to go courting or even sit on the veranda together.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers and Picture Sunshine Coast for the words.

Hero image: Caloundra Debutante Ball at Glideaway Hall also known as Digger's Hall renowned for its dance floor was a very popular venue for skating and dancing in the district.

Carousel images:
Image 1: Ivy Loweke and fiance Walter Pickering seated on the sideboard of a Pylmouth car, Kenilworth, 1949.
Image 2: Young people enjoying a day at Peregian Beach ca 1963.
Image 3: Del Parkyn of Mooloolaba opening wedding gifts after her marriage to Arthur Parkyn on 22 September, 1956 in Honolulu.
Image 4: Keith Pacey and friends from Brisbane holidaying at Mooloolaba, ca 1962.
Image 5 - Kings Beach sweethearts,1945.
Image 6: Local and visiting members of Maroochydore SLSC posing for a photo on Maroochydore Beach, Easter 1927.