Backward Glance: old country hall rafters rang with the sound of music and laughter
  • Wednesday 06 January 2016
Opening of the Hunchy Public Hall 21 November 1925Today we turn back the clock to focus on the old country halls which came alive to the sound of music on Friday or Saturday nights in the Sunshine Coast district.

The Master of ceremonies, local musicians, visiting dance bands, ball room dancing, novelty dances for which prizes were given and sometimes a visiting act or yodeller all played a part in these very popular nights out.

Supper was usually served midway through the evening and large pots of tea, labelled “black” or “white with one”, were brought around to fill the empty cups. Sandwiches and cakes were set out in the “supper room” or passed around in the break.

During World War II, Billy Edlundh of Caloundra was voted the best tea maker by the soldiers camped in the district because of his willingness to boil the billy at any function. The soldiers made him a badge which said “Best Billy Boiler” which he wore proudly.

No intoxicating liquor was generally served at the dances, but some of the men were seen to take a nip of spirits, perhaps behind the hall, while no one was looking.

Women would bring their children and bunked them down with bedding under the seats around the walls or in the cloak room.

The rafters rang with the sound of music and the laughter of friends and sweethearts.

The people who came caught up with the farm or family news, danced and enjoyed themselves until late. Then they headed home to wake early for farming or milking on the many dairies which were once a predominant part of the Sunshine Coast landscape.

Special events from the past can sometimes be seen commemorated in framed photographs in our local halls.

The Hunchy Hall was officially opened by R J Warren MLA on November 21, 1925. It provided a place to meet and socialise and the well-advertised event drew a large crowd. It combined a fete, sports events and luncheon with an evening dance to follow.

A dance was held in the Diggers' Hall Nambour to mark the closing of the Nambour Rural School in Mitchell Street, on December 12, 1930. Following the closure of the school, a new Rural School commenced in Carroll Street in 1931.

Many dances were held to raise funds for the armed forces during the war years. They were well attended by the community and any members of the armed forces stationed here on the Coast.

One of the biggest events was the Landsborough Queen Competition on September 29, 1941 where funds were raised for a training plane. The music was by Thompson’s Band and supper was provided by the ladies of Landsborough. A total of $2214 was raised by the district to assist the war effort.

In 1949, Violet Dawson was crowned Queen of the Glideway Hall at Kings Beach. The Glideway Hall, built in 1939, was promoted as having the best wooden dance floor in the district, with beautiful high ceilings and lights. Many of the older halls had carbide lighting or lamps.

Exhibition skating was featured as a drawcard as well as dancing at the Glideaway. Old timers have fond memories of the Glideway which has now been replaced with other structures.

Photographs of school break ups, visiting dignitaries, weddings, birthdays, debutante balls and other events held in these halls are now distant reminders of the past. For many communities the local hall is now a dusty relic used a few times a year, but for some communities it’s still the lifeblood of the small town.

As the years have turned, the style of music and dancing has changed, but not the old country hall and country hospitality.

Many of the older halls on the Sunshine Coast remain almost unchanged from when they were built and are a testimony to our pioneers who had the vision to build these gathering places for the local communities that have used them over many years.

There is no doubt the community halls played a large part in the early Sunshine Coast’s social development.