History Is Alive In Australia

We’re stationed here in the Moreton Bay Region of Queensland, Australia. This area is located in the middle between the Sunshine Coast to the north and the Gold Coast to the south. We’ve learned from the locals that Redcliffe, the friendly seaside town located on Moreton Bay, used to be a sleepy little vacation spot for Aussies. These days, while Redcliffe has her share of multi story buildings and resorts, she still has that laid back feel and you don’t have to venture too far to see that history is alive in Australia.

Since we’re sort of tied to the area until Dazzler sells we’ve been taking day trip adventures. I spend my free time looking through tourist brochures, magazines and, of course, surfing the net trying to find the next daily adventure. There’s no shortage of them in this area either so often times it can be challenging to decide where we go next.

Just over a month ago we found Old Petrie Town. This historical village is located in Whiteside, Queensland. It’s just 21 km south and west of the Scarborough Marina. Spreading across 48 acres of parkland the village is absolutely loaded with history. Most of the historic buildings on site are pre 1900s and they are laid out to resemble a typical town from the era. 

One of the park’s founders, Pine Rivers Shire Councillor and Deputy Mayor, Bryan Galva, said of the park, that it “should be regarded as a gift from the residents of the old millennium to those of the new.” Apparently he clearly understands the value of preserving history for future generations. A lesson many in the world today could stand to learn.

History Is Alive At Old Petrie Town

Our first trip to Old Petrie Town was during the week. We arrived to what looked like a ghost town. There’s no entry fee so we just started walking through the deserted streets admiring the various buildings. Some of these antique buildings are strictly there for show while others have been turned into shops. Their exteriors preserved while the interiors have been slightly modernized to house these stores.

There are antique shops, clothing stores, gift shops, art galleries, an old time ice cream parlor and more. The Heritage Hotel houses a lovely little restaurant. We sat on the deck there and had lunch. With the town being virtually empty that day it was easy to let our minds drift and imagine what it would have been like to live in this town a couple of centuries ago. If only I’d had a bonnet and dress on I’d have felt just like I was back at Little House On The Prairie.

It was on the deck here that I had my first up close and personal interaction with the amazing Kookaburra bird. With all the colorful cockatoos, cockateels, finches, plovers and more that inhabit this vast country the Kookaburra has quickly become my favorite Aussie bird. 

Why? Well, when they sing it sounds less like a song and more like a human laughing.  It’s almost as if you can hear the sarcasm as they cackle. The one I met at the hotel was not shy either. He literally sat less than a foot away from me on the railing. Knowing how much I love animals you have to know it was my favorite part of the day.

It was on this first trip to Old Petrie Town that we first saw the Steam Engine Museum. They ask for a small entry donation to help keep them running. We walked in an saw some of the most interesting old steam engines. Some were used on ships, others in mills and still others were on cars and steamrollers. There’s a huge boiler near the entrance that creates the steam for all the stationary engines on display. The museum is dirty and there’s oil everywhere but I absolutely loved it!

Having grown up in a family that owned a Tool and Die business for a couple of decades I always love the smell of oil and machinery. It reminds me of my daddy and my grandfathers. So yes, I was right at home in the oily, smelly museum.

While in the museum we met with a couple of the old timers who were there working on some of the smaller engines. We chatted with them for quite a while as they told us stories of how some of the engines came to be in the museum. They also told us that we should come back on the first Sunday of the the month as each month on that day they fire up the old engines. Now that was definitely a reason to come back. 

Also, on the weekends they hold the weekend market filled with dozens of stands selling doodads and baubles and such. And, we learned that on the first Sunday in May they would be celebrating Koala Day too. More animals…more reasons to return.

Of course we did return for Koala Day. The animal exhibits were small but still interesting. They had a few of the Australian animals like baby wallabies, snakes (which I avoided like the plague), koalas, some very odd reptiles and even a few micro bats. They had a shingleback lizard too. This thing has a bobbed tail that looks like a head with markings that resemble eyes. It’s said that this is to confuse its predators. It was just a little too freaky looking for this gal but still interesting to learn about and observe. 

Over 100 Years Old And Still Running

The most interesting part of the day was the steam engine exhibition. They trotted out steam rollers, cars and other machinery and drove them along the back road of the park. And in the museum itself they had almost every engine running. The shhh sound of the steam as it pulsed and pushed itself through all of these old engines was rhythmic, almost lyrical. Of course it was quite warm in there with these machines belching out steam but I was too fascinated to care.

History Is Alive

What I find the most interesting about all this is that these engines were old, really old. Some were over 100 years old and yet they are still running. Yes, it takes a lot of maintenance and oil to run them but they work. The hundred plus volunteers that keep this museum operating prove that if you build something well and take care of it, it can last for a very, very long time. Seems to me this is a valuable lesson we all should take to heart…especially the manufacturers who build planned obsolescence into their products. 

Off To Banana Bender Pub

Ahhh but let’s not take the fun out of the day by discussing such things. After spending a couple of hours at Old Petrie Town we jumped in the car and took the hour plus drive up to Banana Bender Pub. This place is not only huge and quite unique but also comes with a bit of Australian history attached.

You see many years ago there was a police officer named Ken Maynard. He loved drawing and even submitted his cartoons to the Victoria Police Gazette. Then one day Sir Keith Arthur Murdock (father to Rupert Murdock) who owned the Australasian Post saw them and just like that Maynard went from being a police officer to a cartoonist. 

His original cartoon was called Ned & Neddy and featured a stockman (Ned) on his overloaded horse (Neddy). The Ettamogah Pub was featured in the background but over time it became the focus and Ned and Neddy drifted off into obscurity.

Ettamogah is an Aboriginal word meaning “place for good drink”. Maynard’s cartoons eventually came to be about good mates having a drink and a smoke at the pub while discussing life and poking fun at Australians. Interestingly enough Maynard neither drank nor smoke. His cartoons ran for over fifty years in the Aussie Post.

In the 1980’s a family came along who wanted to bring the Ettamogah to life. They purchased all of the rights to the characters and even bought more than 1500 pieces of Maynard’s work. Then they set out to build the first Ettamagoh Pub in Albury, Australia. The oddly shaped building looks just as it does in the cartoons and inside it features the cartoons that comprised Maynard’s lifework. And, as happens, they built up a small chain of these pubs across Australia. Today just a handful are still in business.

What does all this have to do with Banana Bender? Well, this place was, up until 2014, an Ettamogah Pub. Apparently there was some dispute over the intellectual property rights and so the owner of the pub commenced to remove all likenesses and property referring to Maynard and the Ettamogah pub. He eventually redeveloped the place and called it Banana Bender Pub.

Interestedly enough, while he removed all of the references to Maynard, he kept the cartoony feel throughout. This three level, massive building has 500 meters of outdoor decks. The Mango Bar & Grille serves tasty food that just oozes tropical flair. There’s the “shed” out back where they have live music, two indoor bars and a beer garden. 

Photo Owned By Banana Bender Pub
Photo Owned By Banana Bender Pub

And, if you have lunch there you can play a round of putt putt golf at Aussie World which is right outside their backdoor. We’ve been there twice for lunch and played putt putt both times.  Sadly, as much as I hate to admit it, Dan was the winner both times. Of course I’m sure Grape Ape was helping him. I’m pretty certain I saw him lurking in the bushes near the hole a few times. How else could Dan have hit a hole in one on the twisty turning 18th hole?

You really have to see this place to appreciate it. In our opinion, the only thing missing is a life-size statue of Grape Ape sitting under one of the many palm trees or hanging out with a kangaroo. Of course we did make certain to snap a pic of him surfing with the roo and the koala. He printed a copy and is carrying it around in his kangaroo skin wallet.

All in all it was a ripper of an adventure where history literally came alive in the morning while ending at a super cool pub filled with fun and brilliant eats. Like we always say, “Adventure is right outside your door. You just have to open your eyes and look for it.”

Until Next Time,



Want to live your own amazing adventures and visit some of the most incredible places at home and abroad? Dazzler is for sale! It’s time for her owners to pass the torch so another lucky crew can enjoy their own adventures aboard this incredible yacht. If you want to know more, click below for a video walk through and complete spec sheet.

Author: Dan & Jilly

1 thought on “History Is Alive In Australia

  1. Good luck in selling Dazzler. What are your plans after that happens? Mark continues the upgrades to Sunnyside. A trip to the Bahamas this winter. Still lots to do before then.

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