Sunday, January 28, 2007

Unspoilt Tin Can Bay

These photographs were taken by a special friend of mine who visited me from the States when I was living in Gympie, before I moved up here to the 'mountain.'

I have other photographs of that day but they are proving too hard to upload for whatever reason known only to "Edgar". ("Edgar" being my computer, in case you have forgotten). Perhaps they are too big. I'll give up on them for the moment, because I've already managed to delete an almost-completed post on what I am about to re-write. You can imagine the mood that put me in! But just in case, I wasn't quite yet in the right mood, the power went out for about a I had to start all over again...for the second time!

It's reported that the name "Tin Can Bay" is derived from "tinchin" or "tidhin", a name for the species of mangrove in Yugumbir language spoken by the Aboriginals at that time.
Others say that "Tin Can" is a word derived from the word "tinken", a vine with a large ribbed leaf, which grew on the beaches. The area was also known as "Tuncunba" - "ba" meaning "Place of ". "Tuncun" meaning "Dugong" or "Plenty of tucker". A white lad, "Zachariah Daniel Sparkes Skyring" was one of the first permanent residents in the area. He later called the town "Tin Can Bay". Zachariah was born on 13th. July, 1861 and died on the 4th.June, 1957. South of Gympie is Skyring's Creek. "Skyring" is a well-known name in the Gympie/Cooloola area.
Tin Can Bay became the site for Queensland's first private railway, which opened in 1873. The Kaloolah railway had at total line length of nine miles from the rafting grounds jetty at Poverty Point, heading into the tree-laden, hence timber-laden forests
These days Tin Can Bay is home to close to 3,000 people. It is a very low-key and relaxing area.
My State-side friend and I spent our days venturing to the surrounding horizons around Gympie armed with picnic lunches. One day, to our surprise, we stumbled across a 'faerie' cottage, wherein he, to his disgust, was ceremoniously doused with 'faerie dust'. That's a story for another day!
Tin Can Bay is about 30-40 minutes drive east from Gympie, depending on how heavy one's foot is on the accelerator! The drive through Goomboorian, a farming area betwixt Gympie and Tin Can Bay is quite stunning, in my opinion. Frequently, when living back in Gympie, I would drive down to the 'Bay' on a Sunday or Monday morning (my two days off from work) for breakfast at the small yacht club. The club is built on the water's edge. There was nothing more pleasant than sitting out on the deck, lost in my thoughts as I enjoyed both the view and my breakfast. I lie...there was something equally as nice as breakfasting on the deck of the yacht club...sometimes, instead, I would buy some delicious, freshly-cooked fish (in batter, of course!) and chips and sit on the foreshore, surrounded by ravenous seagulls. I never mind seagulls as I'm always on the look-out for 'Jonathan Livingstone Seagull'. I know I've seen and conversed with him a few times!
When my brother and I were young, fishing and mud-crabbing were two of our mother’s pet pastimes.
Often, Mum, Graham (my older brother), Nana and I jumped on a bus en route to Tin Can Bay. In those days (even more so than nowadays), Tin Can Bay was a sleepy little fishing village, consisting of corrugated iron, timber or fibro shacks. Most were without electricity. At night, hurricane lamps and candles shed light inside the beach shacks in which we and others holidayed. Late afternoon and evening the air would be dense with a heavy cloak of smoke from the smouldering cow manure packed in forty-four gallon drums in the backyards. The burning of cow manure was an endeavour to keep the mosquitoes and sand-flies at bay. The sand-flies were the bane of my existence. They loved me. They still do, for that matter! The feeling wasn’t and still isn’t mutual! I hated them then and I still do now! When we were kids, Tin Can Bay had an open-air picture ‘theatre’. Many a night after dinner, my brother and I sat in the backyard of where we were staying to watch the screen from afar, barely hearing or understanding the dialogue. Mostly, we invented our own scripts, much to our delight.

Every day, and most nights during our visits to Tin Can Bay, our mother fished and mud-crabbed. Meanwhile, Nana, Graham and I collected oysters off the rocks to the right of the esplanade. Armed with an oyster knife each, we opened the shells bearing the delectable delicacies, eating many as we went along the oyster-bearing rocks. We each had a large glass jar to fill with oysters to take back to the shack. At the threat of death, we guarded the oyster knives as if they were made of gold. The prized oyster knives used to belong to our grandfather, long departed.
Once back at the beach shack, we feasted on the fish and crab Mum caught, together with our bounty of fresh oysters. Our fresh seafood was always served simply with fresh bread, butter, vinegar, salt and pepper. As a small child, I gave no thought to the health benefits but now, of course, I know how nutritional fresh seafood is. Rarely were we sick as children, so I guess all those sandfly-ridden days and nights eating fresh seafood accounted for our good health. Other than the normal childhood maladies such as the mumps, measles, chicken pox, the only other times I got sick was from motion sickness. To this day, I get car sick if relegated to the back seat or if in a boat, if I’m not the skipper. Yes, I do have a boat license but that, also, is another story for another day.
Once the prawn trawlers descended upon the waters surrounding Tin Can Bay, prawns and sea scallops became welcome accompaniments to our seafood feasts. Oh! How I love fresh seafood!
Not only did Tin Can Bay have the best fresh seafood in the world in those days, but it also boasted the best meat pies in the world! Hind's Bakery...a little store on the Esplanade baked the best pies. If I set my mind to it, I can still savour the flavour of those luscious, juicy meat pies! Pies with golden, flaky-pastry tops that burned the roof of your mouth, but you didn't care, because the hot gravy from the meat running down your chin burned even hotter...but you still didn't care, because the pies were so delicious.
One of our primary school teachers, Mr Enright, owned a holiday home on the Esplanade at Tin Can. He and his wife, who was either a nursing sister or a matron (probably both at some stage) were often in attendance at their home during our many visits to the "Bay". Mr. Enright was a favourite teacher of both my brother and myself. Way back when in the "olden days" as we called the days of our grandmother's youth, he was a keen beau of our Nana. He was a tall, striking gentleman with a shock of silver-grey hair. A fine white clay was found along the beach across from his home. My brother and I collected this clay to formed different objets d'art. He allowed us to 'bake' it in his ovens, both at the 'Bay' and in Gympie. He and his wife lived not far from where we lived as children. I was so pleased, when I was living back in Gympie, to see that their home had been purchased by a builder who was lovingly restoring the home to its former glory.
I will never forget the day of Mr. Doug Enright's funeral. School children from the Gympie State Primary School of which my brother and I were two, formed honour lines down each side of Mary Street, the main street of Gympie, as his gasket went by. Mr. Enright was loved and respected by all who were fortunate enough to have known him.
Once, when my brother was around 18 years old, he pedalled his bicyle down to Tin Can Bay! He caught the bus back to Gympie with his bike tied to the back of the bus!
I can't believe it! Wonders will never cease! I've finally completed this post! (And posted!) It's taken me forever! I dedicate this post to my 'special friend', for no other reason than that I can!


  1. Hi Robyn ~~ Sorry you had so much trouble posting this one, but it was
    worth persevering with. My brother
    will enjoy it as he lived at Tin Can Bay before he moved to Gympie, where I have visited him at both places.
    It is great to have a really good teacher who is well respected.
    Thanks for your visit, glad you liked the jokes etc. Take care, Love, Merle

  2. Hey...what's this 'Robyn', Merle??? ;)

    This is 'Lee'

  3. Hi Lee ~~ My apologies. Robyn had just sent that Happy Birthday Australia and she was on my mind.
    I reckon you have been called worse in the past ?? Please forgive me.
    Cheers, Merle.

  4. lol You can bet your sweet bippy I've been called worse, Merle! And probably will be again, many times over! ;)

    There's nothing to forgive, Merle...maybe Robyn is the one who needs the apology! lol

  5. Quite a tale, Robyn.

    - The non-batman.

  6. Thank you, Cosi!

  7. A great time I enjoyed composing my tale,
    It would’ve been fun if it included a whale
    At that I did most miserably fail
    But out on the horizon I did see a sail
    And upon the sea shore a huge silver scale

  8. Anonymous1:05 AM

    Another fine story to that book you are going to put together and get published. Tin Can Bay, would make a great title.

  9. Beautiful Tin Can Bay!

    About sea-food and crabbing, I remember when I was young (sounds like a song)...

    and the blokes would come back from late night jaunts and throw bags of crabs with their claws tied together onto the kitchen floor, and the mad scramble of us kids to get onto the table and our feet out of the way.

    great story, thank you

  10. Me, too, Della...I sure as hell never wanted to be nipped by a muddie! I heard a tale once about a fellow over in WA who was mud-crabbing...he tossed the bag over his shoulder. You can guess the rest...a big muddie latched on to his back! Ouch!

    Thanks, Steve...nice to see you.

  11. To clarify...the bag was full of big, fat, juicy muddies!

  12. Hi Lee, we must have nearly crossed paths a few times in Gympie and Tin Can Bay.
    I spent three years in TCB when newly single in 1994, but had visited a few times prior to that, did a lot of fishing and crabbing down there.
    I have been in and around Gympie for the last 9 years.

  13. Well, you would have been in Gympie when I was living and working there Peter...I was there again from early May 1998 to early April 2002.

  14. beautiful photo's by your friend. and a great story to go with them!!

    blogging is sure a good way to refresh good memories before they are so far recessed in our minds that they don't surface anymore.

  15. Oh, I could just eat some of that crab and fish and prawns and scallops (but not mussels), or maybe some of that meat pie. I am drooling just thinking of it.

    Seafood is one of my favourites. sounds like an idyllic childhood.

  16. That's one thing I can lay claim to, DesLily...a good memory. This can be a two-edged sword at times...sometimes it's a good trait to have, sometimes not! ;)

  17. Hi had its good moments sprinkled with some of pepper, chilli and vinegar.

  18. Great post, Lee, and so glad you finally managed to "post" it! Love the linguistic possibilities of the origins of "Tin Can Bay". [I agree with Steve, by the way - what a title for the book you ARE going to publish, aren't you?!] The pics are fantastic! Do tell us all about the "faerie dust" soon!

  19. Hey there Welsh, I will, I promise...take your pick! ;)

  20. lee,
    or Robyn, or robyn lee or whatever.
    Here's to special friends and memories of wondrous childhood adventures. To say nothing of great gastronomy!
    So, 'tis a story teller ye are is it? Well then, i expect to be haering more tales as the days wear on, aye?
    Ye've done yer self proud here lassie. 'Twas a well crafted tale.

    Down your way
    In Tin Can Bay
    Special memories abound
    When your book is dun'
    We'll have good fun
    sellin' it all around.

  21. Hahahahaha, Rel...good one! :)

    When my book is final and done
    You’ll find me singing in the sun
    Such stories I will have spun
    And through the fields I shall run
    Perhaps I shall not stop at one

  22. A wonderful post and insight into Tin Can Bay and your childhood. Delightful.

  23. Hello there, Corn Dog...the larger photo of the three, Crab Creek, is where the pelican's mostly hang out. I love pelicans. To the left of the Thanks for your comment. :)

  24. Hi Lee
    our family lived in Tin Can Bay from the 1940's until great grandma passed on in 1950's. There's a photo of an unknown distinguished gentleman in our album. From your description, I wonder if it is Doug Enright? Be good to verify if possible. Elizabeth