Thursday, February 01, 2018

ANOTHER TYPICAL TROPICAL TALE FROM MY HINCHINBROOK ISLAND DAYS


Noosa National Park
Sunshine Beach
Aerial Shot of Noosa Heads...Hastings Street runs along the beackfront/foreshore
A View of Hastings Street
Beachfront Holiday Apartments, Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
Pool at Resort on Hinchinbrook Island...circa 1986
Me (second on right) with Island guests and Johnno, my barman, at far right.  (That girl standing, touching my shoulder was, at the time, Australian Ladies Deep-Sea Game Fishing Champion.....circa 1986



Before I took on the management of the then resort at Cape Richards on the far north-eastern tip of Hinchinbrook Island in Tropical North Queensland, I was living at Sunshine Beach, which is situated on the southern side of the Noosa National Park.  

I owned and operated a small, boutique-style greengrocery-health food store in Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, wherein I also prepared, daily, for sale to the public - soups, a variety of salads, including fruit salad, fruit salad ice blocks/popsicals, carrot cakes, fruit cakes, muesli biscuits/cookies, boiled and roasted peanuts, guacamole, smoothies etc.

A couple of young people who frequented the arcade in which my store was situated, when they heard I was heading north to a life on the island, begged me for a job up on the island.   

Their pleading and cajoling eventually wore me down, but not after I explained how different life on an island in the middle of the ocean would be to the lifestyle they were used to living in Noosa where their friends and families were; where there were hotels, clubs etc., for their pleasures.  

 Before making their decision, and I mine, I suggested they go away; to give the matter detailed, serious thought overnight...to sleep on what I’d said, and in the cold light of the following day or the day thereafter come back to me with their clear, unfettered decision.  

The following morning, hardly able to contain their excitement, they ran into my shop with their decision...they wanted a job at the resort.  How could I say "No" when faced with such enthusiasm?

Mark, a nice young lad of pleasant disposition, was the nephew of a fellow who owned and ran the dive shop next to my store in the Laguna Arcade, Hastings Street. Mark’s home-base was Sydney but, as with a lot of the young and restless, Noosa and the surrounding surf beaches were impossible-to-ignore temptations.  Like ants to honey, young folk flocked to the area.

Bronnie worked in a take-away store, “Miss Piggy’s” in the same arcade...a couple of shops away from mine.  She also lived at Sunshine Beach, not far from where I lived - at home with her mother, father and siblings.

Mark and Bronnie became two of my original five staff members from Noosa Heads who joined me on the island. 

Three of the five were brought up for the initial period, before the re-opening of the resort, to help with the renovations that needed to be carried out, one a plumber, one a builder/carpenter and the other an electrician. It was almost like ‘home away from home’ during the first few weeks.   

Cyclone Winifred had gone through the area over the Australia Day weekend, 1986.  “She” had kindly wiped out the resort’s jetty while on her destructive rampage.  So a new jetty was of pressing importance.

I wasn’t quite sure what Mark was capable of doing, work-wise, and, as I got to know him further and watch him “work”, I remained unsure!

However, he was a nice young man; one who was eager to please and keen to be among the ‘early settlers’.  I was prepared to give him a go.

Once the major renovations were completed, Mark joined the rest of my “crew” just before the grand re-opening of the resort.

I anointed him ‘barman’ (this was before Johnno joined my merry band of pirates – more about Johnno at a later date.  Johnno was “barman-extraordinaire.  He was also ex-Noosa).

The major renovation work around the resort was completed but, as you can imagine there was still a lot of activity going on in the perimeters, and up around the guest cabins.  Maintenance was non-stop, naturally.

Fortunately, the majority of the island guests, once they’d had their breakfast would either grab a prepared picnic lunch before heading off on walks through the rain-forest to other deserted beaches to spend the day, or others would board the ‘Reef Venture”, the powered catamaran that serviced the island for trips to the Brook Islands, a distance away at the outer reef, (Great Barrier Reef), or to Ramsay Bay. Other times, guests would spend the day on  Goold Island and Garden Island across the way from the resort for a fun-filled day.    

Trips down along the eastern, outer side of the island to Zoe Bay and to Zoe Falls were dependent upon the weather and prevailing winds.  The Zoe Bay trip was one worth going on when conditions permitted.

Mark’s first working day arrived.   

The few guests we had had disappeared somewhere for the day via on the “Reef Venture”.  They weren’t due back to the resort until somewhere around 3.30 pm.

Ted, my head maintenance guy (and knighted ‘python charmer – another story for another day) had everyone, dressed in their “labouring gear”, organised, pushing wheelbarrows full of God-only-knows-what, toting long beams of hardwood, shifting outdoor concrete tiles/blocks around. The air was alive, and hectic with energised activity.  The construction of the new timber deck and the tables thereon was completed, but there were still a few finishing touches that needed to be done.

There was everyone as busy as bees when, around 10.00 am, Mark leisurely strolled into the restaurant dressed in a colourful, flowery shirt over freshly-ironed, wrinkle-free knee-length, spotlessly-clean shorts.    

The Hawaiian-style shirt wasn’t really the “look” I was going for on Hinchinbrook Island, for either myself or my staff!

The only signs of mankind around the resort at that particular moment (and for the ensuing few hours) were we island dwellers-resort-workers.  All other humans had disappeared for the day.

All the activity going on was that of my busy workmen, all of whom were getting not only their hands dirty, but their attire, too!  I was out on the deck helping them in whatever way they needed my assistance.   

Turning around, I saw Mark in all his brilliant glory, freshly showered, dressed with not a hair out of place, standing behind the resort's humble cocktail bar, a broad smile on his face.  There was not another soul in sight.   And the likelihood of anyone else, a patron, appearing was zero to none.

“What are you doing, Mark?” I asked, querulously.

“Um…the bar…” he said, his voice trailing off as he tentatively looked about him.  Slowly, very slowly, the penny began to drop.

“Oh…” said I.  Not wanting to hurt his feelings or embarrass him, I walked into the restaurant area and over to him at the bar.

Quietly and gently, I pointed out to him there were no customers, and the likelihood of us having any guests around the bar until about 5.30-6pm that evening was extremely remote. 

As diplomatically as possible, I also pointed out it wasn’t very productive his just standing there with a smile on his face in the desperate hope a sole, desperate drinker would arrive. I also suggested, if such an occurrance did eventuate, one of us, or the chef even, could run to the bar and attend to the deed of drink service.

Mark left to return to the staff quarters and, soon thereafter, he reappeared in more suitable work clothes, to become Ted’s ‘goffer’.

So that was Mark. A pleasant young man who, sometimes, needed prodding to wake up either the right side or left side of his brain, or, sometimes, both sides.

My intention here is not to sound nasty; and I hope my words don’t come across that way.  I’m painting a picture of Mark for you.

Comfortably he settled into life on the island, and, for a while, was happy in his day-to-day jobs helping Ted and the other guys. At night, he was barman-material...in the making.

Mark, with his innocent, naive, harmless ways, created much goodhearted humour among his co-workers. None of the laughter was meant in a degrading way. 

 Humiliation of another was not on anyone’s agenda.

More to follow....


31 comments:

  1. I wish I was at the beach right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Me, too, Sandie...but one not inhabited by lots of people! :)

      Keep warm...and thanks for coming by. :)

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  2. As long as he turned ok in the end.

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    1. I'm sure he did, Margaret. Thanks for coming by. :)

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  3. Mark is not alone. I'm another one who needs to be shown the right direction until I settle into a job and can kickstart myself.

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    1. Hey River,,,I'm sure you would have noticed there were no guests around! :)

      You're a lot "cluey-er" and smarter than you give yourself credit for...don't sell yourself short!

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  4. I would have done 'the bar' also if all that work was going on....

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    1. Well, Mr. Ad-Man...you would've soon been out of your glad rags, too...and into getting-your hands-an-self-dirty-gear...and the bar. No shirking allowed! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :0

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  5. Yeah, not every person fits into that round hole. I would guess that while Mark was a nice and likable bloke, he was not quite as competent as you may have hoped.

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    1. Hey Andrew...I've never been able to fit into that round hole...so I gave up trying years and years ago.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  6. Typical Tropical Tales could be the name of a book series. you must be a high energy person, all the jobs you've had take so much work. Nowadays I feel like just preparing meals take's up a lot of time, perhaps that comes with age.

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  7. The owner of a health shop and manager at a resort....I'm impressed.
    I like to visit islands but I doubt it I would like to live/work on one. An island is surrounded by water and I prefer Land; it gives the feeling of more stability.

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    1. Hi DUTA - Island life was great. I had childhood dreams of doing so...I loved it and could quite happily live on one forever...actually, I do! Australia is an island. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  8. I'm beginning to feel that I know the Island and have a pre-conceived idea of what it was like. I'm sure the reality was quite different. However that's one of the beauties of reading stories - even true ones - as against watching films: one can imagine.

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  9. Hi, Graham...I was just about to visit you blog...and shall continue doing so after reply to your comment here.

    In reality...the island and life on the island were equally absolutely fantastic. That time spent there was a ball for me, my staff, and our guests. I hope, in my stories, the atmosphere, the ambience, the good times come across to the reader, and the feelings, emotions are easily understood and appreciated...at least a little bit.

    I try my best to express how it was...without embellishment...I write about the time and the experiences...as they happened. Halcyon days and nights...of that have no doubt. :)

    Thanks for coming by. :)

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  10. What a wonderful lifestyle! How long were you doing this? Will there be any romance mentioned later in the story. Your very own Coral Island so to speak - but without the possibility of being turned into long pig. I shall return for the next episode.

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    1. Hi Vest...I was on Hinchinbrook Island for a couple of years...and there are a couple of romantic tales I will spin at a later date...but none that involved me and Mark! lol

      Island living is a wonderful lifestyle...one that I enjoyed, anyway.

      There was no long pig...but there was a long, dug-out canoe that hung from the ceiling on one side of the restaurant area. I believe it was from islanders from one of the Torres Strait Island from years past.

      Hinchinbrook wasn't the only island on which I lived...

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  11. This finally inspired me and I am searching for an Australia cruise next January. I shall begin talking my siblings into joining me. Maybe I can get someplace close to you and we can meet up.

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    1. Oh, Annie....wouldn't that be wonderful! You might become an honorary Aussie...and we'll not let you out of our clutches!! :)

      Thanks for coming by....take good care. :)

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    2. It beats grimy old England.

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    3. Hey there, Terry. It certainly is a different landscape and lifestyle.

      I hope all is well...take care, and thanks for coming by. :)

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  12. Sounds like Mark had a lot of learning and growing up to do. Good job his headmistress was the kindly Miss George.

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    1. Yes, he did, Yorkie. He was in his early 20s, but he was still quite immature for his age. I think his eyes were opened, and I'm sure through the ensuing years he never regretted his time on the island.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  13. You have had so many adventures - so many experiences. That guy sounds as if he meant well, but you handled it just right.

    I hope you and Grannie Annie get to meet in person - that would be awesome.

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    1. Hey, Lynn....my life is far less adventurous these days, by choice. Mark was a good kid...a little immature and naive in some ways for his age, but I don't believe in embarrassing a person in front of others. There was no good reason to do so.

      I was once immature and naive, too...probably still am in many ways! lol

      You never know what is around the corner...Annie might jump ship!! :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  14. Hi Lee,
    You brought Mark to life. He seemed quite a likeable soul.
    Hope your day is filled with sparkle and sunshine.

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    1. Hi there, Sandra. At times Mark needed bringing to life! lol He was good-hearted kid. :)

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  15. oh my goodness I hope to visit there some day, those beach photos; smart of you to ask them to think about their decision over night

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    1. Hi Linda...sometimes, probably most times when having to make a life-changing decision it's better not to make a rash decision, but to spend a day or two, or more, thinking it through...the pros and the cons.

      Thanks for coming by. :)

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  16. Your photos make me miss going on vacation at the beach. I've always wondered what it's like to work in a paradise. Going there every day, seeing more than what the tourists see. Would I get bored? That's always been a question to me. LOL

    Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hey Lux...I never got bored...I worked long hours, long, pleasant working hours...meeting and dealing with interesting folk who were interested in their surrounds...and staff that numbered between 12 to 15 whose welfare was also in my hands.

      It was wonderful, absolutely wonderful working and living on the island.

      Thanks for coming by...and I don't mind the questions, at all. :)

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