|Noosa National Park|
|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....