Teewah: Where Hardship Is a Pursued Luxury; Bill Hoffman Traces Recent History, When Pioneering Settlement on Remote Beachfront Land Was Regarded as Fun

Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia), July 23, 2011 | Go to article overview

Teewah: Where Hardship Is a Pursued Luxury; Bill Hoffman Traces Recent History, When Pioneering Settlement on Remote Beachfront Land Was Regarded as Fun


IT NOW represents some of the Sunshine Coast's most expensive real estate.

The roads aren't sealed, there's no sewerage, access is not always certain and luxuries are thin on the ground.

But simple cottages command price tags of $895,000 and vacant land $575,000 on the rare occasions blocks appear on the market.

It's a far cry from the first release of land at Teewah 50 years ago on July 12, 1961, which saw a top bid of just three pounds of annual rent with 12 shillings and sixpence in stamp duty.

Only another 12 of the 24 lots auctioned that day in Gympie attracted bids, all for an annual fee of two pounds.

Teewah had been created to accommodate those whose crude huts had been evicted from the new national park.

In those days, the evolving village was the preserve of keen fisher folk willing to haul timber up the beach in rough and ready two-wheel drive vehicles that frequently bogged.

They built rough cottages on land shared by taipans and other snakes.

But first they had to ford the Noosa River, an exercise that required construction of rudimentary pontoons.

It took the boom real estate market of the past decade and the quest for alifestylea to push prices into the stratosphere.

Eryl Vansleve, of Tewantin, and wife May are the last of the first of those early Noosa North Shore settlers still alive. For them what would appear today as hardships were embraced as fun.

After all, when they first shifted from Eumundi to Tewantin after the Second World War they brought their home with them, first dismantling and then reconstructing it aboard for boarda, as they chorus, in Moorindil Street opposite the Catholic Church.

By that stage Eryl was still only 22. He had worked at the Eumundi Sawmill from when he was 15, earning sixpence an hour. By war's end he was looking for a career change but was rejected from the police force because of his size.

He joined Noosa Shire Council, then based at Pomona, where he worked until 65, ending his career in local government as roads foreman.

But it was fishing and the beach where the Vansleve attention lay.

Theirs was the first cottage built at Teewah.

By 1960, and with two young boys in tow, the couple were regular visitors to the north shore, staying with friends Watty and Bobby Anderson, the North Shore's first settlers, who had their ramshackle huts further up the beach from where Teewah township was eventually established.

Eryl's dad went to Gympie for the first Special Lease auction, securing lots for himself and his son. Eryl retains to this day the repayment receipts for the modest annual rental.

aI bought an old Graham-Paige sedan and stripped it down,a Eryl said this week. aIt had a gearbox like a 10-tonne truck.

aI made three 6x2 trailers and would hook them up behind it to haul stuff up the beach.a

The Graham-Paige was for service north of the river and was left on that side without battery when not in use.

Crossing the river was precarious at the best of times.

Herbie Woods, now back living in Tewantin after many years in Mackay, didn't bring the first commercial ferry into operation until 1965.

Until then the Vansleves and their fishing friends relied on their own pontoons. A load of construction material was lost on one crossing, and they recall a tractor taking a bath.

In those days, though, obstacles were there to be surmounted.

There were plenty of them, not the least of which was that there was no road through to the beach from the river as there is today. Vehicles were simply driven through whatever path yielded in front of them.

Opportunity was taken where it was found. …

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