Changes to Main Street from 1987 to 2002

Gillie Warren wrote this piece in 2002 – fifteen years ago and she is reflecting on her 1987  visit to Montville 15 years earlier. Now, thirty years later – the small changes have become more pronounced – there are many more businesses and tourists rule from 10 to 4.


Tony and Gillie Warren, 1980s


How often do your visitors or customers say that to you?  And it’s maybe only fifteen years!

I thought it might be interesting to put down on paper what I remember of fifteen years ago, but please forgive me if there are some blurry lines already between 1987 and 1989. We first visited Montville in the mid-seventies, accompanied by small children, and I remember very little except the extraordinary view both east and west, and a distinctive dome building with an enormous model train complex (we walked upstairs and looked down through the centre).  The next time I came back was in 1987, but I didn’t know that this little town was celebrating its centenary. Nonie Ranson and I were on R&R from Bougainville.  Nonie had lived on the range previously, and was adamant that I had to see it.  Baroon Pocket was still a green valley with earthwork scars in the distance where the dam was being built.

Gallery D, the Dome, 1980s

Gallery D, the Dome, 1980s

The Dome then housed Gallery D, Thel Merry had her home and studio where Joan Allen now has a shirt shop. Spring Cottage was brand new.

Connemara Cottage, 1984

Connemara Cottage, 1984

So too was Connemara Cottage with its thatched roof, Eastnor Terrace, The Mountain Inn, the Chalet, and The Herb Garden.  The Old Pottery was here with its huge workshop, and the building that is now Jasmin Cottage housed a magnificent rock and gemstone collection.   “Narnia’s” bookshop was where Dr.Hart is now, and Jinty Stockings had her elegant silk garments in the adjoining shop.  Gallery D has been here for all that time, and other great survivors still under the same ownership are The Irish Shop, Bloom’n’Gifts, the Antique Shop and the Mountain Inn.

The General Store, 1980s

The General Store, 1980s

Light meals were served at Camphor Cottage, the Chalet Kitchen and the Montville Store, and one dined at Misty’s, or “did lunch” at Pottingers.  DeLisle’s had established the Art Gallery in Manjalda. The only accommodation was at the Mountain Inn, or the motel in Western Ave.  Tanderra at Flaxton was the only operating guesthouse that I recall. The lower half of the school sportsground was a big open park, opposite the general store.  The then store had a long frontage with a wide verandah, petrol bowsers at the south end, and post office tucked into the north end.  In fact the post office was there first, and the store built around it.

The buildings which were NOT there included Banksia Place, Black Forest Hill, Heritage House, the Belvedere (there was a strange little A-frame on that site, with I think a jeweller), The Witch’s Hat, Montrose, Bala House and the complex behind Lyle’s.  An older cottage with the doctor’s surgery stood where the Bower Bird is now.  There were none of the bed&breakfasts and cottages, and of course, St. Mary’s Hall had no verandah. There was no Hoffman Place, and “The Rangers” was only a billboard in the paddock.  The old farmland now called Hoffman Place was, however, at that time a subject of most animated and in-depth community discussion as to its suitability as a site for a hotel.  Some landmarks were Gittins’ A-frame at Flaxton, and a huge and lonely unfinished house on the hill above Kondalilla Falls.  In Flaxton, there were only a handful of houses on the north side of Flaxton Mill Road, and Dom McIntyre’s avocado farm still covered the slopes of Old Mill Lane and the lower section of Akala St.

In 1989 I began to get more closely acquainted, and started looking for somewhere to unpack our bags.  There was another restaurant called Jicky’s, where Penefathings is now.  Barbara Rogers had a great little deli cabinet in the store, I think it was the only place with any good nibblies away from the coast.  I still remember the King Island Heart of Brie……but I digress.  Baroon Pocket Dam had just been filled, in the first summer after its completion.  Barkers had taken over Cleveland’s auto service centre.  Mary Noller was the legendary mailman.

The first tentacles of communication technology were just appearing, but the local grapevine was still reliable.  I first fell in love with a block of land in Western Ave where the Urquharts live now, and there was a lot to be written on the contract as the subdivision wasn’t complete.  John Goundrey, who was then at Connemara R/E, was very happy that his neighbours in the general store would let him use their new very fangled FAX machine to send the papers to my solicitors in Brisbane.  While all this was happening over a few hours, I was taken off to lunch with Hams (neighbours to be), coffee with the Donohues (more n.t.b.), and introduced to the Hendersons who were about to purchase and renovate the farm cottage on the corner of Baroon Pocket Road, which is now Montville Grove (more n.t.b).  Then I went to the post office to beg a local phone book, to discover my not-seen-for-years old schoolfriend Jocelyn Bannister behind the counter, talking to Sue Delaney. Both of them turned with a triumphant “YOU’RE the one!”   Joce knew many of my relatives, and had heard I might be around somewhere.  But then she told Mrs. Capper on Balmoral Road, who knew my mother at boarding school in the 1920’s, and ruled Montville with a telephone of steel.

At this point I gave in quietly, signed the contract, and told my husband (still in Bougainville) we were going to live in Montville. It hasn’t actually changed all that much!         (Gillie Warren, 2002)