Thursday, March 28, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

The Strathdickie Dance Community Hall

In the early 1920s, residents decided to build a community hall and recreation centre. Mr G A Jenkins deeded one acre of ground in a convenient corner position bounded by the main Strathdickie road to the west, School Road on the north and the mill tramline to the south. The corner of the road, known as Hall Corner, is now known as the Strathdickie Smithy Corner.

Two acres of scrub land was felled on Alec MacPherson’s property and planted with Badilla cane, all done voluntarily. When the cane was cut, the proceeds went towards the cost of building materials.

The original building had corrugated iron walls and three wide wooden doors each with a set of steps. The windows were slide up sashes. At the eastern end, there was a raised stage about three feet higher than the dance floor. Under the stage were a bench and a small servery door. The ladies made sandwiches, cut up cakes and placed them on trays which could then be passed into the hall at supper time. Tea and coffee were served in glass cups; the water was boiled outside in kerosene tins over an open fire. In the corner of the stage was a cupboard in which equipment such as lights, jugs and the musicians’ stools were stored. Carbide lights were used until 1938 when pressure lamps replaced them and at some time, there were also gaslights. Some preparations were made to wire up for electricity in the sixties but this never happened as the hall was no longer in use.

The dance floor was about 30 feet long and 24 feet wide with forms arranged around the perimeter of the hall. The “oldies” sat up the end near the stage; the younger ladies sat along one side and the younger gentlemen along the other. Some of the older men had a table outside where various card games were played. In 1937, the hall was extended by about fifteen feet by builder, Jack Muller.

Dances were held every two or three weeks to raise funds for the hall or the school. Music was supplied by the likes of Jim Wright and Frank Prussenski on accordion, Jim Deicke with his electric gramophone, Arthur and Robert Peterson on guitar and mandolin, Jack Lewis and the orchestras of the Porter Family, Deambrogio brothers, Smiler Webber and Charlie Lucas and Mrs Milne on the piano. Frank Prussenski rode his bike eight miles from Preston to play his button accordion for one pound. This later increased to two pounds (four dollars).

Patrons arrived by horseback, sulky and trucks. Sometimes Stoneham’s bus would come out from town as few people had cars. The hall was the venue for table tennis, church meetings, boxing matches and at least three weddings were celebrated there. There were two tennis courts at the eastern end of the paddock with a shelter shed for the use of patrons; all built by members of the club.

The only decoration in the hall was a large photograph of the Strathdickie Wanderers Rugby League Club.

During the war years, proceeds from dances went to the Patriotic Fund. Sometimes the money minus expenses was put into a wallet and presented to recruits who had been called up for service. Members of the VDC (Volunteer Defence Corps) gathered at the hall with an assortment of rifles.

When the popularity of country dances faded out in the 60s, the hall fell into disuse. The doors had been left open, windows broken and piano vandalised. In 1970, Cyclone Ada demolished what remained of this little piece of our history.

Story shared with the Proserpine Historical Museum by the late Bill Dinnie and photo courtesy of PHMS

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