Home - Chermside & District History


Earliest Record of Scouting in Chermside Area

Scouts - Chermside School Drilling 1911

Dated 1911 this old photo captures a group of about 30 lads doing their calisthenics in the playground of Chermside State school. They may have used the school for their meetings and the playground and the nearby Somerset Creek for some of their activities.

This is the only scouting record we have of the time.

The uniform is typical of the early scouting movement, in a time when practically all men and women wore hats. Some of the boys are barefooted but that was also normal.

The two lavatory (toilet) blocks are an indication of the school playground. They were probably serviced by the then new pans system which replaced the older pit toilet system. The pans were changed regularly each week.

The solitary adult standing on the left is probably one of the male teachers. Calisthenics was a popular exercise of the time.

The school Cadet units were operating in the late pre World War I period and they would have fitted in well with the Scouting movement as both had a military origin.

Scouts in the Pre World War II Era

Scouts Geebung 1938

The Geebung scouts of 1938 from Kath Ballard's collection shows a group of 15 young men and boys, probably on some sort of activity, hence the bare feet.

The older boys would have been in the Australian armed forces in a very few short years as war broke out in September 1939 and Australia found itself very close to the front line.

In this photo they are boys living in a rural town, as Geebung was in those days. Before they were 20 years old they had been trained to kill and then sent to do just that. They had to grow up very fast.

Their scout training stood them in good stead, as it was meant to do.

Scouts in WWII Salvage Drive

Scouts and Salvage in WWII Geebung

World War II on the "home front" was a time of shortages of just about everything. The scouts and guides used to take part in collecting materials needed for the war effort.

In this case they have collected a pile of rubber tyres and tubes which would be recycled into more rubber tyres and tubes. The Japanese Imperial Army had captured the great rubber tree plantations of Malaya (Malaysia today) and they took the latex to Japan.

Not many people had cars and many of them just locked the car in the garage 'for the duration' of the war. They couldn't get petrol anyway, the defense forces needed it.

The scouts and guides also collected paper, aluminium, old iron and other metals.

The small building is probably their 'Den', a one room building probably built by the parents. The black colour of the weatherboards or champher boards is from painting linseed oil on the wood, as paint was unobtainable; another shortage.

Scouting in the Post World War II Era

Scouting continued through the two world wars and into the post WWII but there are few records.

The first record we have is that in 1959 the 3rd Chermside Scout Group was converted to a Sea Scout Group, East Chermside on 24/2/1959 (Leslie Hansen - From Group Listings P.5) ) This indicates that there could have been three groups of Scouts in Chermside; at that time Chermside was a much bigger area and was reduced to its present size in 1976.

A Scout Den was located on parkland between Kidson Terrace and Norman Drive what is now John Patterson Park. When it was finally abandoned the Brisbane City Council took it over, giving it a coat of paint at some time. Terry Hampson, Councillor at the time, went around one day to inspect the place. He had a key, unlocked the door, then gave it a push to open it and it fell off its hinges. He went inside and opened another door, it also fell off. The same fate befell a set of shelves when he touched them. The place had been eaten out by termites, so Council demolished the building.

Keith and Colin Tune were both scouts at the above Scout Den while their father Norm, was the Assistant and later, Scoutmaster. This would have been in the late 1950's. (Colin was 8 in 1957) This area would have been East Chermside at the time.

The following excerpt indicates that the group continued into the 1970's.

1974 - Courier Mail 10/1/1974 p.5 reported and photographed Peter Smith, a Scout (Not Sea Scout) from East Chermside, meting Dr Lazlo Nagy at Brisbane Airport, Dr Nagy had been attending the 10th Australian Jamboree at Adelaide.

Modern Scouting 21st Century

Scouts Burul West Chermside Front
Burul Scout Hall, located in Huxtable Park, West Chermside, is a well built, compact modern building which contrasts strongly with the Geebung Hut or Den of the 1930's. Burul reflects the Post WWII prosperity of the area while Geebung Scouts were just coming out of the Great Depression. Both Troops would count themselves lucky in their 'day'.

The modern scouting scene is one of many changes in line with the changing society in which the members live. Garry & Leanne Schodel summarise the scene in about 2010

One of the biggest changes is the admission of girls, who now are fully integrated at all levels. In the Burul (Chermside) group the girls are least represented in the younger groups but more numerous in the Venturers and Rovers. This is partly caused by the generally higher proportion of older people, including children, living in the local area.

While the uniforms have changed from the traditional khaki to blue colours the various age groups are largely the same: Joeys 6-8; Cubs 8-11; Scouts 11-15; Venturers 15-18; Rovers 18-26.

The Electronic Age has introduced such things as Jota, or Jamboree of the air, along with Joti, or Jamboree of the internet. These two events enable scouts from all over the world to meet on their ham radios and computers. Additionally, various branches have their own websites.

Safety Precautions limit much of the activities e.g. a flying fox can be built but the scouts cannot travel on it and Bridge rope activities are limited by height restrictions. Leaders have to sign a duty of care with the onus on the leader for safety.

Money Raising is limited to supervised group activity such as Sausage Sizzles, BBQ cooking, catering for morning teas, concerts and reviews. The old door-to-door activities such as Bob-a-Job during Scout Week and bottle collecting are banned.

Scouting like Guiding is now recognised by education authorities as a training organisation with the right to issue externally recognised certificates of competence. Leadership training courses are conducted leading to Certificate and Diploma of Adult Leadership similar to TAFE courses.

Scouts Burul West Chermside Back
Burul, West Chermside back view is just as impressive as the front. The stair acts as a fire escape as well as a means of access and the asphalted area acts as a car parking lot; the Geebung scouts came on bicycles or walked. A water tank conserves the rain water and surplus water is carefully drained away to the creek.

Sea Scouts at Chermside East

From Scouts Australia, Qld Branch Inc. 32 Dixon Street Auchenflower Qld 4066 (3870 7000) came the following information:
In 1959 the 3rd Chermside Scout Group was converted to a Sea Scout Group, East Chermside. The first Scoutmaster of the new group was Ted Ebb who served in this position till 1964. The group closed in 1983.

In 1959, East Chermside, received permission to name their landship 'Voyager' after one or both of the two destroyers named Voyager both of which served in the RAN. This implies that the centre could have been built by that time.

There were two HMAS Voyagers in the RAN the first on was transferred from the Royal Navy to the Australian Navy in 1933. She saw extensive service in the early stages of WWII and finally ran aground on Timor while trying to deliver troops in September 1942. The ship was attacked by Japanese bombers and badly damaged; the crew then scuttled the ship.

The second HMAS Voyager was built in Australia and launched in 1957. After the disaster on 10th February 1964, when the aircraft carrier Melbourne cut the destroyer Voyager in two with the loss of 82 lives, East Chermside dedicated their landship to those who lost their lives thus making the landship a living memorial.

During its years of operation the landship 'Voyager' had the distinction of being located several miles from a navigable waterway.

The Voyager Centre

While it is not clear when the Voyager Centre was built but from the following document it is clear that it was at least there by 1969 when the Brisbane City Council approved the connection of water to the Voyager Centre to provide a Sink, a Shower and two W.C. internal - All at floor level.
Document Headed: Brisbane City Council Lessee Chermside Sea Scout Group Banfield Street Chermside. Document dated 12-3-1969 Number 237767 Refer 10/64A Detail Plan No. 2071

The Voyager Centre is a Besser brick structure now in the Chermside Historical Precinct, 61 Kittyhawk Drive, Chermside. 4032. It was built on the western end of what is now 7th Brigade Park, possibly by the Brisbane City Council long before the CHP was dedicated.

The image below shows the Voyager Centre with the car park on the south side; the three stages of development can be clearly seen.

The first stage is the middle part, the small part on the left or west side, which is now a store room, being added on in 1969 while the double floor eastern end was also added on at some later time.

Memories of a Sea Scout

The following was recounted by an ex Sea Scout:

We observed many naval traditions such as when we first boarded Landship Voyager on meeting nights we would salute the Quarter Deck, " which was designated by the picture of the Queen and the Australian flag hanging on the back wall."

"During the 1960s and early 1970s, at East Chermside Sea Scout Group, a Canoeist badge had to be gained before going on canoe 'hikes'. First Class journeys were conducted as allowed on water, along streams such as North and South Pine Rivers, Elimbah Creek and Caboolture River."

"During the 1960s and early 1970s, the craft used by the East Chermside Sea Scout Troop included single man bond wood kayaks, several wooden framed canvas canoes each capable of carrying eight men, and two small punts powered by Seagull and Evinrude motors." In 1973, Scout Leader Graham Dixon, obtained the plans of an English Sea Scout Dory designed by Percy Balndford for the Movement in the UK and with the troop proceeded to build 'Voyager 2' in the Scout Den over one long hot summer school vacation. This craft, designed 'to row with four scouts and a coxswain on the helm, was later converted to sail with a two masted ketch rig'.

The East Chermside Sea Scouts closed in 1983 (Graham Dixon says 1993) But the North West News 3/10/1984 reported that the East Chermside Sea Scouts took part in the Wonargo Review at Northgate/Virginia Scout Den. The Review is an annual theatrical event which is organised by Scouts Australia, Queensland Branch to give a training opportunity to Youth Members. The latest Review took place in 2015.

Another Sea Scout

The following report was given by Andrew Merritt who joined the Sea Scouts in about 1964 when Graham Dixon, a pharmacist in Hamilton Road, was the Leader.

There were Cubs and Scouts only, no Seniors or Rovers, there seemed to be a lot of young ones (Cubs) but thinned out when they became scouts.

Cubs were in Sixers (6 in a group) with between 24-30 members while Scouts had similar numbers so the total was probably about 50

We went to the Jindalee Jamboree but did not camp there and went out on two days only. This was the 8th Australian Scout Jamboree with international scouts present. It lasted for 10 days from 28-12-1967 to 6-1-1968. Lady instructor at one stage

Cubs wore a Grey serge shirt, no collar, with Dark Blue shorts, normal scout belt, normal green scarf and woggle with green caps similar to the scouts, long socks with garters and leather shoes. -

Sea Scouts wore all blue shirts and shorts, no collars no scarf, lanyard into pocket but no whistle on the lanyard. (A lanyard is a strong chord which goes around the neck, over the shoulder and into the pocket to hold something such as a whistle or watch.)

They used the ponds to the east (west) of present school site. They may have used the swimming holes in Somerset Creek which is now piped underground until it enters 7th Brigade Park; there were 3 or 4 holes that had more water than today. Orienteering was practiced and lots of rope work done, making display knots and lacquering them. There was also woodwork on some boats but can't remember them being put in the water!

The Voyager Building:
The eastern end was the main entrance with large double doors, the high eastern end of the Voyager Centre was added on later and closed the double doors. There was a stage at the other end and the boats were stored under the stage.

Left or southern side had four rooms curtained off for cub dens while the Right or north side rooms were for the Scouts but they were mainly storage of gear. When the Scouts were there they used the whole building

Cubs met on Saturday afternoons from 1-4 pm, Scouts met Friday night and they had had lots more activities outside the voyager centre.

There were also camps on Moreton Island