365 Places: Caloundra

Day 2: Caloundra, Queensland, Australia

Caloundra - author unknown

Caloundra – author unknown

My post today is about another place that has special childhood significance for me – Caloundra.

Many summer holidays were spent in the Caloundra village of Bulcock Beach in the 1970s. In those days, Caloundra was sleepy seaside town popular with families taking holidays and retirees. These days it has grown significantly, but it still retains some of the lovely character that I remember as a child.

An article in Salt magazine titled Bulcock Beach’s Rich History offers great insight into the history of the village.

Less than a century ago, Bulcock Beach wasn’t even a designated beach. The land belonged to Robert Bulcock, an English immigrant who had bought 277 acres in 1875 and settled on it a decade later. His eldest son, Robert Junior, became a township councillor, and in 1917 decided to subdivide part of the land into 404 allotments and sell them off, calling the development Bulcock Estate.

From it’s very beginnings, Bulcock Beach was a holiday destination, where most people bought the lots to build vacation homes rather than to settle there. Few of those original vacation homes remain. Most – including Bulcock’s own house – have long since been pulled down to make way for blocks of flats and other units that cluster along the rolling landscape. There is a handful of older homes, including a pair of Queenslanders that date from the 1930s, but for the most part the architecture of Bulcock Beach reveals the trends and styles of apartments and flats.

Children line up for their turn on the wooden diving board at Bulcock Beach, ca 1949

Children line up for their turn on the wooden diving board at Bulcock Beach, ca 1949

Our family used to stay in a lovely old Queenslander, which was divided into two large flats, with the landlords living in the other half of the house. From memory, there were around 4 bedrooms, so at times extended family members would visit and stay with us. The verandah was enclosed making more room for us kids to play on rainy days. The house had a beautiful garden, the fence was covered in Jasmin and Honeysuckle, shaded by some large Frangipani trees – creating a rich fragrance in the humidity. There was also a huge Mango tree, which would be laden with fruit in the summer. The kids would have lots of fun throwing the rotten mangoes at each other when we were playing in the backyard. Mum and Dad didn’t really mind as there was a shower outside to wash off the sticky pungent juices of the fruit.

One of the things I loved most about this beach and its calm waters were the old diving boards, which have now long been demolished. This photo from the Sunshine Coast Library reminds me of my childhood, where kids would line up to jump off the diving boards. This photograph was taken long before my time however, and by the 1970s, the diving boards were just a bit rickety.

I also remember one time when there was a king tide and the diving boards were under water. As I swam underneath the diving boards, I saw many colourful fish, darting in and out of the stumps that held up the springy boards.

Another time I thought I would try to swim to the nearby Bribie Island and got as far as the buoy before my uncle swam to get me and bring me back to my parents. I remember being very unhappy that I did not achieve this goal, but my parent’s insisted it was all too dangerous for a girl 🙂

Bulcock Beach 1985, author unknown

Bulcock Beach 1985, author unknown

Our last holiday at Caloundra was the summer of 1976-77. Our next end of year school holidays were spent adjusting to our new home in the north of Australia – Darwin. This next photo was taken a few years after the time we used to go to Caloundra for holidays. It is the closest image I could find that shows Bulcock Beach the way I remember it.

By 1981, the lovely old Queenslander house we used to stay at was demolished and a 12 story apartment block was built in its place. The fragrant Honeysuckle and Jasmin vines, the Frangipani and Mango trees gone forever. When we visited our former landlords they were living in one of the apartments. Although they had a beautiful view of the coast and Bribie Island, I couldn’t help feeling sad. They didn’t seem to be as happy as I remembered them from those days.

Now there is an elegant timber boardwalk that takes you around the beach and onto a marina, which was not there when I was a child. Bulcock Beach has developed some sophistication over the years, but it still has in a few rare places, some of the quaint beach guest houses I remember so well.

In a few short weeks my parents, uncles and aunty will be catching up for some relaxation at Caloundra. I hope they have a lovely time, reminiscing about happy times spent there in years past and creating new happy memories to look back on in the future.