Indigenous and South Sea Islander
Buderim Historical Locations

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Site of South Sea Islander and Aboriginal Camp c1880-1940s

South Sea Islanders lived here c1880 to the 1940s. The first dwellings were traditional islander huts, then small slab houses. Surface rocks were moved to create terraces and areas for growing food and crops.The camp was on land owned by JK Burnett, manager of the nearby sugar mill, and also on neighbouring properties, north and south.

A remnant of the camp site are survives as Ballinger Court park, between numbers 8 and 10 Ballinger Court. It includes a spring or creek- the source of water for the camp and for washing etc.

Neil McGarvie, who lives at number 8, writes:

Ballinger Court Park – A living area for South Sea Islander (“Kanaka”) and Aboriginal community members in the late 19th century.

The parkland comprises a Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) un-numbered water services access block, with entry located between numbers 8 and 10 Ballinger Court. The entrance leads down a slope into a large area which abuts the rear of house blocks along Ballinger Road. The slope was originally a steep sided water-course filled when development moved down Ballinger Court to Barnes Drive. The park is perhaps about 5000 sq metres in total area. A small stream runs from west to east across the park into a grated storm-water drain which re-emerges lower down as a stream behind Barnes Drive houses. Local community members have weeded and planted the park, with Council support, since the early 1990s.

There are records in ‘Pioneer Cottage’, the Buderim Historical Society’s local museum, of a “Kanaka” camp on the ridge above the parkland behind/beneath 10 and 12 Ballinger Court and 4 Barnes Drive. A hut (or huts) was built in the 1880s in this area and reportedly survived until the 1930s. Buderim’s first sugar mill dates from 1876 and the residents of these huts were largely sugar industry workers.

Numerous modifications have been carried out in the park area. Visitors to the park notice a definite disused road formation – in the early 1990s over-grown by camphor laurels in places – which appears to have left the present Ballinger Road near the high SE corner of the park then descended the slope to turn right, past the current creek grate, before climbing the hill to the present level of Barnes Drive. Early residents recall that this road was built to serve a large poultry farm which was started by the Skelton family and later continued by the Paroz family and which is shown in aerial photos of the late 1960s. it follows a similar route to a South Sea Islanders house, now demolished.

During the development work in the park steps have been built down the slope. A culvert pipe has been installed to enable a walking track to cross the permanent creek. The track leads in to a bob-cat formed walking path circuit of the park.

When the relatives of the original South Sea Islander and Aboriginal residents visit to determine the location of where their families lived, they seek the site of the no longer existing row of four large mango trees as a recorded marker from their oral history. The aerial photos indicate the trees would have been beside or on the first portion of the current Barnes Drive as it leaves Ballinger Court. During weed clearing park volunteers have noted artefacts and some refuse deposits below the rear of 10 Ballinger Court.