Through the Years…
Mapleton Hall & Sportsground has been a drawcard for residents from across the region for a hundred years.
To step into this grand old building, opened in 1916, is to step back in time to an era where the hall figured large in the life of Mapleton’s residents. Mrs Eileen Lovelock, a resident of Mapleton for nearly 80 years, recalls the central focus the hall has played in the daily life of the mountain top community.
“Things were slower then,” she says. “In those days I’m sure people enjoyed themselves more than they do now. Old and young mixed better then.”
Eileen recalls a life that revolved around happenings at the hall.
“The CWA met at the hall, Mrs O’Donoghue set up the Red Cross in World War II, and the RSL used to have their annual dinners there,” she says. “There were lots of get togethers where we played pool, ping pong and card games – mainly Euchre. Christmas parties, fancy dress balls, church services, christenings, weddings, birthday parties; we did it all in that hall. And out on the sportsground there was cricket, soccer, and football. Blue Ensbey, Bert Orford, Col Kerle and my husband, Ray, all played football there.
“And of course, there was tennis too. We’d walk in from the farm and play tennis on Sundays. We’d all play doubles and singles, and I would win a lot. They were good times,” she says.
Back then, the single tennis court was made from ant base, and fixtures for both adults and children were conducted. The two courts have since been refurbished.
“We had pictures too,” says Eileen. “Mr Vernados from Nambour had a little movie projector that he set up above the front door of the hall, with a screen on the stage. We would watch the movies sitting on the wooden benches.”
The old wooden benches are still at the hall, adding to the atmosphere of a yesterday often lost in the bustle of modern times. In a time when making your own fun was the only choice, the hall was a vital thread in the social fabric of this small but vibrant community.
But perhaps the most popular event at the hall was the regular dance. Every other month would see the people of Mapleton come together for a night of swirling and twirling, brought to life with live music.
Eileen described the lead up to the dance, and the effort that went into preparation.
“The hall was decorated the day before with wild pineapple ferns, boughs of gumtree and sometimes balloons. Kerosene and sawdust would be spread on the floor to make it slippery, and there were carbide gas lights. There was no electricity; water was boiled outside in an old copper.
“Before a dance everyone would get so enthusiastic. We used to look forward to the dance for ages, and we’d talk for weeks before about what we were going to wear. We wore long dresses to the dance. Everyone got dressed up. We would have got our hair done, but there wasn’t a hairdresser in Mapleton. Besides, we couldn’t afford it; that would be a trip to Nambour to do that!”
On the night of the dance the farming families from the surrounding farmland, and local forestry workers and timber getters would also attend.
“The men would have a few drinks at the hotel, or outside the hall, before they came in,” says Eileen, with a twinkle in her eye. “They never got drunk, but few beers made them lively!”
“We’d sit and wait for the boys to come up and ask us to dance. At supper time people would walk around pouring the tea and carrying plates of sandwiches, and everyone would sit on the wooden benches around the edges of the room. That was before the supper room was built.”
The supper room, the original Dulong School, was added to the hall in 1969.
“Nearly all country people danced at that time,” she explains. “We did the Swing Waltz, the Jolly Miller, the Evening Two Step and the Waltz Quick Step. The whole of Mapleton would come, and even if they didn’t dance they played Euchre, and when the supper room was built on they played cards in there.
“I remember Lil and Jack Appleby doing the Two Step,” Eileen reminisces. “They were such good dancers, but so was Hazel Cogill. She remembers learning to dance at the hall, and Hazel is 93, so that’s how long ago that was!”