Guest Blogger : Friends of Bankfoot House
Sunshine Coast Region Series: Changing Landscapes
Bankfoot House, a heritage residence in the Glass House Mountains, was established along Old Gympie road in 1868 by William and Mary Grigor. It was a rest stop for the Cobb and Co Coach Service between Brisbane and the Gympie goldfields and an accommodation house for travelers passing through.
Following the death of William Grigor in 1907, his youngest daughter Clementina and her husband William Smith Burgess became the owners and custodians of the historic house.
Their daughters Ellie, aged six and Mary Isabella, aged seven, enrolled to attend the Glass House Mountains State School in 1910. Following a temporary closure between 1907 and 1909, the provisional school was reopened as the numbers of children in the area increased. Their brothers, William Isaac (aged 5) enrolled in 1912 and Kenneth (aged 5) in 1915.
Among those who were to avail themselves of Mrs Burgess’s hospitable board were the Fullerton family. Following his arrival in Australia from Scotland in 1911, Robert Fullerton selected 160 acres situated 2 ½ miles from the Glasshouse Mountains between Ngungun and Coonowrin, moving his family onto their property in June 1914.
The Fullerton and Burgess families were to become close friends, cemented further in 1928 by the wedding of Robert Fullerton’s son, Jim to Janet Elsie (Ellie) Burgess, daughter of Clementina and William Burgess at Bankfoot House.
The school exercise books completed by young Mary Burgess are in the Bankfoot House collection today. They are a strong indicator of the teachings in the early 1900’s. History meant learning about the British Empire and Europe at that time.
Following her marriage to Jack Ferris, Mary (nee Burgess) returned to Bankfoot House in her later years. During this time, Mary willingly demonstrated what domestic life was like at Bankfoot House in the early days to new generations of children attending the local primary schools in the area.
The Friends of Bankfoot House continue to lead guided tours of the historic house today and marvel at some of the questions students ask of them.
“Where is the screen…” on the 1905 typewriter?
“Is that candle mould really a hot dog warmer?”
When asked if the students could identify items used in the house that didn’t require electricity, one response was ‘WiFi’?
Mary’s husband Mr Jack Ferris was the last resident to live in the house before he passed away in 2002, aged 101. Three generations of the Grigor family occupied the house for over 130 years before the house and all its contents were sold to the Caloundra City Council in 2004.
Bankfoot House in the Sunshine Coast hinterland is a popular destination for visitors and students alike.
The Friends of Bankfoot House maintain the site with assistance by the Sunshine Coast Council and are willing to share knowledge about the house and its former occupants. Contact President Ron Gillinder on 0407 760 989. State Library of Queensland holds digitised images relating to the Grigor family on One Search.
Ron Gillinder - President, Friends of Bankfoot House