Tide slowly turning in solving mayor’s wavelet mystery
The "wavelets" mystery has engaged the Mackay community and there are now whispers all over town about their possible location.
Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson issued a challenge on Monday night at the Australia Day awards after reading a 1934 Daily Mercury edition where it described the second ever celebration of the day in this town.
In his speech, he said Mackay first marked Australia Day in 1933 with a banquet and social evening.
"The report of the 1934 Australia Day in the Mercury was great to read," he said.
"Tennis and cricket matches were held - boating and swimming in the river was popular as were picnics at all the beaches. So things haven't changed much really.
"The report said that 'with the return of the 12-foot tides in the morning, the conditions down by the wavelets were ideal'."
He then asked me to find out where those wavelets were in Mackay.
The Merc's deputy editor was walking through IGA in Bridge Road today when someone stopped her to ask if we had has answers yet.
I have been getting text messages too asking where we are at.
I'm about a dozen phone calls into the mystery so far and no one has heard of "the wavelets" but there are lots of theories.
The Macquarie Dictionary describes a wavelet as "a small wave; ripple".
Former Daily Mercury journalist Bud Cash was born two years after that 1934 issue of the Merc; in fact he turns 85 in a couple of weeks so be sure to wish him a happy birthday if you see him around.
Now he has never heard the term "wavelets" but by his reckoning, it could be referring to Town Beach at the end of Evan St in East Mackay.
"I was born in 1936 but most people back then went to Town Beach, not to Far Beach (not Illawong) because it was too far out of town," he said.
He describes how former Mackay MP Ed Casey's family home used to be the last house on the right - "a long way from where Evan St ends now".
"The bitumen ended there and then the land went down to a low saltwater flat, then there was a big sand dune, you went down to another saltwater flat, over another sand dune and onto Town Beach," he said.
"They filled that in with the East Mackay reclamation. So now Evan St is probably another half a kilometre down than where it used to end.
"If you went down Shakespeare St to Queens Park, there it went into a bit of a creek which was at the back of Rae St where that cement drain now runs along. It then went into mangrove swamp at the end of Shakespeare.
"Us kids used to go on the track down there but there was swamp, sand dunes and a lot of prickles on the sand dune so most people didn't tend to walk down there."
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When I asked Mackay historian Berenice Wright, she suspected it was somewhere along the Pioneer River on the River St side, possibly up near the boat ramp.
Mr Cash pondered this too, saying they could well have had a regatta on the river which could generate ripples that resembled small waves.
"I had some mates who had little sailing boats; we used to sail them on the river, you couldn't sink them because they were closed in, so when they would tip them over, they would stand them up again and keep them going," he said.
"You could say there were wavelets in the river too. It can get quite rough in the river on big tides.
"The road ended up by the old fish board, it was just river bank past there.
"There used to be some old sheds along there where fishermen used to live and the Mackay Sea Scouts had a shed there too.
"They definitely had regattas on the river and maybe had a do near the Leichhardt Tree.
"But if it was just a picnic, I tend to think Town Beach."
I played phone tag yesterday with the man many people think might know where "the wavelets" were but I'm hoping to catch him today.
Bud says this man is a few years younger than him but his love of all things Pioneer River could help us out I've been told.
I have people looking at old maps to look for geographical clues as well as asking their contacts too.
And another sleuth has sent through some other tips that could prove handy.
We're all determined to get to the bottom of it.
Do you know where the wavelets were?
Give me a buzz on 07 49570323 or email email@example.com to fill me in.
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