A history of The Manor (formally known as Bungunyah Manor).
The history of “Bungunyah” dates back to before the turn of the century, approximately 1882. The history of “Bungunyah” and proprietress, Emily Franklin, are so closely integrated that one cannot be separated from the other, so both must ne dealt with. “Bungunyah” the house, had its origin in what used to be known as “The Syndicate House”. This was built in 1882, or close to that date by a syndicate of Brisbane business men as Tamborine Mountain’s first commercial tourist venture and as such was a dismal failure owing to its isolation, lack of transport and access road. This building remained unoccupied and overgrown by lush rainforest until it was purchased by Emily’s father around 1901.
Emily Jane Franklin (nee Curtis) was born on the 22nd May, 1887 to Edmund and Mary Curtis who were one of the first families to live permanently on Tamborine Mountain. The family lived in a small slab home with the usual shingle bark roof common in that era. This house vast became too small as the size of the family increased. In 1901 when Emily was thirteen years old, her imagination was fired by vague references by her parents of this mystery “Syndicate House”, and she decided to enlist the aid of her two brothers and sister to set off one day to see if they could locate this old home. With directions from their father, they set off from home full of excitement and after some considerable time and forcing their way through dense rainforest, they arrived upon what had obviously been a clearing. There before their eyes was the most wonderful house they had ever seen.
It had a galvanised iron roof, doors with glass in, verandah on three sides and milled timber used in construction. A hurried trip home and with much persuasion, Emily’s father was talked into going to have a look at this wonderful house. This resulted in his negotiating for and eventually purchasing the home for the sum of approximately fourteen pounds. Edmund Curtis, not being a carpenter, but a very capable man, set about dismantling the home, marking every piece of timber and reassembling it exactly as before on his land not far from the old slab home.
This then became the Curtis home. Emily grew up, married and moved away from the mountain for a number of years. She returned to her parent’s home with her husband and two young sons. This was during the early stages of The Great Depression that lasted through to the thirties. During this time the first all-weather bitumen road was constructed. At last the mountain had become more accessible and people began to come as tourists needing accommodation. Emily was now caring for her aged mother who was confined to her bed. However, there was still the need for family income and she decided to turn a couple of spare rooms, with her parent’s consent, into guest rooms. Her father gave her the “Syndicate House” in appreciation of her nursing her mother for so many years. At this time Tamborine Mountain was fast becoming a flourishing tourist resort. Jim Franklin was a building contractor and owned ten acres of land round the hilltop where “Bungunyah” stands today. In the early 1920’s, Emily and Jim decided to demolish the “Syndicate House” and use any timber that was sound to help with the construction of “Bungunyah” the Guest House.
Some of the timber from the old “Syndicate House” adorns the room overlooking the East Coast and is visible as the wide panels of the gracious walls. The old French light doors are from the “Syndicate House”, as are many of the rafters used in the roof and floor joists. In constructing “Bungunyah”, Jim designed a two storey building to withstand the regular monsoon winds and rain of that era. He built into the new home a number of huge 7″x7″ sawn posts that go deep into the ground and up to the top plate of the building. Emily’s father, who was still alive at that time was most interested in the strong construction and asked permission to choose a suitable name. After some research, he came up with an Aboriginal name, “Bungunyah”, which as near as possible in our language means, “a tall, safe house”.
“Bungunyah” operated as a guest house from 1926 to 1942. In its heyday it could accommodate up to thirty guests. There were thirteen bedrooms, two bathrooms, two dining rooms, a lounge, kitchen and pantry. There were three outside lavatories and a laundry. The meals were all planned and cooked by Emily with some help in the preparation of the food. She was a vegetarian and this created problems for her when it came time to taste test the meat gravies. Up to three casuals were called in during the busy Easter and Christmas periods. Emily had one live-in helper, Eileen McGuiness. The busy day started with tea and toast in bed followed by breakfast at 8am in the dining room, morning tea at 10:30am, lunch at 12:30pm, afternoon tea at 3:30pm and a light dinner at night around 6:30pm. Emily was an exceptional cook and was renowned for her excellent table, no mean feat in the days prior to modern stoves, microwaves and deep freezers.
Jim Franklin was a contract builder and away from home a lot of the time, but managed with the help of their two sons, Lorrel and Eugene. He also helped maintain the beautiful circular gardens and assist in the general running of “Bungunyah” whenever possible. Eugene’s duties included waiting on tables, milking the cows, separating the milk to make cream for the tables, maintaining the gardens and lawns on his own when other family members were absent and running a successful tourist car for the benefit of the guests.
In between meals, Emily somehow found the time to attend to the accounts, bookings, ordering of the food and equipment and the washing, which before electricity was all done by hand. She also found time to speak with her guests and look after a family and ailing mother. Eileen looked after the making of the beds, emptying of the chamber pots, ironing and general cleaning. All the bed linen and tablecloths were white and had to be starched and ironed. Eugene, Emily’s second son, married Lorna Thompson in 1941 and she became a deft hand at ironing. No creases were tolerated as Emily demanded a high standard. Towels had the name “Bungunyah” woven into them.
At Christmas and New Year the “Bungunyah” Bunyip put in an appearance. This was an aboriginal legend brought to life by Eugene in the form of a man made replica approximately 10″ (300cm) long by 4’6″ (137cm) high. It had a wooden frame covered in sisal craft, torches that shone in the eyes and a bottom jaw that was hinged and operated by a cord held by Eugene who was the moving force under the Bunyip. A tube, camouflaged by coconut fibre ran up to the nostrils and smoke was provided with a great deal of effort by the operator puffing on a cigarette. The Bunyip also laid eggs in the form of huge white vegetable marrow. The pantomime was carried out by one of the regular guests, Mr Daniels, who dressed as an Arabian sultan (in a silk dressing gown) and led the Bunyip around the lawns and verandah on a lead and carried a staff to keep the wild savage creature under control. In the days before modern entertainment, this was a very popular and much sort after custom carried out for many years.
By 1942 “Bungunyah” had ceased to operate as a guest house. It was least to Marist Brothers as their Junior School when children were vacated from Brisbane during the Second World War. When “Bungunyah” reverted back to the Franklins after the War, they decided to turn the guest house into flats.
Over the years Emily developed acute arthritis and eventually had to give up her two great loves, music and her garden. She spent her last years confined to a wheelchair. Jim Franklin predeceased Emily by two years but they had spent many years together in their dream home.
Of Jim and Emily, one could only say, “Their home was their castle”. They both loved “Bungunyah” with their whole heart and soul, this only being surpassed by their love of their family. “Bungunyah” passed out of the Franklin family in 1970 after Emily died, but her spirit still welcomes guests to her beloved “Bungunyah”.