16 December, 2023
Building revamp embraces history
KEEPING the history of Malanda alive is important to Shellie Nightingale and that’s evident in her shopfront.
During the week, Shellie can be found at her computer, or with clients, at her Nightingale Real Estate office in Malanda. It’s a modern, chic looking building with a rather interesting display in the windows but it wasn’t always this way.
The building has been renovated, revamped and now sits proudly, as it once did, among the others in town.
Shellie said when she stepped away from Elders Real Estate to open her own business, she was on the lookout for a suitable building.
What was originally Dent’s Diner - built by Dicky Dent back in the 1950s - the building has seen a number of different shop fronts but most recently it was home to Ted Ricketts Real Estate.
“After Ted’s passing, his son Peter took over the shop where it was a real estate/electronic repair shop, but 22 years ago, Peter moved to Cairns due to work commitments and the shop remained idle until our purchase in July,” Shellie said.
The purchase didn’t come easy but a family connection between Shellie’s husband and Peter’s parents - they were 10 pound Poms who met on the same boat and both ended up in the Tablelands - helped to seal the deal.
“The building has a beautiful front. It was in a bit of a mess when we got it and we completely gutted it,” she said.
From there it was quite the journey to restore part of Malanda’s history.
“It took 14 weeks to restore and complete the work to make the shop what it is now. The front bay windows were a feature we had to keep, so we spent many hours scraping back around eight layers of different coloured paint that the shop had had over the years to expose the original silky oak timber.”
They’ve also exposed the bulkhead which shows the brickwork done by hand in the 50s.
The history doesn’t stop there though and it’s what features in the front windows that’s drawn attention from passersby.
“The milking machine and display in the front window was Mark’s (my husband’s) grandparents from their farm in Tarzali. It is called an Alpha Laval and was one of the first automated milking machines on the Tablelands,” Shellie said.
“My father-in-law Richie set it up in the dairy centre in 2003 but as the centre is now defunct we decided to bring it back to our family. The timber used for this display is also original and was broad axed by Dick Nightingale, Alf Fisk and Owen Barret in the 1930s.”
The front counter is made from pit-sawn red cedar that was originally bales on Lindsay Graham’s Farm at Old Clarks Track.
“This timber was pit-sawn by Lindsay Graham and Dick Nightingale in the 40s-50s and when they decided to pull the bales down my husband bought the timber so he could reuse it sometime in the future.”
Even the light above the front counter is a timber pillar and original bullock team chains from the family farm as Dick Nightingale was a timber cutter and used his team to transport the timber.
“My office desk is made from a red cedar slab that was taken from Tinaroo Dam when the water levels went down. Almost everything we have used to create our space has been recycled and reused,” Shellie said.
Whilst it’s been a mammoth task to turn the building around, Shellie said to see the people popping in and wanting to hear the stories and history had made the hard work worth it.
“We have had many people travel far and many tourists passing through town come in just to have a look. We are very proud to share our little piece of history,” she said.
The visitors include the older generation, those who remember the pioneers and were part of multi-generational dairy families.
“It is just so interesting to hear about their days when they were milkers,” Shellie said.
“The community is getting involved; it’s awesome, it’s so awesome.”
But there’s one man who is proud and that’s Peter.
Shellie said when they finished and sent him photos he cried happy tears and was pleased to have handed the shopfront over to the Nightingale family.