Signage has been restored at Kendall Flat to see the popular sports grounds once again proudly displaying the name of one of Bundaberg’s earliest pioneering families.
The grounds were originally named after Richard Kendall who immigrated to Australia from Great Britain in 1862 and went on to greatly contribute to the community throughout the early years of European settlement.
The new signage was a welcome delight to Richard’s descendants who had been campaigning for the return of the signage since the originals were destroyed in an historic flood event.
His great, great grandson Bruce Muller has been working with Bundaberg Regional Council to see the signage restored.
He said the name of the sports ground was an important recognition of the region’s history.
“Richard Kendall was the first Shire Chairman of the then Woongarra Shire and was a true humanitarian along with a kind and generous businessman,” Bruce said.
While it may be better known as a sports ground, Bruce said Kendall Flat was once the site of his great, great grandparents Richard and Salome Kendall's farm on which they grew fruit and produce, including the famous Kendall's Honey, for their General Store on the hill above.
Bruce and his mum Mary Muller, along with various other family members, had had their concerns that the sports grounds would be renamed following a proposal from Bundaberg City Council.
He’s thrilled to now see the Kendall Flat signs erected by Bundaberg Regional Council at both entrances to the grounds on Bourbong Street.
“Our family history will live on, and the commitment and contribution of our Kendall family ancestors will never be written out of the early history of Bundaberg.”
Kendall family history
The Bundaberg Regional Libraries’ heritage team has researched the history of the Kendall family, from the arrival of 28-year-old Richard and 24-year-old wife Salome aboard the Ariadne on 8 October 1862.
They travelled with their two children George, age three, and Sarah, age two, disembarking in Maryborough before settling in Bundaberg in 1870.
Richard and Salome each selected 640 acres in the area known as Spain’s Pocket.
Modern day residents would better know the land selected as the parts of East Bundaberg immediately over the Kennedy Bridge, stretching from Saltwater Creek along the Burnett River and encompassing the former Gasworks and current Kendall Flat sports ground.
Already an experienced farmer, Richard wasted no time building his family home and trying his hand at farming and dairy on the land immediately adjacent to Kennedy Bridge.
Richard Kendall a community pillar
However, following a flood in 1875, he sold that business and opened a general store on Kendall’s Hill which even featured an adjoining church known as Ebenezer’s Free Church.
It was seemingly his first step towards becoming established as a pillar of the Bundaberg community.
His many achievements throughout his lifetime was noted by The Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advisor (Friday 9 June 1893, page 2) and reprinted in The Queenslander (Saturday 17 June 1893, page 1111) when he died in 1893.
“He was intensely practical and took an active interest in most public affairs, an interest that gained him the esteem of a wide range of friends,” The Bundaberg Mail and Burnett Advisor article read.
His farming experience remained of value to the local community and Richard continued to contribute through the Agricultural and Pastoral Society.
Richard was also awarded the Queenslander Cup in 1878 for the best collection of agricultural produce.
The cup remains on display in the Bundaberg Regional Council Bourbong Street administration centre.
“In 1884 he built the Ebeneser Church adjoining his store,” the article said.
“This little building was ever at the gratuitous disposal of all who desired it for religious purposes.
“Perhaps more than any townsman, Mr. Kendall was untiring in his support of the local Hospital, and, though wholly unknown to the general public, he there performed many kindly acts which will live long in the remembrance of those who received kindness at his hands.
“By the death of Mr. Kendall Bundaberg, and especially the East End, has lost one of the most sterling, upright, and consistent colonists, whose loss it will be difficult to replace.”
History of Kendall Flat
Over the years the area has become well-known as Kendall Flat with records showing that Mayor C.J. Nielsen referred to the site by this name in 1964.
Colloquially the sports ground has been known by many names, not the least of which being Kendall’s Flat or Kendall’s Flats.
However, in finalising the new signage Bundaberg Regional Council parks staff consulted with members of the Kendall family who confirmed the historically accurate name of the grounds was Kendall Flat.
Richard’s great, great granddaughter Judith Caplick (nee Rath) fondly remembers hearing her family’s history shared.
“Dad spoke a lot about his grandfather George Kendall who ran his father Richard’s store before taking it over,” Judith said.
“I remember him talking about Kendall Flat.
“Of course, the land had other names before our family came along and it would be of great interest to know the Indigenous names for the area.”