Building the Town
Michael Alexander Busteed
Busteed Street is named for Michael Alexander Busteed, a building contractor. Born in 1887 in Maitland, New South Wales, Michael was the son of Michael and Emma (nee Norrie) Busteed.
Michael Busteed (senior 1859 – 1922) and his wife Emma Agnes Busteed, nee Norrie (1859 – 1948) moved to Dallarnil with their family in the early 1900s.
Before coming to Gladstone in 1915, Michael was involved in the sugar industry around Childers in the Isis district, later taking up carpentry. Michael’s wife, Amelia Mary Axelsen, was born at Tiaro, near Maryborough, living most of her young life in that district. It was around this area that she met Michael, and they were married in the Catholic Church at Childers.
They married in 1913, and had four sons, John (Jack), Francis Bernard (Frank), Michael (Mick), Peter and one daughter, Noela (Griffin). They lived for a few years at Bundaberg before moving to Gladstone.
On his arrival in Gladstone, Michael took up some land for a short time, and later went into partnership with Mr Bill Casey as a building contractor. When the partnership dissolved, Michael continued as a builder for the rest of his working life.
The family lived in various houses around the town. One of their first homes was in the area now known as Sun Valley. Michael was working in town building, and Amelia would hitch up the horse to the sulky and ride to meet him in the afternoon near Mrs Larsen’s cottage. (Mrs Larsen’s cottage was situated near the present Kin Kora roundabout, on the site of the present Windmill Centre). Other houses they built and lived in were in Pier Street, Rollo Street, Kent Street and in Yarroon Street. Michael Busteed named Kullaroo House, which is situated on the corner of Yarroon and Goondoon Streets. He bought the building, which previously operated as a bank, and turned it into flats for workers at Queensland Alumina Limited. Busteed’s house and garden were in Yarroon Street behind the bank.
In 1928, Michael successfully contested the local authority elections for alderman of the Gladstone Town Council, and served in this position until 1942. He also became a member of the board of the Gladstone Fire Brigade, where he served for 33 years, and was chairman of the board for nearly 20 years.
Michael was a keen sportsman in the early years, playing rugby league. In 1912, he played for Queensland Rugby League against New Zealand. He was also a cyclist. Many records were created in his cycling career, and on one occasion in 1911 he won the entire cycling program at a Caledonian sports meeting in Bundaberg. His family recall that when living at Childers, he built a bike track and would practise on it regularly. When riding off on his horse, his father would ask him where he was going. He would have his cycling gear on the other side of the horse hidden from his father’s view.
In later years, lawn bowls became Michael’s passion and, along with Harold Loveday and others, he helped to form the Gladstone Bowls Club. As well as playing the game, and travelling to other centres as a representative player, Michael served in various positions on the committee including chairman and patron. For his services, he was made a life member of the club. His collection of badges from bowling clubs throughout Australia was gifted to the Gladstone Bowls Club after his death.
Michael and his eldest son John, known as Jack, became involved in the motor industry in Gladstone, and in 1929 he built a shop in Goondoon Street.
BUSTEED’S TYRE SERVICE Goondoon Street
Jack entered the business after finishing school at Nudgee College, and they installed a tyre retreading plant purchased from Graham McPherson, who had operated the first tyre retread plant in Gladstone in premises adjoining the Gladstone Hardware. A petrol burner, similar in operation to a primus stove, operated the plant, the American third circle drikure unit. Working at top pressure it could turn out two moulds per day. On July 1, 1937, Jack Busteed assumed control of his father’s business. In December 1959, he established larger premises for the tyre service in a new building designed by his brother, Michael James Busteed and constructed by his father, brothers, Frank and Peter, and brother-in-law, Maurice Griffin, on the corner of Oaka Lane and Tank Street.
BUSTEED’S TYRE SERVICE
Corner Oaka Lane and Tank Street Gladstone
This successful business was sold to the Goodyear company in 1966. The premises in Goondoon Street continued to trade as Busteed’s Marine Centre.
BUSTEED’S TYRE SERVICE and MARINE CENTRE
(Present site of Scottie’s Restaurant)
Two of Michael’s other sons, Frank and Michael, opened Busteed Brothers building company in Side Street.
In his earlier years, Michael was a pioneer of the seaside holiday resort at Boyne Island, and the family spent much leisure time there. He also acquired a property at South End, Curtis Island, where he was able to spend time in one of his favourite occupations, fishing. He was a keen proponent of the advantages of the Great Barrier Reef and the tourist opportunities for the local area.
The Gladstone Show Society also benefited from his patronage. He gave many hours of time in supporting the society, and was the driving force behind the Fat Bullock competition. Life membership was given to him for his efforts in the society.
Michael Alexander Busteed died at the age of 76 years on May 28, 1963. Amelia Mary Busteed died March 27, 1966. They are both buried in the Gladstone Cemetery.
Descendants of Michael Busteed still live in the Gladstone district. Kimberley Busteed, great-granddaughter of Michael Alexander, became Miss Universe Australia in 2007, and contested the Miss Universe contest in Mexico. She is a granddaughter of Francis (Frank) and Daphne (nee Pender) Busteed who had eight children – Patricia (Bunting), Dianne (Hoiberg), Christine Elizabeth (Sheppard), Glynis (Williams), Geoffrey, Ken, Bradley and Amanda Jane (Armstrong). Michael (Mick) married Alice Edey. They had seven children, Carolyn, Michael, Garth, Judy, Robyn, Margaret and Joanne. John (Jack) married Viva Adelle (Dell) Mellefont, and they had no children. Peter married Monica Davies, and their children were Allan, Robert, Maureen and Brendan. He later married Pat Ball. Nola married Maurice Griffin and they had children Suzanne, Michael, John and Maurice.
(Thanks to Daphne Busteed and Carolyn for their help with this story and for so kindly allowing me to copy their family photographs)
THIS STORY (and many more) can be found in my published book:
“What’s in a Name? The stories behind the street names of Gladstone, Queensland” available from me (email@example.com) COST $30.00 (plus P & P)