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  • Writer's pictureBruce Giddings

Shaping Mango Hill Together

It is impossible to imagine the suburb without the Mango Hill Progress Association (MHPA), founded 37 years ago by local resident Laurence Christie.

It is hard to imagine the tree-lined community next to North Lakes could be named anything else but Mango Hill, with its distinctive corridor of mango trees lining the Anzac Avenue thoroughfare.


However, Mango Hill was in danger of being dubbed Pine View or Palm View at one stage. Incredible as it sounds now, those were two naming options in July 1980 when the suburb was officially decreed.


“According to the Moreton Bay Our Story Archive, the fledgling suburb had already been dubbed Mango Hill by the bus drivers running from Petrie to Redcliffe in the 1930s.

Just as Mango Hill could hardly be imagined as anything else, it is impossible to imagine the suburb without the Mango Hill Progress Association (MHPA), founded 37 years ago by local resident Laurence Christie.


In 1973, when Laurence bought his block in an area now known as Mango Hill Village, the future suburb consisted of grassy plains dotted with cows and slash pine plantations.

Laurence’s newly purchased block of land was down a rough track towards Saltwater Creek. The area found favour with young families then, with the land a little less expensive than similar blocks further south towards Anzac Avenue.


According to the Moreton Bay Our Story Archive, the fledgling suburb had already been dubbed Mango Hill by the bus drivers running from Petrie to Redcliffe in the 1930s.


“The 56 mango trees that line the hilltop today were probably planted in the 1940s,” said Laurence.


Laurence and his wife built their family home in 1978. They began a relationship with neighbours and friends that has only grown over the decades. He founded the Mango Hill Progress Association with other local residents on 15th July 1986, remembering the date well because of what was brewing at the time.


The State Government and the Redcliffe City Council planned to build a cemetery and rubbish dump near Chermside Road, Mango Hill, just inside what is now North Lakes, an area then zoned as rural.


Laurence and his neighbours had a short time to respond. They mobilised their forces and formed the Mango Hill Progress Association, determined to talk sense to the George Street and Redcliffe powers. The new Association won, and there is no rubbish dump or cemetery within the boundaries of North Lakes today.


This prompt action from Laurence, his friends, and neighbours had not appeared out of thin air. They had been networking in the Mango Hill and North Lakes area, distributing newsletters and building a close and well-informed community before the progress association was formed.


Laurence and the volunteers at the MHPA have been standing up for Mango Hill and North Lakes ever since, liaising constructively with two levels of government. However, Laurence quickly credits others on the team, not himself.


First, it was a campaign to get the dusty gravel roads sealed. Throughout the 80s and 90s, they battled for town water and sewerage for the suburb, along with kerbing and channelling. Town water and sewerage were achieved in 1997, while the kerbing and channelling are a work in progress.

Laurence points out that while the non-profit Association is a persuasive advocate for infrastructure improvements in Mango Hill and surrounding suburbs, they have always simultaneously pushed for a family-friendly and ‘village’ lifestyle.


The group has also invested plenty of ‘sweat equity’ in their community. At the beginning of the nineties, with about 250 houses in the area, MHPA volunteers rolled up their sleeves and, with help from the Pine Rivers Shire Council and the local business community, worked some massive hours establishing a community hall, tennis court, cricket pitch, basketball court and Danzy Buchanan Park on Chermside Road. While the cricket pitch has gone, all the other community assets continue to be used.


In addition, MHPA volunteers gamely negotiated the complex bureaucratic language contained in reams of paperwork during the formulation of the Mango Hill Development Plan in the 1990s, subsequently helping to forge the rules governing the development of Mango Hills and North Lakes.


While North Lakes was still in the planning stages, the MHPA petitioned the council for a green belt with walkable links between the two suburbs, which is still in place today.


The MHPA spent decades arguing for the Kippa-Ring rail line. Laurence says the group was ‘out in force’, in a celebratory mood on opening day for Kippa-Ring Station in October 2016.


The MHPA will act quickly when the community is threatened. When unprecedented floodwaters dunked the whole neighbourhood in 2022 due to a localised rain event, they became boots on the ground, working with emergency services and the council to evacuate people and clean up. The floodwaters were chest-deep inside their hard-won and meticulously maintained community hall.


The MHPA continues to liaise with the council about some persistent drainage problems at the edge of Mango Hill Village.


President Laurence never stops. He is a livewire, an experienced juggler, able to keep several balls in the air simultaneously and with a smile.


Records show that Laurence received an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for ‘service to the community’ in 2011 and several other awards since, including the 2023 Mayor’s Community Spirit Award.


In addition to his service to the Mango Hill community, Laurence is a keen cricketer and the Development Officer for Warehouse Cricket Association Queensland, to which he has contributed in both volunteer and part-time capacities since 1986.


When you visit the community hall and see 30 or more local kids playing an impromptu basketball game on the courts next door, you get a sense of the immense pride and satisfaction in what the MHPA volunteers have achieved. A real community has been built.


DID YOU KNOW?


The Mango Hill volunteers look after the community hall, basketball and tennis courts on behalf of the council. The well-kept hall caters to various low-cost classes and local events, such as yoga, pilates, and even sewing classes. At election time, the hall becomes a community meeting place to enjoy a democracy sausage.


The MHPA also holds community-building events all year -long, including several family-oriented Skate Nights, complete with music, a light show and fun and games for the kids. Families should mark their calendars for the next Skate Night, Saturday 1st October.


The biggest event every year is the Christmas Carols, a longstanding and popular inclusion in Moreton Bay’s entertainment calendar.


The community hall hosts monthly meetings for the Progress Association on the third Wednesday night of every month. It welcomes interested residents from Mango Hills and North Lakes.


Laurence and his committed band of volunteers welcome community input and membership enquiries at www.mangohillprogress.org

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