The Hooper Legacy in Darra: From Wartime Correspondence to Community Cornerstone

Alan and Nancy Hooper, then a young couple during World War II, transformed their wartime correspondence into a thriving business, Hooper’s Supermarket, located in the heart of Darra. This family store served the community and celebrated the couple’s journey from the turmoil of war to peace and prosperity.

Love and Letters During War

Alan’s wartime saga began in the dense jungles of New Guinea, where he served with the 1st Papuan Infantry Battalion (1PIB). Under the command of Major William Watson, a New Zealander, the battalion was composed of Papuan privates, non-commissioned officers, and Australian officers like Alan. 

Allan Hooper in the war
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

During the advance of the Japanese forces, the Papuan soldiers and their allies played a crucial role in conducting scouting and surveillance missions. Their exceptional natural bushcraft skills proved to be a significant advantage in these operations.

Allan Hooper in the War
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

Alan’s letters home provided a vivid description of the challenging conditions and the camaraderie amongst the troops.

Nancy’s Homefront Challenges

Back in Brisbane, Nancy O’Neill, then Alan’s fiancée, faced her own set of challenges. Only 19 when she bid Alan goodbye, Nancy quickly adapted to wartime life by joining the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF). 

Her role took her to various locations, including the RAAF Sandgate Base and the No. 1 Bombing and Gunnery School at Evans Head, New South Wales. Through her service, Nancy developed a robust independence and a deep sense of duty, traits that shone through in her letters filled with news of home and encouragement.

The Power of Correspondence

Alan and Nancy were married in June 1943, two months after Nancy was discharged from WAAAF. They tied the knot while Alan was on leave from his duties in New Guinea during World War II.

Throughout the war, the couple exchanged letters to stay connected despite being on different continents. These letters were more than just affectionate gestures; they were lifelines that connected their hearts. They shared over 500 letters, detailing their wartime experiences, from deepest longings to daily hardships.

Alan’s correspondences were notable for his insightful observations during critical military operations and his candid reflections on the camaraderie and loss amongst his comrades.

One poignant anecdote shared in a letter dated August 1942 recounts Alan foraging for food with a U.S. aircrew whose plane had crashed nearby. This showcases his resourcefulness and the unexpected friendships forged in the face of adversity. 

Similarly, Nancy’s letters often contained light-hearted yet vivid descriptions of her life in the military, from losing her wedding rings in the surf to her joy at receiving replacements sent by Alan.

Allan and Nancy Hooper letters
Photo Credit: Nancy’s letter to Allan
State Library of Queensland

Allan's letter to Nancy
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

Legacy of Love and Service

Returning from the war, Alan and Nancy wasted no time starting a new chapter. They pooled their resources and opened Hoopers Supermarket in Darra. This business was more than just a means to an economic end; it fulfilled their dream to create something lasting and beneficial for their community. The supermarket quickly became a local hub, where stories and support were as plentiful as the goods on the shelves.

Nancy’s untimely death in 1975 from breast cancer was a profound loss for Alan and the Darra community she had come to cherish. However, the legacy of the Hoopers’ love and joint venture persisted.  

The correspondence between Alan and Nancy Hooper is now preserved at the John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Published 15-April-2024

Alloys Strengthens Queensland Operations with New Distribution Centre in Wacol

Leading Australian technology distributor Alloys has opened a new distribution centre in Wacol to service the company’s growing business in Queensland.

Read: Wacol Youth Remand Centre Progresses Toward 2024 Completion

More than a hundred of Alloys’ Queensland-based partners and customers, including major tech brands such as Lexmark, Epson, Kyocera, and Promethean, attended the opening of the company’s new distribution centre in Brisbane late last month.

The new Wacol facility features a warehouse utilising Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) picking technology to boost efficiency and consistency for Alloys’ Brisbane and Far North Queensland customers. It also includes expanded showroom facilities, meeting rooms, training rooms and kitchens that customers can utilise. 

Photo credit: Alloys/Flickr

Alloys’ CEO Paul Harman stated that the new distribution centre provides an eight times increase in size from the company’s previous Brisbane warehouse in Acacia Ridge, allowing Alloys to better serve the growing Queensland market. 

Photo credit: Alloys/Flickr

Mr Harman said Alloys is really keen to continue investing in Queensland, noting this is the third facility the company has opened in Brisbane in the past 10 years as Alloys has continued to grow.

Mr Harman explained that Alloys can help customers demonstrate products, run events, and use the space as their own, with the facility designed to feel like the customer’s own.

Photo credit: Alloys/Flickr

He also noted that Alloys is seeing strong growth in its AV business, particularly in panel sales, as well as its building and security technology offerings in the Brisbane market. He said there is a great market for intercoms, access control and security cameras in Brisbane, with growth in those areas outpacing the southern states.

Read: Sinnamon Park Local Embarked on a Life-changing Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

The new distribution centre in Wacol aims to help Alloys capitalise on untapped potential in not just southeast Queensland but also Far North Queensland, as the state continues to see a lot of new build activity, especially in the office fitout space utilising the latest technologies. 

Published 12-April-2024

Axe and Crowbar Wielded in Jindalee in Brazen Daylight Break-In

Two men, armed with a crowbar and an axe, were caught on camera attempting a bold daylight break-in at a Jindalee home on Kooringal Drive, sparking widespread alarm across Brisbane over rising aggressive home invasions.

The attempted intrusion occurred at approximately 11:30 a.m. on 26 March 2024. The perpetrators, driving a white Pajero, were thwarted in their efforts and did not gain entry, yet their boldness has ignited concerns among residents. 

According to posts shared within a private Facebook community group, the two men failed to penetrate the home but succeeded in instilling fear amongst the community.

Following the attempted break-in, local police were present in the Jindalee neighbourhood and conducted area patrols. Despite these efforts, no charges had been filed at the time of the report.

Between April 2023 to March 2024, about 53 unlawful entry incidents and over 168 offences of other thefts occurred in Jindalee. The community has been left rattled, with social media users emphasising the importance of vigilance and secure home practices in light of the alarming incident.

Jindalee crime stats
Photo Credit: QPS

Further unsettling reports from the same night detailed suspicious activities involving a white Pajero parked on Arrabri Ave. Witnesses described seeing a man in black sifting through bins under the cover of darkness, raising fears of a broader criminal reconnaissance operation.

This incident in Jindalee forms a disturbing pattern of home invasions plaguing Brisbane. 

In a separate but equally alarming event, a mother’s instinctive screams deterred two masked men from advancing into her Hamilton home, despite them being armed and having previously surveyed the property in tradie disguises. The failed intrusion occurred just hours after a Paddington home, occupied by a grandmother and her three-year-old granddaughter, was violently entered by men matching the description of those involved in the Jindalee and Hamilton incidents.

Police have linked these audacious crimes within a narrow two-hour timeframe to a known group of offenders reportedly on bail at the time. The recurrent targeting of these homes, particularly the Paddington residence now breached for the fourth time in a year, has amplified community anxieties regarding home safety and the efficacy of bail conditions for known criminals.

The sequence of events from Jindalee to Hamilton, culminating in Paddington, paints a grim picture of a community under siege. Residents are urged to remain vigilant, to secure their homes, and to report any suspicious activities to the authorities. The brazen nature of these crimes, executed in broad daylight and involving armed assailants, calls for a collective community response coupled with a reassessment of criminal justice measures to ensure the safety and peace of Brisbane’s suburbs.

Published 1-April-2024

RACQ Report Reveals Centenary Motorway Crawls at School Zone Speeds During Peak Hours

The Centenary Motorway is living up to its name and taking drives back a century with average weekday peak hour speeds slower than suburban school zones.

Read: Olympic-Size Congestion: Call For Urgent Upgrade on Centenary Highway

The latest traffic data from  Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) shows the major Brisbane motorway corridor is a slow grind, with average speeds of just 37.4 km/h between Ipswich Motorway and Fig Tree Pocket Road during the 6-10 a.m. peak period.

RACQ’s 2023 Average Speed and Travel Time Report revealed the Centenary Motorway is one of the city’s most congested routes. The Pacific Motorway between North Quay and O’Keefe Street was Brisbane’s slowest at just 28.6km/h in the 3-7 p.m. afternoon peak period.

Photo credit: Google Street View

The organisation’s Head of Public Policy, Dr Michael Kane, acknowledged the ongoing Centenary Bridge upgrade work but emphasised that more comprehensive solutions are required to mitigate the escalating traffic challenges. This includes considering connections to proposed bypass tunnels to allow motorists to skirt around Brisbane.

“We know the Queensland Government is working on a draft Master Plan for the Centenary Motorway and we need this to be holistic and well thought out,” Dr Kane said.

“Any long-term planning for the Centenary Motorway corridor must consider a connecting ‘Western Bypass’ corridor linking through to the proposed Gympie Road Bypass Tunnel.

Proposed Gympie Road Bypass Tunnel (Photo credit:

“By fixing, finishing and extending our outer ring of motorways we will take traffic off our local roads and corridors by allowing them to bypass Brisbane altogether.

According to Dr Kane, any comprehensive strategy must heavily incorporate public transit solutions, such as segregated bus lanes, allowing for the possibility of extending the Brisbane Metro network’s reach.

The RACQ report did have a silver lining – upgraded sections of the Pacific Motorway saw dramatic speed improvements, giving a glimpse of how Brisbane traffic could flow if solutions are implemented.

Read: Congested Section Of Centenary Motorway To Receive Much-needed Upgrades

RACQ is eager to collaborate closely with local, state, and federal government entities as they persist in championing the interests of drivers across Queensland.

Published 27-March-2024

Grandmother Terrified After Youths Broke Into Mt Ommaney Home

A grandmother was left terrified after a gang of armed youths broke into her home in Mount Ommaney while she was inside.

The incident occurred at Mozart Place, where Veri Kostidnovac and her husband have resided for 55 years.

“I don’t know what they were chasing,” said a visibly shaken Ms Kostidnovac, who now fears being on her own property.

Video footage shows the gang attempting to break into homes before police arrived on the scene. The group managed to escape in a car before the police could apprehend them.

The driver of the stolen car, a 15-year-old youth offender, drove so dangerously that the police had to suspend the pursuit.

Queensland Police Detective Inspector Wayne Frances described the situation as “extremely dangerous”, posing a risk not only to the police officers involved, but also to the community and the offenders themselves.

The police are still searching for the youth offenders in Mt Ommaney.

Published 20-March-2024

Lucha Brewing: Seventeen Mile Rocks Community Cornerstone Celebrates 2nd Anniversary

Lucha Brewing Co., a family-operated boutique brewery, celebrated its second anniversary, highlighting its unique contribution to local community engagement through craft beer. 

Emphasising the joy of communal experiences, Lucha Brewing Co. remains dedicated to its role as a meeting place for friends, families, and beer enthusiasts.

Since its inception, the pub has stood out for its exceptional craft beer and commitment to fostering community ties. Inspired by the vibrant culture of lucha libre wrestling, the brewery offers a space where life’s moments are savoured with great company.

Lucha Brewing
Photo Credit: Lucha Brewing Co

 “Our brewery has become more than just a place to enjoy beer; it’s where people come together, forming lasting friendships and creating a close-knit community,” said Damien, Owner of Lucha Brewing Co.

“What started as a passion for brewing has evolved into a love for hosting our community. The connections made here, over our craft beers, have been the true highlight of these two years,” Damien added. 

Damien is the brewmaster and barman. Before pursuing his passion for brewing, he had a career in public service. Sandie, his wife, manages the paperwork and operations behind the scenes efficiently. Their son, Rohan, helps out behind the bar. Together, they are the backbone of Lucha Brewing, a labor of love borne out of their desire to break free from the monotony of routine and embrace the joy of creating something new.

When you enter the taproom, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find high-quality beers and a peaceful environment where you can engage in meaningful conversations and create unforgettable memories while listening to music from the 80s to the present. Damien, the owner, keeps his fridge stocked with his latest home-brewed IPAs, reflecting his unwavering pursuit of the perfect pint.

Lucha Brewing
Photo Credit: Lucha Brewing Co.

Lucha Brewing is a new addition to the Brisbane beer scene, but it has already made a significant impact. The taproom is always busy with residents and craft beer lovers. The brewery is a symbol of community spirit, providing a space where neighbours and strangers can become mates over a cold pint.

“Without your continued support we wouldn’t be here and enjoying it so much. So, thank you to the weekly regulars. Thank you to those who get here every other week or when they can. Thank you to those who travel further and visit when they are on this side of town and thank you to the amazing food trucks that keep coming to feed us.”

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lucha Brewing never lost its indomitable spirit. Although the startup faced delays, the team remained determined and focused on its goals. Even when floods tested its resilience, the brewery stood strong and provided aid to the community. It is now eagerly awaiting brighter days ahead.

The brewery’s success is a testament to its founders’ vision of a local hub for relaxation and socialization, supported by a loyal base of regulars and the contribution of various food trucks that enhance the visitor experience.

Published 11-March-2024

Seventeen Mile Rocks House Undergoes Transformation After Nearly Five Decades

A house on Carlyle Street in Seventeen Mile Rocks commenced construction in 1977 and was never finished. Premek Borek of Property & Beyond has decided to take on the challenge of completing it.

The project, located at 29 Carlyle St, has been a long-standing concern for residents due to its unfinished state over the past four decades. However, with the intervention of Property & Beyond in 2023, the house is currently being constructed, promising a unique design while preserving its original features.

“Construction commenced in 1977 and never got finished,” Mr Borek said.

“It has been a sore eye (sic) to local residents for the last 40+ years and now is being transformed to a unique design, whilst retaining original features. I get a lot of support from locals, whenever they walk past it and see me.”

29 Carlyle St Seventeen Mile Rocks
Photo Credit: Supplied

The site, falling within the Low Density Residential Zone, is presently occupied by a post-1946 Dwelling house and ancillary domestic outbuildings. Despite the proposal for a technical third storey, it will be implemented as a mezzanine within the upper level of the house. This addition aims to optimize the utilization of existing high ceilings while maintaining the external appearance of a two-storey dwelling.

29 Carlyle St Seventeen Mile Rocks
Photo Credit: Supplied
Photo Credit: Supplied

The Development Application (A006315220) for the project was filed on June 2023 and decided in September of the same year. 

The approval was granted considering various factors, including the consistent land use for the Low Density Residential Zone, the internal nature of the third storey, adherence to maximum height regulations, setbacks, and materials consistent with the streetscape character of Carlyle St.

Interestingly, the original building approval from nearly 50 years ago permitted the owner to reside in a caravan on the premises during the construction of the house, highlighting the lengthy history and unique circumstances surrounding the property’s development.

Published 28-February-2024

Netflix Spotlight on Local Legend: Darra’s Que Huong Restaurant

Local viewers of the Netflix show Boy Swallows Universe likely noticed Darra’s Que Huong Restaurant when it appeared on screen. 

Read: Abandoned Asylum: The Haunting Legacy of Wolston Park in Wacol

Keen observers would have seen that the Vietnamese restaurant was used as a filming location and featured in some scenes in the second episode of the series.

The Netflix series was inspired by the novel Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, which tells the story of protagonist Eli Bell growing up in 1980s Darra and navigating its complications. 

Photo credit: Netflix

Though Que Huong enjoyed its Netflix debut, the restaurant has been a staple in the Darra community long before the cameras arrived. It has developed a devoted customer base as a well-known restaurant in the Darra area for years.

Photo credit: Que Huong Restaurant/Facebook

More than a restaurant, Que Huong provides the backdrop for traditions, connections, and memories spanning generations of locals. For many Darra families, this unassuming eatery is where their history together has grown with each visit over the years.

Their signature dishes like chilli crab, prawns and barbecue duck have garnered quite a fanbase over the decades. Beyond these specialties, Que Huong boasts an extensive menu filled with salad dishes, soups, hotpots, and rice meals.

What makes the restaurant even more special is its retro vibes – the decor is straight out of the 1990s with mirror ball, coloured lights, and a mural depicting Halong Bay. 

Photo credit: Que Huong Restaurant/Google Maps

With its mouthwatering Vietnamese fare, it’s no wonder Que Huong has a dedicated customer base who don’t mind that the restaurant is usually packed with diners. 

The spacious interior can easily accommodate large groups and families. Whilst Que Huong enjoyed its time in the Netflix spotlight, it remains a darling among locals as one of Brisbane’s best Vietnamese restaurants.

Read: Rocks Riverside Park: Among Brisbane’s Most Popular Parks

For fans of the book or show who want to get a taste of the setting, Que Huong offers the perfect opportunity to dine in a place that seems frozen in time.

Published 5-February-2024 

Community Rallies Behind Riverhills Bakery Landmark After Storm Ruins Equipment

Following the devastation caused by the storms in South East Queensland, residents of Riverhills find themselves grappling with the reality of a beloved local bakery’s prolonged closure. 

For more than two decades, Riverhills Bakery has held a special place in the hearts of its patrons but on 2 Feb 2024, the store appeared to be cleared of its items, leaving some locals to wonder if it will open again.

As concerns grew among the bakery’s patrons about its prolonged closure, social media platforms such as Facebook became a forum for discussion. Questions were raised about why the beloved Riverhills Bakery had not yet reopened.

A resident provided insight into the situation, explaining that the complex’s owners had refused to repair the damaged roof, leading to persistent leaks during rainy weather. These leaks, in turn, caused significant harm to the bakery’s equipment. 

Adding to the adversity, the bakery lacked insurance coverage, which further complicated the recovery process. Some tenants within the complex grew weary of the ongoing battle, resulting in the unfortunate closure of the cherished establishment.

Whilst Riverhills Bakery had been a source of joy and comfort for the 4074 community, the storm that swept through the area left a trail of destruction in its wake. The powerful flooding inflicted considerable damage on the bakery’s valuable equipment, rendering it inoperable. 

The most significant losses included an aging bread slicer and other specialised tools, the replacement costs of which proved to be exorbitant. To compound the challenge, finding the necessary parts for repair became an arduous endeavour.

In the spirit of solidarity, Stephanie Liley took the initiative to create a GoFundMe page aimed at helping the bakery owners cover the costs associated with repairing the damaged equipment. 

Liley expressed her deep appreciation for Riverhills Bakery, describing it as a “wonderful fixture in the 4074 community.” Carol and her family, who have managed the bakery on Bogong Street for over two decades, have been instrumental in creating countless cherished memories and delicious meals for the residents.

However, it’s worth noting that Ms Liley’s GoFundMe campaign, initially launched to support the bakery, has now been closed without any clear indication of whether it has reached the fundraising goals.

Riverhills Bakery was renowned not only for its longevity but also for its commitment to providing affordable and high-quality baked goods. Customers were drawn to the bakery’s welcoming atmosphere and the freshness of its products. 

With a remarkable four-star rating on Google, the bakery received praise and glowing reviews from its loyal patrons. Their testimonials exemplify the bakery’s reputation for excellence.

Published 5-Feb-2024

Major Expansion Planned for Western Suburbs State Special School in Durack

Plans have been unveiled for the expansion of the Western Suburbs State Special School in Durack to cater to an additional 60 students. 

The seven-phase project (MID-1123-0745) highlights the construction of new facilities, classrooms, elevators, and parking spaces.  

Despite being designed for only 186 students, Western Suburbs State Special School (WSSS), one of Brisbane’s leading special schools, currently serves 193 students ranging from Prep to Year 12. 

Projections indicate that the school, which does not limit enrolments based on catchment areas, could see its student population reach 209 in the next three years. 

The proposed expansion aims to provide space for up to 252 students and allow for an increase in staff from the current 90 to 114. The development’s primary goal is to address functionality challenges in the school’s senior student cohort, specifically in buildings within the F Block area, which were originally introduced to the site when state special schools did not need to cater to students with physical impairments.

Western Suburbs State Special School
Photo Credit: MID-1123-0745

Stage 1 of the expansion involves the construction of a new building, block R, with 14 classrooms and administration facilities. It also includes the development of a 68-space carpark, a 20-space carpark near the administration building, lifts, ramps, demolition of block F, and the establishment of a new bus drop-off/pick-up zone. 

Stage 2 focuses on renovating block A to create two new classrooms and redeveloping block E into a new library. The subsequent stages include the construction of a new hall with therapy areas, improved accessibility features such as stairs, ramps, and lifts, relocation of existing greenhouses and horticultural sheds, demolition of block F, refurbishment of block A to accommodate two new classes and a new library, and the creation of outdoor learning spaces and play areas. Blocks G, J, K, and L will be demolished, while blocks B and C will undergo renovation or reconstruction.

Western Suburbs State Special School
Photo Credit: MID-1123-0745

This expansion comes amid discussions following the Disability Royal Commission’s recommendation last October 2023 for a 30-year phase-out of special education and a halt on new special school developments from 2025. The recommendation, which aims to integrate students with disabilities into mainstream schools, has raised concerns among Queensland’s educational sectors. The State Government is currently reviewing this proposal.

The project is now subject to public review, with submissions accepted until 16 February 2024. Look for MID-1123-0745 on the planning site.

Feedback can also be sent via email to or mailed to PO Box 15009, City East, QLD, 4002. 

Published 31-Jan-2024