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

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.

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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 

Developer Hopes to Activate Warrender Street with Mixed-Use Development

A new five-storey mixed-use development has been proposed for Warrender Street in Darra, featuring residential units, restaurants, offices, and retail spaces.

Read: Designs Unveiled for Retirement Village at McLeod Country Golf Club

Designed by architecture firm Refresh Design, the development aims to activate the area with new housing, dining, and commercial options.

Located at 45 Warrender Street, the proposed development will have two main buildings across 2,744 sqm of total floor area. Building 1 will be 820 sqm, whilst the larger Building 2 is planned at 2,422 sqm. 

Site plan (Photo credit: Refresh Design)

Between the two structures, there will be space for eight retail shops (644 sqm in total), four commercial office tenancies (282 sqm), and 12 rooming accommodation units (523 sqm) on the ground floor.

The upper levels include a mix of four single-story units, four loft-style units, and four two-story townhouse units for residential spaces totaling over 1,400 sqm. 

Outdoor areas are a focus as well, with 498 sqm of private open space and 113 sqm of communal courtyard. Significant deep planting, landscaping, and parking spots round out the site plan.

Photo credit: Refresh Design

The proposal incorporates 31 on-site parking spaces to accommodate residents and visitors. Refuse storage and collection has also been addressed with a dedicated area for RCV pickup service within the site. 

For vehicle access, there will be two entry points to the development from Warrender Street via new crossovers to be constructed. The planned parking and servicing arrangements aim to fully support the mixed-use complex onsite once operational.

45 Warrender St, Darra (Photo credit: Google Street View)

According to planners, the proposed development utilises several design elements to minimise the perceived size and scale across the site. Careful articulation, varied roof pitches, and a mix of exterior materials and finishes help break up building mass. An active ground floor and upper level balconies facing the street frontage further reduce bulk whilst enhancing street activation and casual surveillance opportunities. 

Read: Proposed Childcare Centre in Sinnamon Park to Repurpose Heritage Church

The proposed mixed-use complex aims to bring new housing diversity and commercial activity through its blend of shops, offices, restaurants and residential spaces conveniently located near public transport in Darra. With city approval, construction could begin soon on the development.

Published 7-January-2024

Community Consultation Continues for Centenary Motorway Upgrade

After an initial round of consultations in early 2023, the second round of community engagement for the Centenary Motorway Upgrade – Darra to Toowong will start this year.

Read: Olympic-Size Congestion: Call For Urgent Upgrade on Centenary Highway0

Local residents will have the opportunity to review updated draft plans and provide input on the proposed masterplan. 

Over the four-week consultation period earlier in 2023, there were over 2,000 interactions with stakeholders and community members. Some of the key issues raised included reducing congestion on the motorway; improving biking and walking facilities; and considering additional public transportation services.

Centenary Motorway (Photo credit: 

The current project encompasses improvements along the entire stretch of road from the Ipswich Motorway interchange to the Toowong Roundabout.

Project map (Photo credit:

Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) stresses the importance of public feedback in finalising designs for the next phase of construction after the current bridge upgrades are completed.

The $298.5 million Centenary Bridge Upgrade represents the first stage of the broader motorway enhancements. 

Works on the new three-lane northbound bridge, rehabilitation of the existing southbound bridges, and improved pedestrian/cycling infrastructure were slated to commence in late March 2023.

Centenary Motorway Upgrade, Stage 1 (Photo credit:

The Centenary Bridge, which forms part of the Motorway, currently carries over 85,000 vehicles daily, and projections estimate over 150,000 vehicles will need to cross it by 2036; the upgrade will improve safety to reduce crashes, increase capacity to meet current and future traffic demand with better travel time reliability, provide better facilities for active transport, and lengthen entry and exit ramps for safer merge lanes. 

TMR and contractors aim to minimise impacts to motorists and residents throughout construction. The team is currently finalising work plans and permits ahead of the start date. Initial on-site activities will involve surveys, site preparation, and utility relocations.

The federal government has pledged $10 million through the Major Project  Business Case fund, in additional funding to support planning and development of the corridor upgrades. 

Read: Contractors Chosen for the Centenary Bridge Upgrade

TMR plans to hold a series of community information sessions beginning February 14. Further information including the survey form can be viewed on TMR’s website

Published 10-December-2023

Darra Jindalee Parishioners to Join the Pope at World Youth Day Lisbon

Five devoted members of the Darra Jindalee youth group are set to embark on an exciting spiritual pilgrimage as they travel to see Pope Francis lead the celebration of World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal and participate in the festivities.

World Youth Day is providing this unique opportunity to Aileen Nasalio, Daniel Torbey, Jessica Samaila, Diana Bello, and Mori Cahutay, all Darra Jindalee parishioners who will be joining the Brisbane archdiocese group for the event this year.

The event promises to be a transformative experience, including visits to sacred sites in France and Portugal, with a special highlight being a visit to Fatima.

Jessica Samaila, a 22-year-old youth leader from a devout Catholic family, has always dreamed of attending World Youth Day. A humble and grateful person, she envisions the Church incorporating current trends to engage the youth in discovering their faith.

Daniel Torbey, a 33-year-old civil engineer of Lebanese descent, acknowledges the challenge of declining faith among young people due to secularization. He stresses the importance of understanding and sharing the Gospel message with authenticity and conviction.

Aileen Nasalio, a 26-year-old customer care consultant in the funeral industry, said that she had her life-changing encounter with Jesus at the age of 20. She hopes to delve deeper into her faith during the pilgrimage and is eager to witness the loving environments that encourage young people to foster deep relationships with Jesus

Diana Bello, a 32-year-old Colombian who moved to Australia in 2019, finds her faith to be a source of profound spiritual growth and healing. She eagerly anticipates visiting Fatima during the pilgrimage and aims to deepen her relationship with God and Our Lady.

Mori Cahutay, a 21-year-old registered nurse specializing in Pediatric Oncology and Bone Marrow Transplant, expressed his belief in the importance of young people strengthening their faith. He finds strength in his faith to cope with the emotional challenges of his work and looks forward to experiencing St. John Paul II’s legacy during World Youth Day.

Jindalee Parishioners World Youth Day
Photo Credit: World Youth Day/Facebook

Their shared faith has drawn these five pilgrims together, eager to join Pope Francis and countless other young Catholics in Lisbon for the culminating World Youth Day Mass.

The entire Darra Jindalee parish has extended its prayers and support as these five pilgrims prepare to embark on this life-changing spiritual journey.

Published 16-July-2023

Darra Has Highest Incidents of Dog Attacks On Postal Workers in QLD

Darra has logged the highest incidents of dog attacks in Queensland alongside Gold Coast, amidst a plea from the Australian Post for pet owners to secure their dogs at home and prevent more severe and debilitating injuries among the posties. 

Susan Davies, the Executive General Manager of People and Culture, said that the reported incidents have had a rising trend in recent months, with dog attacks increasing by 55 per cent since July 2022.  

Across Australia, New South Wales had the highest number of cases at 351 whilst Queensland logged 281 and Western Australia had 183. 

Ms Davies said that they now receive reports of seven dog attacks per day, ranging from scratches, bites, punctures and lacerations. The traumatising incident also causes long-term psychological issues. 

Ms Davies also cautioned that the “sweetest dogs” may pose some danger as well as they have had two of the worst attacks coming from dachshunds. 

The dog attacks mostly happen along the footpath, followed by the front door, at the letterbox and in the front yard, per the Australian Post.

“With the huge growth in online shopping, we’re delivering a lot more parcels than ever before. That means our posties and delivery contractors don’t just need to access your letterbox – they often need to enter gates and approach front doors to complete their deliveries,” the notice stated. “If they don’t feel confident accessing your letterbox or front door safely, they may not be able to deliver your mail.” 

To keep the posties safe, the Australian Post suggested the following preventive measures: 

  • Place your dog in a separate room or restrain it with a leash when we arrive at your front door.
  • Don’t let children answer the door as dogs can push or charge out.
  • Give your dog a toy or treat to distract them when the delivery arrives.
  • If you can’t restrain or confine your dog, consider installing a large, secure letterbox on your property for parcel deliveries.
  • If your dog is outside, make sure it’s securely away from the letterbox or front door.
  • If you’re out and about with your dog, use a sturdy lead to restrain it.

Join the Darra Community Walk Every 2nd Sunday

Photo Credit: Daniel Reche/Pixabay

Be healthy and happy! Join the Darra Community Walk every second Sunday of the month, where locals may not only get on with their fitness routine but also meet new friends!

Participants of the Darra Community Walk converge just outside of Polish Club along 23 Station Avenue at 4:00 p.m. before proceeding to exercise and explore nature for 45 to 60 minutes at Edenbrooke Park. 

The free activity even welcomes families with dogs and adults with children on prams, which means that walking will be at a medium pace, safe for the joints, and does not put too much pressure on the body. It also promotes the wellness of the heart, especially for people who have health issues.  

Photo Credit: CrSarahHutton/Facebook

Aside from the health benefits, joining the  Darra Community Walk allows individuals to connect and form friendships. Walking is also more fun if you have good friends to talk and chat with as you keep pace. They will help you stay motivated to complete your fitness goals for the day. 

If you’re joining the walking group, be sure to wear comfortable shoes that will support and cushion your feet to prevent tripping or falling. Stay hydrated as well and do stretches first before the walk.

Similar walking groups are also active in Mt Ommaney and Seventeen Mile Rocks (for the over 50s) on different days of the week. Learn more about the community walks here or contact the organiser, Jason at 0414 306 838.

Warning on Online Transactions Raised Following Darra Local’s Assault During Meet-Up

Brisbane locals are reminded to take extra care when arranging meet-ups for buying and selling transactions online, following the assault of a Darra local who met with an online buyer in Mansburg Terrace.

The perpetrator not only grabbed the watch sold by the Darra man but also managed to assault the victim before running away. The b uyer allegedly said he can only pay part of the arrangement they agreed online and will transfer the rest of the money electronically.

Investigations by the Queensland Police Services are ongoing. According to the QPS, incidents of robbery offences among locals who arrange their buying and selling activities on various online platforms have risen. 

The QPS has offered the following suggestions for Queenslanders who are into online transactions: 

  • Check the profiles of the buyer or seller before agreeing to a meet-up. If their profiles appear to have been created recently, then it may be an indication of a fake user or scammer.
  • Check the seller’s public profile and reconsider completing the deal if the conversations appear to be one-way with little engagement from the community. 
  • Ensure your personal safety when meeting up. Never do this at night in secluded or private areas. If possible, meet during daylight hours in a place where there are CCTV cameras and plenty of people. 
  • Have a friend or family member with you. According to the QPS, “This increases your safety and provides a potential witness if needed.”
  • Record details of the person you are meeting including name, email address, phone number and registration numbers.
  • Cancel the meeting if you feel uncomfortable. Trust your gut insticts. 
  • Never accept a screenshot as payment proof. 
  • If payments are done online, ensure the security of the payment method. Never pay by money order, pre-loaded money cards or wire transfer.

Additionally, locals are encouraged to follow online safety advice from sources such as the Australian Cyber Security Centre regarding how to safely purchase/sell online. 

The QPS encourages reporting robberies online or by calling 1800 333 000.

Flexicon Moves and Expands Australian Operation in Darra

Flexicon, a global manufacturing company for bulk handling equipment, has expanded its operations in Australia with a new and bigger site in Darra. 

Located on Boundary Road, the new facility spans 2,390 square metres, where more than 70 percent of the building will be dedicated to the manufacturing of conveyors, unloaders, bulk bag fillers, bulk bag conditioners, manual dumping stations, weigh batching systems, and drum/box/container tippers. The remaining spaces are for conference rooms and offices of the administrative personnel, the engineering team, and sales staff. 

Photo Credit: Flexicon

By the end of 2021, Flexicon in Darra will feature a test laboratory to check the quality and performance of the equipment. 

David Gill, Flexicon Corporation president with its head office in Pennsylvania U.S., said that their manufacturing and sales operation more than doubled in July 2021. As demand for Flexicon equipment grew in Australia, the company made a move to a bigger site with more provisions for growth. 

Tim Greene, the managing director of the Australian operation, said that the relocation to Darra will help with the company’s market expansion in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific Rim.

The news comes as the headquarters in the U.S. also completed its expansion to meet the demands for bulk handling equipment in July.

Flexicon was founded in 1974 in New Jersey and increased five-fold within a decade. In 1995, the company moved its satellite plant to  Pennsylvania, which was followed by the opening of its world headquarters in 2001.

Ipswich Motorway: $400-Million Widening Upgrade Completed

Thousands of commuters in the southwest corridor should now have an easier travel experience along the Ipswich Motorway (M7) after the completion of the $400-million upgrades.

Driving the three-kilometre stretch between Granard Road and Oxley Road, from Rocklea to Darra, has become a breeze with the addition of two more lanes on what used to be a four-lane motorway. The upgrades also included a network of additional roads and bike paths on both sides of the major thoroughfare. 

Work on the Ipswich Motorway was four years in the making, with over 500 tradies employed by a combined effort between the State and the Federal Government to deliver the following key features:

  • A four to six-lane upgrade between Granard Road and Oxley Road
  • Seven new and higher bridges over the Oxley Creek floodplain to improve flood immunity and local connectivity
  • A new 1.5km Boundary Road Connection missing link across the Oxley Creek floodplain through to Blunder Road intersection, including a new signalised intersection at Factory and Boundary Roads, Oxley
  • A new northern service road connection over Oxley Creek floodplain
  • New traffic signals at an upgraded intersection of Suscatand Street and the existing service road.
  • New one-way left-turn only connection from Granard Road to Ipswich Road service road, Rocklea
  • Over 6.5kms of active transport paths
Photo credit: Department of Transport and Main Roads

“Today’s opening of the upgraded Ipswich Motorway is great news for the more than 85,000 vehicles using this stretch of road every day,” Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP said

“This has been a significant project that has required an exceptional amount of planning and logistics carried out over the last four years, all while keeping the traffic flowing.

“Importantly, these upgrades will provide a range of benefits for the local community for years to come, including improved safety, travel times and traffic flow, and flood immunity.”