FLASHBACK: John with his mum, Eunice on the piano.
FLASHBACK: John with his mum, Eunice on the piano.

Blast from Bundaberg’s past

MOMENTS may only last seconds, but for a former Bundy resident, his memories will last a lifetime.

John Stoutley was born in Cheltenham, England in 1946 and spent the first 10 years of his life in Canada, before moving to Bundaberg in 1958 with his mum and younger brother.

Together, the family-of-three hopped aboard the Saxonia ship for a five-week journey, sailing through the Mediterranean, Suez Canal, Red Sea and Indian Ocean.

They lived between houses and eventually settled within a rental property at 27 Boundary St in South Bundaberg and John was enrolled at Bundaberg South Primary School.

“I got to be top of my class most often, I started playing piano around this time and cricket … I was a good batsman and fast bowler,” Mr Stoutley said.

“One memory of school was my name was not called out for the cricket team one week and I stood up in front of the class and made a fuss, so I was sent to the principal’s office and had the cane across my butt … all in all, it was a good couple of years there though.”

John eventually moved on to Bundaberg High School, where he continued to maintain his excellent grades.

He rode his bike to school and had grown into a talented pianist, performing mostly classical pieces around town with his mum, who played the cello.

FLASHBACK: John with his mum, Eunice on the piano.
FLASHBACK: John with his mum, Eunice on the piano.

When John wasn’t winning awards for his music, he was waking up at 3am each day, to pack and deliver about 200 copies of the NewsMail.

“This brought in two pounds 17 cents and six pence a week, which I understand is about $130 a week in today’s money, so not bad money,” he said.

“The extra income enabled me to purchase a new bike, a puppy and other things.”

John spoke highly about his teenage years, admitting he did well with the ladies, tried his first cigarette, which he hated and continued playing music, cricket and also took up swimming.

John left school in 1963 to start working as an accounts clerk at Johnston’s Garage and Service Station on Bourbong St, which enabled him to purchase his first car, a green Morris Mini Minor, which he would frequently use to collect his dates for the drive-in movies.

At age 21, he joined the Bundaberg Orpheus Singers and three years later, took over conductorship.

John also began acting through the Bundaberg Amateur Players but as his current girlfriend detested the theatre, she broke off the relationship.

His first play was Paint Your Wagon, where he had to use a Mexican accent, before moving on to further musicals and plays.

John also appeared in a lot of advertisements for the Wypers Store.

FLASHBACK: John in one of the advertisements for Wypers Store.
FLASHBACK: John in one of the advertisements for Wypers Store.

He went on to change careers, experienced more heartbreaks and got married at the Presbyterian Church in 1973.

The married couple purchased a new brick house at the end of Bourbong St, where his piano sat in a sunken lounge.

After divorcing in 1976, John later moved back to Canada, where he went on to meet and marry his current wife, Cheryl, who he has been happily married to for the past 20 years.

“I love Bundaberg because of the wonderful weather, great beaches, friendly people, the support for music and theatre and it was a great place to live and grow up,” he said.

“Cheryl and I visited Bundaberg in 2014, and rekindled many relationships with family and friends.

“We spend the winter playing boardgames, card-making, model railroading, and enjoying our two pups, Tedi and Sugar.”

BACK IN BUNDY: John Stoutley outside The Playhouse Theatre.
BACK IN BUNDY: John Stoutley outside The Playhouse Theatre.

Sadly, John’s mum Eunice, passed away in September, from a massive stroke at the age of 93.

“Amazingly, the Bundaberg Regional Council heard of my leaving Bundaberg, and to acknowledge my (and my mum’s) contributions to music and theatre, they named Stoutley St after us, and it can be found on the North Shore of Bundaberg,” he said.

BACK IN BUNDY: John Stoutley visited the region again in 2014. Here he is on the street that council named after John and his mum.
BACK IN BUNDY: John Stoutley visited the region again in 2014. Here he is on the street that council named after John and his mum.

The pair plan to visit Bundaberg in January 2022 and now run a travel blog which you can read at jcatthelake.com.