Old Barney Point rink to be revamped
PETER CORONES smiles at the memory of Bobby Foad skating non-stop for 48 hours to win an endurance contest.
"I don't know how many times he went round the rink," he said.
"But he was rigged up so he could go the toilet while he was skating.
"He was a legend around here, everyone thought he was great, the girls thought he was fantastic."
In the 1950's and 60's the small rink at Corone's Barney Point Cafe was the only place in Gladstone to skate and hang out.
"Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, this place was packed," Mr Corones said.
"There were about eight thousand people living here then.
"We'd have 60 or more people skating around the rink and some nights up to 200 people watching on."
What's even more remarkable was that the rink is only a tiny 15 metres square.
"My father put down the original 50 by 50 foot concrete slab in 1951," Peter said.
"It was an extension off his cafe and the slab was meant to be for an outdoor tea garden overlooking the beach.
"Then my cousin returned from Sydney with a pair of skates and that changed everything forever."
Skating took off in a big way as Gladstone locals took to the craze with a passion.
"Sunday nights were big nights here, people would come to skate and buy toasted sandwiches," Mr Corones said.
"They'd roll in off the rink through the back door to the counter and buy their milkshakes and burgers.
"We had family fun nights, mad hatter's balls, fancy dress, roller hockey, Christmas and fairy nights.
"Out the front the Barney Boys would be hanging out on their motorbikes, it was the era of the bodgies and widgies."
Mr Corones learned to skate when he was three and half.
"I'm 67 now and I still skate," he said.
"Every year at the PCYC I serve tables at functions on skates, it's literally meals on wheels."
Mr Corones said skating wasn't the only thing on people's minds.
"The number of people who got married after meeting here is unbelievable," he said.
"We would have left modern dating agencies for dead.
"The ones still married will talk to me.
"Parent dropped their kids off too, so we were the biggest baby-sitting facility in Gladstone as well."
Eventually the number of skaters outgrew the little rink and in the early 1970's Mr Corones built a super rink out of town on Benaraby Road.
"We soon converted that to a bowling alley and we built the new super-duper rink next to it," he said.
Mr Corones went on to become mayor.
"I had no trouble being elected because I'd taught half the town to skate, or they'd met their partners here," he said.
The old rink is about to get a new lease on life.
"I'll soon be fulfilling my father's original vision," Mr Corones said.
"Building an outdoor cafe overlooking the beach and park."