Gerkes’ colourful life in Scottsdale
By Daisy Baker
February 27, 2019
GLENN and Shirley Gerke are well-known in the North-East after running successful businesses throughout the region.
Mr and Mrs Gerke are both in their 90th year and have been married for 66 years.
They have three sons, Robin, Noel and Kelly, 11 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren.
Mr and Mrs Gerke met at a dance in the 1940s, and while Mrs Gerke says they didn’t get together right away, Glenn’s moves certainly made an impression.
“He was a very good dancer and we used to enjoy our dancing together,” she remembers fondly.
“We also played a lot of golf. Glenn was president and I was captain of the Scottsdale Golf Club for a while.”
Mr Gerke’s parents were originally from Tasmania but lived in Queensland until Glenn was 17, when they returned to their home state.
The Ransons, who were Mr Gerke’s uncles, had several shops along Victoria street, including a grocery store, a butchery and a confectionery shop.
After moving to Tasmania in the 1940s, Mr Gerke bought trucks from his uncle Clarry Ranson and later bought school buses.
Between running a truck, owning three school buses and building the service station opposite Lord’s Hotel, Mrs Gerke says they had a “very busy life”.
Before she got married, Mrs Gerke worked at the council chambers as the assistant council clerk. “It’s very different now. I was the only one in the office with the council clerk but now there’s a lot there.
“When I got married, Glenn worked in the public works and I went around with him in the caravan to different places so that was very interesting.
“I hadn’t even cooked a potato when we got married so it was a big shock for a while but luckily Glenn had worked away and he could teach me how to cook.”
Mrs Gerke’s grandfather built a house on the corner of Gofton Street where the service station is now, and the street was named after my family, the Goftons.
She grew up next door to their current home in Scottsdale, which she says back then was farmland.
“We used to have a beach box on a beach in Bridport and that’s Goftons Beach now.
“It’s just surprising these names, they just seem to come about. You don’t name them, it was just because we were always there.”
Mrs Gerke remembers her father walking from their Scottsdale home to work at the sawmill in his suit each day.
“When you go to Launceston via the Sideling, there’s that lookout. Well I can remember when there were huts there and my father had the sawmill on the other side, at the back of Nabowla actually.
“You used to go on a trolley and go down and these men lived and worked there and we used to go up and play there.
“It’s different now though. There’s not very many people who would remember that now, it’s over 80 years ago.”
Mr Gerke has memories of the Old Pier burning down and the train to Bridport.
“The railway line used to come from the Forester and they used to bring the timber through and load it on the boat and take it out to sea, from Bridport,” he says.
One of Mrs Gerke’s hobbies has been gardening, and to this day she had more than 100 roses in her garden.
“I don’t like anyone else touching them, but this year I’ll have to get a bit more help in the garden.”
Over the years, Mr and Mrs Gerke have enjoyed travelling Australia in their four-wheel drive and caravan with a boat on top.
“We stopped going on trips about five years ago but now I think our children and grandchildren have got the wanderlust,” Mrs Gerke says.
“We’ve had a really colourful life,” Mr Gerke smiles.