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Tesch Family of Bribie Island


The Tesch family made a huge contribution to Bribie Island.

Ben and Myrtle Tesch with son Ivan and daughter Judith moved to Bribie Island in 1947. They had come from Caboolture where they had owned and ran the Rex Cinema in King Street, which Ben had built in 1937. Ivan, while finishing his education in Brisbane by day, became the cinema projectionist in the evenings. During the war years, it was a round-the-clock operation to meet the needs of the many troops stationed in the area.

On Bribie, Ben bought an ex-military demountable hospital building from the Holland Park Military Hospital and rebuilt it into a shop where Saviges Seafood is today. By August 1962 Ben had added an additional two buildings to the block. The additions had three shops with two flats over the shops.

Ben and Ivan took over the running of the two-barge service from Gordon Shields in 1947 and they transported the first ambulance to Bribie Island. Ivan was the skipper after getting the necessary licence. The Barges were later sold in the 1950s.

In May 1950 Ivan married Marjorie (Clare) Stjernqvist and they set up home, building their “iconic” Round House in Banya Street, Bongaree. Clare began playing the organ for church services in the Anglican Church Hall (Cooinda) in 1950 and was still doing so in 2005.

The Church Hall was soon leased by Ben and run as a cinema (twice a week) until 1964 when the cinema was moved into a vacant Hall in Cotterill Street, Bongaree. By the 1970s attendance waned as television’s popularity grew and the cinema closed in 1973.

Other business ventures included an ice and cold storage works and an electrical appliance outlet. When electricity was supplied to Bribie in 1953, ever resourceful Ivan wired some local premises so as to be ready for the service.  Community minded Ivan became a founding member of the Bongaree Bowling Club, Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and member of the Bribie Island Ratepayers and Citizens Association.

In 1967, the University of Queensland established an Ionospheric Research Centre on the island to monitor signals in the upper atmosphere.  Because of his diverse experience, Ivan was offered a job in the electrical workshop as a laboratory manager, a position he occupied for the next 18 years until he retired in 1988.

Ben and Myrtle Tesch passed away in 1975 and 1985 respectively and Ivan in 2006 followed by Clare in 2018. The “iconic” round-house was pulled down in 2021.

Written by Lynne Hooper from information in the BIHS database and sources in the public domain.

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