Freer Farm Redevelopment: A Clash Between Progress and History of Bardon

Freer Farm

Freer Farm holds a special place in the hearts of many Bardon residents. The land has a long history, having once belonged to a local businessman and pioneer in Brisbane’s food industry, Gerard James Freer.

Gerard Freer: A Legacy of Resilience and Innovation

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The historical significance of the site cannot be overlooked. Gerard James Freer, born in 1926, was the youngest of eight children, growing up during the Great Depression. Tragic events and hardships were a part of his early life. Three of his siblings succumbed to the Spanish Influenza, and his father died in a work-related accident when Gerard was just 18 months old. Raised by his mother, Annie, Gerard’s childhood was spent in orphanages and with relatives due to economic hardships.

Rising Above Adversity: Gerard Freer’s Journey

Gerard’s determination saw him rise from these humble beginnings to become a pioneer in Brisbane’s food industry. After leaving school, he worked as a food chemist while studying industrial chemistry at night. Despite early-onset deafness, he persevered, eventually becoming the production manager at Mynor, a potato crisp manufacturing company.

Superfoods: Innovation in the Snack Industry

In 1953, Gerard and his fiancée, Maureen Evans, sold their only asset, an Austen A40, to buy five acres of bushland in Bardon. Ten years later, Gerard founded Superfoods, producing bacon crisps and cordial extracts. His innovative spirit led to the creation of 84 snack lines, including the popular Red Seal Chips, which won a taste-testing competition against major brands like Arnott’s, Smiths, and Cottees.

Challenges and Triumphs

Despite facing challenges such as the 1987 stock market crash, Gerard’s resilience kept his business afloat. However, a deal with Arnott’s in the late 1980s saw his beloved Red Seal production halted, and Gerard’s factory machinery dismantled. Unwilling to give up, Gerard restarted his business, eventually selling it in 1998 after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Stuartholme School later acquired his factory and land.

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Honouring a Legacy

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The legacy of Gerard Freer fondly remembered as Queensland’s “Mr Chips,” lives on through his contributions to the local food industry. His story of overcoming adversity and achieving success is integral to Bardon’s rich history. As Stuartholme School moves forward with its redevelopment plans, it carries the legacy of a man who turned his dreams into reality despite the odds.

Balancing Development with Preservation

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The current redevelopment of Freers Farm into a sports complex aims to balance community needs with environmental concerns. Operational hours, noise restrictions, and traffic management plans are in place to address residents’ issues. Additionally, the requirement for a new bus set-down facility and flood management measures seeks to mitigate potential impacts on the area.

Community Vigilance 

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The controversy centres around the approval process and its environmental ramifications. Despite claims of minimal ecological disruption, Stuartholme’s environmental assessment has been criticised for not measuring existing light levels despite protected species. The decision notice, however, imposes strict operational limits, noise management plans, and traffic management requirements to mitigate these concerns.

Published Date 03-July-2024