Centaur House Memorial Hostel, Magnetic Island
In this entry for the Centaur Memorial Fund Series, Dr Madonna Grehan, 2015 John Oxley Library Fellow, discusses the history of Centaur House Memorial Hostel on Magnetic Island.
Magnetic Island’s “Centaur House” was a Memorial Convalescent and Rest Hostel for nurses on a quarter acre block at 27 Marine Parade, Geoffrey Bay. The land comprised Resubdivision 16 of Subdivision 1 of Portion 48V, County of Elphinstone, Parish of Magnetic (Certificate of title No N34760 Volume 267, Folio 60). It was situated halfway between the well-known Arcadia Guest House and the safe Arcadia surfing beach with its shark-proof netting.
Opened officially on 1 November 1953, the Magnetic Island hostel was dedicated to the memory of the nurses of the 2/3 Australian Hospital Ship Centaur. The idea for the memorial came in 1949 from Percy J. Eustace, Secretary of the Townsville Committee of the Centaur Memorial Fund and a member of the Townsville Hospital’s Board. The Hospital Board owned the block of land, having accepted it as a gift in 1927 from Charles Marendy, a local businessman. Permission of Queensland’s Department of Health and Home Affairs was necessary to give permanent tenure to the Centaur Memorial Fund.
With the building cost estimated at £10,000, fundraising began in 1950. Singer Miss Gladys Moncrieff toured the north with a concert party. Hayles’ Magnetic Island Pty Ltd donated the proceeds of a cruise on the new MV Marena. The Townsville Committee ran art unions and street stalls. Businesses held fashion parades. Any money raised in the Fund’s name, north of Mackay, went towards the hostel project, including sales of Red Roses on Centaur Day, 14 May, and proceeds from the Fund’s 1950 gala event called ‘Queensland’s Floral Festival and Most Typical Australian Woman Quest’.
Editor's Note: Currently the building is operating as 'The Acadia Beach Guest House', which has recently been placed on the market.