NanKivell Park is a large open well-tended grassy space situated between Coral Street and Lagoon Avenue, Saunders Beach.
In about 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression Leslie, Edith and their two sons moved to Saunders Beach after being evicted from their home in Stagpole Street, West End. A teenage daughter who had work remained in Townsville.
By some means Leslie had made contact with the owner of the Saunders’ Springfield, Ernie Saunders. By this time Ernie, his wife and son resided in Sydney and Ernie kindly offered a tiny piece of Springfield to the NanKivells as a refuge during this difficult era.
Leslie, a carpenter and his teenage sons built a shack near the T intersection of nowadays Saunders Beach Road and Reef Street, but further back from the beach than the current building alignment. It was a basic structure – galvanised iron roof and walls and an ant bed floor.
The family lived there until about 1942 when the military authorities ordered them to leave. Australia had gone on war alert after Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbour in December 1941. As Townsville saw an unprecedented influx of troops and activity Leslie was sent to Townsville Harbour to repair ships. For the duration of the war the NanKivells rented a house in a Townsville suburb and their sons both served overseas in the Australian Army.
After the war the Queensland Government opened up Crown Land on north Queensland beaches for housing in response to pressing demands from its citizens. In 1948 the Government threw open beach front land adjacent to Springfield. They named the new subdivision Jalloonda and Leslie was one of the successful bidders at the auction for the ten-year Crown Land leases.
He built a simple house and in his retirement kept a flourishing garden and a wide variety fruit trees. He passed away in 1972, Edith following in 1981.
NanKivell Park honours Leslie and Edith’s contribution to Saunders Beach.
This article is based on NanKivell Park written by saundersbeachhistoryproject and published in the May 2015 edition of the Beach Banter. The Beach Banter is a publication of the Saunders Beach Community Centre Inc.