Beginning Riversdale Beach Resort
To understand how one man would take on building a resort out of wind swept sand dunes and to succeed against enormous odds, is bewildering to most. But to develop the largest most successful resort on Wairarapa's coast , one has to understand the man Basil Bodle, his imagination, his tenacity and his family members and close circle of friends.
The cost to create a resort and provide the infrastructure was a multi million dollar project, Basil had the finance and expertise to achieve this ongoing development. As with the Tyre business, loyal staff are a crucial factor in any big business success. At first he had the human resource from his Masterton branch of his tyre company, but the sale of this company to Dunlop Tyre & Rubber Company in the early 1960’s brought an end to this staff resource. With the exception of one loyal employee, Curley Scharnweber.
Curley (Francis ) Scharnweber and his wife Noreen operated the Store and camping ground for many years, photo below.
The Masterton County Council Councillors came out to Riversdale Beach by bus to inspect the early stages of development. In those times the majority of Councillors were sheep farmers, their behavior and actions were to prove just how unimaginative and unjust they were. There were exceptions to the rule, for example, George Moore a local farmer and Councillor, he had the vision and imagination to see what Basil was doing and went out of his way to help Basil. Many other local farmers also supported Basil in his endeavor.
During a meeting of Councillors at the beach, one of the Councillors asked Basil how many sections did Basil foresee being sold in the next twenty years, Basil replied “ at least two hundred”. The Councillors openly scoffed and laughed at Basil like school children. Basil walked away in rage. One of the Councillors remarked, (witnessed by Basil's friend Dave Pringle), “this fly by night shouldn’t be allowed.” This ignorant attitude set the tone for the opposition to the creation and development of the resort. This example, previous experience and on through all stages of the resorts development gave meaning to Basil's attitude towards some inherited wealth sheep farmers.
On one occasion, a Councillor's wife spat at Basil and accused of being a scoundrel she claimed Basil had a motive to destroy Castlepoint which was a known haven of Masterton County Councillors and Wairarapa sheep farmers.
Critics did not have the capacity to understand what Basil could achieve through his imagination and what he had experienced with his overseas travel. One of Basil's favorite quotes, "A man's limitations are within his imagination." When Basil proved many of these critics wrong , some became adversaries especially the already prejudice Councillors in the Masterton County Council. The disappointments and hardships Basil encountered with these unimaginative people, some being devious and down right dishonest, he believed would make an interesting book on its own.
Basil had very distinctive writing with a thick nib fountain pen which certainly authenticates his history.
The reason why his brothers and some friends left Masterton was the limited opportunities in the area also compounded by the narrow unimaginative thinking of the towns leaders.
Photo above:Barbara in the foreground holding a snapper which Basil had just caught off the beach. To the left Neil Mcpherson and to the right Phil.
Photo above from the left to right Moira & Neil McPherson, Phil Bodle, Olive Mckenzie and Dawson Herbert.
First building to be erected at the resort which was the builders' quarters for the building of Basil's house at 1 Blue Pacific Parade. Later this building was converted into a cookhouse and flat. In the 1970's, half the building was converted into a ladies toilet block for the original camping ground. Toilets in the beginning were all long drops.
Photo above : pop up caravan that Dave used as the first mobile Real Estate office at the resort. 41 sections went on sale in 1955 and proved to be very popular, Basil and Dave “Dad & Dave “ made a great sales team.
Photo above: Dave Pringle to the left and his wife Beatrice (Bea), sons Phillip and Jim.
Photo above Dave Pringle holding a sign showing the section number on Pinedale Cres. note the total lack of trees and the view of the sea in all directions.
Photo above Beatrice (Bea), Pringle displaying section number.
Letter written to Basil by Dave Pringle's son Phil in 1988. Phil founded one of the biggest churches in Sydney and shows the close friendship between the Bodle & Pringle families,
Above: One of Dave Pringle's first advertisments for the resort.
Line of poplar trees planted each side on the way to the beach apparently planted by Dave Pringle.
Photo above: note the bed of Salvia bonfire plants, Basil put much emphasis on atmosphere and beautification which created a real wow factor driving into the resort. These flower beds and the many hundreds of shrubs had to be watered each day bucket by bucket as there was no electricity at the resort until 1959. Usually the job fell on Gary & Barbara.
Bodle's corner 1957. Note the tyres buried on the side of the road to stop vehicles getting stuck in the soft sand. There were hundreds of tyres which were all painted in bright colours, a job Basil's youngest children Barbara and Gary were given that job.
Photo above: Basil's Miss Vesta speed boat on the lagoon creating atmosphere with water skiing and giving the public rides.
Note in some places the Lagoon was 15 foot deep with crystal clear water, totally ruined through the years with upstream farmers developing land, over fertilization, clearing the manuka and overstocking with sheep.
Four photos above: Taken 1955 on Bodle's corner. Note the brush fence in the bottom left of the photo, this was erected to stop the large amount of drifting sand as there was only small sand dunes. New sand dunes were established by placing pine branches between existing sand dunes This was so successful the sand dunes grew so big they blocked Basil's view. He had a bulldozer flattened them in front of his house to keep a view of the sea.
Photo taken from Bodle's corner looking North East.
Photo above:1956 Basil Bodle in foreground looking at the old store, although only black & white note the pennant flags. Coloured unbrellas gave emphasis to a festive atmosphere.
1954 Overlooking Pinedale Cres. Golf Club house corner on the right.
Photo above aerial taken 1959
Photos above : 1959 gravel roads, most without electricity and telephone.
Photo above: store corner.
Photos above : 1960's Basil's beach house first house built at the resort, there was no electricity until 1959 so Basil had to rely on gas lights , kerosene fridge.. . Late 1950's Basil purchased a number of ex world war II army search lights from army surplus sales. The motors generated plenty of electricity, so Basil installed these motors behind the store and ran wires underground to his house and two of his neighbors.
The house to the right owned by John and Barbara Bunny. To the Left John and Githlian Maunsell.Photo taken late 1950's
Photo above : Nov 1964 looking at Basil's house from Blue Pacific Parade Note the sea views not as visible today with the growth of the sand dunes.
Photo above: workers concreting the curb and channeling on Blue Pacific Parade near number eight golf tee. Basil as the developer had to build the roads, tar seal, curbing channeling, underground electricity and telephone all at his expense.
Photo above: shows the lagoon which was clean and swim-able, very popular with the children. It slowly deteriorated as farmers upstream over stocked and over fertilized their farms.