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    Mayor Bob Manning talks pies, footy and the 'M' suburbs


    Mayor Manning interview by Amy Eden


    I was born in 1945 and moved into the family home at 92 Pease Street, West Cairns, which was sometimes referred to as Enmore Estate.

    Pease Street was then a dirt road, as was Anderson Street, Reservoir Road, McIlwraith Street and Murray Street.

    Dad was a baker and operated a small but successful bakery – Manning’s Pies – at the rear of our house.

    For six days of the week, he would get out of bed at about midnight to fire up the oven by burning timber/wood. There were no gas or electric ovens in those days.

    A favourite activity was to take some mates to my house, and we would check to see if there were any pies left in the ovens. If there were, we would take the tops off and eat the pastry.

    We used to paddle canoes in the swamps, which would come right up to the back of the bakehouse. When you had a good wet season and the tide was in, it was possible to get from West Cairns into the city via canoe.

    Going from the swamps to Moody’s Creek was like going to the Gold Coast: the water there was clean and flowing.

    Going to Moody’s Creek when the mangoes were in season was a favourite. We would climb the mango trees, and like flying foxes, we would hang in them and eat mangoes until we were covered in mango juice. Then we would roll out of the tree and fall into the water to clean off the juice… and then it would be back up the mango tree again.

    Sport played a big part in our lives, and we would often engage in cricket matches on the spare allotment next to our house, or play football with a flour bag tied tightly with cord, so that it resembled the shape of a football.

    I went to Edge Hill State School, which was the smallest school in Cairns. My dad died during my final year of primary school.

    Then I went to Cairns High. Most of my mates went to the new Trinity Bay High School. I found high school hard, and often wondered if I should leave school and go out to work.

    However, when I entered Year 12, everything changed. I was elected as a school leader (prefect) and the responsibility proved good for me.

    This led to me getting other leadership positions within the school such as Captain of the First 13 rugby team, Cadet Under Officer, House Vice Captain and Class Captain.

    Little did I realise it at the time, but this was all destined to change my future.

    The responsibilities I learned at school helped me greatly to accept greater responsibility in my life. I’m not sure I’d be able to do this [be the mayor] but for my school training. I often felt that this was the most valuable part that high school played in my life.