When West Ippy went from snake haven to skate heaven

Muhling's Skating Rink in its glory days. Photo: Paul Geddes.
Muhling's Skating Rink in its glory days. Photo: Paul Geddes.

FROM snakes to skates.

That is what it was like for Deb Muhling when she was a young girl and her father Ronald opened Muhlings Skating Rink, that's after he sold his snake collection first.

Ms Muhling will be at Jets Leagues Club on Saturday morning for a 'Lost Ipswich meet 'n greet' with the theme of 'roller skating in Ipswich', where participants will reminisce about the glory days of Ipswich skating.

Ms Muhling's father Ronald started Muhlings Skating Rink in 1968 and it was a beacon for skaters until it was flooded in 1974.

We asked her what her memories were of those skating days at Muhlings were.

"There was no roof, a little bit of cement and I remember dad bringing home a pair of size 10 roller skates and saying 'here, learn how to skate'," she recalls.

"If it rained you still skated. It was very popular.

"I loved it, apart from when dad made us stay home from school to teach the high school kids how to skate.

"Prior to that dad had a snake farm, and he sold them all to the Ipswich Show.

"We had red-belly blacks, carpets, browns...

"We used to have to take them to bed in hessian bags to keep them warm."

Did she also sleep with skates?

"I suppose some of us did," she grins.


Deb Muhling and Greg 'Jacko' Lyons in front of what used to be Muhling's Skating Rink in West Ipswich.
Deb Muhling and Greg 'Jacko' Lyons in front of what used to be Muhling's Skating Rink in West Ipswich. Rob Williams

Lost Ipswich's Greg 'Jacko' Lyons told the QT about the glory days of skating in the early 1900s after a certain businessman, Mr Thomas, started a rink in the town hall in the late 1800s.

Rollos Assembly Hall then followed in Gordon St.

In 1909 there was Olympia Skating Rink in the town hall and rinks were installed at Silkstone, Bundamba, North Ipswich and Rosewood.

"People wanted entertainment and skating rinks started popping up everywhere," Jacko said.

"It died off in the 1930s and then with the American surge of troops into the area skating became popular again."

The Plaza Skating Rink opened opposite the Ipswich City Baths in 1941 and later the dining hall at the Ipswich Showgrounds was utilised as a rink.


Roller skating through the city in the retro years. Photo: Paul Geddes
Roller skating through the city in the retro years. Photo: Paul Geddes

Jacko said he started as a DJ spinning records when the Sportsway Bundamba rink , now known as Skateaway, opened in 1979 with a state-of-the-art floor and high tech light and sound system.

"It was good times back in those days," he said.

"There was no technology . It was guys just having a skate around, having fun and meeting people.

"I made some great friends."

Jacko said anyone interested in history and roller skating was welcome to attend the get together on Saturday at 11am at Ipswich Jets Leagues Club.

*For more info phone Jacko on 0413700298 or 32940803.

Topics:  greg lyons lost ipswich muhling's roller skating

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