Dave Cockburn’s first job, when he was about 10, was picking up bottles after the Tamrookum Hall dances with his little brother Shane for pocket money.
It’s a habit Dave, now 54, kept as an adult, and when he served as Councillor and Deputy Mayor on Beaudesert Shire and then Scenic Rim Regional Council, he was known for picking up rubbish around town.
It’s something his wife Janelle gets a chuckle out of.
“Nell always laughs at me – we’ll be sitting on the front lawn chatting and I’ll be picking weeds, she says ‘you can’t help yourself’.”
Dave and Janelle were just kids when they met at the old Tamrookum train station.
Janelle came up from Glenreagh near Grafton on school holidays to see her big sister, whose husband was station caption there.
They ended up marrying in 1994 in a little old church at Glenreagh and the Glenreagh CWA ladies did their reception catering at the local war memorial hall.
Dave is a proud dad talking about their sons Calan, 27, now a strategic planner in Newcastle, and Connor, 24, who manages the family business Coburn Sand and Gravel with him.
Beaudesert Hospital has welcomed four generations of Dave’s family, dating back to his grandfather Bill Cockburn.
His great grandparents were from Scotland and the Flanagans on his mum’s side were Irish and settled at the original Bigriggen.
Aside from a few years in Ipswich with Main Roads bridge crew, Dave has always called the Beaudesert area home. He has fond memories of playing sport locally and has even kept his Junior Boy Champion medallion from Christmas Creek Valley Athletics Carnival.
A forum about the future of Beaudesert spurred Dave’s political ambitions.
It was at the old league’s club, around 1999, and as emcee Dave’s job was to get the discussion going between councillors and business leaders about their vision for Beaudesert.
He served on Council from 2004 to 2012 – the last term of Beaudesert Shire and the tumultuous first term of the newly amalgamated Scenic Rim Regional Council.
He lobbied for water security, had significant involvement in the establishment of Bromelton State Development Area and was a big part of bringing back birthing services to Beaudesert Hospital.
“You’ve got to build relationships with people – that’s part of getting things done,” he said.
These days Dave loves living with Nell at Barney View, in his nan and pop’s old home.
His favourite Slim Dusty song is, ‘Where Country Is’, and to him, that place is Beaudesert.
“It’s always in your heart to get the best for the local community because it’s always been good to me, but I’m a lot quieter now, keeping a low profile on the farm,” he said.
“My father has been a big inspiration and my grandparents – they were caring, hardworking people who never asked for much but always had something to give.”