There they stood, two carpenters, on the edge of a grassy 100-hectare site marked out for Australia’s newest university. It was a hot summer’s day in the Christmas holidays of 1994-95 on the Sunshine Coast, but Pat Evans and Trevor Harch were sweating for a different reason.
“It was a swamp!” they recalled two decades later of the low-lying, former sugar cane land at Sippy Downs then known by even these two locals as the middle of nowhere.
The owners of Evans Harch building company, founded on the Coast in 1977, had a lot at stake. The $10 million first stage of the planned university was then one of the biggest tenders they’d won.
The successful contractors were elated and determined. “It was a prestigious job, a university, and everyone around town was saying, ‘Is this thing really going to work? Will it fire up?’”. Within weeks, drenching rains put the pair in the hot seat.
“Pat was down here in a flash, taking photos to show everyone who was on holidays,” Mr Harch laughed. “We’d never seen so much water. And we had to build a building there?!” (December 1994 still has one of the highest recorded rainfall days of any December since on the Sunshine Coast, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.)
Read more in this month's Visions chapter release.