“Tommy” Trinder, Tamborine Mountain

A man without a past

Dennis William “Tommy” Trinder was an Englishman, who arrived in Mount Tamborine sometime before 1970. Some long-time local residents still remember him. They talk about him being a “big” man. He was well over six feet tall and barrel chested. By the time he arrived in Mt Tamborine, he was carrying a good deal of extra padding around his middle as well (although no photographs have been found yet to prove this)!

Residents also talk about a “big” man in the community; during the day, he ran a café; during the evening, he drank at the bowls club. He knew how to use his hands, making coffee tables for Mt Tamborine locals. And Tommy was a man of big appetites as well, from drink to cigarettes, to pastries, pies and sausages, which he ate covered with tomato sauce.  Tommy was, according to those who knew him, generous of spirit. He had a big heart, a big booming laugh, and a big sense of fun to match it.

Tamborine Mountain Bowls Club as it is today

Tommy became part of the Mt Tamborine community so quickly that nobody can quite remember when he arrived. Perhaps 1960, perhaps 1965, probably not later than 1970. Nobody remembered, either, whether he had ever spoken a word about his past, where he had come from, what had drawn him to Tamborine, whether he had any family, whether he was in the war, whether he had ever been married or had children. He was, strangely enough for being so much a part of the community, a man without a past.

Indeed, when Tommy died suddenly, in October 1979, his death certificate states only the following information: he was called Denis Thomas Trinder [sic], he was 63 years old, the post-mortem was carried out at the Gold Coast Hospital. His death was reported by Peter G Hampton (no relation), and the medical attendant was E Margulies. His burial was certified by Walter I Jinks, and G E Bartle, Presbyterian minister.

But the names of his parents were blank; where he was born and how long he had been in Australia were blank; any family history, including marriage, and children (living or dead) were blank. Even in death, nobody knew who he was, or where he had come from. In fact, nobody knew his date of birth, or his right name. He was called “Tommy” by those who knew him because of the famous “Tommy Trinder.” When he was buried, it was assumed that “Tommy” was his middle name. In fact, his middle name was William.

Tommy died in bed, above the cafe where he lived and worked. He died suddenly, in his sleep, of cerebral haemorrhage, arteriosclerosis and ischaemic heart disease. You might say that his habits caught up with him; or you might say that his big heart broke. He was buried in Mount Tamborine cemetery, without ceremony, fuss or headstone.

Click to read about “Tommy’s” sons in England.

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