The mango tree grove off Mount Lindesay Highway was once home to the Park Ridge Fruit Market, a bustling spot where the Park Ridge community often gathered together.
The Park Ridge Fruit Market was first established on the McTaggarts property in 1977. It was built in two stages. The fruit shop operated out of a garden shed on a concrete slab at the front of the property and to the left of the mango tree grove. In 1978 the store expanded, building a second shed behind the original one. The extension became home to Park Ridge Stock Feeds, and beside it was a saddlery that sold horse rugs, bridles, and other horse gear.
More than half of the produce sold at the markets was sourced locally. Park Ridge was home to many farms, most of which have since closed for business or been taken over for housing developments.
In 1978, Peter De Re purchased a half-share of the Park Ridge Fruit Market from the original owner, Alan Wiles.
Peter’s brother Rudy De Re, who now owns Homestead Markets at Park Ridge Town Centre, started working full time at the Park Ridge Fruit Markets in 1979.
Alan Wiles sold the store to the Tarabay family in 1981. Rudy and Peter De Re purchased the property back from the Tarabay’s in 1986. In 1989, Rudy took over Peter’s share of the market while Peter pursued an opportunity in transport.
The fruit shop used to be a common gathering place for community events. From the 1990’s onwards, hundreds of people would gather every fortnight on a Saturday under the mango tree grove for a buy, swap and sell community market. People would trade their chickens, geese, and ducks out of car boots and trailers. On the vacant spot on the property, an annual circus would set up and stay for up to two months at a time.
The Park Ridge Fruit Market also became a common place for other various food vendors to set up shop. An independent seafood van, owned by a man named Ron, travelled between Park Ridge, Tamborine Mountain, and Jimboomba throughout the week. Every Monday, Ron would park his van beside the fruit market and use their electricity to power the van. The seafood business, which was very popular, attracted new customers to the Park Ridge Fruit Market and vice versa.
Before the establishment of the Mount Lindesay Highway, the McTaggart’s property where the fruit shop resided was easy to access from two-lane track. The land was on high ground with good elevation.
The property was owned by the McTaggart sons, John and Jeff McTagagat. Mrs. McTaggart would often come down to visit the store. John McTaggart was a grazier and worked in the cattle industry for a living. He owned a large property in Surat, north-west of St George in Queensland. Jeff McTaggart was a helicopter pilot who used to fly helicopters for various companies including Channel 7 News and SeaWorld. Jeff would fly to the property on weekends in his helicopter and fly people around the area for fun.
Rudy remained at the Park Ridge Fruit Market until 2004. He sold it to a man named Costa Baubusis, who continued to run the markets for a few years before the business closed.
Rudy De Re opened Homestead Markets in 2006 at Park Ridge Town Centre, which he continues to run today. Some of the mango trees still exist on the property. An avocado tree also remains, close to where the back of the shop used to be.