The history of the General Store at Kin Kin – Waddell and Martin families

The Kin Kin General store is a local institution in town, with a history longer than the Kin Kin Country Life Hotel, although the pub is definitely more famous.

The Kin Kin store started out life at the location where the pub is now – at the bottom of the hill closest to Kin Kin Creek. According to the Kin Kin community website, it was initially owned by Tom Slade [1], although the Gympie times article says it was originally owned by William Rohan [2]. In 1914 it was moved slightly up the hill by a team of bullocks, and the Kin Kin Hotel was constructed. The Noosa Library entry for Kin Kin says that by Dec 1914, a telephone exchange was operating and the Commonwealth Bank and Post Office conducted business out of a “local shop” [13].

George Waddell b1862 (my great great grandfather) took over the Kin Kin General store sometime around 1915. He sold the Two Mile hotel in Gympie in 1915 [4] and was mentioned in the Gympie Times in Sept 1916 as contributing to the “Kin Kin Do Without Week” fundraiser for WW1 [5]. The store included a Commonwealth Bank branch, a Post Office and a telephone exchange [7]. Its not clear if he owned it, or managed it.

In my fathers photo collection is this picture which is understood to be a very early photo of the Waddells at the “original” Kin Kin store. The date of this photo is unknown but I guess it was taken about 1915 soon after George Waddell purchased it. There are a number of wooden crates and barrels crammed onto the open verandah. Presumably this is members of the Waddells standing out on the verandah – two women in the doorway, one child to the right of the standing woman with white shirt and neckbow, and a teenage girl perched on the barrels on the right. I would guess the girl on the right is Dorothy “Dorrie” Waddell given her age and her description of her long dark hair which was unique in the family. My guess is that this photo is not long after George began to operate the store.

The Waddells at the store in the early days. Date unknown but guessed to be about 1915. Presumably this is the Waddells on the verandah – two women in the doorway, one child to the right of the standing woman with which shirt and neckbow, and a teenage girl perched on the barrels on the right. I would guess the girl on the right is Dorothy “Dorrie” Waddell given her age and dark hair which was unique in the family. Source: Family collection.

In the same pile of old Hapgood/Waddell family photos as the one above is a photo of the town of Kin Kin, taken from up the hill looking down on the town with the main street extending from the pub on the corner towards the right side of the photo. The Pub can clearly be seen in the middle of the photo, as well as the early General Store with a peaked roof (as shown in the photo above) and house with wide verandahs (that is still there today) in between them. Based on the angle and google maps satellite and topographical images, my guess is that this photo was taken from the house at 79 Gympie Kin Kin Road, which has what looks to be an old Queenslander house in about the right place to take a photo like this one.

Early photo of Kin Kin, showing pub and early store? After 1914. Family collection (same set of photos as the store photo above)

The Kin Kin General store in the 1920s/30s

George Waddell ran the store with his eldest daughter Margaret Alice “Mag” Waddell b1890, who married George Arthur Martin b1877. George and Mags Martin gradually took over the store around 1920, and became the owners in June 1924 when they bought it from Rohan [14]. At some point, George Martin emblazoned his name out the front to name the business the “G.A. Martin General Store”. There are a series of photos from the 1930s or so, which clearly show the Store and the pub together, with the “GA Martin” name out the front. The roof line of the 1930s store is very different to the 1st image, which suggests a new larger store was constructed.

Martins Store, Kin Kin, 1931, Pictured l to r: E.S.& A. Bank, G.A. Martin’s general store, Post Office, Kin Kin Hotel (built 1914) and J. E. Allen’s blacksmith shop. Note Shell petrol bowsers in front of bank. Source: Sunshine Coast Library, Main Street, Kin Kin, 1931 image # M863070 -Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council. [8]
Kin Kin Main Street postcard about 1925 or 1930 Source: submitted by Allan Honour to Out of copyright
Kin Kin Hotel, with Martins store up the road, c1931. Source: image #M863073, reproduced with permission from Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council [3].
Man on a horse at Kin Kin, showing GA Martin Store and Post Office in the background. Pre 1943. Source: Out of copyright but shared on facebook page although I can no longer find the post.
Close up photo of GA Martins General Store at Kin Kin. This version hangs in the modern day store and cafe. Date unknown. Out of copyright.

Martins store was also large enough and successful enough to have its own special cutlery! My Dads cousin (AB) lives in Caloundra and she gave this knife to my Dads brother in Malanda a while ago, and it was then passed on to my Aunt R (who has supplied several photos for this blog). Its a bone handled knife, and engraved on the blade are the words “Made in Sheffield expressly for G.A. Martin Kin Kin“.

Close up of engraving on cutlery knife for GA Martins Store in Kin Kin. Source: Family collection
Cutlery bone handled knife made in Sheffield UK for GA Martins Store in Kin Kin . Source: Family collection

Sheffield is in the UK and was known worldwide for its stainless silver and steel cutlery guilds – the Cutlers Hall in the middle of Sheffield is magnificent – so this cutlery would have been pretty flash in its day…

Some local advertising from 1930 & 1932 gives a flavour of some of the items in GA Martins Store.

Mags Waddell takes over the store.

George Martin passed away in 1943 [6], and his wife Margaret Ann Martin (nee Waddell) – known as “Mags” took over and continued to run the shop and postoffice. She changed the sign out front to use her name so that it read “M.A. Martin General Storekeeper”

MA Martin General Store, Kin Kin, sometime after 1943. This still appears to be on the same side of the street as the pub. Source: Out of copyright. This version is from Gympie Family History Facebook page [9] but also appears on Ancestry posted by a Martin family descendant.

The Kin Kin Community website page [7] says that at one point, Martins General store employed 15 people (exact year not given). Certainly it was a big operation and a number of Waddell family members worked in the store. Family stories say that Mag’s sisters, Jess and Jean Waddell also worked in the store. Jess (Jessie Catherine Waddell b1909) ran the telephone exchange in the post office section (see image below). There is a great photo of her in action at the telephone exchange, which is widely known and shared in the extended family, and a copy of this photo has apparently been on display either in the Store or the pub (before its current renovations) for many years. The telephone exchange machine is now part of the collection of the Noosa Museum.

Jess Waddell operating the telephone exchange in the Post Office section of the general store at Kin Kin. Photo about 1930-40. Source: Family collection.

The Waddell sisters future double sister-in-law, Gwen (Clara Gwen Hapgood b1910) also worked in Martins store, riding her push bike to work and back each day [10] .

Olga Hapgood mentions Martin’s General Store in her memoirs [10]. She says that in the 1930s

George Martins store continued to thrive. Mum would send in her order each week and on a Tuesday afternoon the groceries would be delivered with a small bag of boiled lollies for the kids. I loved the smell of sweets in the store and the big bottles of sweets on the counter were a special joy to behold.

– Olga Hapgood Memoirs 1918-1942 [10]

Olga also mentions that the Martins Store would donate huge tins of boiled lollies for the Kin Kin State School breakup day each year [10].

The modern day Kin Kin General Store & Black Ant Gourmet Cafe

In 1954, the Post office section was separated from the store and moved into its own building [7]. It is a cute little heritage listed building [11] on the opposite side of the street to the pub, with the matching shape façade. At some point Kin Kin became big enough to have two stores and there was a fire in the 1970s, so the current Kin Kin store is not the same building as the Martin’s store (and this explains why the current store is on the opposite side of the street).

Kin Kin General Store in its current location across the road and up the hill from the pub. Photo Feb 2022

Kin Kin Post Office c2005 [11]
Former Post Office, 54 Main St. Small building to the right of the right of the currentStore, not in use. Photo from Feb 2022.

The current Kin Kin Store was apparently closed for a period but has been back in operation since 2012. Inside the store, there is now an excellent cafe and a gourmet food store. The breakfast and coffee was excellent.

The cafe walls are covered with historical photos of Kin Kin. I didn’t have a chance to look at them all in detail, but I spotted two photos on display in the café that are directly linked to the Waddell family – one historical photo of Martins Store itself, and one of the Kin Kin champion tennis team in 1924, which includes Dorrie Waddell and Jim Waddell.

A photo of GA Martins Store, across the road from its current location, hangs inside the current cafe.
This photo of the Kin Kin Tennis championship team from 1924 also hangs inside the cafe, featuring Dorrie Waddell ( middle, stripped shirt) and Jim Waddell (front left).

The many locations of the Kin Kin General Store…

The Store has shifted up and along the Main street in Kin Kin at least twice

  • Location #1: The General Store was originally located where the pub is now. About 1914 when William Rowan sold it and moved it up the hill slightly (next door to pub), so he could build the pub
  • Location #2: Further up the hill so that there was a gap between the pub and the store location, as shown in the majority of Kin Kin main street photos from the 1930s. Presumably the house with the wide verandahs is still in between, but set back from the road and so not visible in these street photos.

This assumes that the oldest photo is the Waddell family at the original store (according to family oral history associated with this photo) and that this depicts the store in its 2nd location, up the road from the pub. Its not 100% clear to from the photos that this is the same location, but Lachlan Davis from Kin Kin has been in touch to explain that the house we can see behind the store has also moved location over the years.

I have put the oldest photo next to a photo I took from the verandah of the current store location across the read. In the oldest photo of the store with the family on the verandah, there is a hill behind the store and a house with wide verandahs next door and down the hill slightly. This house is still be there – see the photo on the right below which is taken from the deck of the current Store/café deck. (The edge of the pub is just visible in the right of this photo). But all of these buildings have also been rearranged slightly over the years.

Waddells General Store, showing a large hill in the background and a distinctive wide verandah house to the right.
Feb 2022 photo of the location where the Store used to be (to the right of the Depot Building) with the edge of the pub just visible on the right of the photo. The house roof life is the same as the photo on the left, but the hill does not appear in the modern photo. This is confusing!

May 2022 Update: Kin Kin local historian Lachlan Davis has been in touch about this post. The history of the Kin Kin store is quite complicated, because there have been several stores over the years and there is a lot of conflicting information around. Its quite confusing. He is also compiling a history of the Kin Kin store(s) and trying to untangle the history. I look forward to being able to read his findings.


[1] Kin Kin Community website – Kin Kin General Store and Post Office section,

[2] Hub of the Community. Gympie Times, 4 July 2016. Accessed 22/02/2022

[3] Kin Kin Hotel, Main Street, Kin Kin, 1931 , image #M863073, reproduced with permission from Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council.

[4] GYMPIE COURTS. Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette 7 Oct 1915 p. 4.

[5] KIN KIN, Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette , September 16, 1916 p. 3.

[6] George Arthur Martin died 13 Oct 1943, Queensland Australia,

[7] Kin Kin History,

[8] Main Street, Kin Kin, 1931 image # M863070 reproduced with permission from Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council.,1

[9] Gympie Family History Society Facebook page, shared 26 April 2020,

[10] Olga Hapgood Memoirs 1918-1942. Unpublished. Copy available on request to family members or historical societies.

[11] SCHEDULE 3—HERITAGE SITES” (PDF). Noosa Shire Council. October 2016. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 April 2017. Accessed via Wikipedia 27 April 2022.

[12] 54 Main Street Kin Kin historical listings

[13] Kin Kin, Noosa Library Service. Accessed 27 April 2022.

[14] “KIN KIN.” The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) 17 June 1924: 14. Web. 1 Jun 2022

[15] Email from Lachlan Davis, May 2022

[16] Noosa Advocate 16 May 1930 and Dec 21 1932. Send by [15]

One comment

  1. Certainly an informative article on KinKin. I lived there from 1937 to 1972. My Father Arthur Harold Hempsall built the sawmill in 1948. As a kid I knew George Martin and Mrs Martin and shopped every day after school for my Mother. The shop now was the original Bakery.

    Liked by 1 person

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