The Massoud family has been part of Gympie Terrace for over a century. They continue to live and fish in and around Noosaville, four and five generations later.


Jiddy & Sitty Massoud, 1930s

In 1900, a young Lebanese couple, Nowham and Etore, fled the Ottoman Empire and arrived in Melbourne with just £2 in their luggage (less than $300 today). They were married at St Patrick’s Cathedral a few weeks after their arrival and they soon moved to Bundaberg and then Maryborough, where their sons George and William (Bill) were born. Nowham began using the English-friendly name ‘Ted’ and his wife became known as ‘Edith’. A few years later they moved to Gympie where Ted worked in the gold mines. In 1908, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Maisie, the Massoud family moved to Gympie Terrace on the Noosa River. On Gympie Terrace the patriarch and matriarch would become widely known as ‘Jiddy’ and ‘Sitty’ – Arabic for grandpa and grandma.

The Massoud children recalled there being just 13 houses and about 30 people living at Gympie Terrace when they first moved. They had bought the Ely family home from Bill Ely on the corner of what became Pope’s Lane and later Edward Street. Two more Massoud sons, Ivan and Phillip, were born in this home.

Jiddy and Sitty began fishing to feed the family and to sell. They also established the first shop on Gympie Terrace, selling groceries to the slowly increasing number of residents but also to the campers and daytrippers who were beginning to enjoy the delights of the Noosa River, especially at Easter and Christmastime. Later they would also run a second store on the corner of Pelican and Doonella Streets in Tewantin.

Jiddy Cleaning Fish

Jiddy cleaning fish, circa late 1930s

At first the Massouds fished with lines, catching bream at night, but they soon bought a net and employed a crew to catch large numbers of mullet. In 1915, Jiddy bought the boat Riverlight. The vessel was used for multiple purposes. Not only only for fishing but also to transport the family upon the river and deliver the mail to Laguna House, the big boarding house at Noosa Heads. As the only way of reaching Tewantin was by boat, Jiddy secured a contract with the Education Department to transport the children to school in Tewantin. At the age of just 12, George Massoud became the skipper responsible for the student transport.

Jiddy And Kross

Jiddy Massoud & Nicholas Kross reusing empty boxes, circa 1930

The Massoud brothers had various talents. George was a successful professional boxer for a short spell, Bill served with the navy during World War II, and Philip’s tenor voice was well known to listeners of Brisbane radio in the 1940s. All four remained in the area, building homes nearby in Noosaville, involving themselves with the development of the neighbourhood, the river and the fishing. Ivan was considered by many as the country’s best line fisherman. In the 1930s, George ran a provision and mail delivery to the Double Island Point Lighthouse, and he and Bill began giving tours to Teewah and the famous coloured sands on the north shore. Their mother, Sitty, filled empty bottles with layers of the coloured sands and sold them in the family’s shops. George was the first president of the local Professional Fisherman’s Association, and he and Bill held the presidency of the body for 25 years between them. All of the brothers were also instrumental in developing the volunteer rescue service and they were well known for rescuing many people from various states of danger and distress on boats on the Noosa River and in Laguna Bay and undoubtedly saved the lives of dozens.

In 1920 the Massouds opened the first café on Gympie Terrace. It was called The Favourite Café but it soon became known as Maisie’s after the Massoud’s daughter who worked there tirelessly. In the winter of 1942, in the middle of World War II, the 2/14th Battallion were stationed at Yandina between stints in the Middle East and then as reinforcements to the Kakoda Track in Papua New Guinea. Some of battalion were sent to train in new amphibious vehicles, DUKWs or ‘ducks’,  on the Noosa River under the command of Lieutenant Stanley Bisset. They were camped at Munna Point but they were fed each night at Maisie’s by the Massoud family who cooked up to 200kg of fish each night. The Massouds would also roll their pianola out onto the street to entertain the soldiers. Bisset and Maisie remained life-long friends.


Maisie Massoud, Viv Ely and Kathie Massoud (nee Kross), circa early 1940s

Maisie later moved to Bundaberg, where she managed a drapery business before marrying Michael Mounsour in 1950. Sadly, Michael died prior to the birth of their daughter, Michaeleem. Maisie still owned the café and four shops in Gympie Terrace when she passed away in 2005 at the age of 96.

Massouds And Monsours

Jiddy, Sitty, Maisie & Ivan Massoud (back), and Kathleen (nee Kross) & Lynn Massoud, circa 1947

Opposite the café, Jiddy built a private jetty in 1927 and planted the trees in what is now called Massoud Park.

Massoud Coloured Sands Tour

Massoud coloured sands tour, 1930s

The four brothers and Maisie helped form the Noosaville Progress Association in 1946. Their parents had been contributing members of its precursor, the Gympie Terrace Progress Association. The organisation was a voice for maintaining the reputation of Noosa as an area of scenic beauty. But contrary to this, in the 1950s the Massoud brothers applied for a sandmining lease at Noosa Heads, which was thwarted due to persistent lobbying from a majority of the local residents.

Massoud Crew 1950s

Massoud fishing crew, 1950s

Another generation of Massouds grew up together at Gympie Terrace in the 1940s and 1950s as the proximity of the four brothers’ houses allowed their children to play together on a daily basis. Hide-and-seek, cricket, brandy, and tiggy were regular games. Lynn Sipp, daughter of Ivan and Kathie, recalls Guy Fawkes Night, Christmas and New Year’s Eve all being large public events around this time. A huge crowd would gather on the river each year on November 5th to watch the burning bonfire of Guy Fawkes night while firecrackers were lit all over, with remarkably few injuries. At Christmas, a large tree was erected on the riverbank opposite James Street and presents for all the neighbourhood children were hung off its branches until one of the local fathers arrived dressed as Santa Claus to read the labels and handout the gifts. On New Year’s Eve the Massouds would host a large musical party accompanied by a huge feast.

One way the Massoud family maintain their connection to Lebanon is through food. For example they always ate plenty of olives and yoghurt long before they were mainstream foods in Australia. All Massoud women (by birth or marriage) are taught how to cook Lebanese cuisine. In 1950, the O’Brien family leased the Massouds’ café, calling it The Coolabah Cafe, and in 1956 their daughter Eileen married Jack Massoud, son of Bill and Louise. Louise taught Eileen how to cook Lebanese food, having been taught herself by Maisie and Sitty.

Massoud Wedding

Jack and Ilene Massoud on their wedding day, 1950s. Image courtesy of Sunshine Coast Libraries

Eileen And Phillip Massod In Massoud Park

Ilene and Phillip Massoud on Gympie Terrace, 1950s

Today, although it has changed hands several times, Maisie’s Restaurant continues to feed locals and visitors to Gympie Terrace. Villa Massoud (a unit block) stands next door. The Massoud Jetty still stands in the same spot, as does the Massoud slipway, and a ferry called Riverlight, christened by Maisie at the request of its owner, continues to carry tourists upon the Noosa River.

River From Maisies

View of the Noosa River and Massoud’s Jetty, circa 1940s.