Queensland Garden Expo

Nambour

Nambour is a flourishing town on the edge of the mountains that make up the Sunshine Coast Hinterland but is also so close to the famous Sunshine Coast beaches.

Like so many of the towns in this remarkable area, Nambour has a great ‘sense of community’. While many people head to the Sunshine Coast looking for a sea-change, tree-changers head to Nambour and get the best of both worlds.

Nambour has a flourishing retro and vintage scene. It is the perfect place to discover original items and treasurers from times past. There are also unique cafes and quirky bars, a craft brewery and an impressive line-up of events scheduled throughout the year including Queensland Garden Expo, Retro Rocks, Classic Car shows and the Collectorama Fairs.

There are interactive artworks to experience as well as large-scale public paintings and sculptures, plus great parks, and walking tracks along Petrie Creek. Enjoy the country hospitality for a day trip or stay overnight. You may be surprised by what you discover!

History

The Nambour district was first settled by Europeans in the 1860s. The road between Gympie and Brisbane was built in 1868 and it crossed Petrie Creek near contemporary Nambour. Petrie Creek was named after Tom Petrie, who navigated several miles of the creek in 1862 and who was also responsible for discovering the rich stands of timber on the Buderim Plateau. William Samwell established a cattle station on Petrie Creek in 1868, calling it ‘Nambah’. Two years later, in 1870, Thomas Carroll selected land near Samwell’s property and later built a hotel to service travellers on the Gympie road. The hotel, built in 1884, was located on the present-day Nambour Showgrounds.

Despite initial interest, settlement grew slowly, primarily because of the difficulties in reaching markets due to a lack of effective transport options. By the end of the 1870s, there were only five families in the Nambour and Yandina area. Nonetheless, a school was opened between Yandina and Nambour in 1879, servicing the two settlements. The district was particularly noted for its timber and agricultural potential, especially sugar cane. Joseph Dixon’s Buderim sugar mill began processing cane in 1876, providing an impetus for cane farming in the surrounding area.

As with much of the Sunshine Coast, the construction of the North Coast Railway in the early 1890s stimulated the growth of towns and closer settlement. The line to Yandina was opened in 1891 and with its opening, 'Petrie's Creek', as the settlement had been known, was renamed 'Nambour'. Nambour, rather than Yandina, benefited the most from the railway, as it was more conveniently located for farms on the coast and the Blackall Range. When the Maroochy Divisional Board was created in 1890, Nambour was selected as the site for its headquarters. The opening of the Moreton Central Sugar Mill in 1897 further cemented the importance of the town. Sugar became the dominant industry in the Council area and a network of cane tram lines spread out from the mill, hauling cane from surrounding areas and defining the streetscape in Nambour for decades. The region’s newspaper, the Nambour Chronicle was established in 1903 – the title of the broadsheet illustrating the centrality of the town in political and economic spheres, a rapid and remarkable transformation.

The town continued to grow rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century, particularly the 1920s. By 1925, there were eight drapers and four hotels, in addition to Catholic, Methodist and Anglican churches, and the Salvation Army. A grand Shire Council building was erected in 1929, replacing the previous iteration that had been destroyed by fire (the centre of Nambour was beset by fires, in 1924, 1929 and 1948). The new building included an auditorium that could seat 650 people. The Nambour Hospital was also operating by the end of the 1920s. The Bruce Highway reached the town in the late 1930s, further stimulating development. Development of the coastal towns, especially Maroochydore, began to impact the significance of Nambour from the 1950s. However, it remained the municipal centre of the Shire, with a new town hall built in 1960 and municipal offices erected in 1978. The closure of the sugar mill in 2003 was a major event in the town's history, signalling the culmination of a long process of economic growth in the region.

History source - 'Thematic History of the Sunshine Coast', Sunshine Coast Heritage Study, Sunshine Coast Council, August 2019