Backward Glance: David Low Way – a significant coastal road on the Sunshine Coast
  • Wednesday 21 February 2018

One of our most significant roads on the Sunshine Coast is David Low Way that links Maroochydore in the south to Noosa in the north. Here’s the story behind the name.

David Allan Low was born in Yandina in 1911 and was a direct descendant of James Low, one of the Sunshine Coast’s early settlers in the Maroochy region.

David was the youngest of nine sons to John and Louisa Low and attended school at Yandina State School and Nambour Rural High School.

In 1926, David started work in Nambour as a clerk with the Queensland Railway Department and married Claudia Helen Ritchie in 1939.

A man of the people, Dave Low, as he was known, held positions in various local community organisations.

He entered State Parliament in 1947 as the Country Party Member for Cooroora, an office he held until 1974.

Altogether, he won 16 elections.

During his time in office, he began a long-term campaign encouraging the State Government to support Local Government.

Dave Low successfully entered Local Government and held the office of Chairman at Maroochy Shire Council from 1952 -1967.

He called for a redistribution of local government electoral boundaries so that each shire would have a sufficient rate base to provide essential services which were long overdue.

He believed better roads should be built, connecting the productive inland areas with the coast – both serving the tourist and the rural industries such as the booming sugar cane industry.  

Mr. Low promoted the construction of a road through the Maroochy Shire along the coast to connect Maroochydore to Noosa.

The first section of the coastal highway was opened between Sunshine Beach and Peregian Beach on April 2, 1960 by Premier Frank Nicklin M.L.A.

The road was the first stage of the government proposal to open up the coastline region from Caloundra to Noosa.

Once the Lake Weyba Bridge was built near Tewantin in 1929 by developer T M Burke, it opened up access to the beaches and development of Noosa and Sunshine Beach.

The David Low Way later followed the original road to Sunshine Beach, past the area now known as Sunrise Beach, onwards to Marcus Beach, Peregian and later Coolum.

The development of Marcus Beach was named after Marcus Burke, one of two sons of T M Burke.

Marcus became chairman of directors at Burke Companies in 1949 and played a major role in the second era of development in 1959.

The Bruce Highway opened in 1934, passing through most of the major country towns - Beerburrum, Glass House Mountains, Beerwah, Landsborough, Mooloolah, Forest Glen, Nambour, Yandina and Eumundi, then to Cooroy and further north. 

It was and still is a major highway, but has now deviated away from the towns due to population and road traffic.

In earlier times, it was difficult to access seaside places. Vehicles drove to small beach towns such as Coolum, turning off the Bruce Highway at Yandina which was a well-established town at the time.

The Coolum to Yandina Road was partially dirt road up until the 1970s.

Buderim land owners felt left out of the development and petitioned the council in 1953 for a good bitumen road which would connect the Bruce Highway via Buderim to the coast.

Most residents of the Tewantin region accessed their town via Cooroy, where the Bruce Highway was situated, running through parts of the town adjacent to Cooroy railway station. 

The first stage of David Low Way was developed on the beachfront – a dense area of wallum wild flower country and native scrub lands.

In 1946, prior to the construction of David Low Way, there were no bridges over Eudlo Creek, Petrie Creek or even the Maroochy River.

The building of Bli Bli Bridge was jointly funded by the Moreton Sugar Mill and Maroochy Shire Council.

In 1957, Moreton Tug and Light Company maneuvered a barge with pile driving equipment over the Maroochydore Bar and two motor boats towed the equipment to the site.

An agreement between Maroochy Shire Council and the Moreton Central Mill Company to build a dual tramway, as well as a vehicular bridge at Bli Bli, was reached.

The present site of what is now the David Low Bridge at Bli Bli was chosen because the water was shallow in that area.

In 1959, K D Morris and Sons completed the first pre-stressed concrete bridge in Queensland costing 54,000 pounds.

The concrete bridge was officially opened on August 15, 1959 by A.G. Muller, Minister for Lands and Irrigation.

It was named after David Alan Low MLA, who by then was chairman of Maroochy Shire Council and had been State Member for Cooroora for 12 years.

In 1957, the popular North Coast Palmwoods WW1 veteran, farmer and politician, Frank Nicklin, the Member for Murrumba, had been voted in and led the new government as Premier of Queensland.

Premier Nicklin’s new government’s philosophy enabled a three-way development along the coast, opening up the region to development and tourism.

Mr. Nicklin believed the climate and beauty of the region attracted not only holiday makers but retirees who quickly moved to the area.

The views, the beaches and the beauty were all ideally suited for holidaymakers, retirees and families.

The gateway to the North Shore was now open and would soon link the David Low Bridge to many coastal towns via what was to become the David Low Way. In 1960, 8km of roadway from Noosa Junction to the border of Maroochy Shire was completed and officially opened by Premier Nicklin. 

This new section of David Low Way included the construction of three smaller bridge crossings nearer to Noosa over Burgess Creek, Castaways Creek and further down towards Marcus Beach.

In October of that year, after land reclamation at Kawana began, the road between Kawana and Caloundra was officially named Nicklin Way. 

Progress continued rapidly and in 1961 the area around Maroochy Airport and the road from South Coolum Yaroomba area was built towards the Bli Bli Bridge.

The second section from Coolum Beach to Peregian was opened by Minister for Lands Alan Fletcher on May 13, 1961.

On the western side, the road was being built towards the Cod Hole which at that time was the furthermost point of Maroochy Road to Eudlo Creek flats.

Bridges across Eudlo Creek and Mooloolah River were built in agreement with developers at that time as the David Low Way progressed.

The official opening of the Scenic Coastal Highway was at Mudjimba Beach on August 12, 1961.

The link between Caloundra and the Mooloolah River was constructed between 1962 and 1964. The Mooloolah River was bridged in 1964. 

The Coastal Highway runs from Maroochydore to Noosa and is named in David Low’s honor due to the foresight of a man who did so much for his community. He had worked hard to open the region, including planning and establishing water and sewerage into the main towns to help them prosper.

He once described his lifetime of service as “a period of hard work but also of great satisfaction in working for the advancement of the district I love.”

David Low, a man of the people, resigned as member for Cooroora in October 1974 and sadly died in the same month of that year, aged 63.

Image Captions

Hero - David Low Way, looking south near Marcus Beach, 1960s 

Image 1 - David Alan Low (1911-1974), studio portrait, Nambour, 1960

Image 2 - Minister for Lands, Mr Fletcher and party crossing Eudlo Creek by boat during his visit to the Maroochy Shire, November 1963

During his visit the Minister and Cr D.A. Low, Chairman of the Maroochy Shire Council (pictured standing in boat) discussed proposals for the completion of the Coastal Highway.

Image 3 - Crowds gathered to watch the turning of the first sod in the construction of the Coastal Highway between Noosa and Caloundra on 13 July 1959. 
The ceremony marked the start of a 5.7 mile section of the highway from Sunshine Beach to the Noosa - Maroochy Shire boundary (north of Coolum). It was performed by Cr D. A. Low, M.L.A., Chairman of the Maroochy Shire Council (pictured right).

Image 4 - View south along the coastal highway during the construction of the first section from Sunshine Beach to Peregian Beach, 1960
The 10 kilometres of road was officially opened at Peregian on 2 April, 1960

Image 5 - Official opening of the Mudjimba to Marcoola section of the Scenic Coast Highway at Mudjimba Beach on 12 August 1961

Image 6 - Official opening of the Marcoola Beach-Yaroomba South section of the Scenic Coast Highway on 16 January, 1965

Image 7 -  David Low Bridge over the Maroochy River at Bli Bli, 1990
The bridge was officially opened on 15 August 1959 by the Hon. A.G. Muller, Minister for Public Lands and Irrigation. It was named after David Alan Low, M.L.A., the then Chairman of Maroochy Shire Council and later State Member for Cooroora.

Image 8 - David Low Bridge under construction across the Maroochy River at Bli Bli, January 1958
Officially opened on 15 August 1959 by the Hon. A.G. Muller, M.L.A., the Minister for Public Lands and Irrigation. It was named after Cr. David A. Low, M.L.A. (the then Chairman of Maroochy Shire Council). At the time of construction the five hundred and forty six foot bridge was the longest pre-stressed concrete bridge in Queensland. It carried a sugarcane railway in addition to the roadway and provided direct access to new sugarcane areas and miles of undeveloped beaches south of Coolum.