Backward Glance - Fun in the sand
  • Wednesday 15 August 2018

Spring is just around the corner, and so is the Horizon Festival here on the Sunshine Coast from August 24 to September 2.

Get set for 10 days of art fuelled fun, creativity, music and stories across our region. 

Part of the action-packed program includes Patterns in the Landscape - Tidal which explores our relationship with our landscape through the synergy of art and movement, and where better to see this in action than on our sandy beaches.

The beach has always played a big part in the lives of people in our region.

Few childhood activities are remembered more fondly than spending time at the beach building a sandcastle or sand garden with family or friends.

Perhaps now is a good time to revisit those memories.

Over the years, sandcastle competitions were held regularly during summer holiday seasons all along our Sunshine Coast beaches. 

A bucket and spade were the main tools of trade but were not a necessity if you came to the beach without them.

The art of the sand creation can be made using hands for digging and sculpting, little feet for stamping the sand down tight and a lot of boundless energy. 

A sandcastle can be made by one or two or all together in a group.

Moats were an important aspect of this special sandy architecture.

If the sandcastle was constructed high on the shore, when water was poured into the moat it could frustratingly disappear into the porous sand.

Running to and from the waves, children would often be seen carrying a variety of buckets trying to fill the moat.  

Building a sandcastle closer to the sea could also have its issues.

Sometimes the incoming tide could catch you by surprise and wash away the castle walls and all the shells gathered to decorate it. 

Over the years, another Sunshine Coast castle has also gained plenty of attention – although this one isn’t made of sand.

The Fairytale Castle opened at Bli Bli in 1973 and children and visitors often fashioned their beach creations in the form of the local icon that stands on a rise overlooking the Maroochy River, not too far from our coastal beaches.

There are plenty of other things to do in the sandy playground on our beaches.

Children and adults love to explore rock pools, discovering the miniature world where small fish, crabs and plant life are stranded when the tide goes out.

A picnic lunch is always welcome when enjoying a day at the beach.

Pack some sandwiches and cool drinks to refresh everyone in a cool shady spot at noon.

Remember to be sun smart and wear a hat, a shirt and sunscreen as well.

A walk on the beach or on the Coastal Pathway can be enjoyable and great exercise.

Looking out towards the horizon you may see a ship in the channel making its way to a destination far from Australia.

If you are lucky, you may see a migratory whale or two breaching quite close to the coastline.

On wide expanses of fresh sand you may be fortunate to see a myriad of tiny sand balls left in extensive unique patterns by an army of soldier crabs.

These little round blue fellows with long legs emerge when the tide has receded and quickly disappear into the soft sand when disturbed.

During Horizon Festival you can see unique sand art on some of our local beaches, such as Happy Valley at Caloundra, First Bay at Coolum and Caravan Beach at Mooloolaba.

For more details and to explore other Horizon Festival events happening in your area head to

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Image details

Hero: Young girls on the sand dunes at Shelly Beach, Caloundra, ca 1923

Image 1: Children playing on Alexandra Headland BeachAlexandra Headland, January 1960. The children were attending a camp at the Alexandra Park Presbyterian Conference Property on Alexandra Parade.

Image 2: Holiday makers on the beach at Alexandra Headland, late 1950s

Image 3: Crowds gathered to watch a Sand Garden Competition at Kings Beach, Caloundra, ca 1940

Image 4: Finalist in the Sand Garden competition, Coolum Beach, 26 December 1950

Image 5: Family building sandcastles on Mooloolaba Beach, January 1935

Image 6: Children playing on a sandbar near Cotton Tree, ca 1925. Residences along the Maroochy River bank in background.

Image 7: Bli Bli Castle on the David Low Way, Bli Bli, 1973

Image 8: Soldier crabs on the Mooloolah River foreshore, 1930s