Backward Glance – Sunshine Coast Agricultural Show approaches
  • Wednesday 06 June 2018

The final countdown is underway for the Sunshine Coast Agricultural Show which will once again be held over three days in Nambour from Friday, June 15.

Agricultural shows are part of our local cultural history and are an ideal time for the district’s farming communities to unite with those living in towns and beachside suburbs.  

At the show, local community groups showcase their various talents and skills, the show also provides a platform for businesses and agricultural industries to display their products.

The history of our region is well known to long-time locals, but others may be interested to learn about our early producers and discover more about recently developed boutique industries.  

Local produce from fruit farms where bananas, pineapples, strawberries and other tropical fruits grew in abundance near Woombye, Buderim, Yandina and Palmwoods remind us of changes to the landscape and way of life.

The history of the Sunshine Coast Show originates from a meeting held at the Woombye School of Arts on June 3, 1900 where a show society was formed.

At that meeting, it was decided that the agricultural show society be known as the Maroochy Pastoral, Agricultural, Horticultural and Industrial Society.

The community worked hard to establish a show ring and temporary pavilion.

There was a lot of interest and the first show in the district was a great success.

Needlework, cookery, school work and floral art were displayed inside the School of Arts Hall, but there was a need for a larger venue as the show grew.

The show relocated to the present Nambour Showgrounds in 1909 and the first purpose-built display pavilion was constructed on the showground hill that year.

Students have entered many sections over the years and in 1923, the Nambour Rural School presented a culinary display promoting their cookery skills and their food with the wording, “Such as to tempt the most fastidious”.

The Nambour show pavilion replaced the original building and was built in time for use in 1922 for 2750 pounds (approximately $6000).

It has subsequently been renovated on several occasions.

The show grew and in 1931, a larger pavilion was built, becoming the venue for the annual Show Ball.

Looking back, the showgrounds hold many tales.

The showground served as a venue for the Presbyterian Church of Queensland camps from 1934 until the early 1940s.

From 1942 until 1946, the show was cancelled as the site was occupied by Australian military units, training and camping in the region whilst they prepared for war.

After WWII, the pavilion needed attention, it was renovated in 1947 in time for the first post war show.

That year, the agricultural students from Nambour entered fodder conservation equipment as well as farm blacksmithing, sheet metal, leather work and wood work displays.

In 1965, Dame Annabelle Rankin DBE, officially opened the Nambour Show, becoming the first female to do so. 

That year, Carole Jackson, who was Miss Australia, took pride of place in the Grand Parade.

Each year from the earliest days, one of the most popular displays was the extensive range of product from local farmers.

In 1969, the society changed the name of the show to the Sunshine Coast Show as the region’s name had changed from the Near North Coast to the Sunshine Coast in 1967.

In 1971, an exhibit featuring pineapples and canned products saw growers from Beerwah, Palmwoods, Woombye, Nambour, Cooroy and the Mary Valley participating.

It was a great year for promoting fruit, the Golden Circle Cup for canning pines was won by the Mary Valley.

The interstate packing cup for packing pineapples was won by Palmwoods fastest pineapple packer, R Herse.

Fruit growing has always been successful in the Sunshine Coast region and the first ‘through fruit train’ from the Near North Coast to Sydney and Melbourne, commenced in 1919. 

This was an important change as the fruit growers were able to get their produce to the southern markets without the fruit spoiling in transit.

Throughout the years, volunteer workers have contributed countless hours to make the show a success. 

In 1985, the show society named the pavilion in Les Dowdle’s honour.

Les certainly knew his birds and that same year he took home grand champion bird of the year, a Black Pekin bantam.

Over the years, Les took his poultry to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney and the Melbourne Show – his specialty was the Plymouth Rock and Black Pekin bantams.

Les’s love of exhibiting poultry started as a young boy, at eight-years-old, when he and his brother Eric scooped up prizes every year as youngsters.

When Les moved to the district he first exhibited in 1948 and never missed a show until he retired.

He became chief steward at the Nambour Show, a position he held for more than 50 years.

Show president Fergus Scott honoured Frank Nicklin with life membership in 1966. 

A man of the people who became Premier of Queensland, Sir Frank Nicklin was an organiser, exhibitor, judge and president at this lovely country show.

Businessman James (Jim) Grimes served six years as the Show Society's Chairman of Committees, retiring in 1952.

The J.D. Grimes Stand is named in his honour and was officially opened on April 12, 1975.

Not to be forgotten is the Fergus Scott Pavilion. 

Fergus was a dentist in Nambour and loved horses, in particular the showing of Shetland ponies.

A possible conflict of interest appears here as his wife Edith, with a large band of volunteers, ran the sweet stall with lots of the stick jaw toffees, toffee apples, marshmallows and sweet treats.

Fergus joined the Show Society in 1947 and soon found himself as chairman of committees and later President.

In 1968, Fergus Scott was awarded an OBE for his community service.  

There is so much to see this year at the show.

Bring the children along to learn about our local farm animals and the fun of a genuine country show. See you there Sunshine Coast.

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


Image captions

Hero - Side Show Alley and rides at the annual Sunshine Coast ShowNambour, 1970s. The showground served as a venue for the Presbyterian Church of Queensland camps from 1934 until the early 1940s. The last Church camp was held at the grounds in 1945.

Image 1 - Family groups on the hillside overlooking the showground’s during the annual show 1957. Pictured include members of the Garrett, Fowler and Petersen families.

Image 2 - Agricultural students assessing a rooster entered in the poultry section at the annual show, Nambour, 1964

Image 3 - Bullock team in a procession along Currie Street to celebrate the Jubilee of the North Coast Show, Nambour, 1950. The show which was first held on 3 June 1900 at the School of Arts' grounds, Woombye and relocated to the present show grounds at Nambour in 1909.

Image 4 - Panorama of Nambour showgrounds during the annual show, Nambour, ca 1955

Image 5 - Show patrons entering the pavilion during the annual show, Nambour, late 1930s. The show pavilion was built in time for use in 1922 and has been renovated on several occasions. The building replaced the original 50 x 30 foot weatherboard pavilion which was constructed on show ground hill in 1909.

Image 6 - Pavilion at the Nambour showgrounds during the annual show, 1958

Image 7 - Noxious weed display at the North Coast showNambour, 1960. Display presented by the Maroochy Shire Council in collaboration with the Stock Routes coordinating Board.

Image 8 - Palmwoods District exhibit in the fruit hall at the annual showNambour, 1973

Image 9 - Junior Red Cross stall at the annual show, Nambour, July 1960.