Backward Glance - The Rich History of St. Peter's Church
  • Thursday 02 May 2019

The commercial centre of Maroochydore began forming in 1903 when Thomas O’Connor, a government surveyor, bought the land selected by William Pettigrew from the Union Bank.

Thomas O’Connor had surveyed the land from Cornmeal Creek through to Picnic Point in 1908, which led into a private town with no designated name. 

The town was mainly ti-tree swamp with some buildings along the waterfront, it was also a holiday destination for people from inland towns who came to camp or stay in one of the holiday shacks. 

There was no school, church, or doctor and there was no necessity for a police officer.

The area soon became known as Maroochydore and by 1916 an unofficial post office operated. Mrs Elizabeth Tucker took delivery of all the mail addressed to Maroochydore from William Coulson’s mail boat.

During the holidays, Rev A Baker travelled from Nambour to hold occasional services, following requests from the Anglican community.

The first services were held at various venues, including private homes or the Brighton Guest House at Picnic Point. 

Mr Thomas O’Connor also gave permission for services to be held in his old hall at Picnic Point.

When he built the first Star Theatre, which in contradiction to its name was just a ti-tree and tin shed, services were held there.   

In 1925, when Mr O’Connor subdivided a triangular block of land facing the main road, he decided to donate a block to the Anglican Church, if they could mobilise themselves to build a church. 

So they began fundraising activities, including dances, pictures, stalls and door to door donation collection. 

Many cups of tea and glasses of home brew were consumed during this endeavour.

Mr W S Tolman, master builder and Treasurer of the Men’s Committee, was requested to draw up plans and estimates for the work, which were submitted and passed by the Church Wardens in Nambour and the Diocesan Council.

The estimated cost of the building material and furniture was 365 pounds and with the use of voluntary labour, construction began.

The first stump was put in and Rev J De La Perrelle was determined to make it a memorable and perfectly organised occasion. 

The Most Rev Gerald Sharp, Archbishop of Brisbane was invited, he travelled by train towards Nambour, where he would be met and transferred by motor vehicle to Maroochydore for lunch at Mrs Strettin’s hotel on the river front.

However when the train stopped at Palmwoods station, the Archbishop saw a sign “Alight here for Maroochydore” so he promptly departed.

Surprised that there was no one to meet him, he hopped onto a bus and arrived in Maroochydore two hours later – where a very late lunch and the impressive ceremony took place. 

Construction continued with many volunteers working twelve hours per day. It was a weatherboard structure with a seating capacity of sixty. 

The O’Connor family donated a beautiful small organ, which had been brought from England and a ship’s bell to call the congregation to service.

On December 12, 1925 St Peter’s Anglican Church was opened.

Maroochydore was part of the Parochial District of Maroochy and the Rev De La Perrelle was based at Nambour, so he travelled around the district on his motorbike. 

In 1925 the Parish provided him with a car, a 4 cylinder Rugby, but it was not very reliable.   

Several requests were made to Bishop Le Fanu to divide the Parochial District into smaller sections.

He was invited to travel the lower section to ascertain for himself how large they area was but he declined the invitation.

However, in 1928 the Bishop went overseas and Archdeacon Glover took over some of his responsibilities during that time – the request was sent again with the invitation to visit. 

Archdeacon Glover accepted and travelled the area with Rev De La Perrelle.

The Maroochy Parish was divided into two sections later that year.

The congregation grew over the years and there were many happy events at the church.

One such event was the Sunday school annual picnic in September, 1942.

The first division three-legged race was won by Maurice Rees and Douglas Palmer; second division by Gloria Tatnell and Fay Barlow and third division by Nancy Holmes and Betty Dennien. 

The bun eating contest was also popular, and won by Gwen Pickering.

In the 1950s garden parties were popular, featuring scooter derbies, stalls and exhibitions where funds were raised for the construction of a new church – which would be built in stages as funds became available.

Then, on Anzac Day 1970, the whole church building was dedicated as St Peter’s War Memorial Church and was intended for use by worthwhile civic purposes as well as church services. 

The dedication was carried out by the Primate of Australia, The most Rev. Phillip Strong, and the unveiling of the beautiful memorial windows was performed by three representatives of the armed forces.

Thanks to the Heritage Library officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images

 

Image Details 

Hero Image: Original Church of England, corner of Church Street and Beach Road, Maroochydore. The timber church was built in 1925 by voluntary labour on land donated by Thomas O'Connor. It was officially opened and dedicated on 12 December 1925 by Bishop Le Fanu.

Image 1: Dedication of StPeter's Anglican Church, Church Street, Maroochydore, 25 April 1970. The Primate of Australia, Reverend Phillip Strong, performed the dedication at the opening service.

Image 2: Original Church of England building and hall, corner of Church Street and Beach Road, Maroochydore, 1930s. The timber Church (pictured at back of hall) was officially opened and dedicated by Bishop Le Fanu on 12 December 1925

Image 3: Stump capping ceremony for St Peter's Church of England, Maroochydore, 11 May 1925. Pictured, left forground: Rev. Gerald Sharp, Archbishop of Brisbane who conducted the Stump capping ceremony and the vicar of Nambour Parish, Rev. De La Perrelle who assisted.

Image 4: William Tolman and fellow workers enjoying a meal break during the construction of the Church of England, Maroochydore, 1925 

Image 5: St. Peter's Anglican Church and hall, Church Street, Maroochydore, ca 1960

Image 6: Archbishop of Brisbane entering St. Peter’s Anglican Church to conduct the dedication ceremony of the new nave, Maroochydore, 25 April 1970