Backward Glance: the spectacular Point Cartwright and its history
  • Wednesday 16 August 2017

During this time of celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast, it is fitting to look back on one of the region’s most popular locations, Point Cartwright, situated near the mouth of the Mooloolah River and renowned for its scenic beauty and landmark lighthouse.

Early newspaper reports provide a wealth of interesting stories of happenings at, or in the vicinity of, Point Cartwright - from missing boats to various odd items and wreckage washed ashore to the strange case of the poisonous cone fish discovered by a young boy and the two young ladies from Buderim who found themselves stranded at Point Cartwright after their boat was left high and dry on the beach and was too heavy for them to move.

Referred to in early times as the “landing place”, Point Cartwright has long been noted as a popular venue for picnic parties, fishing off the rocks and exploring rock pools on the beach below.

Given the attraction to the area, calls were soon made for the provision of some facilities and in August 1926, a jazz dance was held at Murtagh’s Hall, Maroochydore to raise funds for a public shelter shed.

By the early 1930s, ferry boats were making regular trips to and from Point Cartwright, particularly during holiday periods, and it was stated that “a great many did not consider a holiday complete unless it included a visit to ‘the beauty spot”.

By 1935 this activity again prompted calls. This time for a jetty at both ends of the trip across the river, which at the time, was the only means of getting to Point Cartwright.

In 1936, the Maroochy Shire Council granted a loan to build the new jetties and in the same year tenders were also called for the construction of “public conveniences and other improvements at Point Cartwright”.

Further development saw the construction of a harbour light. The funds were assisted by an “impromptu concert” held in the lifesavers hall at Mooloolaba in January 1935.

The Mooloolaba Progress Association also carried out a number of improvements to further enhance the attractive nature of the area and in 1948, they erected a new shelter shed for visitors.

The Progress Association had previously made requests for a “Point Cartwright Reserve” and in 1933, the Minister for Lands approved an area of about 10 acres at Point Cartwright to be set apart as a reserve for recreation and scenic purposes under the control of the Maroochy Shire Council.

By 1959, with the start of the coastal highway from Noosa to Caloundra, proposals were being investigated for the residential development of sections of Crown Land on the coastal strip including a section of land at Point Cartwright.

The decision was made to keep the reserve at Point Cartwright as a public recreation area.

Early residents would remember Point Cartwright and the area now known as Kawana Waters were mainly covered by wallum vegetation of tea tree, banksia, swamp grasses and casuarinas.

As popularity to live on the Coast grew, the development of the Kawana Waters area began after the Kawana Development Lease was signed in July 1960.

By the late 1970s, the new Caloundra lighthouse built in 1967 became ineffective and in May 1978, construction started on a lighthouse at Point Cartwright, where a beacon operated, 14km north of Caloundra.

The Point Cartwright Lighthouse was automated in late 1978 and officially opened on September 10, 1979 by the then Federal Transport Minister, Mr Nixon.

The lighthouse is a reinforced concrete pentagonal tower surmounted by a concrete lantern.

It has a total height of 32.4 metres and was built at a cost of $221,000 and is unmanned.

It took over the role of lighting the North West Channel and is the third light to guide ships into Moreton Bay since 1896, when the old Caloundra Lighthouse was constructed in Canberra Terrace.

With its lighthouse and spectacularly painted reservoir, Point Cartwright is a special part of the Sunshine Coast and during this special year of coastal celebrations, it is a great time to visit this unique reserve.

It is an area offering peace and quiet and recreation, rocks and beaches for fishing and swimming, a venue for walks and picnics in natural bushland or open grass land.

It is a habitat for native wildlife, a place where the humpback whales can be spotted and where scenic views of the Coast and hinterland are just as spectacular as those of days gone by.

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

In 2017 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast. For more information on this milestone anniversary

Image captions
Hero image: Day trippers on the rocks at Point Cartwright, late 1920s.

Carousel images:
Image 1: Coastline looking south from Point Cartwright, 1930s.
Image 2: Adults and children boarding a ferry at Point Cartwright for a trip back to Mooloolaba, 1960s.
Image 3: Aerial view taken off shore from Point Cartwright looking northwest, 1981.
Image 4: Buddina Beach looking south from the northern end of Pacific Boulevard, Buddina,1970s.
Image 5: Aerial view north along Buddina Beach and Point Cartwright showing Pacific Boulevard and Beacon lighthouse Reserve, May 1980.