Backward Glance - Old days, old ways remembered
  • Wednesday 11 April 2018

Times change and the years go by.

People call it progress, but memories of how it used to be are always interesting to younger generations.

Writing memoirs, telling stories and keeping photographs adds to our history and enriches our heritage and cultural background.

What memories do you treasure and share with family and friends?

If you have lived in this region for quite a while you might recall the sights, sounds and smells of the sugar cane industry.

When the canefarmers began to harvest, fires would light the late afternoon skies with plumes of smoke rising high as the trash was burnt off to make it easier and safer to harvest the cane.

In Nambour, the cane locos rattled across Currie Street on their way to deliver the cut cane to the mill during crushing season.

The sweet smell of crystalizing sugar and the shrill blast of the mill whistle were a familiar part of Nambour life for just over 100 years, until the Moreton Mill closed in 2003.

No matter where we come from, our way of life has changed a lot in the last 60 years.

How we live each day has been transformed with new inventions, improvements and innovations.

Before every home had electricity, running water and television, life was very different.

Daily routines continue, but not in the same way as they did years ago.

Keeping in touch with world news and weather revolved around the “wireless”, later known as the radio.

Everyone gathered in the lounge to hear the six o’clock news each evening.

During wartime, it was never to be missed.

The wireless was also the centre of home entertainment with “Blue Hills” and other regular programs affectionately remembered.

Looking after the family and home was a major chore for most women.

Washing clothes took a lot of time and energy, beginning with lighting a fire to heat water in the copper.

When the soapy water was warm enough, the washing was added and boiled.

A wooden laundry stick was used to lift the steaming clothes and sheets into a concrete wash tub to rinse and hand wring before hanging them on the line to dry.

It was a very labour intensive task before washing machines were invented.

Water was a precious commodity and growing up you learnt not to waste a drop.

Most houses had rainwater tanks for domestic use and bores were also an important source of underground water that supplied small towns like Caloundra and Maroochydore and other seaside settlements, long before we had massive dams.

To provide water for camping reserves, Landsborough Shire Council sank bores to the south of Caloundra, at Kings Beach and at Dicky Beach.

Bore water was used for showers, but in times of drought the supply failed and lifesavers would set up a bucket brigade to bucket water from the School of Arts at Caloundra down to the old Metropolitan Caloundra club house.

Some towns, like Maleny, made use of water supplied from weirs where creeks were close by.

Caloundra’s first water supply to residents and businesses was reticulated from the Caloundra reservoir on Queen Street, built about 1965.

The water was pumped from the Mooloolah River.

In Palmwoods, the town water supply was turned on in May 1969.

Reticulated water was supplied through mains laid from the Palmwoods reservoir.

Buildings still standing today, like the Landsborough Bakery, would bring back many memories for those who enjoyed their freshly baked bread and buns.

Bakers and their young assistants would deliver fresh bread to local residents’ homes by horse and cart.

Universal stores, like Tytherleighs in Cribb Street, Landsborough and Whalleys in Nambour provided for the needs of their community.

Tytherleighs Limited Universal Providers, opened in 1894, was a general store providing all types of products including ice, groceries, kerosene, candles, drapery and ironmongery needs.

For 10 years, John Tytherleigh had six packhorses delivering orders to isolated areas such as Woombye, Maleny, Kenilworth and as far away as Cooran.

These deliveries could take up to three or four days with staff camping out in the bush to reach the sparsely populated areas.

An astute businessman, John Tytherleigh went on to open stores in Woombye, Maleny and Caloundra.

He generally had a pencil tucked behind his ear which he used to tally up your bill.

Biscuits came in boxes and sugar in sugar bags – there were no plastic bags at the time.

Everything was carefully weighed and wrapped in brown paper.

The butcher wrapped your meat in a piece of white paper and then newspaper using string to tie it securely.

Sawdust was sprinkled on the floor and the butcher always wore a heavy striped apron and chopped meat on a large wooden block.

The School of Arts halls across the region hold many memories as their walls are often hung with photographs and war records from their past, making them a time capsule for their communities.

Keeping these memories alive and ensuring they survive for future generations is supported in many communities by museums and historical societies.

In 1970, a site in Eumundi was named in honour of Dick Caplick, the well-known local timber getter.

Bob Etheridge recalled bullock teams hauling hardwood logs through the main street of Eumundi and always had time for a yarn.

An old photograph taken in 1907 shows the Prime Minister of Australia, Andrew Fisher, standing on Eumundi Station with those timber getters and early pioneers.

These memories are recorded in many formats and will weather the test of time, as they are documented for future generations to discover.

Today we see Maleny Cultural and Historical Society, with the assistance of grants and donations, busily restoring a historic farmhouse “Glenferna”.

Other towns in our region raise funds for charity and special projects, as well as retain and manage their local history and cultural heritage.

The Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library in Nambour continues to gather and document the local history of our region in many formats, making it available now and for the future at the Heritage Library and on the Heritage website.

On April 22, the Sunshine Coast heritage community museums and organisations will gather to share their heritage with the wider community at the School of Arts in Eumundi for the Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Showcase between 10am and 3pm.

Come along to experience living heritage, with more than 15 local museums and heritage organisations sharing the region’s history. We look forward to seeing you there.

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


Image captions 

Hero image: Moreton locomotive hauling cane trucks across Currie Street to the Moreton Sugar Mill, Nambour, ca 1955. 

Image 1 - Ward's bread delivery cart outside the bakery in Cribb Street, Landsborough ca 1930. The bakery originally had an ant bed lined oven, which was later lined with fire bricks.

Image 2 - Bullock teams hauling logs to the railway yard off Memorial Drive, Eumundi, ca 1912.

Image 3 - Radio 4KQ Brisbane broadcasting from Nambour, 6 August 1960.

Image 4 - George Best's butchers wagon, 1919. George Best purchased the butchering business at Yandina in 1894. He conducted the business with his son, George Jnr, Arthur and Tim until his death in 1946. The sons carried on the business until 1958.

Image 5 - Nambour Meat Hall interior, Currie Street, Nambour, 1960. Proprietors over the years include Hobson & Beale (1920s-1940s), Wally Simpson and Mike & Janelle Sanders (1980s).

Image 6 - Turni1g on of Palmwoods water supply on 17 May 1969. Pictured: Councillors V. Batt, M. McLuskie and Eddie O. De Vere (Chairman of the Maroochy Shire Council), who turned on the water supply at the fire hydrant. Work on the $72,000 water supply.

Image 7 - Dick Caplick's scrub felling camp, Eumundi, 1915. Dick Caplick pictured on left in back row.

Image 8 - Group of Eumundi residents gathered on the Eumundi Railway Station platform to greet Andrew Fisher, Prime Minister and leader of the Labor government, during his visit to the region 1907/08.