When we think about local attractions and things to do during the school holidays, our Sunshine Coast bushland, parks and walks have much to offer and all for free.
Many of our regional parks and tourist spots reflect the history of the region.
It was the generosity of many early benefactors that gave the Sunshine Coast some of the unique parks and waterfalls we enjoy today, and that future generations will also appreciate.
When visiting the walks and parks it is also a time to reflect on the hard working communities that realised free open spaces for all was a very important thing for a community and its well-being.
A park in the main street of Maleny with a heritage story is the Dr Tony Parer Park, constructed by the Caloundra City Council on the site of the original WWI Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital.
It was officially opened on August 20, 2005 in honour of Dr Anthony “Tony” Parer, an outstanding rural doctor and the longest serving hospital superintendent at Maleny Hospital from 1931 to 1952.
A compassionate man who often rode on horseback many miles to tend to a sick patient prior to an efficient road system in the district, Dr Parer took an active role in public affairs and was a member of eleven local community organisations.
More than 300 residents paid tribute to him at his farewell function held at the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall, Maleny on November 10, 1952.
The beauty of the Mapleton Falls, located in the Mapleton Falls National Park, makes it a special place to visit.
Mapleton Falls was originally known as Baroon Falls by early European settlers.
The waterfall name was changed to Mapleton Falls at the request of local people to after January 20, 1915.
A flying fox was built sometime around 1918 by Mapleton resident Thomas David Smith.
It crossed the ravine on a wire rope for 180 feet and passengers could winch themselves to and fro above the falls for a better view.
The flying fox fell into disrepair and was abandoned in the later 1920s.
Thomas Smith applied to select 155 acres, Portion 58V on November 15, 1889, and became a well-known strawberry grower in the district.
Thomas had a reputation for his inventiveness and mechanical skill and became known as the “Edison of Mapleton”.
Many Blackall Range residents took their implements to him for repairs.
Nambour’s Cilento Park was gifted to the Sunshine Coast community by Sir Raphael Cilento who purchased the property, including the Robinson Falls, from Arthur Robinson.
He then donated it to the Maroochy Shire Council in 1952 for use as a park and recreation area.
Another beautiful spot for a picnic and a place to discover many species of our local fauna and flora is Sunshine Coast Council’s Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
A new Rainforest Discovery Centre was officially opened at the reserve on February 27, 2017.
The name “Mary Cairncross” is a tribute to the memory of Mary Thynne, whose maiden name was Mary Cairncross.
Mary born in 1848 was a passionate environmentalist from an early age.
She married Irish born Andrew Joseph Thynne on June 3, 1869 in Brisbane. Andrew purchased the Maleny land where the reserve is situated in 1902.
The Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a 55 hectare remnant of the subtropical rainforest that previously covered the southern end of the Blackall Range and valleys on the west side of the range.
Mary, Mabel and Elizabeth Thynne donated the rainforest land to the Landsborough Shire Council in October 1941 in memory of their mother and “for the preservation, conservation and exhibition of the natural flora and fauna”.
It was originally part of a selection of 790 acres taken up by Isaac Burgess in 1878.
The Rotary Club of Maleny began developing the park in 1959.
It was officially opened on December 1, 1960 by the Governor of Queensland Sir Henry Abel Smith.
This year, 26.8 hectares was purchased through the Sunshine Coast Council Environment Levy Land Acquisition Program. Located on the north eastern boundary of the Scenic Reserve, it will connect and expand the existing ecological area.
Nambour’s Brookes Memorial Park was officially opened on May 26, 1956 by Chairman D. A. Low, of the Maroochy Shire Council.
The park was inaugurated by the Nambour Sub-Branch of the RSSAILA to perpetuate the memory of Arthur Henry Brookes (Maroochy Shire Clerk 1904-1931) who had started the first parks and playgrounds in Nambour and designed and controlled the park in which the Cenotaph is located.
Mr Brookes had moved to Nambour in about 1902 and he was the founder and first conductor of the Nambour Town Band, as well as an active member of the Nambour Sub-Branch of the RSSAIALA and of the Nambour and Rosslyn Masonic Lodges.
Kawana’s La Balsa Park has a remarkable story.
A four-man crew - Marcel Modena, Gabriel Garces, Normand Tetreaul and Captain Alsar Vitale - departed from Ecuador aboard a 30-foot Balsawood raft on May 29, 1970 to prove that pre-Columbian South American cultures could have crossed the Pacific Ocean to Australia.
The crew spent five months at sea and travelled approximately 8600 miles before they arrived on the Sunshine Coast, where their raft was met off Double Island Point by the chartered boat Capri and towed into Mooloolaba on November 5, 1970.
The raft was initially moored on the Kawana Waters side of the Mooloolah River and then moved to a position in front of the Mooloolaba Yacht Club on November 8, 1970.
To commemorate the event, the then Landsborough Shire Council had the crew members imprint their foot prints in the concrete slab on the Kawana Waters foreshore.
The location was subsequently named La Balsa Park in honour of the raft's arrival and the park name was gazetted in 1991.
Sunshine Coast’s public parks and walks, as well as our beautiful beaches, are a free sanctuary for us all.
Through the efforts of many people who gave their lands, time and energy they are a priceless gift for now and future generations.
Look out for part two next week when we explore more of our region and the historical facts and lands that have made a healthy sustainable region many of us call our home.
With school holidays on the horizon, being in the great outdoors is the choice for many families.
Our bushland, parks and walks have much to offer.
Pack a picnic, grab a blanket and enjoy the day. Don’t forget some binoculars for the kids or nanna to take a look at birds building their nests or to view a scene in the distance.
Early pioneers Agnes and William Skene constructed their home, named Bon Accord, near Flaxton during the 1890s.
The dwelling stood at the top of a section of the Montville-Mapleton Road, known as Skene's Cutting, on the corner of Bon Accord Falls turnoff.
The falls were originally part of William Skene's selection and in 1893, were named Skene's Falls and later Bon Accord Falls.
Mr Skene requested the Home Secretary's Department to have 80 acres of his property, including the falls, declared a Reserve.
The area is now a National Park and the falls are known as the Kondalilla Falls.
Kondalilla Reserve, including the falls and present parking area, were all part of Skene's original selection.
In 1906, it became a Recreation Area and in 1945, the Reserve was gazetted as Bon Accord Waterfall.
Six years later, the name was changed to Kondalilla, meaning 'rushing water' in the local Kabi Kabi people language.
Kondalilla National Park (327ha) was linked to Obi Obi National Park in 1988.
Maroochydore’s Blanck Park was given to the community by a generous benefactor Thomas O’Connor.
There is a plaque in honour of Thomas O'Connor with the following wording: “This park was donated by Thomas O'Connor in the year 1917 upon Trust to erect thereon a public hall and other buildings for the benefit of the residents of the area. Upon the passing of the Trustees the land has now been set aside as a public park”.
Originally a public hall was erected on the site and on August 21, 1921 a Provisional School commenced in the building.
Following the end of the 1923 school year, the Provisional School pupils were relocated to a new State Primary School built on Main Road, Maroochydore.
In 1923, Thomas O'Connor built and opened the Star Theatre which also served as a venue for social events.
As a result of these changes, O'Connor considered there was no need for the Public Hall.
The building was demolished and the land left neglected until the 1940s when a local resident, Adolph Blanck, voluntarily took over the maintenance and care of the grounds.
The park then became known locally as Blanck Park.
Tanawha’s Maroochy Regional Busland Botanic Gardens is another place to enjoy.
It is set amongst 82 hectares of bushland with walking tracks, art works and is an ideal place to have a picnic and walk during the early spring months.
Native plants should be in flower during this time with eucalypt forest trees shading picnic tables.
Some of the wildlife you may see in local parks like Tanawha’s Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens include mammals such as possums, koalas, sugar gliders, and water rats and reptiles including water dragons, goannas and snakes, as well as an endless list of bird varieties.
Snakes, including venomous ones, can be seen at this time of year sunning on paths or in bushland and we must not do anything to put ourselves or families in danger.
Take a wide berth and stay clear just to be safe.
Situated in Queen Street, Caloundra, Ben Bennett Bushland Park was set aside in 1969 to preserve representative ecosystems once widely found on the Coast.
It is a great place for a picnic and a great time of the year to view wildflowers and melaleuca and eucalypt trees, as well as coastal heaths.
Native wildlife can be seen in secluded spots and it is a great place to bird watch.
Take along a set of binoculars.
Kings Beach has long been a popular holiday destination for families who make the trek to the iconic location for their annual holiday or for a day at the beach, play in the park or splash under the water fountains.
Close by is the Sir Francis Nicklin Pool where you can take a swim in the free saltwater pool.
The new Kings Beach heritage murals on some of the picnic shelters provide an awareness of our cultural heritage, natural environment and landscape for all to enjoy.
Life-sized images from Sunshine Coast Libraries Picture Sunshine Coast image database display the loyal lifesavers, bathing beauties and the sand garden competitions in the new Kings Beach heritage murals.
New technology has made available amazing digital tools that enable new ways of becoming immersed in history.
Take a walk through the streets of Nambour and experience the unique and sometimes quirky history of the town by using the Soundtrail recently launched by the Sunshine Coast Council.
The new Nambour Heritage digital audio Soundtrail features 18 stories of Nambour as told by local residents.
Narrated by musician and ABC Sunshine Coast’sJon Coghill, opens a fascinating window into the contemporary history of Nambour from the 1950s and beyond.
Download the free app to your smart phone and take a walk through time.
The walk is a distance of 2.4km and starts just outside Nambour Library.
If you want to experience one of the best views on the Sunshine Coast, Mt Ninderry Conservation Reserve walking trails now has two viewing decks with the second one recently completed.
Mt Ninderry is 304 metres in height and spectacular views can be seen from here.
The walk is a good solid walk similar to Mt Coolum with signage in place.
Platforms situated on the eastern side provide views of Mt Coolum out towards the Pacific Ocean, Valdora farms dotted nearby and the southern views of Maroochydore and the iconic Glass House Mountains in the distance, as well as Noosa looking north can all be seen.
The second platform allows you to look towards Eumundi region and the vista seems to continue for many kilometres as you enjoy the view.
Enjoy the school holidays and our parks, beaches and walks.
There is so much to see and do in this beautiful region we call the Sunshine Coast.