The Wallum was a moisture retentive sandy wilderness where tea trees flourished along the coastal line
Yandina was surveyed by Charles Warner in 1871 and it was known as “Maroochie” for many years.
Timber getting and cattle runs were the earliest commercial activities that attracted interest to this region, followed later by dairying and fruit growing.
Over time, sugar cane became a very important crop in the area as it grew well on the flood plains of the Maroochy River.
The first explorers to come to the area found valuable stands of timber including crow’s ash, white beech, pale beech, pine and various hardwoods, but red cedar was the red gold the timber getters prized most.
The timber getters’ rough camps were isolated in the rugged forests many miles from civilisation and their families.
The Maroochy River provided access into the forests as boats were able to navigate the river to the tidal limit.
Fresh water was also an important resource readily available.
Yandina was one of the first towns on the Sunshine Coast to be settled.
It began as a 100,000 acre combined pastoral lease Canando and Yandina, established in 1853 by English pioneering brothers Daniel and Zachariah Skyring.
They were among the first settlers in the area.
This vast cattle run covered the area which today we know as Yandina, Eumundi and Cooroy region.
The Skyring brothers realised grazing cattle was not very profitable as the feed was poor and the dingoes plentiful.
The brothers allowed their leases to lapse in 1858.
When the Yandina run became available for selection under the New Land Act passed in 1868, this opened the way for closer settlement.
Paddlewheel steamer “Tadorna Rajah” delivered supplies for the selectors as far as Steven’s wharf at Browne’s Rocks.
“Tarshaw”, “Gneering” and “Tadorna Rajah” carried timber to Brisbane and returned with goods, provisions and the mail, which were brought by barge or punted up the isolated river region to the settlers.
Gold was discovered in Gympie in 1867 so gold seekers headed north, through the Yandina district, to the goldfields hoping to strike it rich.
They quickly realised there was no reliable thoroughfare between Brisbane and Gympie.
Whilst there had been routes established via Durundur, near Woodford, and out over the Conondale Range, these tracks were rough and unsafe and they weren’t a quick way to get to the gold diggings.
Early timber men, James Low and William Grigor built a useful but rough track from Dunethin Rock, on the Maroochy River, out to Valdora, then on to Eumundi and north towards Gympie.
In May 1868, Low timed the track as taking 11 hours to reach Gympie by horse and dray from Dunethin Rock.
The government decided that a new road was to be built, allocating $6000 to provide an efficient route directly between Brisbane and the Gympie gold fields.
Cobbs Camp, now known as Woombye, was about halfway to Gympie and became the main overnight stopping place for travellers on Cobb and Co coaches during their journey on the newly completed Gympie Road.
Yandina settler James Low realised the potential and established Maroochie Depot, slightly upstream from Dunethin Rock, on the opposite side of the Maroochy River.
James Low moved the depot and post office from Dunethin Rock upstream towards where the new road would cross the river in the shallower reaches of the Maroochy River.
He also built a hotel and store for the passing trade on what was soon to become the Gympie Road.
James and his wife Christina Low were a substantial influence on early Yandina, setting up services for settlers and assisting early travellers with provisions and amenities.
Low’s store was also a post office.
The Cobb and Co change station was positioned between the river and Low’s Maroochie Hotel which was licenced in 1869.
Low provided chaff and oats for the horses and beds and meals for travellers.
If you only had a swag, you could sleep on the verandah of the hotel for nothing.
Yandina became the first commercial centre between Caboolture and Gympie, and resulted in the permanent township being formed.
Low’s hotel was in the perfect position near the Maroochy River, a very convenient stopping point where travellers could rest on their journey between Brisbane and Gympie.
Due to vast distances, anyone passing through would stop at the hotel.
The family lived at the rear of the hotel.
Yandina Telegraph Office was the first government building on the Near North Coast, opening in 1874.
Prior to the opening of the Yandina Provisional School in 1889, there were just two schools, Maroochy and Fairhill provisional schools, in the region.
The Maroochy Provisional School was established due to the efforts of the Lows and was midway between Yandina and Nambour, opening in 1879 with a good humoured Irishman, William Mahon, the first teacher.
As new settlers arrived in Yandina, the community petitioned for a provisional school.
Provisional meant that the parents of students were responsible for supplying the building and furniture, as well as maintaining the building and school grounds.
Unfortunately when the new school was halfway through being erected it was realised that a mistake had been made as the school site was on a road.
This was soon rectified, a very capable Irish head teacher Deborah Lalor commenced her teaching duties on November 14, 1889 at the little bush school with about 30 pupils in her care.
In 1891, the North Coast railway line and Yandina Railway Station were established.
This was an important change for the town.
It provided a fast means of transport to Brisbane for freight, including timber, and for anyone travelling north or towards Brisbane.
Yandina Railway Station was the first station on the North Coast Line to have an angle track to turn the steam engines around.
When the North Coast Railway line came through, the Yandina town centre moved closer.
Businesses and traders established their premises near the station. Sometimes entire buildings were moved to be closer to this new means of transport.
For example, the Yandina Hotel was slowly moved on rollers and sleds, dragged by bullock teams, whilst beer was still being served in the bar.
A baby was also born upstairs to early settler Mrs Sommer during the move.
The 1871 census recorded 104 people living and working in the Maroochy region.
Only 31 were permanent, the rest being timber getters at that time.
The population was growing and the land was being settled more widely.
By 1884, most of the valleys and lower reaches of the Maroochy River and its tributaries had been taken up for farming.
Yandina is a significant heritage town on the Sunshine Coast, celebrating its early beginnings as a rich timber area and also its role in opening the way to the Gympie goldfields, via the Gympie Road, from 1868.
Yandina provided a place to stop on the long coach journey and to access fresh water.
In 1868, it was James Low who secured the first selection in Yandina.
With the opening of the North Coast Railway Line in 1891, this new, reliable and faster form of transport for produce, timber and passengers changed the region.
Once rail came through, remote settlements began constructing feeder roads so their produce could be brought to the rail head and sent to markets further away.
Blacksmith Alex Meldrum established his Yandina business in 1890 on Gympie Road.
He and others from that era would never have imagined the changes that have taken place since then.
The first police station was opened by Sergeant Crompton when the Gympie Road was being surveyed and constructed.
He was relieved by Sergeant Farquarshon and in later years, Constable George Sutton kept a watchful eye out for trouble as he regularly rode his police horse through the district in the early 1890s.
It was from the ranks of the early timber getters that the first selectors came.
Far-sighted James Low, who was a Scottish businessman, used industry and foresight which greatly assisted the development of the region.
The approach to Yandina from the south, marks an historic place where Cobb & Co coaches crossed the river by a shallow ford in 1868.
James Low died in 1883 while visiting the home of his old friends, the Grigors of Bankfoot House in the Glass House Mountains on Gympie Road.
Upon hearing of her husband’s sudden and unexpected death, Christina Low rode with her toddler Agnes to Glass House Mountains.
The Grigor family arranged for James Low’s body to be brought back to Yandina.
Christina was a stoic Scottish woman, who had arrived in Australia with her parents in 1848.
Marrying James Low in 1863, she was the first European woman to settle in the region.
Christina continued to run the store and post office until 1891 and on James’s death was left to care for eight children aged between three and 19 years.
The liquor licence lapsed when James passed away and was not renewed.
Nineteen-year-old John, the eldest son, took over the family’s timber and grazing business.
To honour early settlers, some of the streets of Yandina are named after the families who bought the corner blocks, such as Buckle, Fleming, Low, Scott, Farrell, and Stevens streets.
Signs of Yandina’s early past are still seen throughout the town.
When the Bruce Highway opened in 1934 it ran through Yandina following the same path as earlier thoroughfares.
In 1970, the James Low Bridge was built high above the South Maroochy River, ensuring access over the river during flood.
Beside the bridge, Christina Low Park also carries the Low name, paying tribute to two of Yandina’s hard working and industrious pioneers.
In 1997, the Bruce Highway was relocated and moved east of Yandina with a new bypass taking traffic away from the town centre.
This historic town no longer experienced a steady stream of road traffic through the main street.
Long gone are the Cobb & Co coaches that made their way on the rough historic Gympie Road towards Low’s depot, where the mighty working horses were fed and rested.
The tired travellers and coachmen would always look forward to arriving at Lows where they could stretch their legs and enjoy a meal and country hospitality of the time.
Yandina’s Australian Hotel has a relocation history similar to the Mellum Club Hotel in Landsborough.
Both were relocated on log rollers to their present sites nearer the railway line.
The Australian Hotel was extended in the 1930s, and later renamed the Yandina Hotel.
As one of our oldest heritage towns in the Sunshine Coast, the town centre still has many interesting heritage buildings.
Yandina has come a long way from the original cattle run and today it is a thriving community.
Tourists come to the region to visit the Ginger Factory with its picturesque gardens and steam train ride.
Opposite is the Nutworks, another tourist attraction for all to enjoy.
Sunshine Coast macadamia growers founded Nutworks in 1993 and in 1996 a processing factory was built.