Bli Bli

Named after "billai billai" - Aboriginal for swamp oak

Bli Bli
Bli Bli Castle on the David Low Way, Bli Bli, 1973. Image credit: Picture Sunshine Coast.

Origin of name

Named after "billai billai" - Aboriginal for swamp oak.

Early history of settlement

The locality of Bli Bli lies within the boundary of Moolooloo Plains grazing lease, which had an area of 1600 acres and was leased by John Westaway, who with his two sons, erected a homestead at Bli Bli in 1862.

In 1868 William Clark selected part of the run on which there was a dwelling house, two cottages, blacksmith and carpenter's shops. By the late 1880s, the district was almost fully settled. Families, including Nichols, Histed, Wright, Wickerson, Nuttal, and Collinson, were felling scrub and forest as well as splitting slabs and shingles for their homes.

In 1903 a significant area of the Bli Bli locality was under cultivation. Corn, potatoes, and other farm vegetables were being cultivated. Pawpaw trees were growing well. Oranges had been grown as early as the 1880s. Seven hundred coffee trees were bearing.

In the 1860s, William Clark grew sugarcane on his selection. This was probably experimentally or as fodder for bullocks drawing logs for rafting along the Maroochy River. A cane tramway was built to Deepwater in the vicinity of Bli Bli in 1912 and cane was grown in commercial quantities at Bli Bli by 1915. Extension of the tramway system in 1936 through Bli Bli ensured that sugarcane became the staple agricultural crop in the locality.

The large number and size of Aboriginal middens downstream from Muller Park mean that oysters formed part of the local Aboriginal people's staple diet before the coming of Europeans. By 1881, oysters were being harvested commercially at Bli Bli. The oysters were collected by handpicking and dredging, and conveyed by cutter and steamship to Brisbane until the turn of the century. Then they were conveyed by motor launch to Yandina. In 1903, the farming of oysters was commenced at Bli Bli and continues today.

In 1913, Blanch brothers planted 5 acres of pineapples and erected a sawmill to cut timber into fruit cases. Eight years later, when there was a shortage of timber, they started a pineapple cannery on the site of the present caravan park and it operated until 1926.

Access to Bli Bli for many years was by the Maroochy River. Passengers and supplies were landed at Stony Wharf from the steamer "Tadorna Radjah" and later from Coulson's mailboats. From 1912 to 1959, the only ferry on the Maroochy River was operated at Bli Bli where it crossed the River to service the settlers on the North Shore. In 1959, the David Low Bridge, with a dual tramway and vehicular carriageway, was opened at Bli Bli.

Bli Bli Provisional School was opened in 1901 and moved to its present site in 1936.