Backward Glance – Driving days, touring and leisure
  • Wednesday 13 June 2018

Last weekend, classic cars pre-dating 1983 cruised into Caloundra for Downunder Beachfest.

Over five days, car enthusiasts came from near and far to marvel at restored vehicles which may have been long abandoned jalopies rusting in paddocks.

The event allowed car owners to participate in driving events, a show ‘n’ shine and a mega car show.

Perfectly restored and polished vehicles, hot rods, caravans and motorcycles paraded through the streets of Caloundra.

The vehicles lined Bulcock Street and hundreds of people came to enjoy the festivities.

Gone are the days when Bulcock Street was a sandy dirt track in the seaside town.

One of the first to own a car in Caloundra was butcher Charlie Eaton, who purchased a Hupmobile.

In the early days, Sugar Bag Road was the most used road into Caloundra along a well-used track to the lighthouse, where the post office was first situated.  

The Brisbane Traffic Act was introduced in 1905 and gazetted on April 6, 1906.

It enforced an annual registration for motor vehicles (10 shillings) and motorcycles (5 shillings).

The first Queensland car drivers licence was introduced in 1910 but licences were not compulsory until 1922.

The Queensland speed limit was introduced in 1906 and remained unchanged until 1933.

Speed limits were set at 12 miles per hour within the City of Brisbane and on curves, whilst the outer areas were set at 25 miles per hour on straight stretches. 

The condition of roads in Queensland caused the Queensland Government to form the Main Roads Board in 1920. 

The Landsborough to Maleny Road, built in 1922, was the first in our region to benefit from funding.

During the Great Depression this scheme gave work to many who were unemployed.

By 1927, automobile enthusiasts and their vehicles were beginning to take hold.

Examples in this region includes the establishment of the Maroochy Motorists’ Association and the Buderim Automobile Club in 1924.

In 1928, both the Eumundi and the Maleny-Landsborough Automobile Clubs were also established. 

Club members formed regular working bees, undertaking road repairs to improve the condition of roads in the region.

The Buderim Club graveled the worst sections of the road into Mooloolaba.

The clubs ran regular social runs but many roads were not provided with direction signs. 

In October 1924, the Queensland State Government passed an amendment to the Local Authorities Act obliging all Shires and Councils to adequately signpost their main roads.

When visiting motorists made their way into the area, roads were very basic and included river crossings – where travellers drove through the river at a shallow and accessible spot. 

Cars were often bogged and needed to be pulled out by horses or trucks.

A main road linking Maroochydore to the North Coast Road near Woombye was gazetted in 1921 and opened in 1928.

By 1930 the Yandina-Nambour-Maroochydore Road was under construction.

Initially corduroy saplings were laid across the road so cars could travel on the boggy surface, however several sections remained troublesome spots over the years.

The first section of the road from Montville to Palmwoods was officially opened on November 23, 1929 by the Minister for Railways and Transport, Godfrey Morgan, M.L.A.

The road was gazetted as a main road on December 10, 1932.

By 1933, cars had become larger and more powerful, as a result a speed limit change was legislated due to the impediments of slow driving and more vehicles using the roads.

Not everyone loved the “horseless carriage” – there were charges and accusations of furious drivers going too fast and narrow escapes occurring.

However, progress could not be stopped and cars started to be seen more often on rough tracks and roads.

The State Government started the Great North Road, later to be known as the Bruce Highway, effectively opening up the North Coast region.

It was well underway by 1934 and branch roads leading towards the main beach areas and hinterland towns were also built. 

The first road grader owned by the Landsborough Shire Council was purchased in 1935 and William (Bill) Burgess from Glass House Mountains was the first road grader driver. 

The grader was delivered to Caloundra by barge, after being towed through the Pumicestone Passage and unloaded at Andrew Tripcony’s wharf at Black Flat, Caloundra.

Roads started to improve but population growth required more road access to beach side regions, as well as the hinterland where the Bruce Highway ran through.  

Cr D. A. Low M.L.A., Chairman of Maroochy Shire Council, turned the first sod on the Coastal Highway from Noosa to Caloundra on July 13, 1959. The road is now known as the David Low Way.

Due to this period of great development, Nicklin Way, a main road leading from Kawana to Caloundra, opened in 1960. 

There have been many car enthusiasts amongst our locals, including Maroochy Shire Councillor, and later Chairman Fred Murray, and his wife Mary – who were both keen rally drivers.

Their rally car was known to advertise and promote the Near North Coast, now known as the Sunshine Coast, between 1950 – 1960.

Des and Dulcie Atkinson operated and promoted a speedway off Wappa Falls Road, Yandina.

The Atkinsons developed the track after the former Nambour Saloon Car Club ceased in August 1972.  

The new track was classed as a professional track and registered with the Australian Saloon Car Federation.

Evening race meetings were held at night under flood lights which drew large crowds.

Yandina Speedway closed down in 2003.

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

Image details 

Hero - Essex motor car bogged on the road to Maroochydore, ca 1930

Image 1 - Car crossing the spider bridge over the Obi Obi Creek in the Obi Obi valley, ca 1935

Image 2 - Torana motor car display in Williams Motors Showroom

Image 3 - Motor vehicles centrally parked in Currie Street, Nambour, 1930s.
Picture taken looking north towards the Royal Hotel showing business premises including Chadwick Chambers, Collins & Co. and Whalley's Motor Garage & Engineering Works.

Image 4 - Motor cars angle parked in front of Perkins Building and adjacent shops, Currie Street, Nambour, 1950s

Image 5 - Les Everingham's Mobilgas Garage, Maroochydore, 1959

Image 6 - Holden-Mobil performance test cars at Williams Motors, corner of Bury and Currie Streets, Nambour, 1967

Image 7 - Studebaker owned by Percy Board in front of Ernest Middleton's Store, Buderim, ca 1920