Backward Glance: Strike up the Band
  • Wednesday 21 September 2016
Today’s Backward Glance looks at the Sunshine Coast’s town bands and their history.

Bands have marched down local streets for celebrations, events and other important occasions since the early 1900s.

Old country halls came alive to the sound of local bands when dances were held. As transport was limited, dances were organised in towns usually at a School of Arts hall or in a local school building.

Dances with live bands were very popular and balls were a part of a town’s social calendar. Balls were held annually for debutantes or different organisations to raise funds.

Visiting pipe and drum bands including military and police bands have also had a long and successful history in the district.

Bands have accompanied Australian ceremonies, parades, church services and performed at concerts on innumerable occasions on the Sunshine Coast.

Original bands in the district included the Nambour Town Band and the Maroochy District Band Inc.

At a public meeting held on January 20, 1906 which GL Bury presided over, it was decided that Nambour would have a town band. That band is now known as Sunshine Brass and is the oldest volunteer organisation on the Sunshine Coast.

Local history tells us some of the bands played every week when they marched down the main street on a Saturday morning or during special holidays or events.

At certain times during the year, bands would and still do present coordinated concerts with the aim of helping a charity.

These events from times long gone were reported in the local newspaper with the bands listed.

Bookings for dances were carefully coordinated to avoid clashing with other events throughout the district.

There was no shortage of musicians on the Coast in the earlier days with bands advertised such as Wyn Jefferies Band who played at the Nambour Mad Hatters Ball in aid of Nambour Ambulance Centre, Johnson’s Band for the CWA Ball, Thompson’s Band for the Landsborough Queen Competition, Leach Brothers Band of Landsborough, Pearl Hawkins Piano Accordion Band, Mapleton Town Band and many others.

In 1935, Maroochy District Band played at the Yandina Show and the popular Red Cross Ladies Social Club held a dance in 1939 at Governor Wilson’s Currimundi House to raise funds for the patriotic causes.

Music has always been an integral part of the Salvation Army and in 1959 the Salvation Army Band was honored to play during the official ceremonies in Nambour when HRH Princess Alexandra visited the town.

Maroochy District Band led a large procession around the Kenilworth town square before the official switching on ceremony of the town’s sewerage scheme on April 20, 1963.
The sewerage scheme was the first in the Maroochy Shire at the time.

Since World War I, veteran’s heightened spirits have been lifted by the military band or town band playing as they march into the North Coast towns during Anzac Day parades and events.

Today the Coast still enjoys traditional concert bands, visiting military bands and special orchestral arrangements as shown when the Salvation Band played in Nambour on a Saturday morning recently.

Some of the Sunshine Coast’s current bands include the Caloundra City Concert Band which formed in 1995 and is now known as the Sunshine Coast Concert Band.

The long established Sunshine Brass formerly Nambour and Maroochy District, Sunshine Coast Pipes and Drums, Noosa Concert Band and the Sunshine Coast Youth Band which was established in 2012.

This young community band and its members are selected from local state, independent and home school students bringing together young brass musicians from across the Sunshine Coast.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Councils Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Image captions:


Hero image: Friendly Societies May Day Carnival procession passing along Coronation Avenue to the showgrounds, Nambour, 1922.

Carousel image captions:
Image 1: Nambour Town Band at Nambour's Hospital Carnival, September 12, 1906.
Image 2: Nambour Town Band leading the Patriotic Procession, Currie Street, Nambour, September 10, 1917.
Image 3: Pearl Hawkin's Piano Accordion Band, Nambour, 1963.
Image 4: Merry K's Band, Nambour district, 1962.
Image 5: Landsborough's Leach Brothers Band performing with female accompanists, Landsborough, ca 1900.