Backward Glance: Picnics past and present
  • Wednesday 02 December 2015
Price Jones picnicking with his family in the front garden of their residence on Horse Shoe Bend, Buderim, ca 1900

Picnics on the Sunshine Coast hold many fond memories for holidaymakers and residents alike. For many, an outdoor barbeque or take-away in a park have replaced the traditional picnic but this simple and relatively inexpensive pastime has remained a source of fun and relaxation for people of all ages.

A glance back in time reveals just how much picnics in all their many forms have been a significant part of the social and recreational life of the community.

Over the years families, friends, schools, clubs, societies and community groups have all gathered for picnics, whether it was to celebrate a special occasion, an annual event or simply to share food and company in the great outdoors.

Like today, the bush, a shady beach front or a river bank were among the most popular picnic spots.

There were the school breaking-up picnics, often attended in the early days by more than 200 people, with plenty to eat and drink and games and lots of prizes for the children. There were the picnic races and the Sunday school picnics with everyone dressed in their Sunday best. On occasions, more elaborate gatherings took the form of a tea party in the bush while at the other extreme picnics were really little more than a “smoko break” while on a job.

Community group picnics were always popular. One such gathering was reported in the Nambour Chronicle in November 1903 when in the early hours of the morning some 26 Buderim picnickers journey on horseback and in a buggy carrying picnic baskets of “dainties” to Frank Guy’s property on Eudlo Creek. They then embarked in two large rowing boats and rowed to the foot of Mount Coolum, where the ladies set up a picnic breakfast before all but three of the group climbed to the top of the mountain.

Traditionally the “ladies” provided all eatables - cold cook meats, sandwiches and salads, bread with a variety of spreads, scones, cakes and sweets as a special treat. Beverages included tea, cordial and sometimes home-made ginger beer and lemonade – all packed in a wicker hamper and laid out on a table cloth or rug.

Various businesses, including bakers and hotels, also advertised picnic hampers and catering services. Depending on the location, packed picnic provisions were often followed by an ice cream or soft drink purchased either from a corner shop or one of the food vans that were a regular site on the Coast.

With the arrival of the holiday season, sunny days and celebrations, the simple pastime of gathering outdoors to share a meal continues to be a familiar sight on the Sunshine Coast.

Learn more about the Coast’s unique history by reading our Backward Glance series. There’s a new story every Wednesday.