Backward Glance: Wild Winter Weather on the Sunshine Coast
  • Wednesday 20 July 2016
The Sunshine Coast is known for some of the best weather and climate in Queensland. This week’s Backward Glance highlights the changeable weather in winter that sometimes becomes a talking point as nature brings us liquid sunshine in abundance. Sunshine Coast has had its fair share of wild winter weather occurrences over the years. 

The Queensland Government appointed a meteorologist in 1866 and a colonial weather service was established in 1887. The number of weather collection stations grew and by 1896 there were 504 in the colony. 

During July, 1889 a cyclone formed near Rockhampton and moved towards Brisbane. On July 18 the low moved east. Gales and heavy seas were reported and vessels were lost from Fraser Island to Coffs Harbour.

Massive drifts of hail were recorded in many photographs taken in Maleny and Palmwoods on August 10, 1916. The late IJ Burgess of Bald Knob claimed this particular hail storm ‘left Bald Knob like a snow capped mountain for three days’.

Bald Knob Hall bore the brunt of wild winter weather once again when cyclonic weather struck the North Coast in July, 1954 and the Bald Knob Hall was wrecked. Houses, shops, jetties and boats were badly damaged. Many houses were unroofed including 50 at Caloundra. The outside toilets fared no better and most of Caloundra’s outside showers and toilet facilities blew away. Hurricane force winds were recorded in Moreton Bay with widespread property and boat damage.

Between July 6-10, 1973 heavy rain fell throughout the coastal South East Queensland region causing moderate to major flooding between Brisbane and Bundaberg. Major flooding occurred in the upper Brisbane River and Stanley River. In one 24 hour period on July 8 rainfall totals of 384mm were recorded in Nambour, 349mm Woodford, 340 Mapleton and 335mm Maleny.

The 1,600 ton empty cargo vessel, Cherry Venture was grounded on July 8, 1973 after gale force winds and wild seas drove her on to Teewah Beach, three kilometres south of Double Island Point. The Singapore-owned ship was actually on her final voyage at the time of her beaching, as she was bound for the scrap yards in Taiwan. The Cherry Venture floundered in heavy seas with swells estimated at 12 metres high, from tip to trough. Continuing heavy seas and wind gusts up to 120 kilometres per hour caused the ship's anchor cable to part and the Cherry Venture was beached. Several repeated attempts were thwarted by strong winds and high tides. The Cherry Venture remained firmly wedged in the Teewah Beach sands where she formed an established landmark. In 2004 her remains were dismantled and removed due to safety issues.

More recently, serious flooding throughout the state occurred in January 1974 and 2012. South East Queensland has had major floods in most months with only August and September recorded as remaining flood free.

On June 22, 1983 many parts of the Sunshine Coast were inundated by flood waters when Petrie Creek, Cornmeal Creek and the Maroochy River broke their banks. That day became known as Wet Wednesday here on the Sunshine Coast when about 250mm of rain fell in a short period of time. This deluge caused wide spread damage and flooding to buildings, roads, bridges and farmland with Maroochydore and Nambour being the worst affected areas. 

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

Image captions:

Hero image: Campers clearing debris from their camp sites after cyclone Annie swept through Alexandra Headland, New Year's Day 1963.

Carousel Images:
Image 1: Bridge in flood on The Esplanade, Cotton Tree, 5 February 1931.
Image 2: Loweke children on the family dairy farm overlooking the Mary River near Lower Kenilworth (Gheerulla), ca 1930.
Image 3: Flood water surrounding houses on Parker Street, Maroochydore, January 1963.
Image 4: Wreck of the Cherry Venture on Teewah Beach.