Backward Glance: History of Local Government on the Sunshine Coast
  • Wednesday 16 March 2016
As we head to the poll booths for the local election, we take a step back in time to focus on the history of local government on the Sunshine Coast.

In 1879, the Queensland State Government passed the Divisional Boards Act. Local Government was established on the Sunshine Coast when the Caboolture Divisional was constituted on November 11, 1879 when 74 Divisional Boards were created including the Caboolture Divisional Board. 

The first meeting of the Caboolture Divisional Board was held on February 11, 1880 in the Old Temperance Hall, Caboolture. The Local Authorities Act of 1902 received Royal Assent on December 26, 1902, when towns and shires were established to incorporate former municipalities and divisions.

The purpose of establishing divisional boards was to get local residents to fund their own roads and bridges in their specific areas. 

The population north of Caboolture was very sparse. There were pockets of people – fishermen along Pumicestone Passage and a small amount of people in the coastal towns with the main population in the hinterland areas.

At that time, roads were in a dreadful state because the timber getters' wagons and the snigging of logs caused major problems to the roads. Farmers squabbled with timber getters about who was responsible and who would fund the repairs. 

The Caboolture Divisional Board’s area embraced the present Caloundra City region, Kilcoy, the Blackall Ranges which included the Maroochy area, Caboolture region in the south and further to the areas of the North Pine River and the Kedron Brook vicinity. Two very large areas, Widgee and Caboolture, were established as divisional boards.
The Widgee Divisional Board had been given its status as a shire council and extended from north of Eumundi to north of Gympie and also included a strip along the coast from Peregian to the mouth of the Maroochy River. 

The Caboolture Divisional Board extended from north of Eumundi to Kedron Brook in Brisbane.

Refinement of the local government system, particularly the 1887 Divisional Boards Act and the 1890 Valuation and Rating Act enabled councils to increase revenue from the rates.

The areas of larger populations were soon pressing for their own boards and in 1888 Pine Rivers and Redcliffe seceded. 

Few would have foreseen the development and population growth which was to come. 

By the late 1880s, the Maroochy district was sufficiently closely settled to warrant the creation of a new divisional board.

In 1890, the Maroochy Divisional Board was constituted, formed from the northern section of the Caboolture Divisional Board and the southern section of Widgee Divisional Board.

In 1890, the Maroochy Divisional Board was mainly cut away from the Caboolture Divisional Board and included the strip along the coast from the Widgee Divisional Board.
It was formed after staunch petitioning from unhappy ratepayers with diverse interests and many grievances. 

Buderim and Kenilworth later petitioned to become part of Maroochy Divisional Board. The original area covered by the Maroochy Divisional Board did not include Buderim which remained with Caboolture until 1898. 

Kenilworth remained with Widgee until 1896. Teutoberg, later to be known as Witta, was part of Maroochy Shire. 

On February 22, 1912 Kilcoy and Landsborough Shires seceded and Maroochy was practically halved in size. 

Noosa Shire was cut away from Widgee Shire and held its first meeting in 1910. 

The first meeting of the Maroochy Divisional Board was on September 24, 1890 in Mathew Carroll’s Petrie Creek Hotel. 

The last meeting of the Maroochy Divisional Board took place on November 18, 1902 and the first meeting of the Maroochy Shire Council on January 28, 1903. 

The first meeting of Landsborough Shire Council was held on February 22, 1912 after splitting from the Caboolture Divisional Board. Kilcoy Shire was also formed on that day.
1912 marked the beginning of Landsborough Shire Council and on December 19, 1987 Landsborough Shire Local Government area became Caloundra City. 

Maroochy Divisional Board met at the Petrie Creek Hotel, Nambour until the erection of a new board office on Blackall Terrace where they met for the first time on November 11, 1891.

This remained the seat of the local government headquarters for Maroochy Shire until 1913 when the Nambour Town Hall was built in Station Square by W Lanham (on the site of the current Centenary Square).

Over the years, several fires swept through the Town Hall and Council Chambers in Station Square.

The first building was destroyed by fire in 1929 and on April 25, 1948, fire damaged the rear section of the second Council Chambers and this was rebuilt in 1960.
On October 12, 1978, the new Maroochy Shire Chambers were opened on the corner of Bury Street.

Due to rapid population growth, Landsborough Shire Council outgrew the one council office and chambers in Landsborough. Caloundra was chosen as the new centre for shire council offices located in Bulcock Street in 1968. 

In March 2008, the three councils of the Sunshine Coast, Noosa Shire, Maroochy Shire and Caloundra City amalgamated. 

Four years later, a proposal was made to de-amalgamate the Shire of Noosa from the Sunshine Coast region.

On March 9, 2013 Noosa residents voted to de-amalgamate Noosa from the Sunshine Coast region and the Noosa Shire was re-established on January 1, 2014. 

The Sunshine Coast Council region has the fourth largest population of any local government area in Australia.

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

Hero image caption:
Edward ‘Eddie’ De Vere, Chairman of Maroochy Shire Council from 1967 till 1982.

Carousel image captions:
Image 1: Maroochy Shire Council 1931
Image 2: - Maroochy Divisional Board, 1898
Image 3: Duncan McDonald and his wife Enid (nee Ward) moved to Peachester in 1917.