Community day showcases Scenic Reserve’s future
  • Wednesday 24 September 2014
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Another exciting chapter in the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve’s history is about to begin with the building renewal project coming off the drawing board and heading towards community input.

Two architectural concept designs have been developed and will be shared with the community in numerous ways, including a community day on Saturday, September 27, from 10am to 4.30pm.

Sunshine Coast Council divisional councillor Jenny McKay said there was still a long way to go for this project to become a reality, but finalising design concepts and costings and undertaking community consultation were critical aspects to successfully attract funding.

“Both concepts include a welcome and orientation area, rainforest ecology, a living lab and research section and a kids’ education area,” Cr McKay said.

“Another section represents activity in the rainforest between dusk and dawn, giving visitors a full sensory experience of sound, light and visual displays to take them on a journey of discovery.

“The concepts include an area where visitors can enjoy the history of the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and surrounding areas through an interactive digital display.

“Here, visitors will learn about local indigenous history, industry, European settlement, community groups, gifting of the reserve and the Thynne family.

“One of the most important areas is the conservation space which shows how visitors can get involved.

“They’ll be empowered with the knowledge they have learnt from their experience and encouraged to put their learning into practice.

“Throughout consultation, the community told us the cafe was an important part of the experience. Both concepts evoke a rustic charm through use of timber, with a fireplace being a central feature.

“The design allows for a kitchen fit-out for optimum catering. The cafe area offers a welcoming atmosphere, so visitors can enjoy a meal, relax, socialise and appreciate the hospitality.

“It will also highlight the stories found in the centre, provide seasonal information and showcase the efforts and knowledge of the volunteers.

“This area will reflect the community heart and celebrate their achievements.”

Cr McKay said if successful in attracting funding, the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve building renewal project would help Sunshine Coast Council and its community partners better deliver on the Thynne sisters’ Deed of Trust which promoted exhibiting the reserve’s stunning flora, fauna and scenery.

“But most importantly, building upgrades will be sensitively designed to fit in with the look and feel of the reserve and the footprint will not extend beyond already disturbed areas.”

Cr McKay said two architectural concepts had been developed by Maleny architect Norm Richards and Guymer Bailey Architects, closely guided by the stakeholder-based Design Advisory Panel, while the Reserve discovery plans were prepared by Focus Productions in conjunction with local cultural heritage expert Steve Chaddock.

The advisory panel includes representatives from the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve Management Committee and on-site stakeholders such as Volunteers and Friends of Mary Cairncross, Maleny Rotary Club, University of Sunshine Coast, Maleny Chamber of Commerce, Hinterland Tourism Sunshine Coast and Cr McKay as divisional councillor.

Consultation with Jinibara people is in progress and local historians and experts on flora and fauna and natural and cultural values have also contributed towards the discovery plan.

“The Design Advisory Panel is very supportive of and excited by the two design concepts and believes that either proposal would work and deliver on the desired outcomes,” Cr McKay said.

“The concepts are now ready for further key stakeholder and wider community input.”

For further information, including answers to Frequently Asked Questions, visit council's website


In 1941 the Thynne sisters gifted the land to the former Landsborough Shire Council, with the transfer documents stating that the land be held “as a Reserve and Sanctuary for the preservation, conservation and exhibition of Natural Flora and Fauna of the said land for Scenic purposes and for no other purpose whatsoever”.

Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Thynne (one of the sisters) later donated more rainforest to Council and continued a close relationship with the reserve until her death in 1978.  Bessie had a great love of teaching children about nature.  She also approached Rotary and Council to make improvements to the reserve that would better cater for visitors and tourists, and to build the cairn that overlooks her beloved Glass House Mountains.

Sunshine Coast Council is now the custodian of the land and remains committed to honouring the Deed of Trust.  New facilities that are sensitively designed to help visitors appreciate the conservation values and ‘take home’ messages of the Reserve, or to enjoy the iconic views of Glass House Mountains landscape, will further fulfil the purposes of the trust.  New works will be limited to the footprint of the existing building area to avoid any impact on the rainforest.