Backward Glance: Tourist attractions then and now
  • Wednesday 24 June 2015
The Big Cow at the Suncoast Dairy, Old Bruce Highway, Kulangoor, north of Nambour, August 1976

Early tourist information guides provide a wonderful record of the many and varied tourist attractions that have come and gone on the Sunshine Coast.

They contain a wealth of information and advertisements that can hold many happy memories for the Coast’s long-term residents, while for relative newcomers they can be a source of curiosity and surprise.

Some of these attractions have stood the test of time such as the castle at Bli Bli, a replica of an 11th century Norman Castle described in the 1970s as offering  “The Happy Experience”. There’s also the Big Pineapple (Sunshine Plantation) at Woombye - originally opened in 1971 and reopened in 2012 with a mix of new attractions and several of its former drawcards.

Other landmarks such as the Big Cow on the Old Bruce Highway at Kulangoor remain, but these are only reminders of past attractions to see. Built in the 1970s, the 7.9 metres high concrete cow, was a feature of Suncoast Dairy, a working farm where visitors could learn about the dairy industry. Like the Big Pineapple, the Big Cow contained a display accessed by a walkway and platform.

Many other attractions have long since closed and their sites redeveloped. In the 1970s, Buderim advertised a Seal Park and Zoo with two types of seals and a large collection of other animals and birds including koalas, monkeys, deer and emus. This was located at the intersection of Crosby Hill Road and  the Old Bruce Highway (present Tanawaha Tourist Drive) and a short distance from Dino’s Fun Park with its giant model dinosaur, dodgem cars, pony rides, maze and scale model steam train rides among its many attractions. There was also Hans Wetzel's Movie Museum in Burnett Street, Buderim, opened by Chips Rafferty in 1970 and described as “the only museum of its kind in Australia" at the time.

Some may recall the landmark four-metre high sculpture of “Alice” standing at Wonderland on Horton Parade, Maroochydore. The popular attraction operated from 1972 to 1980 and featured animated figures telling the story of Alice in Wonderland. There was the 2/3 size wooden replica of Captain Cooks historic vessel, the ‘HM Endeavor’ - built by the Goodchild family in the 1970s - which stood  in a dry dock on the site of the present Sails Resort, Golden Beach and was later relocated to the Waterfront Tavern at Didillibah. Near Currimundi Bridge on the Nicklin Way, the popular Word of Matchcraft displayed a  four-metre model of the Sydney Harbour Bridge along with the Eiffel Tower and Spanish Armada – to name but a few.
On the Range, the Mini Museum advertised a “unique display of old clocks and other treasures”, while the Model Railway – a miniature railway system - was located in the basement of the "Dome". There was also the very popular Model English Village and Brass Rubbing Centre on Main Road, Flaxton, opened in March 1970 and “designed to be authentic in every detail”.

The list goes on… but while the passage of years and the growing pressure of development have taken their toll, there will there will always be an abundance of things to see and do around the Sunshine Coast with attractions such as the iconic Ginger Factory at Yandina, Aussie World Theme Park at Palmview, Underwater World at Mooloolaba and Australia Zoo at Beerwah continuing to provide “a fun day out for the entire family”.

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