Backward Glance - Howzat – Sunshine Coast cricket stories
  • Wednesday 04 January 2017
Summer holidays are in full swing and with summer comes the cricket. 

Cricket has been an Australian way of life since colonial times and it could be said it has been one of the cultural activities that has helped define our nation.

Many cricket stories are well documented and in this week’s Backward Glance we tell cricket stories from when the Sunshine Coast was young. 

Cricket was a popular game for most young men of the Near North Coast. 

In the absence of sporting grounds, paddocks were used to play the game but they often proved rough going due to long grass and cows grazing nearby. 

Townsend’s paddock in Burnett Street was where the game was staged in Buderim from the late 1800s. 

Joseph Foote’s property Mons Amri, which had a concrete pitch, was a much more popular place to play in later years. 

Buderim’s Len Sorensen, a prolific batsmen, was a champion player in the 1930s and if Len played, his team would be the champion side. 

He played for many years and such was his love of the game, he would walk to Woombye for a game if he couldn’t get a lift. 

He continued playing well into his 40s and was still too good for reserve grade at age 47.

One of the earliest games of competition cricket was Nambour against Cooran in February, 1894. 

Cooran had a champion team at that time and won many games including the game played on February 17 of that year. 

By 1895, Nambour’s population was about the same as Yandina and Woombye. 

A Moreton Mail news article of 1896 reported: “just as soon as enough men were residing in a town cricket games were organised”. 

Nambour’s fortunes improved once the sugar mill was established and the local cricket teams consisted of strong young men who cut sugar all day as well as sons of farmers.

In those early days of Nambour’s sporting history, Nambour cricketers appeared to be “top of the pops”. 

In 1903, they travelled by steam train to Caboolture to play cricket against rivals Caboolture. 

A news story in the Chronicle in October of that year identified the simple pleasures of an early time when the Nambour Cricket Club broke into song as they travelled south by steam train to gain a sporting edge against a distant team. 

Mirth and song dominated the trip down and some fine bass, baritone and tender voices were discovered amongst the Nambour Cricket Club members.

The Nambour Chronicle reported: “The Nambour warriors’ melody produced such high class and up to date numbers as, ‘Cock Robin, We’ll Roll the Old Chariot Along and Old John Brown and other favourites. On detraining at Caboolture the visitors were met by some of the team and escorted to the back of the convincing ground at the rear of the Royal Hotel”. 

Rain stopped the play and the team made their way to the Royal Hotel where “a splendid luncheon was served”. 

Play resumed after the rain stopped and Nambour eventually won the game. 

It was then reported that the host Mr Holbrook of the Royal Hotel invited the team “to drink his health, which was heartily done”. As well, “Mrs Holbrook’s health was toasted by smoking cigars which the lady generously supplied to each cricketer”.

The visitors had to depart as they had a train to catch back to Nambour. There is no report on the homeward journey or the songs sung. 

In March 1906, the Isis District Cricket Association travelled from the Childers area to the North Coast region and played a series of matches against local clubs.

Landsborough and Mooloolah cricketers were described as “Knights of the Willow” in the Nambour Chronicle on October 31, 1919. 

In the same story, the Landsborough Cricket Club held its social dance in the Mellum Creek Hall on October 24, which was a success with attendance beyond all expectations.

It was also reported “the entertainment was all that could be desired and Mr R McFadden fairly brought the house down with his comic sounds and recitations”. 

Beerwah’s Butcher George Pitt was the captain of the Beerwah club in the early 1930s. 

George Pitt was a really big man and as wicketkeeper he was so big behind the stumps those playing against the Beerwah team couldn’t get a ball past him. 

Beerwah often travelled to Caloundra across the rough roads for a game and played on Tripcony Park next to the salt water creek. 

Caloundra residents at that time included the commercial fishing families the Clarkes and Chaplins. 

These games created friendships amongst local teams that lasted a lifetime. 

Beerwah members and other teams would generally go home with fresh fish for their families after these games. 

Caloundra’s Cricket Club logo is the early lighthouse built in 1896 and the team name is the Caloundra Lighthouses. 

It is rumoured that this came about due to the first game of cricket was played in the grounds of the lighthouse. 

Caloundra’s Roy Henzell Sr, a well-known name in cricketing circles, donated approximately 10 acres of land in 1945 so that Caloundra had a place to play the sport. 

Today that park is known as Henzell Park and some great games have been staged there. 

The first Caloundra cricket committee was voted in at local barber Reg Kelly’s barber and billiard rooms. 

Roy Henzell as secretary wrote to the council of the day, Landsborough Shire, requesting funding for a stand and picket fence. 

A grant of around $50 was successful. 

The wicket was a beauty and the field made a name for itself. 

Well-known Australian players who came to Caloundra for the hospitability and to play a game on the new field included Ken “Slasher” Mackay and Ray Lindwall. 

In the 1960s, a cricket match as part of a full day's sporting program was arranged to mark the official opening of a recreation area established by developer TM Burke Pty Ltd between 1963 -1965 at Peregian. 

Located on the western side of the coastal highway later known as the David Low Way, the recreation area comprised a tree shaded picnic area, a full-sized sports oval with a concrete cricket pitch and dual flood-lit bitumen surfaced tennis courts. 

The facilities were officially opened on October 31, 1965 by David Low MLA and Cr Ian MacDonald, the then chairman of Noosa Shire Council.

Australian administration and players have embraced changes to the game. 

Twenty20 Big Bash League is another form of cricket established by Cricket Australia in 2011. 

It is a faster paced game and is gaining in popularity for those with a love of the sport. Just recently The Brisbane Heat came to Maroochy Cricket Club’s Elizabeth Daniels Park at Buderim where they played against the Hobart Hurricanes in a practice run for the Big Bash series. 

Whether we grab a bat and have a game on the beach, in a park or visit a sporting ground where a team is playing, it is a game Australians love to watch and play during summer months. 

Just watch out you don’t get a ‘golden duck’. 

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images. In 2017 we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast. For more information on this milestone anniversary visit

Image captions:
Hero: Yandina Cricket Team, ca 1908.

Carousel images
Image 1: Woombye Men’s Cricket Club, ca 1925.
Image 2: A Grade match between Nambour and Southern District, Nambour, 1973.
Image 3: Reg Kelly's barber shop and billiards room situated in Bulcock Street, Caloundra, ca 1937.
Image 4: Nambour Cricket Club during the Isis Cricket Club Tour, 1906.