Backward Glance – A look back at Kawana’s evolution
  • Thursday 14 November 2019

Work began on the Kawana Island development between Mooloolaba and Caloundra in 1960. Before any imaginings of this development, the land was a mixture of paper bark and wild wattle trees, grasslands, swamps and mangroves.

Point Cartwright was, and still is, a popular spot for fishing and picnics. It was also a popular spot for cross river excursions by boat, as it was the only means of getting to the area. Likewise Caloundra residents crossed Currimundi Lake to explore “the bush on the other side”.

The first settler, Mr George Knott, arrived in 1949-50 and built a shack at the base of Point Cartwright. He stayed for two years finally returning to Mooloolaba to operate a boat hiring service. Mr Norman Dent some years later built a more substantial dwelling opposite the boat ramp, in what is now Harbour Parade, but it is unknown how long he remained.

During World War II, the Currimundi, Wurtulla and Kawana areas were used for live firing of artillery, mortar and anti-tank weapons. Army engineers built a wooden bridge over Currimundi Creek to service the weapon ranges. 

In 1946, Cyril Parkyn purchased 160 acres of land, which was opposite the fishing and holiday village of Mooloolaba, from the Landsborough Shire Council. He subsequently sold a half share to his brother, Arthur.

The land was mainly mangrove swamp and flooded by king tides. An unsuccessful attempt was made to grow bananas but the land was too light and sandy. In 1959, Alfred Grant bought the Parkyn’s land, which had become known locally as Parkyn’s Croc Farm, to become part of the Kawana Island.

Development in the Kawana Waters area commenced after the Kawana Development Lease was signed in July 1960 by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Abel Smith, with assigners Caloundra – Mooloolaba Development Corporation Ltd., a company wholly or partly owned by Alfred Grant.

Grant was a land developer and 3986 acres of land was covered by the lease. The remaining area was divided between the Crown and Landsborough Shire Council land.

In return for handing over some 1400 acres of council land, Landsborough Shire Council was guaranteed 2.5% of the proceeds of all land sales.

The lease was for 30 years (1960-1990) and cost the developer 151 pounds and 5 shillings per year, including stamp duty. The conditions of the lease included constructing main roads, such as the Nicklin Way and Point Cartwright Drive, building three bridges at Currimundi Creek, Mooloolah River and Tuckers Creek, and development of 400 building blocks.

Kawana “wild flowers” was named by Alfred Grant for the colourful wildflowers that grew in the area. The display of wildflowers at Kawana in spring was magnificent with beautiful stands of Christmas Bells, as well as everlasting wax daises, vanilla lilies, boronias, native orchids, ferns and palms.

Kathleen McArthur was part of an environmentally dedicated band of residents who lobbied the government to protect Kawana’s wildflowers. The group succeeded in having 52 acres declared as Conservation Park on the northern banks of Currimundi Lake, which is now named Kathleen McArthur Conservation Park to honour her achievements.

On August 18, 1967 guests gathered to mark the official start of work on the first canal development, the Kawana Waters Canal. In 1967, Mr Fred Ebner built the first two houses for the Kawana Estates developers. These three-bedroom houses sold for $9700 each. Home sites for sale in the Kawana development were priced from $1980, with deposits on land from as low as $50.

Kawana Estates actively marketed their Kawana Island development in Sydney and Melbourne and in 1978 there was a Kawana Waters Display Village located in Springvale Victoria, which featured examples of homes available at Kawana.

In 1968, Kawana Estates invited all the 41 residents of the Kawana development area to a Christmas Party and Noel Burns, manager Kawana Estates, distributed Christmas presents from the back of a utility on Christmas Day to the area’s children.

The 10.4km Nicklin Way which linked Caloundra to Mooloolaba along the coastal strip, was officially opened by the Queensland Premier GFR Nicklin on June 5, 1965. The project included the construction of concrete bridges spanning the Mooloolah River, Currimundi Lake and Tucker’s Creek at Mooloolaba, in accordance with the terms of the Lease.

The bridge spanning the Mooloolah River was named McKenzies Bridge after the seafaring family who started the adjacent Bridge Seafood shop and built their home and a fishing boat wharf nearby in 1965.

McKenzie Bridge was officially opened on June 5, 1965. A bridge further south, spanning Lake Currimundi on Nicklin Way, had been opened on January 18, 1964 and later named the Ahern Bridge.

In August 1971, Kawana Estates opened its newest development, Mooloolaba Waters to the beat of the Nambour and Maroochy District Band and two teams of marching girls. The day’s entertainment included a tagged fish competition, skydivers showing their skills as they parachuted onto the estate, champion barefoot water-skiers and numerous toboggan races all in the new Mooloolaba Broadwater.

The vision of one man, Alfred Grant, who pioneered “man-made waterway estates” has transformed the coast of south east Queensland into a distinctive urban form.

Thanks to the Heritage Library staff for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images