Backward Glance: Mons – What’s in a name?
  • Wednesday 14 June 2017
Did you know the township of Mons on the Sunshine Coast is named after the Battle of Mons - the first major battle of World War I which took place on the Western Front between the British and German armies on August 23, 1914.

At that time, the British infantry was attempting to halt the German advance through Belgium where they hoped to form a line of resistance.

When Britain declared war against Germany in August 1914, Australia was automatically also at war.

Tragically, Mons is where the first Australian, Lieutenant William Malcolm Chisholm, who was a first officer of the British East Lancashire Regiment, was killed in battle on August 26, 1914.

Born in Sydney in 1892, William Chisholm was one of an unknown number of Australians who served in the British army and fought in some of the earliest battles on the Western Front.

Most of the men accepted into the Australian Imperial Force in August 1914 were sent first to Egypt.

Lieutenant Chisholm was buried far from Australian soil in the French town of Ligny-en-Cambresis.

The Near North Coast became an important fruit growing region including the fertile areas of Palmwoods through to Buderim.

Timber getting had ceased and the ground was then suitable for crops due to previous clearing.

The hills of the hinterland were steep and access roads were nearly impassable during wet weather for the transportation of both produce and local residents.

Negotiations took place between Maroochy Shire Council and local ratepayers between 1903 and 1911 to establish a light railway to run from Buderim to Palmwoods.

The light rail line would link with the North Coast Railway line at the junction in Palmwoods.

Produce and passengers could then be easily transported by train to the capital city of Brisbane or elsewhere.

Maroochy Shire Council obtained a Queensland State Government Tramways Loan and ratepayers who benefited from the transport system were also levied.

Construction of the Buderim - Palmwoods Tramway started in 1911 and in 1914, while it was being built, there was a workman’s camp halfway up the mountain on the western side.

It was decided that this would make a good siding and a stopping place for the tram. This siding and one further up needed to be named.

A public meeting was called and it was agreed at the meeting that each person present write their proposed name on a piece of paper and put it into a hat where it could be chosen fairly and anonymously.

The name Mons was selected for the first and the name Telco for the second siding.

The Buderim - Palmwoods Tramway was in operation by January 1915 and was a great achievement.

The rails were laid through rough scrub country from Mons and Forest Glen which were then little sidings.

Passengers, not only the locals, enjoyed the new tramway and weekends saw our early tourists waiting at Palmwoods Station in anticipation.

At times due to the high amount of traffic, the train made two trips a day.

There were five families living at Mons by late 1915. They were all fruit farmers - Rowlands, Wordie, Vise, Moody and Dahl.

In Mons, John Dahl, a widower aged 44, with a three-year-old son, made the decision to enlist to fight in the Great War and signed up in Brisbane on December 10, 1915.

By the time he joined up, age and physical requirements had lessened allowing him to be recruited due to the necessity to obtain more troops because of horrendous casualties occurring.

Sapper John Dahl, of 11th Field Company, embarked from Adelaide on HMAT A 29 Suevic on May 31, 1916.

While on deployment, his sister Anna was given guardianship of his little son John Addison Dahl.

John Dahl was born in Switzerland and in 1873 at the age of two travelled to Australia with his parents.

John’s father died in 1887 of rheumatic fever leaving his mother to raise
John and three younger sisters.

In 1898, at the age of 27, John became an Australian citizen at Darra where his widowed mother was the station mistress on the Ipswich line.

In 1892, an industrious and hardworking John had been employed in the southern division maintenance section of Queensland railways and by 1899, he was living in a railway cottage at Palmwoods.

He remained a railway employee up until 1901.

The 1901 electoral roll identifies John and his mother Caroline as living on Buderim Mountain where his occupation is listed as a fruit grower.

In 1909, he was a member of the Buderim Tramway group who were looking for a more effective form of transport for the region’s produce.

He married in 1912, however tragedy struck when his wife Grace died in child birth in 1913, aged 33.

Sapper Dahl, based in the support line at Armentieres, was tasked with the job of bridge repairs and securing trenches for artillery.

He was killed in action on December 24, 1916 and was buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, France.

Mons is a town named after a battle, fought far from Australian soil but directly effecting many.

Was it John Dahl who placed the name Mons in the hat when deciding on the rail siding’s name? We will never know.

The name lives on and the stories surrounding it become lost in the mists of time.

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 www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/fifty

Image captions:
Hero image: Mail sulky on Mons Road crossing bridge near Telco, ca 1920.

Carousel images:
Image 1: Buderim Tramway train crossing the trestle bridge at Telco, 1919.
Image 2: Train on the Buderim Tramway between Mons and Telco Stations, ca 1918. The Tramway ran between Palmwoods and Buderim from 1914 until 1935.
Image 3: H. Thompson's old store on Mons Road, Forest Glen, 1980. Thompson owed and farmed a nearby property and sold local produce from the roadside store.
Image 4: Mons District exhibit at the annual show, Nambour showgrounds, July 8, 1960.
Image 5: Aerial view looking east over Forest Glen showing the Mons district and Mons Road (centre) winding towards Buderim, July 1974.