Backward Glance - What was that building used for?
  • Wednesday 27 February 2019

How many times has your attention been drawn to an old building and you’ve wondered what it was used for?

The former Maroochydore Ambulance Station in Sixth Avenue, Maroochydore is one such building.

In 1924, a building that housed the first Maroochydore Ambulance, and the Life Saving Club, was erected on the site of the present Maroochydore Life Saving Club House.

It was a two-storey hardwood building and was officially opened by Sir Matthew Nathan on November 3, 1924.

It comprised of four rooms on the ground floor, an ambulance room, bathroom, reel room and large mess room.

A stairway led to the top storey which contained a lookout and a large room.

The support for the service was so great that when the ambulance and lifesaving club opened, more than 500 people attended.

In 1930 a sub-centre was established at Maroochydore and the land, and original building, was donated by the Low family.

The first vehicle was a Model “A” Ford.

In 1937, the Land Administration Board granted an allotment of land in Maroochydore as a reserve for ambulance purposes. 

A house and furnishings were purchased from J & J Lowe for 254 pounds, 16 shillings and tuppence to replace the earlier station. 

The house was moved from Wharf Street to the Main Beach Road (later renamed Sixth Avenue) site by Mr Vic Perren.

The Minister for Health and Home Affairs, Mr E M Hanlon, officially opened the new building in December 1937. 

In his speech, he said that there was a need for more publicity of the beauties and health-giving properties of the North Coast resorts.

The first ambulance bearer at the sub-centre was Alec Myers, who later became Superintendent at Maleny Centre.

The Honorary Bearer was Mr Ted Hungerford, who was appointed to the Nambour District on September 13, 1929. 

Mr Ted Hungerford made history when he was presented in 1991 with the first 60 years Honorary Ambulance Service Award ever bestowed in Queensland.

Mr Hungerford gave long and distinguished service to the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade. 

He encountered many incidents during his service. You can listen to his oral history on the Heritage Library website.  

When asked how he treated a snakebite, Mr Hungerford said the usual treatment at the time was to wash the site thoroughly, apply a ligature and lance the bite.

However this treatment was difficult when his brother-in-law’s foxy dog, Tim, was bitten on the face by a snake.

He made comment that we can’t put a ligature around his neck, but we can try the brandy.

Ted got an egg-cup full of brandy diluted with water and poured it down the dog’s throat.

Later, another dose was given but regretfully, it looked like there was little hope. 

Tim was placed on a bale of wool and his owner went home sadly as the little dog was his only companion. 

Next morning, expecting the worst, Ted went to check on the dog, he saw an ear pop up and then the little dog jumped off the bale of wool and ran around, staggering a bit, but full of life.

On August 13, 1959, approval was granted for Maroochydore sub-centre to be manned 24 hours a day.  The old building at this stage needed replacing.

There is no evidence that any maintenance was ever done to this building as it was only used as a temporary sub-centre during holiday periods until 1959.

A sub-committee was formed which included A Aldridge, A Wilkinson, W Lowcock, J Neil, M Azar and Mrs M Dalley. 

The members of the committee changed, but over the following two years, 3,300 pounds was raised towards a new building through paper collection and various social functions.

One such function was a water ski carnival, organised as a prelude to the Queensland Water Ski Championships at the Cod Hole January 30-31, 1960. 

Headlines read, “Thrills and Spills Guaranteed to delight the large crowds at the Cod Hole, Maroochydore on New Year’s Day.” 

In December 1961, a report in the Nambour Chronicle said one of the most important steps forward in the history of Maroochydore, was when the Premier, Mr Nicklin officially opened the new ambulance sub-centre in Sixth Avenue, Cotton Tree. 

Bearer Stan Potts of Nambour was appointed superintendent at the wish of the local committee. 

The building had cost eight thousand five hundred pounds. It was a two-storey building with a besser brick construction on the ground floor and chamferboard on the upper floor. 

The top floor included a residence for the permanent officer in charge, and a casualty room, office, store room, bearer’s room and a garage for ambulance cars occupied the ground floor. 

It served an area covering Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and Buderim.

The Station closed in 2000 and a new Ambulance Centre for the Sunshine Coast was officially opened in North Buderim in 2001.

The Maroochydore Station was subsequently renovated and converted into residential accommodation. 

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the story and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.


Image details 

Hero image – QATB Sub-Centre building at Maroochydore, August 1960, (Maroochydore Advertiser, August 1960)

Image 1 – Ambulance Centre, Sixth Avenue, Maroochydore, 2007.

Image 2 Maroochydore District Ambulance, ca 1945. 

Image 3 – Maroochydore Sub-Centre of the QATB, Maroochydore, ca 1937. L to R in foreground: Ted Hungerford (Honorary Bearer), Policeman (centre) and Alec Myers (Bearer) by Model A Ford. H. Low (on veranda). The Sub-Centre was established in 1937 in Main Beach Road (later named Six Avenue).

Image 4 – Official Opening of the Lifesaving Clubhouse and Ambulance Centre at Maroochydore, 3 November 1924. The two storey hardwood building was officially opened by Sir Matthew Nathan. It was erected on the site of the present Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club House for the double purpose of housing the Ambulance Transport Brigade and the Life Saving Club.

Image 5 – Water skiing at the Cod Hole on the Maroochy River, Maroochydore, 1960.

Image 6 – QATB presentation of a 40-year service medal to Nambour honorary ambulance bearer, E.W. (Ted) Hungerford, 8 January 1976. Pictured L to R: Ted Hungerford, Sir Douglas Fraser (President of Queensland QATB), Tom Knight (Nambour Ambulance Superintendent) and J. Moloney (Chairman of the Nambour Branch of the QATB).

Image 7  Early motor ambulance carrying a two wheeled covered stretcher 1910-1920. (John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland).