Backward Glance: Celebrate 50 years since the official naming of the Sunshine Coast
  • Wednesday 26 July 2017
The name Sunshine Coast is now well known, but back in the 1950s and early 1960s, when the area was known as the Near North Coast, there was a grassroots movement in the community to find a more appealing and memorable name that would help attract tourists and investment to the area.

Local government, community and business organisations took up the challenge to deliver a more acceptable name for the region.

It was the talk of the town and everyone had an opinion as can be seen in various newspaper articles of the time.

A special meeting was held in November 1957 by the Nambour Chamber of Commerce and Industry and attended by representatives of interested groups from across the region to discuss the suitability of the name “Near North Coast” for tourist promotion purposes.

There was discussion about setting up a tourist office in the Town Hall vestibule in Nambour and the best way to promote the area to tourists.

Cr A.C. Williams had distributed brochures containing particulars of the local beauty spots at the Melbourne Royal Show.

He reported “good results” and found that the Near North Coast was still the most suitable name. Many agreed with him.

Mr Bickle also favoured the name “Near North Coast”, but with the addition of “Queensland” and perhaps “Sunshine Coast”.

Mr R.M. O’Loughlin remarked that: “This area had something that could not be bought for gold: that was glorious sunshine”.

Mr Callow advocated a shorter name and he thought “Gem Strand” was a good one.
And the discussion continued.

In November 1958, the Nambour Chronicle reported that members of the Near North Coast Branch of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland voted overwhelmingly to have their name changed to the “Sunshine Coast Branch”.

This was the beginning of a campaign by agents to promote general recognition of the name “Sunshine Coast” through their advertising in a hope that their lead would be supported by other organisations and businesses in the area.

“The terms ‘Sunny Queensland’ and ‘Sunshine State’ have been long accepted as Queensland’s own and the name Sunshine Coast is far more logical, appropriate and attractive than the Near North Coast, which to the majority of people in other States, means nothing at all.”

There are many people on the Coast today who have memories and family stories about how the name change came about.

One such story is told by Bill Lowcock in his unpublished memoirs provided by his family.

Bill and Mavis Lowcock owned the Roselea Motel in Maroochydore at the time. Extracts from Bill’s memoirs are courtesy of Judy Dawson and Dianne Pugh.

“Back in 1959, I was talking to the newsagent, Harry Atkin, and it came up that we should have a Chamber of Commerce.

“We passed the word around and in due course, the Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce was formed.

“The object of the Chamber was to publicise the Coast and try to improve the tourist trade.

“At one of our first meetings, the name for the Near North Coast, as it was then called, came up for discussion.

“Bob Attenborough, who ran the canoe rides at the camping area at Cottontree, called for the name Sunshine Coast as a replacement.

“He did not coin the name, as it had been used years before, but nobody bothered to carry on promoting it.

“The meeting decided that the name Sunshine Coast should be adopted and cover the area from Noosa to Caloundra and back to the top of the range.

“The Chamber promoted the name and it seemed to take off. However, there was one problem. The Shire Chairman, Dave Lowe was against the move.”

As secretary of the Maroochydore Chamber of Commerce, Bill entered into a public argument with the Shire Chairman on the front pages of the local newspapers.

After 12 months of lively public discussion, Bill took the matter further and wrote to the Courier Mail, asking them to consider conducting a poll to ask readers in this area which name they wanted.

Bill recalls: “The Courier Mail ran the poll and the result was an overwhelming vote in favour of the name Sunshine Coast. The matter continued to be argued for a few more years, but the name was adopted by some businesses.

“Eventually, in 1967, the new Shire Chairman, Eddie DeVere approached the government to officially adopt the name and then this was carried out.”

On November 14, 1966, the Maroochy Shire Council agreed unreservedly to adopt the name Sunshine Coast.

Councillors voted unanimously in favour of a motion that the Maroochy Shire Council offer no objection to the whole of the shire be included in the Sunshine Coast.

Cr DeVere said there had been great controversy over the name in the past, but that this now appeared to have been resolved.

Two days later on Wednesday, November 16, Noosa Shire Council followed Maroochy in approving the title Sunshine Coast for the Noosa, Maroochy and Landsborough Shire Councils.

On Thursday November 24, 1966, Landsborough Shire Council followed and adopted the name Sunshine Coast. It was unanimous!

The Queensland Place Names Board requested all three shires to consider officially adopting the name Sunshine Coast, which was in common usage.

The area was now continually referred to as the Sunshine Coast and would prove to be a counter-attraction to the Gold Coast.

The name tied in with the decision to form the Sunshine Coast Promotion Bureau to promote the district covered by the three shires.

It gave the area a great start in developing a tourist industry, with Sunshine signifying brightness and warmth.

When Eddie DeVere won the election in early 1967 and became chairman, one of his first objectives was to finalise the naming by the Queensland Place Names Board.

The Notification of the Decision to Adopt a Place Name came from the Department of Lands on July 21, 1967, to take effect from August 1, 1967.

For those interested in more background details and to get the full story of his involvement as told by the man himself, “The man who shaped Maroochy: Eddie DeVere’s story” by Dot Whittington is a must read.

It is available for loan from your local Sunshine Coast library.

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 visitwww.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/fifty


Image captions:

Hero image: Maroochy Sunshine Coast Tourist Seminar, Nambour Civic Centre, 4 August, 1965.

Carousel images:
Image 1: Maroochy Sunshine Coast Tourist Seminar, Nambour Civic Centre, 4 August, 1965.
Image 2: Official opening of the Near North Coast Tourist Centre in the Maroochy Shire Hall, Nambour, on 3 December 1957.
Image 3: Maroochy Shire Councillors with Tourist Industry representatives at Crawford Fosters Lookout on the Montville-Palmwoods Road, November, 1954.
Image 4: - Caloundra Gem of the Sunshine Coast, tourist promotional brochure, ca 1960.
Image 5:– Presentation of pineapples to visiting Directors of Tourism from all states of the Commonwealth and New Zealand during their annual conference hosted at Noosa Heads, November 1963.