QGE: A model of community-driven event success

If there was ever a success story for growth in events tourism, the iconic Queensland Garden Expo on the Sunshine Coast is it.

Queensland Garden Expo

Through the Major Events Sponsorship Program, Sunshine Coast Council is a proud sponsor of the Queensland Garden Expo, which has, since its humble beginnings in 1985, welcomed close to 1 million visitors and contributed over $200 million to the Sunshine Coast economy.

Ahead of the 40-year celebrations happening at the event from Thursday 4 July to Sunday 7 July, Queensland Garden Expo Event Manager Marion Beazley talks on the intertwined nature of the Expo’s longevity, community involvement and significant impact on the Sunshine Coast region over the last 40 years.

A community-driven legacy supported by local stakeholders

Ms Beazley said the Expo was a shining example of all stakeholders – community groups, local government, experts, exhibitors and event organisers – contributing to create a staple event that is embraced by the community.

“The Queensland Garden Expo stands the test of time, and it does so by embracing the community that surrounds it, and in turn, the community does the same.”

“It’s truly a grassroots event, and with the help of local government including Sunshine Coast Council, Tourism and Events Queensland and corporate sponsors, we’ve been able to create a 40-year legacy here in Nambour.

With support from the council’s Major Events Sponsorship program, the Queensland Garden Expo illustrates how major events impact the region’s economy and share community benefits.


From humble beginnings to major event

Proudly organised by the Sunshine Coast Branch of Nursery & Garden Industry Queensland, Queensland Garden Expo is a not-for-profit event that transforms Nambour Showgrounds into seven hectares of gardening paradise each year.

“The event was conceived by a group of Sunshine Coast Nursery Industry people in 1985 who wanted to share their love of gardening and knowledge with local gardeners, and has grown year-on-year to the gardener’s extravaganza our visitors travel far and wide for,” Ms Beazley says.

“Back in 1985, our very first event was a one-day affair, featuring 30 exhibitors, 300 visitors, five workshops, and a ‘Plant Clinic’, where visitors can get expert advice on any gardening question - this remains one of the Expo’s most popular features. Fueled by the dedication of our passionate volunteers, this humble beginning evolved over the years into the extraordinary event it is today.”

“The Expo wouldn’t be possible without the many volunteer groups that support us each year, including local permaculture and gardening groups, as well as all the community groups including Rotary, Lions Apex Scouts, Men’s Sheds and Apex, for many of which the Expo is the primary fundraising event each year. Dedicated volunteers and local groups play a crucial role in the event's success, contributing their hard work and enthusiasm.”

The community spirit at the Expo is palpable. Marion emphasized that the 40-year celebration is a call out for locals, acknowledging the essential support of the Sunshine Coast community.

Sponsorship accelerates growth

Today, the economic impact of the Expo is significant. Each year, it brings in over 40,000 visitors, with 65 per cent travelling from outside the region. This influx results in a considerable increase in trade for local businesses across the Coast, including hotels, restaurants, and retail.

“We estimate that the Queensland Garden Expo injects more than $11 million into the Sunshine Coast economy annually over the three-day event,” Ms Beazley said.

“When the Council started its sponsorship support in 2004, we could amplify what we were doing to the national radar and now, we have visitors and participants coming from all states of Australia and New Zealand.

“This year, as part of our 40th celebrations the program will expand to a four-day event and we expect this will further increase the positive impacts on the local economy with visitors staying longer and spending more in the region.”

Since its inception, the Expo has donated over $1.5 million to local community groups. Additionally, the Expo has delivered over $200 million in direct economic benefit to the region and invested $1.8 million in promoting the region and attracting visitors.

“With the support of corporate sponsors and the Sunshine Coast Council, and subsequently Tourism and Events Queensland, we’ve been able to grow the Queensland Garden Expo to the Sunshine Coast’s biggest annual event. All of our stakeholders have fully come on board and helped grow the Expo from a grass-roots event to the next level and created an experience at Nambour Showgrounds that is truly iconic.”

“And with such a cult following and strong sense of community, Australia’s best gardening speakers can’t wait to join us each year with many saying this event is a highlight on their annual calendar.”


Promoting Sustainable Living

With Australia’s largest gardening speaker program as a drawcard – headlined by the likes of Costa Georgiadis, Sophie Thomson, Jerry Coleby-Williams and Phil Dudman, the Expo also serves as a platform for promoting sustainable gardening and environmental awareness.

With over 150 free lectures and demonstrations, people of all ages and skill levels learn from top gardening experts, enriching the community and encouraging innovation.

“The Expo’s continuous growth in size and attendance numbers over 40 years underscores its enduring relevance,” Ms Beazley said.

It’s clear that what started as a vision in 1985 remains as vital and exciting as ever and in fact, now has appeal to a far broader demographic than it did in the early days.”



Sunshine Coast Council acknowledges the Sunshine Coast Country, home of the Kabi Kabi peoples and the Jinibara peoples, the Traditional Custodians, whose lands and waters we all now share. We wish to pay respect to their Elders – past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the important role First Nations people continue to play within the Sunshine Coast community.

About us

Our Sunshine Coast is a free community website proudly produced by Sunshine Coast Council.


© OurSC, Our Sunshine Coast