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HomeHeritageBackward GlanceBACKWARD GLANCE: Nambour Chelsea Flower Show

BACKWARD GLANCE: Nambour Chelsea Flower Show

The first Chelsea Flower Show was held in Nambour on October 25, 1957. 

The Red Cross Chelsea Flower Show Committee had formed in Nambour in 1957 and held their first two flower shows in the Digger’s Hall in Howard Street, Nambour. 

The early shows were very popular and due to their success the Chelsea Flower Show then moved to the Methodist Church Hall while the Civic Hall was under construction.

Tremendous interest was reported in the local paper with the committee advising there were many enquiries in the late 1950s. The show inevitably grew to become one of the gardening event highlights of the year in South East Queensland, attracting crowds from far and wide.

Above images: Chelsea Flower Show held in the Civic Hall, Nambour in 1965.

In 1977 Nambour Chelsea Flower Show turned 21. Chelsea President Mrs Rowena Kittle and her committee chose ’21 Today’ as the theme. No such celebration would have been complete without a feast and the band of willing workers created just that. 

There was an authentic look of party fare and table settings in the Nambour Civic Hall. Although the food looked like the real thing everything was made from materials gathered from the garden or native scrublands. There was even a three-tiered birthday cake standing over a metre tall made entirely from bark painted pink decorated with Rhodes grass stems and apple seeds. 

That year’s show attendance was a great success – over 7,500 visitors attended and raised $7000 for the Red Cross. 

Red Cross display at the annual Chelsea Flower Show, Nambour, ca 1999.

During its first 21 years the Chelsea Flower Show had raised close to $50,000. 

A spectacular display was among the highlights of the Chelsea Flower Show held in the Nambour Showground pavilion on September 7-10, 1988, marking the Bicentenary of Australia by using ‘Nature’s floral gifts for raw materials’. 

Poster advertising the ‘Special Bicentennial Chelsea Flower Show Time’, Nambour Showgrounds Pavilion, 7 to 10 September 1988.

Nambour Chelsea Committee selected the theme ‘The First Fleet in Flowers’ and recreated the events of 1788 using a variety of flora, including plants, flowers, grasses and bark as their raw materials. 

A four-metre-high abbey was one of several scenes relating to England. It was constructed from Tea Tree bark and banana trash with stained glass windows made from pressed flower petals. 

From those early beginnings and background stories of the Chelsea Flower Show Nambour now hosts the Queensland Garden Expo, one of Queensland’s largest and most celebrated gardening events.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library and Picture Sunshine Coast.

Top image: ‘Magnificent Maroochy’ Flower Show presented by the Nambour Chelsea Committee, Civic Hall, Nambour, 1990.

Bottom images – left to right: 1) Cover of brochure for ‘Colour: A Floral Extravaganza’ presented by Nambour Chelsea Committee, Nambour, September 1985. 2) Westminster Abbey display at the show presented by the Nambour Chelsea Committee, Nambour, 1988. 3) Red Cross Chelsea Flower Show at the Civic Hall, Nambour, 1979.

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