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Backward Glance: Royal visits to the Sunshine Coast

Although the first reigning Monarch to visit Queensland was Queen Elizabeth II in 1954, many Royal tours and visits have taken place in our sunny state since 1868. 

Edward Prince of Wales, who served in WWI and was awarded the Military Cross, came by train to Beerburrum via the North Coast Line on Wednesday, August 4, 1920 on behalf of his father King George V.  

The train passed through Cooroy and Nambour, where he received a tremendous welcome and then on to Landsborough, but it was the Beerburrum town and its people he wanted to see.

The Prince had come for a special reason – to visit the ex-servicemen and their families who were trying to make a living mostly as pineapple farmers after the Great War.

The Beerburrum community was full of excitement when they heard of his plans. 

Children of the district were granted a holiday from school. Planned celebrations included the lighting of a fire atop Mt Tibrogargan in the Glass House Mountains, as the steam train, adorned in flags, passed by.

The train arrived right on dusk at the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement, a town with many hardships. 

The excitement and cheer it brought to Beerburrum district was noted in the Brisbane Courier.

The railway station was decorated and a large sign was displayed in the main street with the words “Welcome to our Digger Prince”.

One of the children from Beerburrum School presented the Prince with a pineapple close to his departure time.

As darkness fell, the Prince walked among the crowd meeting everyone he could and with a wave and a smile and cheers from the crowd, the train pulled away from the little country station.

M191350 Public reception for the Prince of Wales in Station Square, Nambour, August 2, 1920
M734164 Public reception at Nambour for the Prince of Wales during his tour of Queensland in August 1920

The Duke of Gloucester toured areas of the North Coast in 1934 and stayed for a time at Buderim House. 

An article published in the Nambour Chronicle on December 14, 1934 reported “the Duke, accompanied by Dr Shaw, drove to Mooloolaba jetty from Buderim House and boarded Charles Clarke’s motor launch Miss Bondoola and were taken across the river where horses were waiting. 

“The group mounted and rode over the sand dunes to the beach before returning later to the launch for the trip back to the jetty.  

“Crowds lined the foreshore for the royal occasion.”

Nambour Road was later renamed Gloucester Road due to this visit.

M867305 Crowds waiting on the Mooloolah River bank to welcome the Duke of Gloucester on his return for a trip along the River board Charles Clarke’s motor launch ‘Miss Bondoola’, Mooloolaba, December 1934
M191351 Duke of Gloucester passing welcoming crowds in Currie Street during his visit to Nambour, December 8, 1934

Another visit was Princess Alexandra of Kent, who Premier Frank Nicklin described as a shining highlight of Queensland’s centenary celebrations, during her tour in 1959. 

Her tour included a visit to the Glass House Mountains as well as a civic reception in Nambour where she arrived by train on September 3, 1959. 

She departed Nambour by car for Caloundra and visited Maroochydore, Alexandra Headland and Buderim via the Bruce Highway on her way south. 

She spent the night at Caloundra where she attended a reception at the Perle Hotel. 

Potts Point was the original name given to the rocky headland between the estuaries of the Maroochy and Mooloolah Rivers.

It was renamed Alexandra Headland in honour of the extremely popular Princess Alexandra.

M839202 Princess Alexandra of Kent at Civic Reception, during her visit to Nambour, September 3, 1959
M868986 Crowds gathered at the Maroochy Shire Hall and Station Square to welcome Princess Alexandra of Kent during her visit to Nambour, September 3, 1959. The Princess was visiting Queensland for the Centenary Celebrations.
P90517 PrincessAlexandra of Kent on her arrival at the Caloundra Headland residence of the Stumm family during her visit to Caloundra, September 3, 1959

If you were raised on the Sunshine Coast you may remember the crowds in 1983 when Lady Diana and Prince Charles toured the region.

Crowds lined the Sunshine Coast streets to catch a glimpse of the very popular Lady Di.

The royal party attended a luncheon and also enjoyed a visit to Buderim Ginger and Nambour’s Big Pineapple.

M867447 Prince Charles and Princess Diana departing from the Buderim Ginger Growers Factory after their guided tour, Yandina, April 1983
M866915 Public reception for Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Currie Street, Nambour, April 12, 1983
M867448 Prince Charles and Princess Diana on a guided tour of the Buderim Ginger Growers Factory, Yandina, April 1983
M868983 Crowds gathered to welcome Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their tour of the Sunshine Plantation, Woombye, April 1983
M868985 Prince Charles and Princess Diana greeting crowds at the Sunshine Plantation, Woombye, April 1983
M863313 Prince Charles and Princess Diana aboard the ‘nutmobile’ at the Sunshine Plantation complex, Woombye, April 12, 1983

A high level of security was evident in the region when Queen Elizabeth II opened the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting at Hyatt Coolum in March 2002. 

In 2003, as a 19-year-old teenager Prince Harry came for a private summer visit to the Sunshine Coast.

Staying at a Sunshine Beach residence, the prince was seen body surfing with friends wearing Australian designed board shorts.

Prince Charles too enjoyed our beautiful beaches when he went surfing at Maroochydore in 1974.  

Both Charles and Harry are said to remember their visits fondly and would like to return to our beautiful region.

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

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