Backward Glance - 150 years of Yandina - Part 2
  • Wednesday 08 August 2018

Today we continue to follow the history of Yandina in the lead-up to its 150-year celebration being held on August 19.

Yandina is a significant heritage town on the Sunshine Coast, celebrating its early beginnings as a rich timber area and also its role in opening the way to the Gympie goldfields, via the Gympie Road, from 1868.

Yandina provided a place to stop on the long coach journey and to access fresh water.

In 1868, it was James Low who secured the first selection in Yandina.

With the opening of the North Coast Railway Line in 1891, this new, reliable and faster form of transport for produce, timber and passengers changed the region.

Once rail came through, remote settlements began constructing feeder roads so their produce could be brought to the rail head and sent to markets further away.

Blacksmith Alex Meldrum established his Yandina business in 1890 on Gympie Road.

He and others from that era would never have imagined the changes that have taken place since then.

The first police station was opened by Sergeant Crompton when the Gympie Road was being surveyed and constructed.

He was relieved by Sergeant Farquarshon and in later years, Constable George Sutton kept a watchful eye out for trouble as he regularly rode his police horse through the district in the early 1890s.

It was from the ranks of the early timber getters that the first selectors came.

Far-sighted James Low, who was a Scottish businessman, used industry and foresight which greatly assisted the development of the region.

The approach to Yandina from the south, marks an historic place where Cobb & Co coaches crossed the river by a shallow ford in 1868.

James Low died in 1883 while visiting the home of his old friends, the Grigors of Bankfoot House in the Glass House Mountains on Gympie Road.

Upon hearing of her husband’s sudden and unexpected death, Christina Low rode with her toddler Agnes to Glass House Mountains.

The Grigor family arranged for James Low’s body to be brought back to Yandina.

Christina was a stoic Scottish woman, who had arrived in Australia with her parents in 1848. 

Marrying James Low in 1863, she was the first European woman to settle in the region.

Christina continued to run the store and post office until 1891 and on James’s death was left to care for eight children aged between three and 19 years.

The liquor licence lapsed when James passed away and was not renewed.

Nineteen-year-old John, the eldest son, took over the family’s timber and grazing business.

To honour early settlers, some of the streets of Yandina are named after the families who bought the corner blocks, such as Buckle, Fleming, Low, Scott, Farrell, and Stevens streets.

Signs of Yandina’s early past are still seen throughout the town.

When the Bruce Highway opened in 1934 it ran through Yandina following the same path as earlier thoroughfares.

In 1970, the James Low Bridge was built high above the South Maroochy River, ensuring access over the river during flood.

Beside the bridge, Christina Low Park also carries the Low name, paying tribute to two of Yandina’s hard working and industrious pioneers.

In 1997, the Bruce Highway was relocated and moved east of Yandina with a new bypass taking traffic away from the town centre. 

This historic town no longer experienced a steady stream of road traffic through the main street.

Long gone are the Cobb & Co coaches that made their way on the rough historic Gympie Road towards Low’s depot, where the mighty working horses were fed and rested.

The tired travellers and coachmen would always look forward to arriving at Lows where they could stretch their legs and enjoy a meal and country hospitality of the time.

Yandina’s Australian Hotel has a relocation history similar to the Mellum Club Hotel in Landsborough.

Both were relocated on log rollers to their present sites nearer the railway line.

The Australian Hotel was extended in the 1930s, and later renamed the Yandina Hotel.

As one of our oldest heritage towns in the Sunshine Coast, the town centre still has many interesting heritage buildings. 

Yandina has come a long way from the original cattle run and today it is a thriving community.

Tourists come to the region to visit the Ginger Factory with its picturesque gardens and steam train ride.

Opposite is the Nutworks, another tourist attraction for all to enjoy. 

Sunshine Coast macadamia growers founded Nutworks in 1993 and in 1996 a processing factory was built.  

On Sunday August 19 from 9am, you can enjoy a day of celebration, history, family fun and activities as Yandina celebrates 150 years of European settlement at the Yandina Street Fair.

Ride on a Cobb & Co Coach, enjoy free morning tea at the School of Arts Hall and watch the newly produced film on historical Yandina. A display of local history and stories by Yandina’s seniors will also provide an insight into the region.

This event is proudly supported by the Sunshine Coast Cultural Heritage Levy.


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

Image details 

Hero: Crossing the ford over the South Maroochy River at Yandina, 1928
The natural ford was used as the original means of crossing the South Maroochy River after the Gympie Road (Old Bruce Highway) was opened in 1868. It had a firm rocky bottom but even minor floods prevented traffic from crossing. In 1878 the James Low Bridge was built over the ford.

Image 1: Jack Ferris driving the crawler tractor at Wilkinson's Mill, Yandina, ca 1935
Jack Ferris driving the first crawler tractor on the Sunshine Coast which snigged, loaded and hauled two bullock wagons of logs daily from Cooloolabin via Kiamba to Wilkinson's Sawmill at Yandina.

Image 2: Stevens Street, Yandina, ca 1924
Pictured L to R: F. Lembruggen's General Merchant Store, M. Richardson Dressmakers, the Yandina Cafe, Tom Rutherford's Bakery and the Yandina School of Arts.

Image 3: E. & H. Law's boarding house, corner of Farrell Street and Stevens Street, Yandina, 1920s

Image 4: Maroochy Co-operative Cash Store and staff, Stevens Street, Yandina, ca 1925