South East Queensland

TFA’s People & Places is your road-map to the key sites, figures, and scenes that have shaped fashion in Queensland from the late 19th century onwards. In Issue Six we take you to South East Queensland.

Noosa beach, 2012daisy.r

In recent years, South East Queensland has been referred to as the ‘200 kilometre city’, to describe the long stretch of urban development spanning from Tweed Heads to Noosa. Indeed, this region encompasses some of the major city centres of Queensland, including Brisbane, Ipswich (covered in earlier issues) and the Gold Coast (to be examined on its own in an upcoming issue). In this feature, we look at the other important districts that make up the South East, including the Sunshine Coast, Logan and Gympie.

When gold was discovered by James Nash in 1867, Gympie was set on a prosperous path that would make it a bona fide city in 1905, rivalling other Queensland goldfields such as Charters Towers with its wealth and grandeur. The gold rush also opened up the Sunshine Coast, at that time known as the ‘near north coast’, as an ideal holiday destination for Gympie residents, with tram and train access developed along the coast. Beach-side fashions have ever since been subject to the influence of local and international holiday-makers.

Places to Shop

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, much of South East Queensland relied on the major cities of Brisbane, Ipswich and Gympie to buy garments and fabric. There were a few entrepreneurs, however, that identified the need for regional shopping. One was Mr. John Tytherleigh, who established three substantial departments stores, his ‘Universal Providers’, in Landsborough, Woombye, and Maleny from 1894 onwards, offering drapery, clothing, and footwear amongst produce and other household goods.

Nambour retail centres around Currie Street. The 1920s were a period of major economic growth for Nambour, and as a result, the Currie Street retail district had a great number of dressmakers, drapers, and tailors for a town of its size – there were eight drapers at this time. Sadly, many of these businesses were affected by a 1924 fire that wiped out seventeen establishments along the main street. Currie Street was also the place for department stores, which provided for locals as well as country and coastal dwellers. At the turn of the century, W.Whalley’s store sold a huge variety of imported goods, including drapery and clothing, priced at the middle and lower end of the market. Penneys department store opened in 1941 and offered modern shopping over two floors in their concrete and steel building. They provided drapery, menswear, and womenswear, amongst numerous other departments. The Bayards department store, operated by a Brisbane-based drapery firm, outstayed many of its competitors, with a premises in Nambour from 1931 to 1982, along with franchises in Brisbane and Ipswich.

The diverse and well-stocked fashion retail district of Gympie matched its wealth and regional prominence. There were both general merchants as well as fashion specialists in this city. An early draper on the scene supplying fabrics, garments, and hats was H. Harris & Sons, which was taken over in 1895 by a merchant familiar with the goldfields market; Mr A. G. Waller owned a similar establishment in Charter Towers.

Very early residents of the Gympie goldfields were the Cullinanes. Mr Cullinane established a drapery, furniture, and shoe shop in 1868, just months after gold was discovered in the area. Succeeded by his two sons, the Cullinanes opened a brick and concrete two-storey building between Mary and Reef Streets in 1924, employing around 60 staff by the 1930s.

Following World War II, the Sunshine Coast experienced dramatic urbanisation. The 1950s were a time of commercial development for Caloundra, with the development of shops along the Esplanade and a major shopping centre in 1959. In the 1970s, new high-rise developments were permitted in Maroochydore, Mooloolaba and Caloundra, but were ultimately resisted in Noosa. Though the popular Hastings Street of Noosa Heads is regarded as a shopping destination for holiday makers, laws have prohibited any high-rise shopping development in Noosa. As a result, the single-story retail along Hastings Street tend to favour high-end boutiques, and with a strong international tourist market, they have something of a cosmopolitan flavour.

Design, Manufacture & Production

Drapery, mercery, and millinery was the business of Chadwick’s in Nambour. It was established around 1915 and operated into the 1960s, with a large premises on Currie Street that was remodelled a number of times over the years. The Chadwick’s building was also home to other local dressmakers. A range of dress fabrics and haberdashery were available at the store, as well as made-to-measure tailoring and other special sewing services, such as hemstitching and button covering. Chadwick’s fashions would be paraded by models throughout the 1940s and 1950s as part of charitable society events.

The store also offered a unique delivery service to county clients, with a district traveller from Chadwicks driving a ‘drapery van’ to residents within 40 kilometres of Nambour—presumably an invaluable service for remote home-sewers. In the 1930s, the store featured a complete course in a ‘simplified French method’ of dress-cutting and design. Their advertising boasted that the private course would teach Nambour sewers the techniques used in New York, Vienna, London, and Paris without the need for ‘tedious drafting or old-fashioned charts’, courtesy of the ‘Modern Designers’ firm.

Fashion Scenes

Resorts and guest houses provided holiday makers with a social scene as much as a place to stay. Noosa’s grand Laguna House, established at the start of the twentieth century, provided guests with organised activities during the holiday season, including sports competitions, balls, and waltzes. Dancing was accompanied by the music of local house band, the Eumundi Night Owls’ Orchestra. The New Year’s ball at Laguna House featured prizes for fancy dress.

For a long time, beach walks were more popular activities for tourists than swimming, and at the start of the twentieth century, dress at the beach was highly conservative. In the 1950s, Sunshine Coast beaches witnessed a dramatically more risqué approach to beach fashion. Swimming costumes became colourful, highly patterned, and much more revealing, with the arrival of the bikini.

This period also saw the rise in beachside beauty competitions. The state-wide Sunday Mail Sun Girl Quest and the local Miss Noosa Beach Beauty Contest contributed to the Sunshine Coast’s modern association with youthful exuberance and sun-drenched glamour.

South East Queensland has a long history of festivals and country shows, many of which have celebrated locally-made fashion and textiles. The Noosa Show is a major annual event for the region, running since 1909 at Pomona, with a long history of arts and crafts exhibits. Among numerous other festivals in the South East is Australia’s largest annual folk festival: the Woodford folk festival. It began in Maleny in 1987, then moved to the Moreton Bay region in 1994. Celebrating an alternative or subcultural approach to style, clothing and handicrafts are part of the many cultural offerings at Woodford.

Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, October 15, 1931
Illustrated front cover from The Queenslander, October 15, 1931John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 504175
Group of people posing on a boat at the edge of the Noosa River, ca. 1945
Group of people posing on a boat at the edge of the Noosa River, ca. 1945John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 95112
John Tytherleigh, draper, tailor and merchant, ceremonially lighting the street lamp outside his Landsborough store, ca 1890
John Tytherleigh, draper, tailor and merchant, ceremonially lighting the street lamp outside his Landsborough store, ca 1890John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg:204163
Postcard view of the main street in Nambour, with W.Whalley's Universal Stores on corner, undated
Postcard view of the main street in Nambour, with W.Whalley's Universal Stores on corner, undatedJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 253691
Whalley's Store after fire, ca. 1930s
Whalley's Store after fire, ca. 1930sPicture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council
Main Street in Gympie, showing Cullinane's Department Store, 1936
Main Street in Gympie, showing Cullinane's Department Store, 1936John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 245783
Stella Comino at the counter of Comino and Co. Drapery Shop, Caloundra, ca 1946
Stella Comino at the counter of Comino and Co. Drapery Shop, Caloundra, ca 1946Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council
Sale at Chadwicks store in Currie Street, Nambour, 1962
Sale at Chadwicks store in Currie Street, Nambour, 1962Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council
John J. Tyrell, with a boot and shoe display from William Whalley's Store, Nambour, ca. 1915
John J. Tyrell, with a boot and shoe display from William Whalley's Store, Nambour, ca. 1915Picture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council
Laguna House tennis courts, Noosa, ca. 1930
Laguna House tennis courts, Noosa, ca. 1930John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 244876
Noosa Heads beach, ca. 1950s
Noosa Heads beach, ca. 1950sJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 187371
The Sunday Mail 1953
The Sunday Mail 1953
Beach girl Merle Woodward at Caloundra, undated
Beach girl Merle Woodward at Caloundra, undatedJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 250748
Mary Street, Gympie, 1908
Mary Street, Gympie, 1908John Oxley Library, State Library Queensland, Neg: 236573
Group portrait of picnickers at Gympie, 1900-1910
Group portrait of picnickers at Gympie, 1900-1910John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 59612
Family in a garden at Gympie, ca. 1903
Family in a garden at Gympie, ca. 1903John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 159147
Afternoon tea in the garden, Gympie, ca. 1907
Afternoon tea in the garden, Gympie, ca. 1907John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 73097
M. McCormack, Gympie, undated
M. McCormack, Gympie, undatedJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 164436
Lillie Campbell and J. M. Campbell having a conversation on the verandah at Eel Creek, Gympie, 1913
Lillie Campbell and J. M. Campbell having a conversation on the verandah at Eel Creek, Gympie, 1913John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 193262
Hobbs sisters, Gympie area, ca. 1915
Hobbs sisters, Gympie area, ca. 1915John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 195307
View of Gympie's streets with tailor & mercer in foreground, ca. 1925
View of Gympie's streets with tailor & mercer in foreground, ca. 1925John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 231369
Bayards Corner and adjacent shops, corner of Howard and Currie Streets, Nambour, ca. late 1920s
Bayards Corner and adjacent shops, corner of Howard and Currie Streets, Nambour, ca. late 1920sPicture Sunshine Coast, Sunshine Coast Council
Lifesavers on the beach at Noosa Heads, 1930
Lifesavers on the beach at Noosa Heads, 1930John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 38627
Family group on a wooden swing, Noosa, ca. 1940s
Family group on a wooden swing, Noosa, ca. 1940sJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 95099
Noosa Beach, ca. 1931
Noosa Beach, ca. 1931John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 45857
Woman and child on Noosa Heads beach, ca. 1920s
Woman and child on Noosa Heads beach, ca. 1920sJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 38647
Family at Noosa National Park, undated
Family at Noosa National Park, undatedJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 95034
Bathers on the beach, Noosa Heads, 1943
Bathers on the beach, Noosa Heads, 1943John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 203988
Group of friends at Noosa,1937
Group of friends at Noosa,1937John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 188480
Picnic near the Logan River, ca. 1930
Picnic near the Logan River, ca. 1930John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 200223
Men women and children gathered on and around the first motor car in Maleny Queensland 1913
Men women and children gathered on and around the first motor car in Maleny Queensland 1913
George Ryland with an unidentified woman at a Caloundra beach, ca. 1937-1938
George Ryland with an unidentified woman at a Caloundra beach, ca. 1937-1938John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 197674
Group of visitors on an excursion to Stradbroke Island Queensland, ca. 1885
Group of visitors on an excursion to Stradbroke Island Queensland, ca. 1885John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 257790
Group of men and women about to depart for an outing to Stradbroke Island, undated
Group of men and women about to depart for an outing to Stradbroke Island, undatedJohn Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 250948
Illustrated page from The Queenslander December 3 1921
Illustrated page from The Queenslander December 3 1921John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 502690
Australian South Sea Islanders at the Dillybar settlement near Nambour, 1906
Australian South Sea Islanders at the Dillybar settlement near Nambour, 1906John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 23817
Ruth Laverick in Montville, first white woman to live in Baroon Pocket, Maleny, ca. 1910
Ruth Laverick in Montville, first white woman to live in Baroon Pocket, Maleny, ca. 1910John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 5053
Folk from Yandina enjoying a picnic at Coolum Beach, ca. 1922
Folk from Yandina enjoying a picnic at Coolum Beach, ca. 1922John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 202142
Bathers enjoying a day at Coolum beach, 1929
Bathers enjoying a day at Coolum beach, 1929John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 125704
Morgan family on Coolum Beach, 1921
Morgan family on Coolum Beach, 1921John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 40616
Two women posing on a swing, Coolum, 1933
Two women posing on a swing, Coolum, 1933John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 125644
Young girl being shaded from the sun with her large hat on Kings Beach, Caloundra, 1947
Young girl being shaded from the sun with her large hat on Kings Beach, Caloundra, 1947John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 117163
Laguna Guest House, Noosa Heads, ca. 1935
Laguna Guest House, Noosa Heads, ca. 1935John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 85427
Laguna House, Noosa Heads, 1938
Laguna House, Noosa Heads, 1938John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 203891
Laguna House Car, Noosa Heads, ca. 1935
Laguna House Car, Noosa Heads, ca. 1935John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg: 4725
The Sunday Mail 1952
The Sunday Mail 1952
The Fashion Archives' Reading List:
  • 1898 'A. G. WALLER.', The Northern Miner (Charters Towers, Qld. : 1874 - 1954), 24 December, p. 10, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article84861732
  • 1908 'At Whalley's.', Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1903 - 1922), 24 October, p. 4, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article81798103
  • 1924 'Nambour's Greatest Fire.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 11 January, p. 7, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article76534102
  • 1927 'DEATH OF MRS. J. S. CULLINANE.', The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933), 3 June, p. 25, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article21839711
  • 1935 'OBITUARY.', The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939), 7 March, p. 18, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article27506030
  • 1934 'HOLIDAY GAIETIES.', The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 - 1954), 2 January, p. 22, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1156206
  • 1937 'B. & L. Drapers Opening at Nambour.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 10 September, p. 14, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77860494
  • 1937 'DRAPERY STORE GUTTED.', The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1930 - 1956), 11 November, p. 60, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70539643
  • 1937 'Dress Cutting and Designing.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 26 November, p. 1, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-
  • 1937 'GYMPIE'S MOST DISASTROUS FIRE.', Cairns Post (Qld. : 1909 - 1954), 8 November, p. 6, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41825524
  • 1938 'GUESTS' SPORTS AT NOOSA.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 7 January, p. 9, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77869296
  • 1940 'Mannequin Parade at Garden Party.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 22 November, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78030235
  • 1941 'CHADWICKS.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 25 July, p. 13, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78043332
  • 1941 'PENNEYS.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 25 July, p. 11, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78043408
  • 1949 'Business Pioneer's Death.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 1 July, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78372093
  • 1949 'NOOSA BEACH BEAUTY CONTEST WON BY BRISBANE GIRL.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 30 December, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78372862
  • 1950 'Mannequin Parade Most Successful.', Nambour Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser (Qld. : 1922 - 1954), 16 June, p. 7, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article78378378
  • 1952 '[No heading].', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 28 December, p. 6, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page10331159
  • 1953 'Sun Girl Quest goes North.', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 4 January, p. 8, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article98283158
  • 1953 '[No heading].', Sunday Mail (Brisbane) (Qld. : 1926 - 1954), 11 January, p. 5, viewed 4 November, 2013, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page10331190
  • McConville, Chris. 2009. ‘Sunshine Coast’. Queensland Historical Atlas. http://www.qhatlas.com.au/content/sunshine-coast
  • "MR. A. G. WALLER—H. HARRIS AND SONS." The North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905) 25 Dec 1895: 35. Web. 4 Nov 2013 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article79288204>.
  • Queensland Places. 2013. ‘Coolum Beach’. http://queenslandplaces.com.au/coolum-beach
  • Queensland Places. 2013. ‘Gympie’. http://queenslandplaces.com.au/gympie
  • Queensland Places. 2013. ‘Nambour’. http://queenslandplaces.com.au/nambour
  • Stevenson, Ana. 2010. ‘People’s Republic of Woodford’. Queensland Historical Atlas. http://www.qhatlas.com.au/content/people%E2%80%99s-republic-woodford

Published in , on November 5, 2013.