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.
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.
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- 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 Issue 6, on November 5, 2013.