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For other uses, see Maroochydore (disambiguation).
Sunshine CoastQueensland
View of Maroochydore
Population 47,645 (2011 census)[1]
 • Density 858.5/km2 (2,223.4/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 4558
Area 55.5 km2 (21.4 sq mi)
Location 104 km (65 mi) from Brisbane
LGA(s) Sunshine Coast Region
State electorate(s) Maroochydore, Buderim, Kawana, Nicklin
Federal Division(s) Fairfax, Fisher
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
25.1 °C
77 °F
15.8 °C
60 °F
1,310.6 mm
51.6 in
Localities around Maroochydore:
Bli Bli
Pacific Paradise
Twin Waters Coral Sea
Maroochydore Coral Sea
Buderim Alexandra Headland Coral Sea

Maroochydore is an urban centre on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. At the 2011 Australian Census the urban area recorded a population of 47,645.[1]

Maroochydore is a major commercial area of the Sunshine Coast with most shopping precincts located in the central business district. It is home to the Sunshine Plaza shopping centre and the Sunshine Coast's major bus interchange for TransLink services on Sunshine Coast. Maroochydore is also a venue of major surf sport carnivals, and is a popular holiday point from which to travel the rest of Queensland.

The name Maroochydore comes from the Aboriginal indigenous Yuggera language word 'Muru-kutchi', meaning red-bill: the name of the black swan, commonly seen in the area.

Maroochydore is the sixth town mentioned in the original (Australian) version of the song "I've Been Everywhere".

The town of Maroochydore was subdivided from the Cotton Tree reserve by Surveyor Thomas O'Connor in 1903. The land was acquired from William Pettigrew who had a timber depot at what is now Wharf St.


Fish haul, 1907

The name "Maroochy" comes from a local Aboriginal legend. It tells how Ninderry, a rival from another clan, stole a beautiful young woman called Maroochy from Coolum, the man whom she was to marry.

When Coolum rescued his bride by stealth, Ninderry chased them. He caught up with them, and, throwing a boomerang, succeeded in knocking off Coolum's head, which rolled into the sea and is represented today by Mudjimba Island. His body is represented by Mount Coolum. For his treacherous attack, Ninderry was turned into stone by the wrathful gods.

Maroochy fled inland, where she wept so copiously that her tears flowed down the mountain to form the Maroochy River.

The first inhabitants of the Maroochy district were the Aboriginal people of the Gubbi Gubbi language group, which consisted of a number of tribes including the Nalbo, Gubbi Gubbi, Dallambara and Undanbi.

For perhaps as many as 20,000 years they hunted the ranges, fished the rivers and gathered seafood from the ocean. The burning of the countryside at appropriate times was a regular practice. Every third year, hundreds of Aboriginal people travelled to the Blackall Range for feasting on bunya nuts, exchanging goods, initiation ceremonies, organising fights, performing corroborees and unifying their culture.

The Aboriginal people had no central government. The basic unit of society was the clan of perhaps seventy people, owning their homeland and governing themselves. A “tribe” was a group of clans who spoke a common language or dialect, and considered themselves to be part of a distinct cultural or ceremonial group, but who did not acknowledge a common leader, e.g. the Gubbi Gubbi language group included the Nalbo, Gubbi Gubbi, Dallambara and Undanbi tribes.

By the time Europeans came to the Sunshine Coast, the tribes had formal distinct territories with clearly defined boundaries. Tribal boundaries were often marked by scarred trees along the sides of the pathways. There was a network of Aboriginal pathways across the Sunshine Coast - the main one ran from Beerburrum to Cooran and the North Coast railway line was later built alongside it. Undanbi territory lay to the East and Nalbo to the west of the pathway.

With the coming of Europeans, the local Aboriginal people could no longer pursue their nomadic way of life and progressively lost the use of their resource areas.

In 1823, convict castaways Richard Parsons and John Finnegan were “adopted” by a Brisbane Aboriginal tribal group, and travelled through Coolum with them.

In 1824, Europeans settled Brisbane.

Andrew Petrie during his 1842 exploration of the coast gave the name Maroochydore to the area. It was derived from the word "murukutchi-dha" in the language of the Brisbane River Aboriginal people who accompanied Petrie on his exploration. It literally means "the place of the red bills" that is the black swans.

Governor Gipps, stimulated by Petrie's exploration, proposed the Bunya Proclamation of 1842. "It having been represented to the Governor that a district exists to the Northward of Moreton Bay, in which a fruit-bearing Tree abounds, called Bunya, or Banya Bunya, and that the Aborigines from considerable distances resort at certain times of the year to this District for the purpose of eating the fruit of the said Tree: - His Excellency is pleased to direct that no Licences be granted for the occupation of any Lands within the said District in which the Bunya or Banya Bunya Tree is found. And notice is hereby given that the several Crown Commissioners in the New England and Moreton Bay Districts have been instructed to remove any person who may be in the unauthorised occupation of Land whereon the said Bunya or Banya Bunya Trees are to be found. His Excellency has also directed that no Licences to cut Timber be granted within the said Districts."

The effect of the Proclamation was to create an Aboriginal reserve from near Mooloolah, into the Blackall Ranges, to the North Maroochy River. As a result, no grazing licences and few timber licences were granted for the majority of the Maroochy District. This prevented settlement or the granting of cattle or timber licenses in the Bunya Country which covered much of the Maroochy district.

In 1852, six crew members of shipwrecked barque “Thomas King” passed through Coolum while attempting to reach Brisbane. They were continually harassed by Aboriginal people. Only two crew members reached Brisbane alive. Possibly this incident hastened official resolve to settle coastal areas to the north of Brisbane.

In 1859 Queensland separated from New South Wales to become an independent colony.

In 1860, the unoccupied Crown Lands occupation Act was one of the first Acts passed by Queensland Parliament. It repealed Governor Gipps’ 1842 Bunya Proclamation and provided for squatters’ and timbergetters’ licences. In 1862 Tom Petrie explored the coastal area for timber resources.

Due to the perilous nature of the Maroochy River bar it proved too hazardous for shipping. In 1864, Brisbane sawmill owner, William Pettigrew, established a depot and wharf at Mooloolaba (originally called Mooloolah Heads).

During the 1860s, there was a massacre of Aboriginal people at Murdering Creek, Lake Weyba.

In 1865, the existence of a Bora Ring on private property along Yandina Creek was known to Europeans.

Camping, 1932
Cotton Tree Post Office

Twenty years on, in 1884, Pettigrew transferred his activities to Maroochydore. The area appears to have been mainly used for grazing cattle and has a landing place for timber rafted down the River. That same year, Pettigrew built the first house at Maroochydore. The house was occupied by an employee, Hamilton Muirhead. Pettigrew opened a sawmill on the riverbank in 1891, it was at this time a post office was opened too. Pettigrew continued to run his steamers "Tadorna Radja" and "Tarshaw" in the Maroochy River. The "Gneering" which had also serviced the river had been wrecked on the Maroochy River bar. The steamer was towed to Goat Island and left there as a wreck.

Aboriginal people were moved to reserves. In 1897, the Aboriginal Protection and Restriction of the Sale of Opium Act was passed which legalised the removal of Aboriginal people from white settlements. Many of those living in the Maroochy area were resettled on Fraser Island (but would later move to Cherbourg).That legislation applied until 1965.

In 1898, Pettigrew closed his mill and went into voluntary liquidation. The mill was reopened and operated by James Campbell & Sons until 1903. The town of Maroochydore still did not exist throughout this time, however, for several years hinterland residents had visited the area for holidays and fishing trips.

Thomas O'Connor, a surveyor, purchased all of Pettigrew's land in the Marrochydore area in 1903. The land was subdivided and portioned into allotments.

In 1905, the Barambah Aboriginal Settlement, near Cherbourg, was established at Murgon. Most of the remaining Maroochy indigenous population was removed to Cherbourg.

The first land sale was held in July 1908. This marked the beginning of the development of Maroochydore as a seaside resort.

Maroochydore as we know today began to emerge in 1912. This emergence began with opening of the first Coastal hotel and a regular mail boat service to Yandina. Following this, in 1917, a boat and tram service operated to Nambour. In 1916, one of Queensland's first surf life saving clubs was formed at Maroochydore.[2] By 1920, the permanent population reached seventy and during the following decade it had grown enough to necessitate schools, churches, business houses, a post office and a bitumen main road.

Maroochydore Post Office opened on 4 October 1922 (a receiving office had been open from 1891 until 1898, and from 1916).[3]

Horton Park Golf Club is in Maroochydore. The club will be relocating to Bli Bli in May 2015 and changing names to Maroochy River Golf Club.[4]

Heritage listings[edit]

Cotton Tree has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:


Maroochydore apartments, 2006

Maroochydore is not strictly defined, but the boundary used by Sunshine Coast Regional Council (formerly the Maroochy Shire) includes a region from the southern boundary of Sunshine Coast Airport to the Mooloolah River at Mooloolaba and Kawana Way. This corresponds to the historic Australian Bureau of Statistics urban centres of Maroochydore–Mooloolaba and Mudjimba. The central business district (CBD) for the area is located on Horton Parade, Maroochydore.

The Maroochydore urban centre consists of Alexandra Headland, part of Bli Bli, Buderim (section within about one km of Sunshine Motorway), Cotton Tree (Australia Post 4558), Kuluin, Maroochydore, Maroochy Waters, Maroochy River, Mooloolaba, Mountain Creek, Mudjimba, Pacific Paradise and Twin Waters

The current ASGC, applicable to the 2001 and 2006 censuses, has placed all of Buderim and Mountain Creek under the Buderim SLA.

Maroochy Waters[edit]

Maroochy Waters is a waterfront, residential estate located in Maroochydore adjacent to the Maroochy River in Queensland, Australia. It is one of the last canal projects to be built in Queensland with direct access to river system and Coral Sea. Sunshine Coast Region Council has an annual dredging program to replenish the sand beaches.

The canals plus all infrastructure were built in three stages. These were the late 1970s, mid 1980s and early 1990s. The deep water canal plays a role in flood relief and the land is higher than Maroochydore CBD which has recorded floods in the last 30 years. The canal's main reach, which extends for more than one km was the training ground for 1992 Olympic K-1 1000 m gold medalist Clint Robinson.


Maroochydore's suburbs are served by Sunbus, who operate a bus interchange outside the Sunshine Plaza in the CBD called Maroochydore bus station. Various bus routes connect Maroochydore to Buderim, Coolum, Kawana Waters, Caloundra, Nambour and Noosa.[6]

Maroochydore is accessible via train and connecting bus via Nambour, Woombye and Landsborough stations on the Nambour & Gympie North Line has regular services to Brisbane, operated by Queensland Rail's Citytrain. There are also coach services from Sunshine Plaza to Brisbane Airport.[7]

Sunbus Bustech bodied Volvo B12BLE at Sunshine Plaza in June 2006

Sunshine Coast Airport is located just north of the urban centre in Marcoola. It offers domestic flights to state capital cities around Australia.

Future Transport Options[edit]

The Sunshine Coast Council and Queensland Government have been looking at improving and expanding the current transport system in the region. There are plans to create a new railway line that would extend from the current Gympie North line. The proposed line would spur from Landsbourgh station and travel closer to the coast than the existing line. The new line would connect the major hubs of Caloundra, Kawana and Maroochydore with Brisbane and would terminate at the Sunshine Coast Airport, just north of Maroochydore. Another Transport option that the local council have been looking at is creating a light rail system. The Sunshine Coast Light Rail would leave from the Maroochydore CBD and connect the local regional hubs before terminating at Caloundra. It is hoped this would create a 'transport spine' for the Sunshine Coast with connecting bus and train services.


Census populations for the Maroochydore urban centre have been recorded since 1933, and for Mudjimba since 1981.

Year Population
1933 630 630
1947 2,164 2,164
1954 2,655 2,655
1961 3,068 3,068
1966 4,106 4,106
1971 6,374 6,374
1976 10,283 10,283
1981 18,444 17,460 984
1986 22,099 20,635 1,464
1991 30,856 28,509 2,347
1996 40,766 36,406 4,360
2001 47,951 39,458 8,493
2006 49,743 39,123 10,620


The main state secondary school in the town is Maroochydore State High School (1964). Other schools in the area include:

  • Bli Bli State School (1901)
  • Kuluin State School (1987)
  • Maroochydore State School (1921)
  • Mooloolaba State School (1933)
  • Mountain Creek State School (1994)
  • Mountain Creek State High School (1995)
  • Pacific Paradise State School (1992)
  • Immanuel Lutheran College (1982)
  • Stella Maris Catholic Primary School (1980)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). "Maroochydore (State Electoral Divisions)". 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Short, Andrew D. (2000). Beaches of the Queensland Coast, Cooktown to Coolangatta: A Guide to Their Nature, Characteristics, Surf and Safety. Sydney University Press. p. 301. ISBN 0958650411. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  3. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Premier Postal Auctions. Retrieved 10 May 2014. 
  4. ^ "Maroochydore". Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "Cotton Tree Caravan Park (entry 602707)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Translink Queensland. "All bus timetables". Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  7. ^ Sunair. "Brisbane Airport Transit Stop". Retrieved 21 June 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 26°39′S 153°06′E / 26.650°S 153.100°E / -26.650; 153.100