Our local historians John and Frances Windolf kindly share a brief history of Coolum for you to enjoy.
Coolum’s beaches were first opened to visitors at Christmas 1918, immediately after the end of World War I, and soon became popular with campers, despite the difficulties of accessing the area by horse and dray, or by boat to Coolum Creek, several miles away on the other side of Mount Coolum. By 1922 a rough road had been constructed across the swamp from Yandina, and at the end of that year the first allotments, developed on land owned by the Perry-Keene family and all described as having ‘an uninterrupted view of the Pacific Ocean’, were sold. In addition to the beach, which was said to have ‘attractions far beyond any other seaside in South Queensland’, residents were lured by wonderful fishing, duck, quail and snipe shooting, mountaineering on Mount Coolum, horse racing and car racing on the beach, and toboganning down the grassy slopes of a nearby hill.
By 1925 the cane tram from Nambour was carrying weekend visitors to the beach. On at least one occasion nearly 600 people in one day travelled by steam train to Nambour, then tram to Coolum, and returned the same day. Many visitors stayed longer, bringing their own tents or hiring them on site. ‘Green Hills’ guest house catered for many tourists and other guest houses sprang up as well. When the visitors went home, though, the Coolum district was still a quiet faming area with one small shop and a one-teacher school.
Coolum was declared a township in 1946, and increased affluence after World War II and the completion of the David Low Way along the coast in the early 1960s led to a surge in population, and in tourism. Many of the tourists who enjoyed the beaches and the friendly atmosphere of Coolum returned year after year or became permanent residents.
Coolum is now a sophisticated venue, attracting local, interstate and international tourists, with a population more than 100 times that of 50 years ago, but its magnificent beaches and its friendliness continue to be major attractions.
Copies of their book An Island Surrounded by Land - a modern history of Coolum can be found and purchased at Coolum Library.
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