John McNab’s general store, Excelsior House, built in 1909

Photo: John McNab’s general store, Excelsior House, built in 1909.

Yandina, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, has had many titles, river town, highway town, railway town, timber town, ginger town, old town.

In 1870 Surveyor William Fryar recommended the site, above flood level with fresh water in the river; to the east the Maroochy River is navigable and to the west the Gympie Road passes through. It is halfway between Caboolture and Gympie and holds the promise of becoming a town. Already there is an inn, a police camp and post office established.

Yandina was thus proclaimed in 1870 and surveyed in 1871. Town blocks were sold from 1873.

The name Yandina

The name Yandina honours our first inhabitants and means to go on foot: yan, go , dinna on foot. Yan-dinna was the name of the area of ancient bora rings and tribal ground in present-day Yandina Creek. Of Yugarabul origin the word indicates that Aboriginies from the Brisbane area were visitors.

Daniel and Zacharias Skyring used the name for Yandina Cattle Run east of Mount Ninderry, first leased in 1853.

Yandina township development

Following the Gympie gold rush in 1867, James Low established the Yandina Post Office in 1868, just upstream from, and opposite to, Dunethin Rock on the south-west corner of the Yandina Cattle Run, hence the use of the name Yandina. However, later that same year he relocated the post office to South Maroochy Crossing and the name Yandina came with it and was later used for the township, an improvement on the former name of Native Dog Flat.

Beside the ford of South Maroochy Crossing on the Gympie to Brisbane Road, James Low established a hotel and store along with the post office. Cobb & Co carried mail and passengers and built change stables nearby, from 1868 to 1879. The settlement was called Maroochy and was the first commercial centre on the Sunshine Coast. The hotel and post office were the first between Gympie and Caboolture. The police camp was established to escort gold from Gympie to Brisbane. In 1874 the Yandina Telegraph Office opened and this provided a vital link for the settlers.

Maroochy River

The river became the highway into the settlement for supplies and for produce sent to Brisbane. Timber-getting was the earliest industry with logs rafted down the Maroochy River to Cotton Tree and snigged over land to the Mooloolah River to be taken to Brisbane sawmills by steamers. Maroochy River had the better timber but the Mooloolah River had the safer bar to cross. By the 1880s Sawmiller William Pettigrew had ships built especially to cross the Maroochy Bar. Tadorna Radjah serviced the limit of navigation, Brownes’ Rocks, also referred to as Stevens’ Rocks or The Rocks. From there goods could be punted further up the river.

Settlers

A great influx of settlers arrived in the 1880s. Obliged to clear their land of timber, they established crops such as cane, bananas, arrowroot, maize and fruit trees. The rafting of timber continued down the river to William Pettigrew’s sawmill built at Maroochydore in 1891, taken over by J.C. Campbell in 1899 and closed in 1903. Timber was then sent by rail as the rail link from Brisbane to Gympie opened in 1891. The station master donned three hats, not only was he in charge of the station but the post office and telegraph office as well.

In 1909 William Coulson began a boat run from Yandina to Maroochydore delivering mail and essential supplies to farmers along the Maroochy River and Coolum Creek. The river was their life blood. In 1953 Merv Gilby & Ralph Duffield took over the run until 1963. Over 60 jetties were serviced and approximately 150 families benefitted. A school boat delivered children to the Maroochy River State School from 1917 to 1965.

Historic buildings

James Low’s hotel closed and J.G. Sommer’s new hotel opened in 1889 on the corner of Fleming Street but soon relocated to near the railway station. He moved it on rollers while serving beer all the while and Mrs Sommer, in an upstairs room, had a baby.

Some lovely old wooden buildings remain in Yandina besides the hotel and the railway station. They are:

  • the Anglican Church, built as an undenominational church in 1880,
  • the Yandina School of Arts, built by the community in 1916,
  • and John McNab’s general store, Excelsior House, built in 1909.

The one-room building for the Yandina Provisional School established in 1889 was raised and extended to three classrooms in 1924. The school building from Golden Valley was relocated as an extra classroom at Yandina and is witness to the days of nine one-teacher schools in the district, all closed. The school marked its 125th year in 2014 and like all our schools is a conglomerate of additional buildings.

Yandina has weathered a sea of changes. Industries like the Ginger Factory and APN Print arrived. A town bypass has meant the village atmosphere is kept. Eleven new subdivisions in the last ten years have brought many new families to the town and there sits a recommendation for its latest title, a family town.

Researched and written by Audienne Blyth,12 Wharf Street,Yandina 4561. Telephone (07) 5446 8562