A grand new year’s adventure for the dawn of 1904
The Chronicle & North Coast Advertiser reported there were crackers, dinner bells and cow bells and the beating of kerosene tins heard in the town.
Groups of people gathered and did some cheering. The Methodist Church held a midnight service and rang
But by 1am “quietness reigned supreme”.
Buderim was deserted because everyone was camping at the beach.
Over Christmas and New Year, the Salvation Army rented out tents at Cotton Tree and this was very popular.
Visitors camped along the beach from Maroochy Heads to Mooloolah Heads, names commonly used referencing the river mouth, rather than Maroochydore and Mooloolaba.
On New Year’s Eve campers had a bonfire on the beach, with fireworks and beach games and on New Year’s Day, Mooloolaba campers set out for a picnic at Caloundra.
The journey was deemed too rugged for the ladies but a group of eight men crossed the Mooloolah River by boat from present-day Charles Clark Park with their horses swimming the distance.
There was no Minyama Island and no canal development, all formed by dredging decades later.
The 10 miles of empty ocean beach from Mooloolah Heads to Caloundra Heads were described as one of nature’s greatest beauty scenes with the great Pacific Ocean to the east and the wildflower plains to the west.
Christmas Bells were in abundance. Modern subdivisions rule out the same displays today. Minyama, Buddina, Warana, Bokarina and Wurtulla are now home to thousands of people. No one then could have imagined the busy roads that would be running through the fields of Christmas Bells.
The riders passed the wreck of the SS Dicky, beached in 1893, which was still largely intact in 1904.
At Caloundra Heads they went to Robert Bulcock’s home to join with local residents and also residents of Meridan Plains, inland from Caloundra, who arrived in sulkies and on horseback.
Everyone enjoyed an afternoon of resting, swimming, eating and talking to friends. In 1882, Robert Bulcock, a well-known politician and landowner, had built an observation tower on the highest point of his land in Caloundra in support of National Security during the Russian Scare.
Fort Lytton at the mouth of the Brisbane River had also been built as a defence against the Russians.
People feared they would invade at that time. Fort Lytton was re-used during World War II.
Another landmark was the Caloundra Lighthouse, wooden framed, clad in galvanised iron and constructed in 1896.
The wick burner had to be constantly tended by a lighthouse keeper.
Here the men signed the visitor’s book before returning on their horses to Mooloolaba the same way they had come, along the beach, among the wildflowers, swimming the horses across the river.
Sights such as the wreck of the SS Dicky, the observation tower and the lighthouse gave them much to talk about when they returned to Mooloolaba.