Origin of name

The area now known as the town of Sunshine Beach went through a number of name changes. Initially there was a proposed development by the first selectors about 1890 for a Town of Alexandra. This did not proceed, and Noosa locals and visitors referred to the locality as Coolum Beach, which referred to the stretch of beach from Noosa Heads south to Mt Coolum.

For various reasons development was stalled and Noosa Council acquired the land for arrears of rates, and subsequently sold the land to one of Australia’s then leading developers T M Burke in 1929 in consideration for constructing two bridges (across Lake Doonella and Weyba Creek) and access to the site.

The company surveyed the site and promoted the development as ‘Noosa Beach Estate Golden Beach’ a name that continued until after the World War Two.

Local lifesavers including Maurie Cave sought to restart the Lifesaving Club that had been discontinued because of the war. They were advised they could not use the name Golden Beach because there was an existing club with that name at Caloundra. They subsequently suggested Sunshine Beach and this name was also taken up by the development company T M Burke who were looking at further developing the area. Sunshine Beach was adopted by the State Government as the official name in July 1949.

History of settlement

Sunshine Beach with Noosa Heads and Lake Weyba formed part of the original Aboriginal Reserve declared in 1873. The reserve was cancelled in 1879  and reallocated as the Noosa Town Reserve and the balance of land was thrown open to selection.

Land on the ocean coast was taken up by prominent Gympie businessmen, James Woodrow and William Pilcher, with other lots including some at Alexandra Bay selected by the Gympie District Land, Loan and Investment Coy Ltd. The first bridge, the Alexandra Bridge, was built across the Weyba Creek and opened 1886 giving some access to the popular features of the Noosa Headland, Paradise Caves, Hells Gates and the then Coolum beach.

A severe economic recession in the 1890s and the great floods of 1893 put paid to further progress. The subsequent collapse and burning of the Weyba bridge in approximately 1900 further hindered further development.  The land was resumed for arrears of rates by the Noosa Council in 1925.

T M Burke was a major developer across Australia at the time and had visited Tewantin in 1925 He was struck by the beauty of the coastline, river and lakes. His company negotiated and purchased the ‘Coolum Beach lands’ for the cost of constructing a bridge across Lake Doonella at Tewantin, a new bridge across Weyba Creek and road access to the ocean. The area was promoted as ‘Noosa Beach Estate Golden Beach.

A grand opening was held in October 1929 that was reported nationally and featured a Lifesaving carnival with newly established clubs participating.  Unfortunately, this event coincided with the world depression of the early 1930s. While there were some initial sales further interest languished.

At the commencement of World War Two a military range was established at Sunshine Beach headquartered at Pacific Avenue with a boundary generally to the south to Emu Mountain (Peregian) and west to Lake Weyba. This area continued to be declared annually for military purposes until the late 1950s and was often used by the Citizens Military Forces for training.

Around 1950, the company T M Burke resolved to continue the development of the area and adopted the name Sunshine Beach (see above).  The local roads were formed and graveled, power was connected and ‘Green Gables’ a refreshment rooms, residence and office was constructed on the corner of Bryan and Duke Streets.  The first beach houses were built where there had formerly only been some shacks. Prominent amongst these owners were the Dowd family who owned a national womens’ undergarment business and sponsored the Miss Australia Quest, a major annual event of the time.

In 1959 T M Burke company won the tender from the Queensland Government to construct a coastal highway from Pacific Avenue Sunshine Beach to then boundary between Noosa Shire and Maroochy Shire (just south of the present-day business district of Peregian Beach) in consideration for development rights at Peregian Beach, Sunrise Beach etc . This road, now known as David Low Way linked up with roads from the south and provided good vehicle access along the coast from Caloundra to Noosa. The Company continued to release land as economic circumstances dictated.

The boundary between Noosa Shire and Maroochy Shire was moved south to the roundabout at the junction of David Low Way and Emu Mountain Road in 2003 so that all of Peregian Beach was in Noosa Shire.

As the residential population of Sunshine Beach and Sunrise Beach grew so did the demand for community infrastructure and it was fortunate the Noosa Council owned the land west of the David Low Way now called the Girraween Estate. This allowed for the construction and opening of the Sunshine Beach State Primary School in 1982. The Council built the Bicentennial Way behind the School for set down and parking purposes and connecting through to Ben Lexcen Drive. This further facilitated a range of other schools, churches, sporting facilities, aquatic centre, and the Bicentennial Hall to be built, all of which provide valued services to the community.