A pillow fight by members of the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club during a surf carnival, Maroochydore Beach, in the 1950s. The event was a favourite with the carnival crowd. Picture: Contributed
A pillow fight by members of the Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club during a surf carnival, Maroochydore Beach, in the 1950s. The event was a favourite with the carnival crowd. Picture: Contributed

Holiday fun comes in many shapes and sizes

ACTIVITIES over the Christmas holiday period in years past have had more than their share of excitement and thrills.

Water festivals were very popular on the Maroochy River.

On New Year’s Day in 1932, the river in front of the Club Hotel was filled with decorated motor and rowing boats providing a spectacular sight.

It was reported that more than 1000 spectators were present at this Maroochydore Aquatic Carnival, organised by the Maroochy Philharmonic Society in association with the Maroochy Amateur Swimming Club.

“One of the highlights of the program was aquaplaning from behind a speedboat, at a pace greater than road speed limits, providing many thrills for the crowd,” reported Nambour Chronicle.

Holiday-makers aboard river boats watch a swimming carnival during the Christmas holidays, Cotton Tree, 1920. Picture: Contributed
Holiday-makers aboard river boats watch a swimming carnival during the Christmas holidays, Cotton Tree, 1920. Picture: Contributed

Swimming events and diving displays were performed, where the Suosaari and Petersen brothers and Miss Myrtle Betts distinguished themselves. The motor boat races created much excitement and were won by F. McDermott and A.H. Butler.

A sailing race that thrilled the crowd was won by Miss M. Butt in a 10ft skiff, closely followed by Miss G. Bartholomew in her 16ft skiff.

A Fun of the Fair was conducted in the Club Hotel grounds. In the evening, the members of the Maroochy Philharmonic Society performed a concert on the lawn, illuminated by electric lights from the hotel balcony.

Items and excerpts from the opera Pirates of Penzance were rendered and the audience enthusiastically joined in.

Sailing boat Dixie II on the Maroochy River near Chambers Island, ca 1912. Picture: Contributed
Sailing boat Dixie II on the Maroochy River near Chambers Island, ca 1912. Picture: Contributed

In 1924, the Mooloolaba Sports Club held its annual aquatic carnival in the Mooloolah River on Boxing Day, under perfect weather conditions. Nambour Chronicle reported that the large crowd of spectators present were keenly interested in the events, especially the novelty ones that included chasing the duck, tilting, a watermelon race and a few others.

The program was splendidly arranged and the officials congratulated on the very able manner in which they performed their duty.

A special prize donated by Mr T. O’Connor for the highest number of points during the day was won by H.D. Foote, with C.A. Blakey running a very close second.

Aquaplaning on the Maroochy River, 1937. People were aquaplaning on the river by 1910. Using homemade boards, they were towed behind auxiliary launches along the waterway from the mouth of Petrie Creek to Cotton Tree. Picture: Contributed
Aquaplaning on the Maroochy River, 1937. People were aquaplaning on the river by 1910. Using homemade boards, they were towed behind auxiliary launches along the waterway from the mouth of Petrie Creek to Cotton Tree. Picture: Contributed

The chasing the duck race was won by W. Mahoney, tilting by S. Newberry and the watermelon race by J. Howe.

A concert given by the Sports Club on Boxing Day night was attended by a large crowd. One of the most interesting performances was a novel humorous boxing bout performed by the Mahoney brothers.

One unexpected exciting event occurred at Christmas in the early 1920s when a party of holiday-makers unwittingly hired both the Tardorna Radja and the Lucy vessels to take them on a picnic party.

When the vessels arrived, neither skipper was willing to retire and leave the field to the other, so they both did the trip.

The passengers travelled on whichever they chose. Then, either in good holiday spirits or perhaps because of the chance both had been waiting for, the two skippers made a race of it down the river.

Sailing skiff on the Maroochy River, Maroochydore, 1920s. Picture: Contributed
Sailing skiff on the Maroochy River, Maroochydore, 1920s. Picture: Contributed

The boat races on the Mississippi had nothing on this race. With horns blaring and passengers wildly cheering or hurling abuse at the competitor, the boats really stirred things up on the normally sleepy Maroochy River that day.

The reports exclaimed: “What excitement. What enthusiasm. What a wonderful and unexpected beginning to a picnic.” The report, however, does not reveal the winner of the race.

The excitement was not confined to the water.

Spectators watching a swimming club carnival from the banks of the Maroochy River at Cotton Tree, 1919. Picture: Contributed
Spectators watching a swimming club carnival from the banks of the Maroochy River at Cotton Tree, 1919. Picture: Contributed

On Boxing Day 1930, the Maroochydore Aerial Pageant was held.

A record crowd, estimated at more than 4000 people, came to watch the first event of its kind to be held there.

A great deal of preparation had been done to the airstrip which was on either side of the present Aerodrome Rd and extended almost to the beach.

The ground was in excellent order and the planes had no difficulty in landing or taking off.

Plane leaving early Maroochydore Airstrip, ca 1932. Picture: Contributed
Plane leaving early Maroochydore Airstrip, ca 1932. Picture: Contributed

Four biplanes, a Puss Moth and a German Junker were present.

The airmen gave joy flights and took part in stunts and aerial exhibitions and at one time all planes were in the air together.

In 1931 at the Boxing Day Aerial Pageant, thousands of eyes turned to the sky when, out of the blue at a height of 2000 or 3000 feet (600-1000m), a slim figure leapt from a silvery Moth plane and started a sensational parachute descent on to the aerodrome.

It was a nerve-tingling, never-to-be-forgotten moment – those few seconds of suspense awaiting the opening of the gigantic parachute which brought Mr J.A. Milne safely to earth.

Junker F13 plane at the first air pageant held on the airfield at Maroochydore, on December 26, 1930. The all-metal German monoplane was owned by Sky Travel Aus. Ltd. and flown by Captain T. Young. It was one of approximately six planes flown to the field (now part of Aerodrome Rd) for the day's events. Picture: Contributed
Junker F13 plane at the first air pageant held on the airfield at Maroochydore, on December 26, 1930. The all-metal German monoplane was owned by Sky Travel Aus. Ltd. and flown by Captain T. Young. It was one of approximately six planes flown to the field (now part of Aerodrome Rd) for the day's events. Picture: Contributed

The parachute jump was not the only attraction on that day with the Maroochydore Aerial Derby — a handicap race for Queensland trained pilots — thrilling the crowd.

Holiday-makers were also enjoying more typical summer activities in 1937.

In Maroochydore, a bright array of dress parades was held on the beaches, sand gardens were being constructed, and there was the homely joy of friends and family congregating at holiday parties, along with the other activities of boating, swimming and sports.

Crowds gathered to watch the Sand Garden Competition at Kings Beach, Caloundra, ca 1940. Picture: Contributed
Crowds gathered to watch the Sand Garden Competition at Kings Beach, Caloundra, ca 1940. Picture: Contributed

Times have evolved but you can’t help but wish you were on the banks of the river during the riverboat race or in the crowd to witness the first parachute jump on the Coast.

Whatever activity you are doing over the holiday period, keep safe and have fun.

Thanks to the Heritage Library staff for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.



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