9 Things You Never Knew About Caloundra

January 11, 2024

Caloundra is famous for its relaxed lifestyle and its six stunning beaches.

But it’s also home to some fascinating stories and hidden secrets that even locals might not have discovered.

We unearth nine facts you may not know about Caloundra.

1. Caloundra’s name is indigenous and relates to the local beech trees

According to Sunshine Coast Council, the name Caloundra stems from two words in the Gubbi Gubbi dialect, which relate to the local beech trees. These were plentiful in the area before the local timber trade took off. They are:

“kal’owen” or beech tree (Gmelina leichhardtii) and

“‘Dha’, abbreviated from ‘dhagun’, or place, meaning ‘place of beech tree’.

There have been many spellings, including Kalowen, Cullawanda or Galouwen, but by 1865 the name Caloundra was commonly used.

2. The first white residents were castaways

In 1863, a group of men separated from their ship during a storm became the first white residents of Caloundra. According to Sunshine Coast Council:

“In April 1863 during cyclonic squalls thirteen men were separated from their ship Queen of the Colonies and were marooned at present day Moffat Beach. The twelve surviving castaways were the first known, though involuntary, white residents of Caloundra.”

But there’s much more to this story. The men had been sent ashore to bury the doctor’s wife, after she passed away onboard. While stranded, for over two weeks they survived on a diet of shellfish, and attempted to walk to Brisbane. Before being found, they are believed to have carved the ship’s name on a pandanus tree at Moffat Beach (though some dispute the story), which was replaced with a monument in 1963.

3. From the first house to a township

In 1875, English immigrant, newspaper owner and politician, Robert Bulcock, bought land in the area. He built the first house here in 1878. It was called “The Homestead”, (visible on this later map) and was located on a knoll facing the Passage and what is now called Bulcock Beach.

A town was surveyed in the 1870s, with land sales beginning in 1883. A subdivision map from 28 August 1883 shows streets the same as we know them today, and describes the area: “the land is of a sandstone nature, undulating and ridgy, heavily timbered with Gum, Bloodwood, Tea-tree and Oak”.

A colourful subdivision map of the Bulcock Estate from 1917 shows Caloundra growing, and advertises it as “the sportsman’s paradise for fishing, surfing and boating” and “the cream of the seaside resorts”.

4. World War Two changed our town

During the Second World War (1939 to 1945) the Australian Defence Force classified Caloundra as a restricted area. Around 30 units were stationed or deployed from Caloundra, and Kings Beach was used as a parade ground. Homes were commandeered and Caloundra School in Queen Street became the headquarters for the American Army, followed by the Australian Coast Artillery.

The town grew rapidly when the war ended as it was familiar to thousands of military personnel and their families. It also became popular with holidaymakers.

5. Tourism is part of the fabric of our town and an important part of our heritage

Caloundra has a proud history of tourism. Shelly Beach was the site of the first hotel, built in 1885, and by 1905 Wilson’s Guest House on Dicky Beach was housing travellers.

In 2009. Tripcony Hibiscus Caravan Park, built from 1912, was added to the Queensland Heritage Register, celebrating the role that tourism has played in our area:

“Tripcony Hibiscus Caravan Park is important in demonstrating the pattern of development of the Sunshine Coast, an important region for the development of seaside tourism in Queensland. Originally gazetted as a Wharf and Water reserve in 1877 and re-gazetted for Camping and Recreation purposes in 1912, Tripcony Hibiscus Caravan Park has sustained its use as a seaside camping ground. It illustrates the policy of colonial Queensland governments of reserving Crown land for public purposes, a practice which was common but is now rare.”

Continuing that tradition of hospitality, and highlighting the importance of tourism to our economy, The Queensland Tourism Industry Council recently named Caloundra the 2023 Queensland Top Tourism Town.

6. Caloundra is home to some of the best beaches in Queensland

We’re fortunate enough to have some of the best surf beaches, quiet still beaches, family beaches and fishing beaches anywhere in the world. In fact, the beaches – and lifestyle they provide – are some of the main draw cards of our area.

The six main beaches in our area are:

  • Golden Beach
  • Bulcock Beach
  • Kings Beach
  • Shelly Beach
  • Moffat Beach
  • Dicky Beach

7. But Caloundra is about more than just beaches

Not everything in Caloundra involves a beach. Currimundi Lake is a destination for nature lovers as is Caloundra Conservation Park. Glasshouse Mountains in the Sunshine Coast hinterland are popular with walkers and photographers.

Caloundra has a thriving arts and cultural scene with a host of festivals including the Caloundra Music Festival. It is also a destination for dining with a variety of great cafes and restaurants, plus vibrant markets and shopping. Families are attracted to our excellent schools and sporting facilities, while people of all ages love the famous (and stunning) Caloundra Coastal Path.

8. The Old Caloundra Lighthouse has itself been rescued twice

Built in 1896, Old Caloundra Lighthouse is the oldest building in Caloundra.

A beacon of safety for thousands of boats over its lifetime, the lighthouse itself has been rescued twice.

In 1967 a new signal tower and lighthouse was built next to it, and the old light lighthouse was discontinued. In 1970, to escape demolition, it was moved to Woorim Park by the Golden Beach Power Boat Club.

By 1999 the tower had deteriorated. It was placed on a float and transported to the original site in Canberra Terrace, where it underwent repairs and restoration of its timber frame and metal exterior. The tower re-opened in 2001, with its classic red dome.

9. Caloundra is growing fast

In 1933, Caloundra had a population of just 271. Fast forward 88 years and 2021 Census data shows Caloundra’s population had swelled to 56,213.

Recently, the pace of growth has picked up, with the number of local residents increasing 10% in the five years since the 2016 Census when the population was 51,095.

Want more?

Thinking about buying or selling in Caloundra? Get in touch today.

Caloundra City Realty

Article by Caloundra City Realty

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