Peregian Beach today
Peregian Beach is about 160 kilometres north of Brisbane and 13 kilometres south of Noosa Heads. Peregian Beach is one of a string of beautiful beaches between Noosa and Coolum. There is a foreshore reserve along the town's entire length. Just over the sand hills at the southern end of the beach is Peregian Environmental Park, an area of wallum heath which bursts into a colourful profusion of wildflowers in spring.
On the western side of Peregian Beach is Lake Weyba National Park and Lake Weyba itself, which feeds into the estuary at Noosa Heads. Nearby, too, is the southern extension of the Noosa National Park with a rich mix of coastal heath and scrub and stately rainforest which provides sanctuary and support for a wealth of native flora and fauna.
In the centre of Peregian is a friendly beachside village, an ambient and shady village square and a diverse range of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Indigenous habitation in the area
The Gubbi people are the traditional custodians of the Sunshine Coast region. Gubbi Gubbi was the language spoken by these people. Gubbi Gubbi means "No".
Gubbi Gubbi lands stretched from Pine River in the south, to Burrum River in the north, and Connondale ranges to the west. These territories were bordered by mountain ranges and river systems. There were approximately 20 ‘clans’ within this vast area, numbering from 150 to 500 strong. These family groups shared this language and would come together on a regular basis for special ceremonies, such as marriage, initiation and festivals.
A festival of great significance was the Bunya gathering, held every three years in the Bunya Mountains. People would come from Bundaberg in the north, Bourke down south and Taroom out west to be involved in the important meetings. Naturally, only the fittest and strongest would make the journey from those distant places. A smaller scale Bunya gathering was held every year in the Blackall Range on the Sunshine Coast at the place now called Baroon Pocket on the banks of the Obi Obi. This festival continues today.
The seasonal nature of food resources meant that groups travelled over what seem to non-Indigenous people to be vast areas. Weather and seasonal variations affected shellfish supplies, and land-based resources needed to be used to supplement these temporary supplies. The seasonal availability of fruits, grasses and vegetables dictated when groups travelled to locations. This seasonal migration was a form of conservation.
By varying their diet to include everything in the area that was at all edible at that time, the Gubbi Gubbi ensured that favoured food items would not cease to exist.
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White settlement at Peregian Beach and on the Sunshine Coast
In the 1820s, the Sunshine Coast’s first white inhabitants: three castaways (Finnegan, Pamphlet and Parsons) shared the life of the local Gubbi Gubbi Aborigines for eight months. During the 1830s and 1840s, the district just north of Moreton Bay (Brisbane) penal colony was home to numerous runaway convicts.
In 1841, Governor Gibbs, who had been advised of the importance of bunya groves to the Aborigines by Andrew Petrie, declared the entire Sunshine Coast and hinterland from Mt Beerwah north to roughly Eumundi a 'Bunya Bunya Reserve' for the protection of the bunya tree. However, during the 1840s and 1850s, the Bunya Bunya Reserve and its vicinity was the scene of the most bitter skirmishes of Australia's 'Black War.' The Blackall Ranges, because of the triennial Bunya Festival, served both as a hideout and a rallying point for attacks against white settlement. By the 1850s, timber getters and cattlemen were exploiting the area and, in 1860, the declaration of the Bunya Bunya Reserve was reversed.
As the area once had magnificent stands of forest, many of the Sunshine Coast's towns began as simple ports or jetties for the timber industry during the 1860s and 1870s, Similarly, the region's roads often began as snigging tracks for hauling timber. Timber getters used the region's creeks, rivers and lakes to float out logs of cedar to be shipped as far afield as Europe.
With the Gympie Gold Rush, prospectors scaled the Sunshine Coast mountains to develop roadways to and from the gold fields of Gympie. With the construction of the railway line to Gympie, the coastal and river ports for the early river trade were bypassed.
By the 1890s, diverse small farming (fruit and dairy) replaced the cattle-and-timber economy of earlier decades. Sugar cane and pineapples were especially important produce for the district. Many small hamlets and towns now emerged. Produce was initially taken by horse to Landsborough, then to Eudlo in 1891.
After World War II, the Sunshine Coast grew into a favoured holiday and surfing destination. Originally a haven for coastal flora and wildlife, the Peregian area was ill-fitted for grazing or agriculture and was accessed only by a few sandy tracks. In the late 1950s, the State Government entered into a public / private sector arrangement for tourist development of the Sunshine Coast, involving the building of a coastal road and generous provisions for coastal land subdivision. Alfred Grant Pty Ltd promoted the Peregian Beach development, which was taken over by T.M. Burke after the 1961 credit squeeze. (Burke had also planned and promoted Sunshine Beach and Marcus Beach, immediately to the north).
A development boom followed in the 1960s and 1970s and, after the 1980s, the Sunshine Coast experienced rapid population growth. It is now one of the fastest-growing regions in Australia. As the region becomes increasingly residential, most of the district's distinctive small farms - especially tropical fruit farms - have disappeared, as have most of its theme parks. Instead, businesses concerned with retail, catering and tourism have assumed increasing importance.
Publications about Peregian Beach
Sharpe PR, Up rose an emu: The development of Noosa's Peregian Beach, Marcus Beach, Sunrise Beach, a book of recollections to be read in conjunction with the accompanying DVD titled The Sunshine Coast of Queensland by Peter Sharpe