R. Denney's Elite Cafe in Memorial Dr, Eumundi, ca 1922.
R. Denney's Elite Cafe in Memorial Dr, Eumundi, ca 1922. Picture Sunshine Coast

Cafes were the focus of hinterland communities

TODAY we continue shining the spotlight on the important social and community function that cafés have played on the Sunshine Coast.

Last week we remembered the coastal café scene and this week we turn the focus on the beautiful hinterland towns which also had iconic cafés.

Anyone who grew up in Nambour would have fond memories of Collins Café in Currie St.

The café boasted a sit-down area and a quick service snack bar area, the best pies in Queensland and fantastic cakes and milkshakes.

Established by Lou Collins, it opened for business in 1907 as a general store specialising in groceries, men's clothing as well as the Wisteria Café.

In 1927, Wisteria Café was renamed Collins Café and in 1958 the much-remembered Collins Café was opening in adjoining premises and remained there until 1974 when it was purchased by the Commonwealth Bank.

The closure of the café was a great loss to the Nambour community as it had provided a meeting place for all ages.

The Collins Café team was very-community minded and participated in all community events in the area, including parades and festivals in Nambour.


Maleny has boasted such greats as the Upfront Club, however its café culture began much earlier.

In 1939, the Shaw and Son Café and Bakery was the place to be and was one of the first all hours' restaurants boasting "refreshments at all hours".

The building, which was owned by Maleny businessman Andrew Mclean, was unfortunately destroyed by fire in May 1951 along with the School of Arts Hall.

The Cobb & Co connection to the Coast featured prominently in the restaurants of the hinterland.

Cafes such as the Beerburrum General Store and Café were built on the Cobb & Co route which was so essential to the development of the Sunshine Coast.

The café featured in the 1959 re-enactment of the Cobb & Co journey to Gympie.

As the popularity of train travel increased, Landsborough and Nambour railway stations, positioned on the North Coast Line, advertised railway refreshment rooms for the weary hungry traveller.

The refreshment rooms offered dining as well café-type meals and confectionery.

The Landsborough refreshment room was situated adjacent to the station platform.

Landsborough businessman Henry Dyer had the first lease on the Landsborough railway refreshment room, from its inception until 1907.

Nambour refreshment room was situated in a small building not far from the station and later was positioned in Station Square, next to the Nambour Town Hall.

John Nichols placed an advertisement in the Nambour Chronicle in 1924 wishing to advise that he had taken over the railway refreshment room, known as the Railway Café, situated in Station St, Nambour.

His advertisement read that he "only stocked the choicest confectionery and the freshest of fruit with cleanliness and civility assured. Lunch and supper is also served".

The welcoming dining room was set with white linen and silver-plated cutlery and tea sets and vases of flowers, while staff in uniform were ready to take an order as the steam trains pulled in.

Staffed mainly by young women of the district, the refreshment room was a very busy place to work.

The refreshment rooms supplied troops on the move and during World War Two as hundreds of troop trains headed north the refreshment rooms due to their popularity sometimes ran out of all types of food and drink.

Travel was changing after the war years and by the 1950s the refreshment rooms were in decline.

Buffet cars on long distance trains replaced the busy station refreshment rooms.

Cafés were a place for ladies to dress in their finery and take tea, and they were essential for the enjoyment of holiday excursions.

Later, in the 20th Century, they became architectural icons for the culture of the time.

The railway refreshment rooms, once so popular, are no longer. Travel quickly changed into the fast lane where takeaways replaced a cup of tea served by a lady in a starched uniform.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council's Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

In 2017, we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Naming of the Sunshine Coast. For more information on this milestone anniversary visit www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/fifty

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