Guest blogger: Helen Page, President of the Peachester History Committee
2012 was designated in Australia as the Year of the Farmer, and there have been activities and events during the year reminding Australians to celebrate how much farmers contribute to every aspect of our daily life. Peachester History Committee members recently participated in this national focus year, celebrating the farming heritage of Peachester and district with “Year of the Farmer” as the theme for their meeting on Sunday 7th October. A display of historical photos from the PHC collection generated much interest and discussion. Members and visitors were also invited to bring other farming photos, memorabilia and stories to share.
Like most of the region we now know as the Sunshine Coast, in the 1870s and 1880s the Peachester area attracted the attention of timber-getters. Pioneer settlers soon followed, and communities of farming families were established. Newspapers of the early 20th century contain glowing reports of the potential for farming throughout this region. Much was written about the rich soils, the excellent climate, and in the case of Peachester the added advantage of water from the Stanley River and its tributaries. The only drawback often mentioned was the need for better roads – and how familiar this still sounds!
Dairy farming quickly became the main industry in the hinterland, especially in the Maleny and Peachester districts; however many other farming pursuits have been recorded and some are still part of the landscape today: sugar cane, bananas, citrus, maize, vegetables, pigs, poultry, flowers, and in recent decades macadamia nuts, avocados, strawberries, and exotic fruits. On the coastal side of the range pineapples predominated around Beerwah and Glasshouse Mts, and tobacco was an important industry for many years.
Great changes have taken place in recent decades. Much of the early farm land is now rural residential. The few remaining farmers have had to embrace new technologies and increase production, while combating rising costs and low returns. Dairying is an interesting example: when Archie Banks took over as Peachester cream carrier in 1954 (taking cream cans to the Caboolture Butter Factory) he had 44 dairy farms on his run. Now there are four farms, each producing more milk than the whole district produced in 1954. The milk is stored in huge refrigerated vats and transported to the processor by milk tanker.
Peachester History Committee meets at the local hall on the first Sunday of the month (except January), starting at 11.00am and including a shared lunch. Enquiries: Helen Page (54949557) or Jan Gresham (54942301). You can also follow the Peachester History Committee on Facebook.
Helen Page – President, Peachester History Committee