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History

Indigenous history

The traditional custodians of this region have occupied Sunday Creek for over 18,000 years. The Conondale Ranges continue to be connected to a number of Aboriginal language groups, including the Kabi Kabi (Gubbi Gubbi), Wakka Wakka and Jinibara clans.

Into the 19th century members of these Aboriginal language groups travelled to the Blackall Ranges to what is Baroon Pocket Dam. They used their extensive holistic knowledge of the surrounding landscape and resources available to them. Our staff will share with you the sustainable management of local resources in this area by the traditional custodians.

There are many significant landforms within the Conondale Ranges that are current reminders of how traditional custodians have utilised this environment. 

Gold fever

On the 17 May 1868 Gympie was alive with rumours that prospectors had found payable gold in the area. As a result, a rush of some hundred or so men began and prospectors Thomas Gorrie and James Duffy were eventually paid a reward for being the discoverers of the Jimna Diggings, the site of the modern day Sunday Creek campsite.

Life on the diggings in the early days was very miserable. They were camped in a scrubby gully, some with tents, but most with a shelter of branches and leaves called humpy’s. Because the area was so isolated, the rations were scarce and to crown it all, it rained heavily in those first weeks.

As the weeks went by, a small town developed between the two creeks being worked for gold, Sunday Creek (named because the first claim was pegged on a Sunday) and Jimna Creek. The one street town was made up of businesses selling goods and shanties selling grog. Initially, the stores were made up of a piece of canvas fly, pieces of bark or in some cases, just set out under the shade of a large blackbutt tree.

As more people moved to the area, the town eventually stretched from where the present day campsite is situated, down the ridge to the creek, with more substantial buildings erected. As well as the usual storekeepers and shanty owners, two doctors, a druggist (pharmacist), an eating house and a court house was erected (reportedly the most substantial building on the field) as well as two churches and a post office.

Because there was no bank on the field until October, it was not uncommon for a miner to have half a kilogram of gold in his possession and no one to sell it to. There were many reported cases of stealing with a number of stores also being robbed. Drunkenness was another problem, mainly on Sundays when work ceased and there were many grog shops in the town ready to slack the thirst of the miners. Gambling in the form of raffles and horse racing was indulged in to an unlimited extent. A horse bazaar operated (although one wag suggests that half of the horses in Jimna were stolen) and a town crier wandered the street keeping everyone informed of events.

Even though early reports suggested that there were gold reefs cropping above the surface over a very large area of the country, there seems to be little evidence of any substantial find. There always seemed to be some rumour that a rich strike had been made or that someone’s mine had the potential to be very rich. Alas, none of them fulfilled that promise.

The miner’s equipment was very basic and it wasn’t until two sawyers opened a pit and provided sawn timber for the community that sluice boxes could be constructed (ruins of which you can still see today). Through the use of sluice boxes, the diggers became more efficient in extracting the gold from the wash.

Evidence of the rich gold mining life can still be found today. Sunday Creek staff will point out a great array of historical relics and old diggings. Students can even have the opportunity to experience being an archaeologist, to unearth some of the old beer and wine bottles left behind by the miners in the 1860’s. 

Logging history

In 1948, the Sunday Creek campsite operated a sawmill owned by Queensland Soft and Hardwoods Pty Ltd. This mill utilised timber from the surrounding forest and had the contract for supplying the bearers in the construction of school buildings. The mill closed in the early 1960s and the buildings were acquired by the forestry service. In 1976 the buildings and a small surrounding area were leased by the Department of Education and converted into a Field Study Centre. Sunday Creek received a name change in 1988 and is now known as Sunshine Coast Environmental Education Centre (SCEEC), Sunday Creek campsite.