Museum Information


Origin of the Name

William Samwell, the area’s second selector after Mathew Carroll, took up his selection of 1625 acres in 1870, with the northern road to Gympie being the eastern boundary.

In a letter to the Department of Lands in 1872, Samwell called his property Nambour, in the locality of  Naamba country.  Naamba (nambur or nambah) was the name of the Aboriginal camping ground which had flourished for many years at the same location where the Nambour showgrounds exist today.

Nambaa refers to the Callistemon Salignus, the willow bottlebrush, a small tree with a beautiful and useful bark.  These trees once grew prolifically along local creeks, especially what is now called Petrie Creek.  The tree was an important resource for the Aborigines – the bark provided a form of clothing and bedding for the cooler months whilst the flowers produced a sweet nectar drink.

In the Brisbane Courier of Friday 29 July 1881, an advertisement was published for

"A seven or ten year lease of that splendid Freehold Agricultural and Grazing Farm known as Nambour of the Gympie Road about seventy miles from Brisbane and within a few miles of Cobb’s Camp, the Electric Telegraph and water carriage".

In 1890, Post Office records first used the name Nambour instead of Petrie’s Creek. The establishment of the new Nambour Post Office became official at this time while the former Petrie’s Creek Post Office had closed.

The Town

Nambour is a major town located in the heart of the Sunshine Coast hinterland in South-East Queensland. Described today as the ‘Hub of the Hinterland’, the town has a rich history of being a ‘sugarcane town’ and the centre of agricultural and commercial activities in the area. The town enjoys a wonderful climate and is located in a picturesque valley with easy access by road and rail.

Nambour is the administrative headquarters of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and has been identified as a Major Activity Centre (as designated in the South East Queensland Regional Plan). Following the closure of the Moreton Sugar Mill in 2003, Nambour has been on a path of reinvention, renewal and revitalisation.

Nambour is located approximately 100km from Brisbane by road via the nearby M1 Bruce Highway. A straightforward 1 hour drive delivers travellers to and from Brisbane International Airport or an easy 20 minute drive via Bli Bli directly to the Sunshine Coast Airport. All major Sunshine Coast tourist areas and attractions are within a scenic 30 minute drive of Nambour. Click here to view locality and street map.

Nambour Railway Station services routes both north and south (Brisbane to Cairns). Connecting bus services link Nambour to coastal centres Noosa, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba and up the Blackall Range to the hinterland towns of Mapleton, Montville and Maleny.

For shopping, business or as a great place to live, few places can match Nambour’s overall lifestyle appeal. There’s much more to Nambour than first meets the eye and it really is the one-stop shop … with a wide range of options for shopping, education, child care, medical and hospital services, sporting, accommodation and a comprehensive list of government services.

The Sunshine Coast Showgrounds in Nambour hosts many important major regional events. Heading the list are the annual Sunshine Coast Show and the Queensland Garden Expo. Others include Nambour Festival Weekend, Sunshine Coast Blues Festival, Nambour Rodeo, Nambour Orchid Show and Gemfest.

For information about what’s happening around town, click here for links to some important websites.

History of Museum

On 22 April 1992, a public meeting was held at St John's Anglican Church Hall to gauge the support for the establishment of a museum in Nambour. Twenty-seven people attended and a steering committee comprising Bob King, David Smart and Claire Joliffe was formed. Monthly meetings followed in the Church Hall and later at the residence of Gwen and Reuel Street.

A generous donation from a local resident Mrs Bolton enabled the Committee to sign a lease agreement in November 1995 for a few rooms in the present building. This heralded the beginning of the Nambour Museum with an opening ceremony held on 20 April 1996.

The large annual rental subsequently proved an almost impossible task for such a small group of people. Hon Peter Wellington MP promptly responded to calls for help with news that he had successfully negotiated to have the entire building transferred to the museum for a “peppercorn” rent thus ensuring that the Museum would be able to continue with its developmental work.

The Nambour Museum building stands on Mitchell Street which is named after David Mitchell, a prominent Nambour businessman and a member of the Divisional Board Committee chosen to name the streets of Nambour in 1896.

The Land and Building

The land on which the Nambour & District Historical Museum stands is a small part of Portion 21, Parish of Maroochy Selection Number 914, selected on 30 March 1870 by William Samwell. He applied to have the area of 3000 acres reduced to 1625 acres, claiming that the area north of present day Tuckers Creek was unsuitable for pastoral or any other purpose. Shortly afterwards Samwell's selection was transferred to Andrew Corbett in October 1872 and subsequently to Lawrence Cusack in April 1875.

From 1879 Nambour children were educated at the Maroochy Provisional School, initially in a building located between Nambour and Yandina, before moving into temporary accommodation beside Carroll's Hotel on Showgrounds Hill in 1891 when the school became known as Nambour Provisional School.

In 1892 after protracted negotiations, the South Australian Land and Mortgage Co. Ltd. agreed to transfer one acre of land to the Department of Public Instruction for the sum of four pounds. This comprised allotments 47 and 48, part of the land mortgaged to the company by Lawrence Cusack whose estate was being liquidated.
Here the new Nambour Provisional School was built in the approximate position where the Museum stands today.

A larger school building later became necessary and land to the north of the Provisional School was purchased from the Moreton Central Sugar Mill. The new school became known as Nambour State School and commenced operations on 31 October 1898 with 51 children. The old Provisional School nearby was converted into a residence for the head teacher.

A new school residence was subsequently built in 1908 and this building forms the nucleus of the present Nambour Museum . Between 1917 and 1930 Nambour pioneered an alternative style of education for country areas and adopted a further name change to the Nambour Rural School.

Finally a new school was built in Carroll Avenue to cater for the expanding population. The Nambour Rural School closed its doors for the last time on 12 December 1930 and the Nambour State School has prospered in Carroll Avenue ever since. The old Rural School remained in use for some time afterwards as a venue for dances called "Bob Hops" and in May 1932 the buildings were used as isolation quarters during a diphtheria outbreak in the district.

Organisational Structure and Key Personnel

Nambour & District Historical Museum Association Inc is a duly incorporated not-for-profit organisation administered by duly elected members who perform their respective duties in a voluntary capacity. The management committee comprises a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. Elections for management and other positions are conducted at an Annual General Meeting which is usually held in September each year.

The Museum is delighted to announce that its current Patron is Hon Marty Hunt MP, State Member for Nicklin.

Management Committee (2018/19)

Position    Name    Telephone
President    Clive Plater    54450054
Vice President    Cherry Powell     
Secretary   Steve Brinkley   54421340
Treasurer   John Freiberg   54412779


The Museum aims to preserve the history of Nambour and the immediate district by collecting suitable artifacts, photographs and written and oral histories pertaining to local business, industry, residents and lifestyles. Collectively, these examples of the town’s heritage will be made accessible for viewing by the general public primarily through permanent and appropriately themed displays at 18 Mitchell Street, Nambour.

Collections Policy

The Collections Policy has been developed with both the Museum’s objectives in mind plus a focus on the space restrictions at the Mitchell Street property. Accordingly, the following guidelines are followed in the collection of objects and construction of the displays:-

  1. The natural and human history of the (former) Maroochy Shire and particularly the area generally described as Nambour and under Postcode 4560 
  2. Material pertaining to any person, family or group who was/were born, lived or established in the afore-mentioned areas 
  3. Material which may be suitable for educational purposes such as comparison of lifestyles of different eras.

For more details on the acceptance criteria and how to submit an item for consideration, please click POLICY 

Public Recognition

The work and achievements of the local volunteer based museum have been formally recognised on several occasions through nominations and awards from industry peers. Commendations include National Trust – Queensland Heritage Award, GAMAA (Gallery and Museum Association) and National Australia Day Council. Visitors are continually amazed at the depth and quality of the reference library, artifacts and displays throughout the museum.

Guests have commented :

“This museum is absolutely wonderful – so much information presented in a very interesting way – it was funny to see things I remembered as a child”

“A trip down memory lane – a fascinating museum and very well presented”

“Plenty of interest and even for a UK visitor who’s never visited Nambour before”

“Outstanding tribute”, “Fantastic display”, “Great memories, great museum”

The Museum has also been chosen for filming a number of television, video and magazine productions as well as for radio station program activities. Regular Involvement with other community groups and schools continually reinforce the museum’s educational value.

The Museum encourages involvement with other community groups and is often able to assist with the research required to locate and produce histories. Commemorative occasions are often celebrated at the Museum where displays can be assembled for general viewing at a central venue. Nambour Girl Guides and Palmwoods Riding for the Disabled were two such groups to showcase their services.

Away from its home base, the Museum set up a special stall along Queen Street in conjunction with the opening of the new Nambour Town Square to increase public awareness. The importance and relevance of the telecommunications collection was highlighted when the Museum was asked to produce a heritage display at both Warana and Kawana where two special events were held to celebrate Telstra Country Wide’s 10th Anniversary.

How to Support the Museum