Brisbane Courier (Qld.  1864 – 1933), Thursday 8 June 1922, page 8



Aerial View of Main Street 1986

Montville sits on the escarpment



by B.J. S.

There is a grandeur that passeth all human understanding in the glorious mountain scenery of Montville, for every day goeth down with a song of thanks-giving on its lips. The gilded and starred palaces of the East, with their noble spires, and the breath of antiquity, were never so majestic and inspiring in their splendour as the true works of the Great Creator, revealed in the deep gorges, running streams, rippling falls, rocky bluffs, immense panoramic views of lowlands, hills, and distant sea, and the flowering wonders of the tropical scrubs, of this sunny State of Queensland. And such is Montville.

Why enthusiasts should ever be anxious to term it the Blue Mountains of Queens land seems strange, for it stands alone, and like good wine, needs no bush. The phrase is becoming hackneyed, and Montville is such a glorious spot that it detracts from its numerous advantages to call it after any other mountain resort. There is only one Montville, and it requires no share of the spare lights of any other highland to impress the seeker after health or pleasure. The first moment one arrives she throws a spell of enchantment over the visitor and ever afterwards, the happiest of happy thoughts revert to that mountain home which one day will be the Mecca of Australians.


But the place is not generally known. Queenslanders are a peculiar class, for if such a magnificent spot was in other countries, the full benefit would be brought before the public. It would be boomed, and-instead of hundreds there would be thousands seeking the peace and health-giving properties of this mountain home. But, the stranger says, “This Montville of yours must be hard to get at.” And that is where the mistake occurs, and where the want of publicity is severely felt. Leaving Brisbane, after having breakfast, the tourist is whirled along the pleasing North Coast line to Palmwoods, a distance of 60 miles, where he boards either the motor car or the horse coach, and travels over interesting country, ever ascending till he reaches Montville, where he is in ample time to prepare for lunch.

One hardly notices the time the journey takes, and yet thousands spend pounds upon pounds to make the trip to the Blue Mountains every year and fail to glory in the scenery of their own State. “See Queensland first ” should be the motto of every worth-while Queenslander.


On the motor journey from Palmwoods, from every little eminence, a clear view of the beautiful Blackall Ranges can be obtained, and the clearings and the houses, at Montville stand out prominently. Nearing the top of the range the road winds round deep cuttings, from which a scene of splendour greets the eye. There in the foothills and deep valleys fronting the range are dairying and fruit growing farms.

Looking down hundreds of feet, one wonders how the produce is ever got out, but a little winding road solves the problem; Banana farms on the precipitous sides of the mountain are ideally situated to catch the early morning sun and the sea breezes from the ocean, and are protected from the westerly winds. Then through the last big cutting, and the top of the range is reached. Beautiful as the scenery was in the ascent, it palls into insignificance when one stands on the knoll and gazes across for miles and miles to the distant blue Pacific, with its white sandy beaches, and its long line of surf. Northwards, the mountains rise tier upon tier, and standing out clear in the morning air can be noticed the Bottle and Glass, Mt. Cooroy, Ninderry, and then down to the coast to Mt. Coolum, rising almost sheer from the ocean. In front of one can be seen the hills and dales, the Maroochy River winding in and out on its journey to the sea, the town of Nambour, and the prosperous settlements at Woombye and Palmwoods, while further to the south Buderim Mountain, with its orchards and splendid homes, can be distinctly seen.


It is an immense panorama, and as the sun throws its shadows over the little valleys it is a scene never to be forgotten. As the mists gradually rise in the early morning it seems as if a thousand fairies had waved their magic wands and were revealing, bit by bit, the glories of a fair country side. Just below, the swish of the banana fronds in the gentle breeze, add variety to the picture. But that is only the view from “Manjalda,” Leaving that spot and following the road to Flax-ton, which hugs the eastern side of the range, one is never out of view of the ocean and land, unless the buggy dips down into a deep cutting or passes through a patch of the original scrub. Reaching “The Limit,” another magnificent view is unfolded. One wonders how any work is done in such ideal surroundings, but on every hand the kept orchards of citrus trees, loaded down with green and ripe fruit, tell of the labours of human hands. What years of struggling must have been entailed in bringing all the scrub land into such a hive of primary production! And that adds to the glories of nature, for walking or driving on Montville, one is always in sight of orchards.

The fruit gardens of the Californian sloped never looked more charming than the hundreds and hundreds of orchards on the Blackall Range. For miles one can gaze on the dark green trees, tinged with gold, with here and there a pineapple plantation to add to the variety, but, above all the beautiful homes of the residents tell that this, is a land doubly blessed; rich in the beauties of nature and rich with the work of men’s hands


Still following the eastern side of the range back through Montville, and one is at “Elston,” where another stupendous panorama is unfolded. A sweep of coastline from Double Island Point to Strad” broke Island, a total distance of 90 miles, can be viewed with the naked eye. Caloundra, Bribie, and Moreton Island are plainly distinguished, and, with the aid of glasses, shipping can be noticed. Theever changing colour of the sea and bay holds one entranced. Pushing on through further orchards, and still hugging the side of the mountain, a point is reached where the road stops. But it is intended to carry the track on to Balmoral (a part of the Blackall Range), when the settlers at Montville will be brought within easy distance of Maleny, still another section of this wonderful range. From this point the rich dairying farms of Maleny can be plainly seen. Looking back over this beautiful drive, from Flaxton to the Bal-moral turn-off, one is surprised that not [more is made of such a road. Whoever planned the track had an eye for the beautiful and in years to come it will be one of the treasured sights of the State It has no name, but it could be aptly called the MacGregor Avenue, after one who dearly loved these highlands and who was never happier than when he could spend a few days among such scenes as reminded him of his native land.


Leaving the avenue, and following Passion Fruit Lane, another beauty spot, Baroon Hill is reached Here a timber mill carried on operations until it was burned. Down the steep sides of the range one can look down into the valley of the Obi Obi. It was here that the late Sir William MacGregor got his first glimpse of Montville. He had been visiting Maleny to open the Butler Factory, and in com-pany with Mr. J. Tolmie and Mr. A. J. Thynne he crossed the Obi and made the stiff climb to Baroon Hill. Every little corner and nook has its hidden glories, and one could while away hours feasting on the beauties of the rugged gorges. Re-turning to the township of Montville, the Western Avenue is followed towards the setting sun. For 2 1/2 miles one passes through orchards on both sides of the road, with well-constructed homes, and looking back one can view a scene depicting all the wealth of the Blackall Range, orchard upon orchard, and, from a high point, the distant sea and mountains add to the attractiveness of the view.


A track through the open forest country leads to Pulpit Rock, which is com-posed of huge stones overhanging a deep gorge. No one knows why it was so called, but if ever Nature constructed a vast cathedral she did here, for the poorest and meanest of men could not be any-thing but reverent in such a place. Looking downwards, hundreds of feet below, one can see millions of feet of pine and other trees clothed with all the creepers of the forest, and in the distance the valley of the Obi Obi, and far away the setting sun throwing its last rays on the Jimna Ranges. How the timber will be ever got out of this immense gorge seems a problem. Towards the east the gorge winds in and out, and round a bend is the stately Bon Accord Falls. This vast scenic wonder is known ia Skene’s Gorge, and deep down, till the eyes grow dizzy, can be noted the little creek which goes to join the Obi. In the flowering time the scrub trees and orchards provide the incense for this great Cathedral of Nature .With such a spot, is it any wonder that the late Sir William MacGregor, on all his trips to Montville, never failed to visit the site and gaze on a scene which never palled? On one occasion he took his friend and brother empire builder, Lord Bryce, to the Pulpit Rock and, like Sir William, he was enamoured of the surroundings, for he wrote, “as fertile in its soil, and beautiful in its outlook, as any place found anywhere” Lord Bryce had seen the whole world, and that was his opinion of Montville. Yet we Queens landers rush to other ends of the Commonwealth to gaze on lesser scenes.


But it is not only in the picturesque scenes of mountain, hill, dale, and well-kept orchards that Montville has its glories. Deep down in the scrubs and gorges, where the little rippling streams rush onwards to the larger rivers, there are beauties which never tire. These are all so handy to the township that there is no need to do anything but walk to them. Just within a stone’s throw of “Elston” are the Elston Falls, which are very easy to reach through a track through the scrub, where all the wonders of tropical vegetation can be noticed. Following the rocky bed of the creek, with every bend a fairy spot, one stands eventually at the foot of the falls. On each side the rocks form ramparts and higher up the trees throw their shadows. Everything is cool and quiet, except for the water falling over the precipice. The creek is never dry, for it is fed from the springs on the higher ground. That is a peculiarity of Montville, for there is hardly a farm on the western slopes that has not its spring of crystal water, pure as the air above. Bending down one is inclined to drink of the icy cold water for all time. There are numerous other falls worth visiting, but the master of all is Bon Accord, 300ft. high. It is only about two miles from the centre of the township. The road leads through charming orchard lands, and one is soon passing through a paddock to the opening in the scrub which leads down to the creek. At this point a finger post has been erected, but it is to be regretted that no sign post has been placed on the road to direct the tourist at the turn off. A track about 6ft. wide – has been cut, and after a few minutes’ walk the rocky bed of the stream is seen.

Here is a large pool of water, with lilies and scrub vegetation, further on a little opening in solid rocks, then more rocks, another pool, and that is the order till a place called the Swimming Pool is reached. Rocks all around, with a miniature waterfall, form a scene never to be forgotten. Here the tourist usually boils the “billy” and enjoys lunch. So deep is the pool that the bottom has not been found. It acts as a reservoir for the Bon Accord Falls, which are just below. Standing on the rocks and gazing to the west, the sight is one to live for all time. To right and left are the sides of the gorge, in the distance the blue mountains, and near at hand the scrubs. Then winding in and out among rich vegetation, and following a steep, rocky decline, the foot of the falls is reached. Three hundred feet above can be viewed the water rushing over from the Swimming Pool, hitting one set of rocks and falling down another set. In flood time the scene is one of unparalleled splendour. Right at the bottom, a huge rock acts as a grand stand, and here one could stand for hours and ad-mire a sight which is well worth the rocky descent. The whole course of the creek is the paradise of the photographer, who could spend days getting little treasure spots.


The valley of the Obi Obi is another magnificent sight, and it was here that the late Mr. George Phillips had the idea for a huge reservoir and a large electric scheme. There is no doubt but that in time the Blackall Runge will be serv-ed by some such lighting and power proposal. The river winds its way through solid rock, forming a canyon, and it would not require heavy expenditure to dam a very large body of water. The student of nature could find subjects for deep thought in the Obi; the stream must have been running for thousands upon thousands of years to wear the rocks as it has done. Beautiful falls, and what is known as the Obi Obi Rapids, well repay the journey to the spot. No one can say he has seen Montville unless the Obi is visited. Some years ago trout were liberated in this stream, but they have not done as well as was expected. Freshwater cod abound, and some 33lb. in weight have been caught, while trout scaling 21lb. have been landed.


There are very many districts in Queensland which have worse roads than the Montville district but it would add to the attractiveness of the place and the well-being of the orchardists if better grades were secured in many places. This matter is now engaging the attention of the Main Roads Board, and it is under-stood that it will not be very many years before an absolutely first-class road will lead from Palmwoods to the top of the range. Then there is the proposal to build a section of road from Balmoral to Montville, and with this link formed one could motor from Landsborough through Maleny, Balmoral, Montville, Flaxton, Mapleton, down to the plain again at Nambour. Such a road would attract thousands of motorists from all over Australia and would be recognised as the finest mountain drive in the Common-wealth. But good roads are not only for the tourists but are also for those splendid men and women who have opened up such a rich land and are playing no mean part in the development of the State. At present the cost of freight and wear and tear on waggons and horseflesh is a serious problem, and one feels inclined to say that if any main roads are going to be built they should be constructed where the primary producers are fighting in the “front line” trenches to bring prosperity to the State.


When it is remembered that 25 to 30 years ago the whole of Montville was one mass of scrub, while to-day it is a smiling land of orchards, one wonders at the grit and ability of the early pioneers. It is stated that Mr. G. J. Butt, senr., was one of the first to fell a patch of scrub and start an orchard. When the sugar industry failed at Buderim, a number of the residents there, including Messrs. J, C. Dickson, W. Skene, Morrison, C. J. Wyer, J. T. Woof, and others, settled at Montville. The early days were taken up with strawberry growing, and that fruit prob-ably made Montville what it is to-day.

There were only rough bush tracks in those years, and it was no uncommon sight to see the hardy pioneer packing a load of strawberries down to the railway. Some had them stacked high in front of them on the saddle, and thus they were able to have the wherewithal to keep going. Mr J P L Weitmeir was one of the earliest of these fruit growers, and he worked night and day to grow and market his fruit. Later on, citrus fruits and pine apples became the fashion, while some grew bananas on the favoured spots. One of the men who has played a big part in the history of fruit growing in this region is Mr H. Smith, who is still living at Montville. He had a nursery of citrus fruits, and so high class were his trees that during the period he was carrying on, he sent trees as far south as Mildura, and as far north as Croydon. In those days every citrus grower was advised to get in touch with Smith, of Montville and there is hardly a spot in Queensland that, cannot show a Smith tree.


With very few exceptions the orchards at Montville appear beautifully clean. They are well tilled, and great care is taken to combat pests Spraying is regularly done, while everything is carried out so as to give the tree a vigorous growth that it may be the better able to protect itself. It is indeed a pleasure and an education to walk through the avenues of fruit trees, and to see the orange and mandarin trees loaded with sweet tasting fruit. Some of the trees are 30 years, old, and are magnificent specimens. Councillor W. Harvey, chair-man of the Maroochy Shire Council, which, outside two metropolitan shires, is the most important in the State, has an orchard which is one of the sights of the mountain. During the big interstate fruit conference held in Queensland some few years ago a number of the delegates visited Montville, and the following remarks are not only an advertisement for Mr. Harvey, but also for the whole of the Montville district. Mr. G. W. Wickens Department of Agriculture, Perth) : “This has been the most interesting day of an interesting visit to Queensland.” Mr. H. H. Hatfield ‘Victoria) : “This has been one of the most pleasant days of my life’. … I have seen some of the largest, and best orange trees I have ever seen. . .” Mr. George Quinn (Department of Agriculture. South Australia): “This, in my opinion, is one of the best districts both for natural scenery and for fruit growing purposes. There are no finer citrus trees, or better kept ones in Australia, and I recommend every visitor to Queensland to make a trip along the Blackall Range.” Indeed, all the settlers on Montville are of an exceptionally fine class, and no district can fail to progress that possesses such a wealth of rich human life.


The Montville Fruit Growers’ Association is a live body, with Mr. L. G. Swain (who is in every movement on the Mount) as president, and Mr. T. H. Brown as secretary. The president is also chairman of the board of directors of that live institution known as the ” P.M.B.,” and his co-directors from Montville are Messrs. G. O. Negus and T H. Brown. In conjunction with three directors from each of the organisations at Palmwoods and Buderim, they control the distributing centre at Palmwoods, and the railing of fruit to the South. These fruit growers of the North Coast are men with a big vision. The freight down the mountain is a heavy drawback and will be so until a better graded road is secured. It is roughly estimated that in a normal season no fewer than 50,000 cases of citrus and 30,000 cases of pines are sent down to the train. When the worth of these is calculated one can understand the wealth of the district. The most outstanding aspect of Montville is the fine quality of the homes. It seems that every comfort has been secured.


The visitor to Montville need not fear that he is going into the wilds. Two boarding-houses replete with every convenience cater on the lines of the leading hotels of the capital city. Horses can be secured as well as motor cars. There is a State school, a nice little School of Arts (with honour gates to the memory of the Montville lads who lie “over there”), a store, and other shops. Brisbane papers arrive every day, and once a week the latest moving pictures are shown. Montville has a great future as a tourist resort, but while Mr. Cameron has gone to endless trouble in making a track to Bon Accord Falls, and even painting the crossing places on the rocks, yet one feels that something larger must be done by either the local authority or the Government in making all these magnificent sites as easy of access as is possible.

The highest point on Montville is 1400 feet above sea level. There are no excessively hot or cold days, and it would be a very poor individual who would not respond to such health-giving surroundings. In the official publication issued by the Scottish Commissioners, who visited Queensland in 1910, it is written: “In Scotland such scenery, even painfully experienced as the roads in Queensland compel, would make the fortune of the Black-all Range as a tourist resort.” And an ounce of praise from those gentlemen is worth millions of feet handed out by others more enthusiastic. The cry should be “See Montville and live.”


The tourist to Montville is well served with ” Manjalda,” an up-to-date boarding establishment controlled by the Misses Pickering. The site is a splendid one, overlooking a fine panoramic view of mountain, glen, and sea. All the rooms are specially, lighted with air gas, and the wants of the public are liberally catered for.

“Elston,” the boarding-house controlled by Mrs. F. W.Thompson, commands a view which takes in a sweep of country 90 miles in extent from the north to the south. There, is a rich scrub, a creek, and the “Elston” Falls on the property. No trouble is spared in making the visitor at home.’ Air gas and all the conveniences of the city are at ha