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History of Wises Farm: how melon and corn paddocks became central Maroochydore

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Not so many years ago, melons and corn grew in a paddock where Maroochy Boulevard now provides a major link between the business centres of Wises Road and the Sunshine Plaza, and the motorway.

The land has been owned and farmed by just one family – the Wise family – for generations and was this week listed on the market, signalling the end of an era.

It was a productive farm of more than 240ha until it found itself at the very centre of Maroochydore.

Peter and David Wise, whose great grandfather bought the first 32ha in 1901, expanded the farm with another 200ha in several land purchases during the 1960s, never imagining their rich agricultural land would become home to shops and businesses.

But owning land from Plaza Parade virtually to the top of Buderim, put them in pole position as Maroochydore emerged as the centre of the Sunshine Coast.

It also brought a lot of unwanted attention as their farm was sliced up for access roads.

Maroochydore and Mooloolaba were surveyed into 15 blocks in 1872 and one of those was what would become Palmyra, now the oldest original property on the Sunshine Coast and probably Queensland as well.

Looking over the Wises’ land from Orme Road, Buderim circa 1920.

It was first purchased from the government in 1881 for £60 and 20 years later, in April 1901, Frederick Henry Wise and his son Richard arrived from Gympie. They continued operating it as a farm which they named Palmyra after the immigrant ship on which Frederick had arrived.

Frank Wise, Peter’s father, was born seven months later and never left the farm. Peter, now in his 80s, has done the same.

“My great grandfather died on property in 1917, grandfather in 1934, and dad in 2002, so that’s three generations that have farmed, lived and died there,” he says. “I’m the fourth and my children and grandchildren the fifth and sixth.”

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His brother David, who died three years ago, remained at Palmyra while Peter, after leaving school in 1957, worked for 18 months in the railways before returning home to farm the additional land he purchased with his brother. He’s been there ever since.

Peter Wise is the fourth generation to live and work the farm.

At the time, there was no Wises Road, although there was an unformed gazetted road the Wise family used, weaving in and out of stumps, to get home.

Peter recalls getting a call from Maroochy Shire Chairman Eddie De Vere in the early 1970s asking if they had any objection to the unnamed road at the end of Sugar Rd being called Wises Road.

Jack the Slasher supermarket was on the corner and more people began making their way down what was then a dead-end road, to Wise’s Farm.

That was ultimately extended through to North Buderim Boulevard. The Sunshine Motorway came in 1990 and then the link to Evans St was needed. To Peter it felt that every time someone needed a road, some of his farm disappeared.

He had plans in 1980 to establish a tourism project Natural Energy World, the first stage being a large pick-your-own orchard where he was growing beans and pumpkins.

It opened in 1984, but is now called Sunshine Cove.

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He also had council approval for a coffee shop – Wises Farm was the home of Mountain Gold coffee – and a monorail around the farm, but it was not to be.

Despite a protracted argument, power and roads authorities won and the land was

Peter says the original Palmyra land, where figs are grown, will not be touched.

dissected by a utility power line, which put an end to any natural energy ideas for the property.

But although much of Wises farm has been taken over by urban development, Peter is adamant that the original Palmyra won’t be touched, at least not in his lifetime.

“Palymyra will continue to operate as a farm in my lifetime and I hope my children and grandchildren will do the same and keep the heritage alive,” he says.

“We had a farming vision and never could have imagined that it would ever be central Maroochydore. That just never entered our head.”

This flashback is brought to you by Sunshine Coast journalist and history writer Dot Whittington, also the editor of Your Time Magazine.

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