Maroochydore was quiet when I arrived, and for that matter quiet when I left. The weather was to blame. Had it been sunny, I am sure that the beaches and the resort style town would have been buzzing with people, instead, I wander through an almost lonely beachside park, past some youths chatting under a public barbecue shelter avoiding the rain, to take in the sea view.

The Maroochy River is a prominent feature of the town, which lies on its picturesque southern bank as is the Sunshine Plaza, the largest shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast. Tall apartment block line the coast but the surf beaches remain popular despite this obvious development.

Holiday-makers swimming in the tidal swimming area at Cotton Tree beach, Maroochydore, in 1950

As I stared out along the beach, I could not help recalling an incident I read about that occurred at 11am on 30 December 1950. Imagine the scene. A day of all things Australian. Crystal clear water, blue sky, golden beaches lined with a 1,000 people enjoying all the town had to offer. The only thing disturbing the tranquillity being the buzz of an Australian Air Force Wirraway aircraft on shark patrol above.

The plane, on seeing a potential shark on the edge of the breakers, comes in lower over the sea and accidentally touches a wave and, out of control, veers towards the beach.

Smashed beach umbrellas and personal belongings litter the sand for 50 yards on either side of the now wrecked plane and sadly the bodies of three young children are found, with one 11 year old literally sliced in two, and 14 others are injured. Panic and chaos takes over from the tranquility and a tragic line is added to the towns history.

Thankfully, 60 years later and tranquility is all that is to be found here, especially on a wet March day. I head back to the car and head a just a little further south to Mooloolaba