I left Mooloolaba early for Strathpine in the hope of missing traffic. Unfortunately this resulted in me arriving in this north Brisbane suburb at the start of the daily rush hour.
The town today appears to comprise of the busy main Gympie Road, leading into Brisbane and several shopping centres. Unlike my previous destinations of Mooloolaba and Maroochydore this was not a beachside resort but an urban development focusing on practicality rather than aesthetics.
Historically, the town developed partly as a result of the discovery of gold at Gympie in 1867 and the resultant increase in people travelling through the area and the arrival of the railways – giving the town its name. By the 1870’s, three sugar mills operated in the town, but only one was destined survive, until 1968, through becoming a significant producer of quality rum. At its height, the Normanby Distillery produced over 5,000 litres per day.
After production halted in 1968, the last of the rum was maturing in vats that year when vandals who broke into the distillery released rum into the nearby South Pine River with 7500 litres wasted on the fish! The Bennett family was the distillery owner from 1908 for about 50 years until Queensland United Foods took over. When the building was to be demolished in 1975, a member of the Bennett family went looking for any remaining Normanby rum, six years after production finished and QUF let the brand name fall into disuse. He found the last bottle in a Gympie pub.