What really strikes you about the history of the villages in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is the wonderful qualities displayed by its early pioneers. Like Mapleton, the neighbouring village of Flaxton was settled by a family that exemplified hard work, self-reliance, humility and a real commitment to the welfare and growth of the community around them.
Flaxton, with a population today of around 900 people, lies between Montville and Mapleton some 436 metres above sea level on the Blackall Range. The village was named after Flaxton Hall in the fen country of the East Coast of England.
Joseph Dixon opened the area after successful business ventures in Buderim and Gympie. He applied for 32 hectares of land at Flaxton in 1882 and commenced a major land clearing operation with the objective of farming the area for bananas and citrus. By 1892 he had harvested the valuable Red Cedar and Beech and cleared sufficient land for serious agriculture production to begin.
In 1909 he commenced the building of a substantial family home that can still be admired today. Originally called “Chermside” but later named “Tanderra” the visitor can still sight this magnificent private property on the corner of Flaxton Mill road.
Tanderra reflects these early days and is largely original with floors of pit sawn Beech harvested from the property. There is a magnificent Magnolia tree in the beautiful gardens which dates back to 1910.
Across Flaxton Mill road from the house is a substantial stand of bamboo planted by Joseph Dixon. This was grown to provide shelter for his bullocks. The bamboo is heritage listed and the story goes that when Council wanted to put in Flaxton Mill road Joseph agreed providing his bamboo was not touched. Thus Flaxton Mill road is essentially one lane until you get through the bamboo where it opens up to a normal road width.
Farming in the area prospered and a substantial fruit packing shed was opened in 1931 to cater for the entire districts harvest. The rail link between Mapleton and the rail head at Nambour was much used and was of critical importance to the Flaxton farmers in getting product to market. A sawmill opened in 1936 and operated until 1956. Like the rest of the Sunshine Coast hinterland the area progressively moved into dairy farming as the competition from other fruit growing regions made the hinterland uncompetitive.
Flaxton today is a wonderful residential area. There are substantial properties hiding down leafy lanes and quiet streets. There is no commercial centre but Flaxton is well served by the shops and facilities of Mapleton or Montville some five minutes away. The major shopping and medical facilities of Nambour are just twenty minutes away. The Sunshine Coast Airport with its direct flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide is some thirty five minutes easy drive.
There are some commercial features of the area that truly add value to the Flaxton experience. On what was once a derelict dairy farm on the corner of Philipps Road you will find Flaxton Gardens with its stunning coastal views. In 1980 Flaxton Gardens Pottery opened with a kiosk and craft shop. In 1984 a larger building was constructed with a view to wine making, a vineyard and cellars. The true potential of Flaxton Gardens has been recognised over the last few years with the opening of a very successful restaurant, wedding and reception centre. There is a special kind of magic about a wedding on their lawns with that amazing view to the coast. Flaxton Gardens is a wonderful watering hole for both locals and visitors alike.
If you like French food you should definitely move to Flaxton. In fact if you REALLY like French food you will already have visited Flaxton which is home to that very special French restaurant, “Le Relais Bressan”. Formally very successful in Brisbane and now moved to Flaxton. This might explain why you can now detect the development of a slight French accent from some of the locals!
The Flaxton Barn is the third local icon with its café, giftware and recycled treasures. A small motel and a café essentially make up the final piece of the commercial picture.
Flaxton certainly is blessed with wonderful parks and reserves. Montville might claim the amazing Kondalilla Falls as its own but essentially it is on the southern approach to Flaxton. Discovered in the late 1800’s by William Skene whilst searching for lost cattle the area was named Kondalilla after the Aboriginal word meaning “rushing water”. With the 1.7km Picnic Creek circuit and the more challenging 4.7km Kondalilla Falls circuit, rock pools, waterfalls and views it is a very popular destination for visitors and locals. The park is a remnant of the subtropical rainforest that was once extensive throughout the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. A walk to Kondalilla Falls or indeed any of the other major parks in the hinterland leaves you in awe of the extraordinary resolve and hard work the early settlers showed in their drive to open the area for farming.
A section of The Great Walk of the Sunshine Coast runs between Flaxton and Mapleton. Access can be made at the track entrance in Flaxton Mill road. This section of The Walk takes the hiker through open Eucalypt forest, rocky outcrops and down to Baxter’s Creek with its beautiful waterfall. The creek can be crossed by the suspension bridge and a walk through a tranquil palm grove. It is always a good idea to check at the local information centre before heading bush to get a copy of free local maps. Also tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. (Should you fail to return your friends can either send out a search party or simply throw an enormous party depending on your standing with them!)
In summary Flaxton was founded on hard work by fine people. The quality of those early days still reflects in this special residential pocket with its proud heritage. It has an air of quiet, understated quality. It lies close to all the amenities that the Hinterland has to offer yet somehow sits back, enjoying its solitude, very much at peace with itself.