Witta lies some 7kms north east of Maleny. Head out of Maleny on the Maleny/Kenilworth road some 5kms and you will find an unprepossessing sign indicating the turn off to Witta to your right. Witta is a wonderful secret that it is all too easy to bypass as you enjoy the glorious countryside of the Sunshine Coast hinterland and that is part of its magic!
Wind up the fairly narrow road from the turn off and the countryside opens up into one of the most beautiful drives in the area. You will pass a somewhat incongruous fuel depot but then the road really delivers some truly spectacular scenery. There is a wide and gun barrel straight section of this road with some beautiful homes discreetly set back in native plantings on both sides. To the east are wonderful valley vistas and magnificent country views all round. This location could hold its head high against almost any high end development in any of our capital cities.
Witta comes with a wonderful history of early settlement, dedicated hard work and strong family values. It was originally settled in 1887 by German immigrants and was called Teutoberg. They are believed to have come from the Teutoburgh forest region of Munster which is located in northern Germany. They came bringing their farming heritage and set to clearing the land to create outstanding dairy and crop growing country which it remains to this day. In 1888 the town reserve was proclaimed and Teutoberg was off to a flying start.
This was a strong Lutheran community. The early settlers brought with them their historic values and a church was built in 1893 where the Lutheran Pastor E.Becker from Brisbane arranged for regular services. In 1911 a new church took its place which you will pass as you continue into the village. This delightful and historic monument to the faith of those early settlers is still in use today.
Just next to the Lutheran church on your left you will pass one of the treasures of the area, Bergann’s Lane Walk. This is a delightful 2.2km return easy stroll through the beautiful countryside of the area. In 2005 with the drive of Cr Pauline Clayton the Caloundra City Council opened the Bergann’s Lane Walk to the public. Named after one of the distinguished early immigrant families it is worth taking the time to walk through to Bergann’s road and return. Over 5000 trees were planted in the revegetation work. You will enjoy remnant rainforest, wetland views, White Beech and Brown Tamarind trees, an old grave site and possibly a glimpse of Platypus along the way.
This lane was originally used primarily by the children of the area to make their way to and from the school that was opened in 1892. It was called the Teutoberg Provisional School and became the Teutoberg State School in 1909. Walk Bergann’s Lane and it is not hard to imagine the children laughing and calling to each other as they rode to school on some dearly loved but ancient and retired farm horse picking up friends along the way. The school closed in 1974 making way for excellent private and state school facilities that are close by in the Maleny Township.
The school still plays a key part in the village as a community centre with shady areas, picnic tables and toilets. This glorious and humble old building sits in its beautiful surroundings as a reminder of the children of these early settlers and how education was seen in those days as a privilege.
A School of Arts was opened in 1908 by Harry Walker, M.L.A. There is a delightful write up in the Chronicle and North Coast Advertiser of the day saying that the robust Harry rode 40 miles to be present at the opening ceremony and then “occupied the chair and in a few well-chosen words declared the School of Arts open.” Having ridden 40 miles one could well believe that “occupying the chair” was a wonderful relief.
At the outbreak of the 1914/18 war anti German feeling was strong in Australia. It was estimated that at that time more than half the local farmers had German names. To extinguish any doubts about their loyalty the people of Teutoberg petitioned for a name change for the area, somewhat like the famous English Battenberg’s changing their name to Mountbatten for similar reasons. The area was renamed Witta which is believed to be a corruption of the word “Weyta” meaning dingo or wild dog in the Kabi Kabi language.
Witta is not exactly crowded! It has a population dispersed through the district of about 1300 people and delivers an old world country charm of peace and tranquillity. One suspects that the good folk of Witta avoid notoriety, contention and fame.
Indeed if you look back over its history it is one of family values, hard work and community. However in the 1920’s its sporting fame burned bright. Dr Otto Nothling, son of one of the earliest settlers C.M. Nothling who had a farm and vineyard in the area, was only one of two people ever to represent Australia at both Cricket and Rugby Union at international level.
He played rugby for Australia as full back in 19 international matches and cricket in one Test Match as a right arm medium fast bowler. For those of a sporting bent the only other Australian rugby and cricket dual international was Johnny Taylor. After this somewhat exhausting burst of fame Witta happily settled back to enjoy its fresh air, peace and tranquillity.
The centre of this truly picturesque village is wonderfully understated. You will find a sports oval and the Witta Recreational Club, tennis courts, a beautifully maintained Lutheran cemetery, children’s play area and park. With the amazing facilities that Maleny offers just 7km away Witta sensibly decided not to emulate the bustling township just down the road.
Due to its proximity some could say that Witta is almost a suburb of Maleny. This is a disservice to both. There is the separation of the rolling farmlands between the two and they complement each other. Maleny has all the services, charm, creativity and excitement of a vibrant township. Witta provides a gentle and visually outstanding village. It is a wonderful place to reside with a proud history from its early settlement days.
If one lived in Witta one should consider buying an older car for weekends, perhaps a 1960’s MG , soft top 1966 Mustang or similar. Then on a sunny Sunday morning one could leave home with the hood down with the kids or grandkids in the back accompanied by “the light of your darkness” to motor to one of the many excellent eateries that Maleny boasts. There to treat them to a lazy breakfast or perhaps to indulge in the weekend papers over an excellent local coffee. Then to gently return to the peace and tranquillity of the green and leafy enclave that is Witta today!