Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published February 15th 2014
The Brown Jug Cafe & The Gympie Gold Rush
When I was a kid and my family drove through Gympie on our way to Brisbane, my Dad used to abbreviate or pronounce names of towns incorrectly to have some fun – much to the horror of my mother who thought we would end up not knowing how to pronounce them properly. He pronounced Gympie as "gym-pee" and we would laugh as Mum scolded him.
Around August 1867, settler James Nash first discovered gold in the Mary River however not publicly announcing his find until October of the same year. Gympie then became well known and the Gold Rush era begun.
The discovery of gold in Gympie came at a good time for Queensland as it was during the period of depression.
Gympie started as a long street stretching more than a mile up and down a hill which is now known as Mary Street. The main street contained stores, banks, public houses, a church and a few eating places which were mainly constructed of wood and one-storey high. The houses of the miners were merely huts scattered around the hills.
However by the end of 1868 the gold diggers had exhausted much of the gold so mining had come to an end. In 1893 record floods began in February which caused widespread disaster for Gympie and many prospecting ventures had to close due to financial issues.
Today Gympie business houses in Mary Street become inundated with flood waters on a regular basis from the summer rains and cyclone season that ravage the Queensland Coast, with thousands of dollars of damage and clean ups that become a norm rather than an occasion. It's incomprehensible to think these buildings have waters that reach their eaves during flood times and yet the townsfolk rally together to get the clean-ups underway and back to business as usual. Apart from that, Gympie has retained a charm from years past and as with most country towns promotes its history and tourism to visitors each year.
Leaving the highway and driving towards the centre of Mary Street is a lovely park with ample free parking. Many a family can be seen with picnic hamper enjoying the spacious environment away from the traffic. Parking here we walked through the Anzac Memorial walkway through to Mary Street.
On wall through walkway to centre of Mary Street, Gympie
It's lovely to stroll from one end of Mary Street to the other looking up at the fascias on the old buildings and noting the year each of them was built. Trying to imagine just what they looked like in that time and what stories their walls could tell. Sadly, as times must change, most of the old buildings are now homes to the modern day stores with long glass windows adorning their fronts.
We lunched at "The Brown Jug" Café in Mary Street and were impressed with their service, atmosphere of the Café and a much loved, although not often consumed 'Ice Coffee'. Our homemade Ice Coffees were delivered to our table with extra coffee milk to fill our glasses once we had sipped them down a little. That was a nice surprise. An open grill sandwich was very filling and delicious.
The walls are covered with photographs depicting the history of the town, of course in sepia colour and a high shelf hangs numerous shapes of small brown jugs. It is wonderful how an atmosphere is created by small touches that make the venue complete.
Gympie is also the home of the famous Gympie Muster which is held annually in August, a great event which has grown over the years and entices many a country singer to the stage. It is well worth the weekend or week depending on what time you can spare, however if you plan to stay in Gympie, book ahead so you don't miss out on accommodation.
Another place you should take the time to visit is the Gold Mining & Historical Museum. The Museum is on the site of the former No. 2 South Great Eastern Mine of which some of the relics are still on the site.
They open seven days a week with Markets held on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Sundays of the month. Entry to the Museum is $10 for adults and students/ primary school children only $5.00. Group bookings can also be arranged. A Café is also situated on site for lunch or just a snack.
Although I didn't have time this day to spend the hours I wanted to here, I intend to return to learn more about our gold mining history as my Grandfather also worked as a miner in his youth. And I'm sure another story will come out of that interesting visit!