For as long as man has walked the Earth, he has found a way to bet. Whether it be on fleas, cockroaches, mud crabs, pigs, dogs or horses – if it can move there’s been a bet on it.
Our Landsborough Shire pioneers were no exception. Before the railway line reached Mellum Creek (Landsborough) in 1890, picnic races were held on New Year’s Day.
The first race track was built on the flats on the northern side of Mellum and by 1892, a second racecourse was carved out of the forests at Old Gympie Road.
“Tambarian” was the North Coast champion owned by the Dendt family and Harry Westaway.
The races at Landsborough were always a profitable day for the six to eight bookmakers. It was said that they’d dash through the scrub for the railhead to Beerwah as soon as the starter’s flag fell.
During race day, the Mellum Club Hotel’s profits would also skyrocket, with sovereigns being the common currency.
The hijinks of the day resulted in many coins being buried in the dust around the betting area and the hotel grounds – which created a windfall for children fossicking in the dust the next day.
An unsung hero of local racing history is Samuel Kelly. He arrived in North Arm in 1886 and bought into the timber trade.
He married Ellen Chambers in 1895 and the couple had 12 children. In 1897 he selected 20 acres at Yandina where he grew citrus, established a herding yard and raised horses and cows.
In 1906 he purchased 2,000 acres at Belli Park and later extended his holdings to a total of 4,000 acres, covering most of the land either side of Cedar Creek Road.
In 1910 he completed the construction of a residence on his Belli Park property and moved there from Yandina to take up permanent residency.
Over the years, Samuel Kelly played an important role in the development of the whole Maroochy district.
He was highly respected, not only as a teamster and grazier, but as a public figure and community leader.
He was elected to the Maroochy Divisional Board in 1898 and served almost continuously as a councillor with the Maroochy Shire for 40 years, until his retirement in 1939.
He served several terms as Shire Chairman. For many years he was a director of the Caboolture Co-Operative Dairy Association, served on the board of the Kenilworth Farmers’ Co-Operative Society for 31 years and was the foundation member of many community associations.
However, his great love was sport, particularly horse racing. It was his one great passion and he was a fine judge of a good horse.
He promoted race clubs and race meetings, with one of his many achievements being founding the first Yandina and Eumundi Race Clubs.
He raced a number of horses successfully, with one of his horses winning 5000 pounds in prize money at a Brisbane race in 1927.
Samuel Kelly cleared land on his own property for a race track. Many successful meetings were also held there in the 1930s and 1940s to raise funds for various projects including building a new hall at Belli, and for the War effort.
When the hall was completed, all race days were followed by a Grand Ball where everyone let their hair down and celebrated their win or were consoled for their loss.
In 1934 it was reported that the sports programme presented by the Belli Race Club provided many thrills.
There were woodchop events, foot races, cycle races, motorcycle races and of course horse races.
It was said that Mr H Finnimore thrilled the crowd with his motorcycle stunts. He would ride without touching the handle bars and also stand on the seat while the machine travelled at high speed.
In more recent times, horse racing has evolved with the Landsborough Shire in 1975 deciding to explore the possibility of establishing a racecourse at Mooloolah, adjacent to the Ewen Maddock Dam.
In 1976 a trial gallop was staged to test the proposed area and leading jockey Peter Cook, riding Doug Treloar’s “Thunderbolt”, covered the trial track without incident. The racecourse at the Mooloolah site was described as feasible.
The inaugural meeting of the Sunshine Coast Racing Club was held on June 30, 1977 and planning indicated that more land was needed to increase the size of the track.
Finally, land owned by Mr Edward Corbould, a grazier, facing the Caloundra Road was recommended as a potential site. After negotiations, a contract was signed on February 4, 1980 for the site now known as Corbould Park.
Clearing and construction began in 1981 and the Sunshine Coast Turf Club had its first race meeting on Thursday July 25, 1985.
Over the years many improvements have been carried out and Corbould Park is now recognised as one of the finest thoroughbred racing and training facilities in Australia.
Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.
Hero: George Best winning the pony race on ‘Friskie’ at the Yandina Race Course on 28 December, 1903.
Image 1: Crowds gathered at the Yandina Race Club’s, fifteenth annual race meeting, Yandina Racecourse Reserve, 28 December 1903. The Yandina Race Club was the earliest sporting organisations in the Yandina district. It held its first meeting ca 1888 and in 1896 the Yandina Racecourse and Recreation Reserve was gazetted.
Image 2: Ladies at a race meeting, Yandina, 1900
Image 3: Glass House Mountains picnic races, ca 1930
Image 4: Councillor Samuel Kelly (standing second from left) with fellow councillors at the first Maroochy Shire Council meeting held after the opening of the Nambour Town Hall, Nambour, 1931
Image 5: Directors of the Caboolture Co-operative Dairy Association, ca 1933. Samuel Kelly (Belli) left foreground.
Image 6: Aerial view of Corbould Park, Caloundra Road, Caloundra, ca 1985
Image 7: First race meeting conducted by the Sunshine Coast Turf Club at Corbould Park, Caloundra, 25th July 1985. Seven races were held on the opening day and the first horse ever to win at Corbould Park was Mister Omega ridden by Ron Quinton in the H E Corbould Transition Handicap.The crowd attendance was 14,000 people with 1,198 members
Image 8: Caloundra Cup held at Corbould Park racecourse, Caloundra, 1987. Pictured L-R Landsborough Shire Council Chairman, Councillor Jack Beausang, R. George, owner of ‘ Some Charm’ winner of the Caloundra Cup, C. Boyle, Chairman of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club, winning jockey Craig Hyeronimus who rode ‘Some Charm’, Member for Landsborough and Queensland Minister for Health, Hon. Mike Ahern and his wife Andrea.
Image 9: Surf to Turf Race, Corbould Park, Caloundra 21 June, 1998. On the day, the horse, Irish Bunny – trained by Lloyd Brazier, won the Surf to Turf race. Pictured include, Jockey: Ken Pope.