Celebrating elders who have helped shape our community

When Margaret and Max Thompson started fighting for Peregian Beach, there was no such thing as Facebook, and Tik Tok was a noise their clock made.

It was the mid ‘90s and they both had a strong urge to roll up their sleeves and do something for a village with an uncertain future and property developers eyeing off each street.

Back then, the southern half of Peregian Beach was a far outpost of the old developer-friendly Maroochy Shire and seen as more of a ratepayers’ cash cow than a place to protect.

1993. Another of the early battlers, Maggie Wilkie stood in front of a bulldozer as the Maroochy Shire Council wanted to join Lorikeet Drive to the DLW roundabout, which would have made it a main road through the middle of Peregian Beach.  This battle resulted in the lovely little pocket park at the Southern end of Peregian Beach where that confrontation took place, now known as Lorikeet Park. It is a testament to this early battle, and to the tireless work of those – including Margaret and Max – who have planted, mulched and weeded for decades.

1996.  Margaret and Max were at the centre of the battle against the 7 storey  development, which the locals nicknamed “Maralinga”, a little further north along Lorikeet Drive.  

The Thomsons’ home became known locally as “The War Office”.  It was the headquarters of a grassroots community campaign by those who knew that if this high-rise went ahead, the surrounding streets would soon resemble the Gold Coast. 

Margaret and Max mobilised a band of anti-high-rise residents who drew in community support. Margaret and Max’s family referred to them them as the “Ageing Agitators”. 

The residents’ objections eventually prevailed when Council admitted it had been misreading its own Town Plan for ten years and required the developer to submit compliant plans. The developers withdrew.  Today the park in front of the site is called Victory Park, and residents who know the history say a quiet thank you to those “ageing agitators”.

1998. When South Peregian Beach Community Association was incorporated Margaret and Max joined as foundation members. They later were made life Members of Peregian Beach Community Association. (PBCA)

2001.  Margaret became the local community association’s second president.  In those days Peregian Beach was cut in half.  The old Maroochy Shire extracted millions in rates from its Southern Peregian Beach residents but gave them little in return.  They were at the core of a local push to join South Peregian Beach to the rest of the village which was in the Noosa Shire. This battle dragged out until 2004 when the village of Peregian Beach finally became whole as part of Noosa Council, and the little band of battlers changed their name to the PBCA.

The rigours of battling developers and weekly weeding and dune planting are behind them now, but Margaret and Max remain a strong presence at PBCA’s monthly meetings.  

One simple piece of advice from these “ageing agitators”; “don’t just chat about our challenges on social media, get involved, join your local community group, find out what’s going on…and do something about it.”

You don’t have to wear a home-made high-rise protest hat as Margaret did in this 1996 photo, but it can help.

If you know ‘elders’ who have helped shape our communities for the better and can tell their story briefly with a picture or two, please let us know.

And here, if you missed it, we celebrate the life of Cecily Fearnley, our Noosa Flower.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Noel Playford

    Not hard to see why residents from South Peregian Beach agitated for many years to have their area amalgamated with Noosa. It helped that at one stage their rates were almost double those of their neighbours in Noosa Shire. In the end, their persistence paid off, only to find they were then amalgamated along with all of Noosa as part of the newly created Regional Council in 2008. Imagine their relief when Noosa was successful in deamalgamating in 2014 to form a new Noosa Council. They would have to be the only community that has ever had to join another Council twice!

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