Bli Bli, a town on the Maroochy River, is 95 km north of central Brisbane and 6 km inland from Maroochydore. It is thought that its name derives from an Aboriginal expression 'billai billai', referring to a swamp oak.
Bli Bli is in the heart of a sugar cane growing region, close to both Maroochy Wetlands and the Petrie Creek. William Peter Clark, a timber leaseholder, first experimented with sugar cane growing near Bli Bli in the mid-1860s. Twenty years later several sugar cane farms were surveyed and taken up.
The Maroochy River impeded access to Bli Bli, and although comprised of good farm land, the lack of ready access stunted development. In the 1950s former Maroochy Shire chair and state parliamentarian David Low advocated the development of tourism in the area, which (along with farming) required better roads and bridges. The David Low Way road access and bridge (1959) across the Maroochy River became the coastal entry point to Bli Bli; its 'Fairytale Castle' tourist attraction, opened in 1973, an incongruous medieval fantasia in a tropical tourist setting. More prosaically, there were numerous cane tramways converging on the town, which served the sugar mill in Nambour until its 2004 closure. Since the Mill's closure, cane farmers have turned to the production of 'cow candy', a form of cattle fodder processed from sugar cane.
Bli Bli's population doubled to over 3300 from 1986 to 1996. The town boasts a caravan park and a retirement village, together with a primary school (opened in 1901) and a local shopping centre. The Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary, just outside Bli Bli on the Maroochy River, offers boardwalks and walking tracks.
Bli Bli's census populations have been:
Berenis Alcorn, A century of achievements: Bli Bli State School 1901-2001, Maroochydore, Bli Bli State School Parents and Citizens Committee, 2001