Woombye, a rural township of about 800 people, is in the eastern foothills of the Blackall Range. Immediately south of Nambour, it is 85 km north of Brisbane. It is thought that the name was derived from an Aboriginal word describing the dark foliaged lilly pilly tree or, perhaps, the black snake.
The discovery of gold at Gympie prompted the opening of a road between Brisbane and the goldfield, in place of the original route down from Maryborough. Cobb and Co started a coach service to Gympie in 1868 and established an overnight stop at Woombye, at first called Cobbs Camp (and also known as Middle Camp). Confusion about the name resulted in it being changed to Woombye in 1889 when a township was surveyed. By then there were a school (1885), Cobbs Camp Hotel (1870) and a considerable number of farm selections. The railway was opened in 1891.
Fruit growing, particularly pineapples, was Woombye's economic mainstay. A local fruitgrowers' association was formed in 1898. Pugh's Queensland Directory (1904) recorded Woombye as having several storekeepers, Methodist and Anglican churches, a school of arts and a sawmill. As lumber needed for Brisbane building lessened, a new market for timber emerged with thousands of packing cases for fruit. Pineapple gluts were partially solved by Woombye's local school teacher who organized fast rail transport to carry fruit to southern capitals (1919). Two years later, by local initiative, a pulping plant was opened in Woombye. Pugh's 1925 directory described Woombye as being the centre of a large fruit-growing district, producing strawberries, citrus, bananas and pineapples in great quantities. Woombye's identification with the pineapple industry came to the fore with the opening of the Big Pineapple tourist attraction in 1971, a 16 metre fiberglass structure with an internal staircase and a lookout. It closed in 2010 when negotiations began to sell the site to the Bowden family, with plans to redevelop it to incorporate their extensive collection of motor racing vehicles.
The main addition to Woombye's economy has been new residents attracted by the prospect of an alternative life style: the Meher Baba Foundation and a Christian Outreach Centre and college (1979) are examples of the change from farming. Woombye has a primary school, a local shopping centre and five churches. Its census populations have been:
Another 2094 people lived in the Woombye district, out of the town.
Helen Gregory, Making Maroochy: a history of the land, the people and the shire, Brisbane, Boolarong, 1991