The junction of Paynters and Petrie Creeks, Diddillibah.
The junction of Paynters and Petrie Creeks, Diddillibah. Greg Miller

'Maroochy River' lost in naming bungle

GOOGLE Maps has lost its way in pinpointing one of the Sunshine Coast's major rivers and is bamboozling visitors in the process.

Type in Maroochydore into Google Maps and up pops Paynter River nearby.

Paynter River?

Residents and visitors could be forgiven for thinking the Maroochy River had been renamed.

But there is no official Paynter River.


Paynter River?
Paynter River? google maps

Wayne Buckley, from Brisbane, discovered the quirky map inaccuracy when planning a short break on the Coast early in January.

He reported the mistake to the Daily recently, saying he thought the river must have undergone a name change he was unaware of.

If you're confused, you're not alone. Even a local radio station morning traffic report last Friday used "Paynter River" when it really meant Maroochy River.

There is a Paynters Creek (and corresponding road on the way to Nambour from Maroochydore) but it doesn't even come close to river dimensions.

Maroochy Waterwatch says on its website: "Technically a tributary of Petrie Creek, Paynter Creek has its headwaters in the Blackall Ranges near the town of Montville. It discharges into Petrie Creek, 2km from the Maroochy River."

Cruise Maroochy Eco Tours owner/operator Denis Poynton said he often had confused customers who were unable to locate the Maroochy River business due to the much-referred-to Google Maps.  

"It has happened to us a couple of times," he said.

"There is a Paynters Creek that runs into Maroochy River where some people seem to end up.

"Most people find us after they look on our website."  


ALL ABOARD: Kate and Denis Poynton, of Cruise Maroochy.
ALL ABOARD: Kate and Denis Poynton, of Cruise Maroochy. Melanie Keyte

Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said being able to find a place easily was obviously very important for tourism.

"We are concerned that Google Maps would label the Maroochy River as anything other than Maroochy River," he said.

"We will take up the issue with Google because we now have high-quality tourism assets on the Maroochy River, and that is a very well-known name on the Sunshine Coast.

"We're not sure how this happened, but will try and get it changed."


No Caption
No Caption

Mr Latchford said signage in general for Sunshine Coast tourist attractions needed to be upgraded along roads to ensure tourists could find major tourist attractions easily.

The Spirit House restaurant and cooking school in Yandina had had difficulties for years with travellers not being able to find the venue, especially at night, he said.

A spokesperson from Google said the online maps were created from a variety of sources which was where things sometimes went wrong.

"The various types of data found in Google Maps come from a wide range of sources, including third-party providers, public sources, and user contributions," the spokesperson said.

"Overall, this provides a very comprehensive and up-to-date map experience, but we recognise that there may be occasional inaccuracies that could arise from any of those sources.

"Users who see an error or missing place on Google Maps can use the Report a Problem tool, found at the bottom right corner of the map."

Meanwhile, a Nambour Library check showed that at various times, the creek has been presented as Paynter's Creek, Paynters Creek and Paynter Creek.

The present accepted name is Paynters Creek.

A quick check of White Pages online shows a handful of people with the family name of Paynter living on the Sunshine Coast.

But why the creek was named that remains somewhat of a mystery as it appears there is little written about its origin or if it was indeed named after a member of the Paynter family.

It could even be a misspelling of "painter".

Sunshine Coast Libraries' Local Studies Collection offered this from the publication Cobb's Camp Woombye, published in connection with the Woombye Centenary celebrations in 1977: "In 1867, William Wilson, with his bullock team, was hauling cedar and beech out of the scrubs along what was first known as Wilson's Creek. William Pettigrew, in his diary, wrote of the tidal mouth of the creek as "Dick the painter's Creek". No one seems to know who Dick the painter was but Wilson's Creek became known as Paynter's Creek."

And Marutchi: The Early History of the Sunshine Country by Reverend Joseph Tainton in 1976, seems to confirm this, saying: "William Pettigrew, in his diary, wrote of the tidal end of it (Wilson's Creek) as 'Dick the painter's Creek' without giving a reason. Who was Dick the painter? Perchance this creek was his favourite fishing place. Who knows? However, the name Paynter's Creek went into common usage." reported late last week that a woman in the US spent five days lost and stranded in a remote part of the Grand Canyon after Google Maps took her down a wrong turn.

Amber Vanhecke, 24, was so lost in the national park that she thought she would die and even recorded farewell messages on her phone.

A Mooloolaba Coast Guard spokesman didn't believe "Paynter River" posed a safety issue in this instance, however, as most larger vessels had charts and would not use Google Maps to navigate the area.

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