Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Motor launch to Bribie

Motor launch to Bribie
1920s to 1950s

Through the 1920s to the 1950s small motor launches plied the Brisbane River offering excursions. Some were also licensed to carry passengers into Moreton Bay and onto islands like Peel Island, Stradbroke Island and Bribie Island.

One such vessel was the Nancy III. Her first owner was Mr Gould who sold her in 1927. Nancy III was built by Arthur White and her dimensions were 49ft long, with a 14ft beam and draught of 3ft 6in and licensed to carry 110 in River and 40 in Bay. 

(F. Gould owner) regular flagship of the South Brisbane Sailing Club. ... The picture
shows her in the Milton Reach, following the club's opening skiff race last Saturday... 

source: The Telegraph Sat 27 Sep 1924 p. 6

Unloading right on the beach at ?
source: State Library of Queensland neg. # 134186

1946 KING'S BIRTHDAY HOLIDAY - Off for Day on Bribie. Boat trips attracted hundreds of Brisbane people who set out today to make the most of the fine King's Birthday holiday. This picture shows a happy party moving off down the river to spend the day on Bribie Island. Source: The Telegraph Mon 17 Jun 1946 p. 3 

on the Brisbane River
source: State Library of Queensland neg. # 178422
1951 EASTER - Easter rush amazes transport officials ... Almost 1,000 people, including hundreds who should have been work, went this morning in the pleasure boats Koopa and Mirana to Bribie Island and Stradbroke Islands. The Koopa will make a second trip tonight and three boats will run tonight to Stradbroke. source: Brisbane Telegraph Thu 22 Mar 1951 p. 1 

(built 1934)
approaching the jetty at Amity Point
source: State Library of Queensland neg. # 52611
The Mirimar was built in 1934 and in the 1950s took over the Brisbane to Bribie Island via Redcliffe service from the Koopa.

Mirimar approaching Amity Point Jetty ?
Title: Mirimar (ship)  Negative number: 52611 State Library of Queensland

Nancy III. [PICTURE] (F. Gould owner) regular flagship of the South Brisbane Sailing Club. ... The picture shows her in the Milton Reach, following the club's opening skiff race last Saturday... source: The Telegraph Sat 27 Sep 1924 p. 6

Nancy unloading right on the beach at ?

Title: Nancy (ship) Negative number: 134186 State Library of Queensland

South Brisbane Sailing Club ... The flagship Nancy will leave North Quay at 2.30 p.m. ... source: Daily Standard (Brisbane) Thu 21 Oct 1926 p. 12

Auction of the very fine Motor Launch Nancy III, length 49ft., beam 14ft., draught 3ft 6in ... licensed to carry 110 in River and 40 in Bay ... built by Arthur White ... source: The Brisbane Courier Sat 16 Jul 1927 p. 36
Thirteen members of the Commercial Swimming Club visited Peel Island last week-end in the Nancy III. At daybreak on Sunday they got among the squire, and a good haul resulted. source: Sunday Mail (Brisbane) Sun 6 Nov 1927 p. 22

Title: Mirana (ship)  Negative number: 178422

Title: Mirimar (ship)  Negative number: 145262.
Summary: The Mirimar was built in 1934 and took over the service to Bribie Island via Redcliffe from the 'Koopa' and 'Doomba'. The Mirimar was taken over by the navy during World War II for use in the Brisbane and Moreton Bay region. (Description supplied with photograph)

Off for Day on Bribie. Boat trips attracted hundreds of Brisbane people who set out today to make the most of the fine King's Birthday holiday. This picture shows a happy party moving off down the river to spend the day on Bribie Island. Source: The Telegraph Mon 17 Jun 1946 p. 3

1951 EASTER - Easter rush amazes transport officials ... Almost 1,000 people, including hundreds who should have been work, went this morning in the pleasure boats Koopa and Mirana to Bribie Island and Stradbroke Islands. The Koopa will make a second trip tonight and three boats will run tonight to Stradbroke. source: Brisbane Telegraph Thu 22 Mar 1951 p. 1

Saturday, 9 May 2020

A day-trip to Bribie

Almost a century ago, a day-trip to Bribie for local community groups was a popular excursion destination. The following descriptions from 1923 and 1924 almost allow the reader to feel the wind on their face and hear the shrill whistle of the steamers!

Lockyer Schools. Annual Excursion.

It has been the custom for a number of years for the whole of the schools in the Lockyer district to co-operate in an excursion on Moreton Bay, and this year's outing took place yesterday. The rain which fell during the afternoon affected the visitors but little, as at that time they were aboard the Koopa just outside the river. Two trains were requisitioned to carry the crowd of holiday-makers to the city, the Central station being reached shortly after 9 o'clock. No time was lost in making for Kennedy wharf, where the Koopa was boarded. In an atmosphere of animated good-fellowship, the run down the river and out into the bay passed all too quickly, and tying-up operations were begun shortly before 13 o'clock at Bribie Island jetty.

Some elected to dine on board, but a great number went ashore, and picnic lunches were almost immediately in full swing. It was not very long before some of the more adventurous spirits disappeared behind convenient trees and huts, emerging clad in costumes for the water.

Just before 3 o'clock the warning whistles began to blow, and in twos and threes and laughing little companies the trippers re-embarked.  Kennedy wharf was reached again about 5 o'clock, but as another hour yet remained before they had to board their trains, they soon scattered again, and for a little while Queen-street was filled with happy, sunburned faces. Two trains were again provided for the run home, and punctually at 6.18 the second division pulled out from Central station.

Source: The Daily Mail (Brisbane) Thu 22 Nov 1923 p. 10

Bread carters have happy day at Bribie. 

Bribie was again chosen by the bread carters for their annual outing. The day was a glorious one, the weather doing its best to co-operate with the bread carters, their wives and friends, to make the day an enjoyable one. The steamer Doomba was well patronised, about 1100 attending, and the trip down was rendered most enjoyable by selections from a fine orchestra. On arrival at Bribie each child was handed a parcel of lollies and fruit, which they greatly appreciated.

Sports were commenced immediately, the results being:- ... Boys' Race... Girls' Race ... Members' Handicap ... Open Handicap .. Single Ladies' Race ... Married Women's Race ... Old Buffers' Race ... Committee Race...

Dancing took place in the hall, the music being supplied by the courtesy of a friend of the committee. Those who did not partake in the sports or the dancing were busy fishing, and everybody thoroughly enjoyed the day.

The thanks of the committee are due to Mr. Davis, of the jetty kiosk, for the excellent way in which he has prepared the course, and the way he had carried out the arrangements asked of him by the committee.

At 3.15 p.m. a loud call from the siren of the Doomba hastened the picnickers aboard, and the return journey was commenced. Fruit was distributed amongst the passengers. The trip was again enlivened by choice selections from the orchestra. Presentations followed ...

The Doomba berthed again at Brisbane at about 6.10 p.m., everybody thoroughly happy and contented. The bread carters' picnic committee feel sure that all who attended this trip will do so again and recommend these outings to their friends. ...

Source: Daily Standard (Brisbane) Fri 10 Oct 1924 p. 6

Thursday, 23 April 2020

Koopa on the Brisbane River

Koopa on the Brisbane River
In 1919, as well as plying the Brisbane to Bribie trips for excursionists and holiday-makers the Koopa also carried newly-arrived passengers from the Quarantine Station at Lytton to the city wharf in Brisbane.

Two particular trips were captured by the local press - in February returning soldiers who had arrived at Lytton on the ship Nestor and - in March returning soldiers with their brides and babies "back to Queensland" to settle down after the upheaval of war and a pandemic.

Source: The Western Champion (Barcaldine) Sat 15 Feb 1919 p. 9

Scene on arrival of Koopa in Brisbane on Saturday, with a large number
 of returned soldiers, many of whom brought brides and babies.
Source: The Daily Mail (Brisbane) Mon 3 Mar 1919 p.9


Pneumonic Influenza. The Western Champion and General Advertiser for the Central-Western Districts (Barcaldine) Sat 15 Feb 1919 p. 9

Back to Queensland. A Fervent Re-union. [pictures] Article: Soldiers' wives. Varied Experiences. Batch reaches Brisbane. The Daily Mail (Brisbane) Mon 3 Mar 1919 p. 9

The Landing of troops. Nearly 1000 men from the Nestor. A Happy Gathering at the Wharf. The Brisbane Courier Sat 15 Feb 1919 p. 5

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Excursion to Bribie via Koopa and Doomba

Travelling to Bribie aboard the steamships Koopa and Doomba are memories  held by many people.

Here is a glimpse of some of the advertisements used in the 1930s and earlier to entice excursionists to see the sights of our picturesque bay! 

The 1919 advertisement is particular relevant to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

December 1936

The Telegraph, 7 Dec 1936, p. 20
The Telegraph, 7 Dec 1936, p. 20

The popular and delightful fishing, camping and holiday resorts of Moreton Bay
Adults 4 shillings, return ; Children 1 shilling, return.
Sundays only: Adults 3 shillings return!

"Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Sunday's time-table allows four hours ashore for surfing, fishing, etc at Bribie. Refreshments obtainable on board steamers."

Accompanying this advertisement is an article entitled "Enchanted Isle"


July 1930

The Brisbane Courier, 22 Jul 1930, p. 2
Bay trip on the Koopa on Sunday to Bribie
Return fares 3 shillings, children 1 shilling


January 1924

The Doomba carried her happy cargoes to the cooling breezes at Redcliffe and Bribie.
Photo: W.G. Cummings
The Daily Mail (Brisbane) Sat 19 Jan 1924 p. 13

December 1924

The Brisbane Courier, 6 Dec 1924, p. 3
The Brisbane Courier, 6 Dec 1924, p. 3

Special Sunday afternoon excursion!
Return fares 3 shillings, children half price


March 1919

Koopa Trips to Redcliffe and Bribie

In our advertising columns appear a few statements on the "flu" question as regards bay excursions. 
Pure sea air no doubt goes a long way to keeping one healthy, and the opportunity to partake of it, the Brisbane Tug Co. Points out, is within the reach of all.

source: The Brisbane Courier Wed 5 Mar 1919 p. 3

The Koopa and the Flu
source: The Brisbane Courier Wed 5 Mar 1919 p. 2


January 1915

The Telegraph, 16 Jan 1915, p. 3
School Children's Excursions with special fares!
School children - sixpence each return. 
Adults - 2 shillings, sixpence return.

The National Library of Australia's online newspaper resource Trove is indeed a wonderful treasure-trove.

Friday, 14 February 2020

1966 bushwalk on North Bribie

The following article gives readers a view of North Bribie Island as it was in 1966.

Bushwalking on Bribie (1966)
by "Wantimba"

An island, warm in the sun, lies across Pumicestone Strait from Caloundra, inviting the bushwalker, the bird watcher, the fisherman and the casual tourist to something unusual, something different.

The invitation is especially strong on sunny winter days between May and September.

This is the northern end of Bribie Island. Of the many accounts of early Queensland only one gives an indication of the native name of this island.

John Dunmore Lang, D.D., A.M., in his book "Queensland - Australia" dated London April 22, 1861 wrote:- "To the northward of Stradbroke Island, and separated from it by a navigable channel of nearly a mile in width is Moreton Island, running due North for about twenty miles with an average breadth of three miles. The third island is Bribie's Island, the Yarun of the natives..."

For those who wish to visit "the Yarun of the natives" at the northern end, outboard hire boats are available at several points between Bulcock Beach and Military Jetty fronting Pumicestone Strait.

On the island at the site of the old jetty where military supplies and equipment were landed during World War II, there is an attractive landing. A notice board fronts the water. "Lions Park, Caloundra." There are low banksia and wattle trees shading springy, close cut grass and rustic tables - both there per courtesy of Caloundra Lions. This small square of "civilised" ground amid primitive surroundings is close to the ocean beach. The first sand dunes can be seen from the picnic tables.

The holiday adventurer should come provided with a good picnic hamper and a supply of drinking water for, as yet, there are no water tanks on the northern part of Bribie Island.

It is primitive land, retaining some of the native creatures and wild "atmosphere" which inevitably vanish before "development."

Kangaroos favour a small open area of grass land just north of the landing. Several emus stalk the sand dunes. At least two of these emus are extremely big and unusually dark in colour. Several brolgas (native companions) inhabit the stretch of dune and swamp extending south to the old lighthouse fronting the ocean beach.

The active visitor may choose between walking down the open ocean beach as a beachcomber, or following the old military road behind the frontal sand dunes. About a mile south, between the road and the beach, is the first of a string of old forts built during World War II.

The massive concrete and log structures are crumbling and dangerous. One fort is almost undermined by ocean tides - illustrating the alarming erosion which is eating away the northern end of Bribie Island.

Underground storage chambers and magazines remain in good condition. They are as sound as on the day the last soldier marched out. Hundreds of names, accumulated over 25 years are scribbled on the dry walls.

These forts and many other traces of a large military establishment tell of tense days when big guns and young men waited for enemy ships which may have attempted to force the North West Channel into Brisbane.

Today [1966], surf surges on a long peaceful beach. Keen fishermen cast into promising gutters. A feeling of primitive isolation, ignoring the ghost forts and past history, holds this island.

Some three miles south of Lions Park the dome of a lighthouse shows above the frontal sand dunes. The tower is now decrepit and neglected. Once this was an important mark for shipping. Like the ghost forts it is now part of Bribie's long history.

In "Bribie the Basket Maker," Thos. Welsby wrote:- "Comes now the Lower Light House. There are two structures of this nature on the island used as leads for deep sea vessels seeking the North West Channel into Moreton lights. They were built in 1896, one being called the front light, the other the back light. These houses contain white fixed lights, the nearest giving a front of 12 nautical miles, the back one 15. The structures are built and known as skeleton towers. The outer or ocean light has a height of 62 feet, as a building, from base to vane, with 56 feet of height of light above high water, whilst the inner or backlight is 98 feet above high water mark."

Today [1966], a clear track leads past the ocean light to the second light. People climb this tower for views of the island. The hugs timbers are still sound, excepting for one great stay which has been burned by bush fires. For 70 years these skeleton towers have stood above the flat land of Bribie Island.

Beside the track to the second light a large native fig tree has survived axe and bush fire. The ancient shells of an aboriginal "midden" are plentiful in the sand hereabouts.

The track continues past the second light to the shores of Pumicestone Strait. At the end of the track is an old boat landing where, for some two or three hundreds dollars worth of clearing, an inviting landing and picnic area could be made. From here a track leads south down the centre of the island, finally emerging on the bitumen road between Bongaree and Woorim.

The opportunity to secure the northern end of Bribie Island as a fauna and bird sanctuary, attracting tourists seeking respite from the worlds of bitumen and close packed buildings, may soon pass - dredging leases are pegged on this island in the sun.

At this landing a motor boat could meet parties having made the interesting walk from Lions Park opposite Caloundra, past the old forts and lighthouses, through kangaroo and emu country - and have them back to Military Jetty, Caloundra within half an hour.

Bushwalking on Bribie by Wantimba. Nambour Chronicle May 6, 1966. page 23.
An online copy of the article can be viewed at

Lang, John Dunmore (1847)
Cooksland in north-eastern Australia: the future cotton-field of Great Britain: its characteristics and capabilities for European colonization with a disquisition on the origin, manners and customs of the Aborigines.
London : Longman, Brown, Green and Longman, 1847. 523p.
A pdf file [13.9 MB] of the book, digitized by Google from the library of Harvard University and uploaded to the Internet Archive, can be accessed at

Welsby, Thomas (1937) 
"Bribie - The Basket Maker"
Brisbane, Qld. : Barker's Bookstores, 1937. 146p.
A pdf file [25.9 MB] of the book can be accessed on the National Library of Australia's website

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

1894 holiday on Bribie

The following article from 1894 describes a camping trip to Bribie Island by fifty-five members of Alfred Shaw and Co who cast off the "close atmosphere of Queen street" and reveled in the sandy seashore and beauty of Bribie Island.

1894 Easter Trip to Bribie
on the Tarshaw

Easter Picnic. Alfred Shaw and Co.

Exactly four years ago, shortly after the famous 1890 flood, the above firm generously gave their employees a four days' picnic at Amity Point in recognition of their services in coping with that terrible disaster. This year as Easter was approaching another four days' picnic was arranged amongst the employees and employers, this time in recognition of the mutual good feeling existing. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, the time arranged for starting, saw the Tarshaw lying at her old accustomed place, lighted from stem to stern, as gaily as if she herself had life and seemed to join in the greetings of those who came tripping aboard all dressed in that costume that all who go to the island shores know so well. Fifty-five all aboard fiddling, singing, and a hum of voices like that of many hives, and the snug little steamer cast off her lines for Bribie.
To give you an idea of what the Tarshaw looked like,
here is the ship Tarshaw anchored at Pettigrew's wharf, Maroochydore, 1882.

Source: State Library of Queensland, negative 4357

The trip down the river was enlivened with music and singing. The  run across the bay was appreciated after the close atmosphere of Queen street, and Bribie was reached in the early morning. If stars and bars denote a country, we had a big American company, as bars of burnt cork on the faces of those who slept was the order of the night. Morning dawned, the sailing boats were cast off, the boats lowered, and the company disembarked in double quick time.
Tents were rigged and the village formed on a nice sandy shore. The "Elephant," the caterer's large tent, took the lead in size; but the "A1" tent was most envied. The experience gained by the previous trip taught the party that grouping together in lots to suit tents was the most satisfactory; and of course every group must have its name. The "Toomdoongihanigan" stenciled on the side of one is still puzzling some, and even now some are trying to say it in their sleep. The "Can't be beat," the "Elephant," and the "Up to date" would well become Lytton, the latter most of all. Experience also taught us that a caterer was necessary, and Garget, with his ever pleasant smile, did more than justice can do to him. Fancy, snowy cloths and glass and silver on Bribie to suit the most fastidious. It was a notable fact that nobody was late at meal times.

After boating, fishing, bathing, and all conceivable enjoyments had been indulged in for the day, and when the tent lamps were burning, an impromptu concert was held on the beach, stimulated by the ship's band, the latter being sprung upon us as a surprise. How those woods resounded to the strains of music in the still bright moonlight; it was indeed a novel scene.

The music must have appealed to the reptiles as well as the picknickers, for a large snake was killed amongst the performers to the intense agony of a Toowoomba guest, who offered to pay the bandsmen handsomely if they would keep on all night to draw the snakes away from his chateau. A bush naturalist was also with the party, whose long walks into scrubs made him celebrated ; and this time he will be for ever remembered as Moses in the bullrushes — lost by himself in a morass in the middle of the island from Friday till Saturday morning. All night in a swamp with mosquitoes and leeches and no food was not the thing to get him away from his tent, when he saw it again, just in time to prevent a search party starting.

Monday morning. How the time went by. All fishers up at daylight to get the last chance to angle the top fish, but they were all disappointed, as the long line of fishers on the beach tried all they knew for a good catch. A splash was heard and a cry arose, "Man overboard," from the steamer at anchor. There was rushing to and fro, life lines and belts were thrown down, boats lowered, and as the man was hauled up the ship's side a cheer arose that resounded for miles, and it was generally admitted that he was the biggest catch of the day.

At 12 o'clock all aboard, and off to town. The day was all that could have been desired. In conclusion, if ever there were a ship's company that deserved a word of praise for their never ceasing attention it was this one, from the captain downwards; and when we have our next trip it will not be our fault if he is not there.

Article: Easter Picnic. The Week (Brisbane) March 30, 1894, p. 14 
Available online through NLA's Trove at

Photo: The ship Tarshaw anchored at Pettigrew's wharf, Maroochydore, 1882.
State Library of Queensland negative 4357, viewable online at

Sunday, 22 December 2019

1929 Boat Trip Through Bribie Passage

90 years ago! - An "on-the-water" tale from 1929

Two men in a boat 
by E.J.S.

Taking advantage of a holiday, a companionable friend, an outboard motor, and a serviceable boat, it was decided to achieve a long-cherished desire, and travel to Caloundra, by way of the Pumice Stone Channel, or Bribie passage as it is more generally termed.

That this waterway was mistaken for a river by its first visitors is understandable, for at the southern end it is an imposing stretch, deep, and at times turbulent. The upper reaches are more often shallow, and the course tortuous, as one portion, known as "The W's" testifies.

Though unrelieved by heights necessary to break the regularity of low islands, whose wooded shores are reflected in the quiet water, the scenery is delightful. Swamps abound where, in season, may be found wild boronia and Christmas bell - the largest and most resplendent of our wild flowers.

On the landward side distant some 12 miles are the bold outlines of Beerwah, Coonowrin, Beerburrum, Tibrogargan, and Tibberwowucum Mountains. These heights, thrown into relief by the morning sun, or silhouetted against a glorious winter sunset, are indeed beautiful.

From seaward, plainly heard across the narrow island, comes a continuous roll of muffled sounds. It is the surf breaking on the outer beach, affording a striking contrast with the placid land-locked waters which provide a home and sanctuary to all bird life.

Here, except at risk of penalty, the killer of the inoffensive may not follow his sport. Herons, curlews, snipe, cormorants, and black swans abound, the latter at times in flocks of hundreds. On the island the air vibrates with the sweet piping of terrestrial birds, whose melody is more pronounced when heard amid the harsh notes which seem to characterise our sea-birds.

One solitary brolga we saw dancing for no apparent reason other than the joy of life, for no mate to whom it might be making demonstrations of courtship was visible. With half-poised wings it pirouetted, now in a grave and stately measure, then breaking into a wild fandango till the noise of our approach warned it that not in all cases was the sanctuary respected.

Our boat, 14 feet long and five feet in beam, though well loaded with food, water, benzine, camp and fishing gear, afforded amply room and permitted us to sleep in it with comfort - that is, holiday comfort.

On the second day we made Caloundra, having navigated the Passage without touching a bank and negotiating Suez Canal with mishap. Suez is a deep gutter between two islands, not easy for a stranger to locate, and so narrow that, like its famous namesake, boats even so small as ours could not pass in it.

Caloundra is perhaps the most charming of our seaside resorts. Distant some 15 miles from the North Coast railway, lack of good roads, or, better still, railway extension, has retarded its progress. Fine beaches, rocky headland, the open seas on one side, Bribie Island and the quiet passage on the other, gave to this place a natural supremacy.

Here people were universally kind to us. Voyagers in a small boat, we probably presented an unusual spectacle, but from the fisherman who waved us from a wrong course, to the chubby angel of five years bearing a bowl of "pudden" and an invitation from Auntie to bring a billy and get some milk, we experienced welcome hospitality.

The return journey was uneventful but adventure awaited us. One very dark and hazy night we set forth on a fishing expedition and lost ourselves. Familiar objects no longer appeared so and strange features were wrongly recognised as old friends. The benzine gave out and for seven weary hours we pulled that boat.

Daybreak found us at Comboyouro Point, Moreton Island, 15 miles from home. Fortunately the sea was calm but with a heavy ground swell. How we avoided the numerous banks on which we might have been easily and quickly smashed I do not know.

Article caption: Doors of the boat shed decorated with facetious notices
On the following day, in response to our telephonic S.O.S., a motor launch came from Bribie and towed us ingloriously home to find the boat shed will decorated with humourous notices: "Shed for Sale - Owner gone abroad!" "In moments like this you need petrol!"  "Nightly service to Comboyouro!"

The lesson has been learned. Never again will we be caught short on petrol.

Two men in a boat : The beauties of Caloundra by E.J. S.
Sunday Mail (Brisbane) Sun 30 June 1929 p. 21