Q150 Heritage Plaque - 5 of 16 - Bribie Island Heritage quote by A. Meston
These 16 bronze plaques set on a white concrete square record various aspects of the history of Bribie Island: Record Rainfall, South Esplanade, Campbell's Store, Camping Grounds, Bribie Island heritage quote from A. Meston, Ian Fairweather, First Shop, Bribie Island Heritage quote from Stan Tutt, First Avenue, Fishing Records, Welsby Parade, Bribie Island Wartime, First Car, Shirley Creek, Castaway Convicts and Fish Cannery.
The following excerpt is from the 2009 booklet produced prior to the plaques placement. The Heritage Plaques Waterfront Walk Bongaree project was a Q150 Community Funded Program, initiated by the Rotary Club of Bribie Island and supported by Moreton Bay Regional Council in conjunction with Bribie Island U3A and Bribie Island Historical Society.
BRIBIE ISLAND HERITAGE
“Bribie Island is one on the meanest pieces of country in Australia ….. A howling desert of tea-tree swamps, rank aquatic vegetation and unimaginable cussedness”
Archibald Meston (1891)
- explorer, Author and Politician.
The Queenslander, 26 September 1891, p. 607.
à Born in Towie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1851 and emigrated to Australia at eight years of age. Died in Brisbane in 1924.
à An explorer, anthropologist, journalist, naturalist, all round athlete, poet and politician.
à In 1891, fifteen years after the first Aboriginal Mission was established at White Patch, Archie Meston visited Bribie Island. He spent five days on Bribie, crossed it in two places and traversed it for fourteen miles, after which he made the above quotation.
à To anyone desirous of emulating his example he said “You better stay at home”.
à Archibald Meston was a prolific writer and had a very successful career as a journalist and an editor for a number of newspapers in Queensland including Moreton Bay. He wrote under a number of nom-de-plumes including “Ramrod”, “The Sacred Ibis” and “Pullthrough”, and contributed articles regularly to a number of newspapers.
à He had a lifetime interest in natural history, and wrote the “Geographic History of Queensland.” In 1889 aged 38 Meston was appointed leader of the Queensland Government’s Scientific expedition to the Bellenden-Ker Range of north Queensland. His party, with Botanist F. Bailey discovered over 100 new plants. In 1891 he led a second Government expedition and a third expedition in 1904.
PROTECTOR OF ABORIGINES
à Meston was interested in the Australian Aborigines and their myths and legends. Through his association with them he learned some Aboriginal language and a knowledge of Aboriginal dialect.. He published a vocabulary which was later used by historians. He was considered an authority on tribal customs and also of the Bora Rings and their ceremonies in various districts which were to instruct youths in the laws and observances which were to regulate their lives. He wrote hundreds of poems, stories and articles, many dealing with Aboriginal issues.
à In 1894 he was appointed a Special Commissioner of Police with the brief to visit and inquire into the conditions and necessities of the Aborigines in Queensland.
à In 1897 Meston was appointed Protector of Aborigines for South Queensland. Areas were reserved in nineteen locations in Queensland—a total of 535,279 acres.
The Race of Jindoobarrie
- An elegy for the extinct Bribie Island Clan
Silent the songs when hearts were light,
Gone are the dance, the hunt, the fight,
In darkness of eternal night,
Archibald Meston—published 1891
The Queenslander, 26 September 1891, p. 607.
|Trackers with Protector Archibald Meston.|
Protector of Aboriginals
à In 1902 Meston confirmed an estimate of North and Central Queensland Aborigines at 200,000 but stated that ……… “50 years will finish it”.
à It was said in the Bulletin at the time of his death in 1924 ……… “Nobody ever got further into the minds of black brother than Archie Meston, and black brother never had a truer friend”.
Aboriginals and Bribie Island
à Data taken from a census conducted in 1849 estimated that 7,000 to 10,000 Aboriginals lived in the Moreton Bay districts including 400 on Bribie, 300 on Moreton, 300 on Stradbroke and 3,000 on Fraser.
à In 1875 Father McNab devoted his attention to the Aborigines of Gympie, Bribie Island and Durundur staying at “Durundur” Station near Woodford.
à In 1877 the first reserve for Aborigines was established on Bribie Island. White Patch (“Tarangarie”) was selected as the site and was supervised by Mr Tom Petrie who had an intimate knowledge of the Aborigines.
à The reserve at White Patch was supplied with a boat, fishing net, harpoons for dugong and other necessities. The Aborigines worked for rations, catching fish and curing them, and making dugong, shark and stingray oils which were sold in Brisbane. In winter great hauls of sea mullet were caught. The White Patch reserve was however closed within two years and the Aboriginal women and elders, who were safe and comfortable there, were unhappy about this.
à A girl named Kal-Ma-Kuta was born among the Joondoobarrie people of Bribie Island around 1857. Orphaned in infancy, she was brought up by the white Westaway family near Caloundra. In 1872 she married Fred Turner, and they made their home near Ningi, known as Turners Camp.
à They lived together at the camp for 23 years, where she was known as Alma Turner, and they raised 8 children. It is thought Kal-Ma-Kuta, the last of the Joondoobarrie people, died in 1897, age 40.