Monday, 9 May 2016

Q150 2009 Shirley Creek

Q150 Heritage Plaque - 14 of 16 - Shirley Creek

The Bribie Island Heritage Plaques Waterfront Walk Bongaree consists of 16 bronze plaques located on the "Heritage Walk" along the walking path beside the Bongaree beach from the southern point of South Esplanade and finishes just north of Kangaroo Avenue.
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.
A copy of the map for the Bongaree Waterfront Walk can be found at 


Bill Shirley built the first road from the jetty to Ocean Beach in 1923.  He ran a bus service and a Guest House and became Bribie’s first Councillor.  A wooden bridge replaced a single plank walkway here in 1935 as his first Council works.

The original Single Plank Walkway over Shirley Creek
in 1920s.
Opening of the new bridge over Shirley Creek in 1935.

 In the early days the creek separated the little village of Bongaree from the few pioneers who had chosen to live further north up the Passage.

 It was crossed by a single plank walkway. As more houses were built further from Bongaree jetty, a safer and more substantial way of crossing the creek was needed.

 The first car arrived on Bribie Island in 1918, when there were no real roads, but by 1923 a road suitable for buses was build to Woorim.

 The traffic needs of the island increased as more motor cars arrived and a proper timber road bridge was built by the Council in 1935.

 As the population has grown the bridge has been reconstructed many times since.

Bill Shirley 

     Bill Shirley was originally from Ireland and came as the engineer supervisor for the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company in 1923, to build a road from the jetty at Bongaree to Ocean Beach. The work was hard, hot and difficult as they worked through the soft sand.

     In 1927 he brought his family from Brisbane to live on the island. He built more roads and small cottages and acquired various properties. He was a supporter of the Church of England and provided valuable assistance in the construction of their first church.

     Bill Shirley represented the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company and acted as land agent, toll collector and transporter.

     With only about 50 permanent residents on Bribie Island in the 1920’s, excursion steamers brought thousands of visitors and the island became a flourishing tourist destination and Bill Shirley quickly saw the needs and opportunities.

     He ran a “bus service” from the jetty to Ocean Beach and his family operated a large guest house at Ocean Beach, near the surf club. 
Ocean Beach Guesthouse 1940s
     Bill Shirley was the first person to be elected to represent the growing population of Bribie Island as an honorary Councillor in 1933.

     To attend meetings of the Caboolture Council required three days of travel. First to Brisbane by boat for an overnight stay there, a train trip to Caboolture for the meeting and then the journey back to Brisbane to stay, before catching the boat back to Bribie the next day. He remained an honorary Councillor until 1939 receiving only travel expenses to attend meetings.

     His first achievement as a Councillor was to replace the plank walkway with a substantial wooden bridge, providing vehicular access to the growing settlement of the Island.

     From 1923 to 1941 Bill Shirley did so much for the growing community that he was often regarded as the uncrowned “King of Bribie Island”.

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