|Cover "The Sunday Mail|
- Nostalgia Book" 1986
The following article by Neil Groom is a wonderful description of a trip through Moreton Bay on the steamship Koopa. What an exciting prospect it would have been for Brisbanites - young and old alike!
A super day on the bay aboard the Koopa
A super day on the bay aboard the Koopa
Nostalgia column, The Sunday Mail, circa 1983.
From "The Sunday Mail - Nostalgia Book, 1986, p. 26-28.
The first tremor of the deck sparked a surge of excitement that sent shivers up the back.
To confirm the wondrous feeling, eddies swirled from the ship's stern to wash with a splashing sound around the barnacle-crusted piles of the Petrie Bight wharf. This tingling start of the trip was the joyful start of a day in the bay for the boys and girls of Brisbane — adults, too, when the good ship Koopa steamed to Redcliffe and Bribie Island.
To the young'uns particularly, a Koopa trip held as much wonder as a space age launch of today. The Koopa, in her prime days, was termed "the queen of Moreton Bay".
Her reign began in 1912 when the 416-tonne ship, specially built in Scotland for the Moreton Bay excursion trade, arrived in Brisbane after a lumpy trip from Leigh. Koopa — Aboriginal for "flying fish"— had a rousing welcome from Brisbane, and the owners, the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company, established a Brisbane-Redcliffe-Bribie Island run. The ship could accommodate 1600 people, and the joys of a Koopa day on the bay would still be remembered by the senior citizens.
The Koopa left from Petrie Bight. It called at Redcliffe jetty, and then cut across to Bribie Island. It was a regular attraction for the Redcliffe and Bribie folk who invariably turned out in hundreds to watch the ship berth.
Being the sole link with Bribie, the Koopa usually carried a homely collection of holidaying families and their luggage.
One of my clearest recollections about the Koopa was leading the family dog — a noted brawler up the gangplank, and being detailed to tether him in a starboard corner, well away from other aggressive hounds.
The first shivers of excitement for the young'uns would come when Captain J.S. Johnston would take station on deck, supervising the casting off procedure. Lines would drop into the water as they slipped the bollards, the gangplank would be shipped with a rumble, Captain Johnston, in white uniform and a peaked cap of authority, would disappear to the wheelhouse. There would be a distant jangle of engine room telegraph bells. Smoke would stream from the funnels. Then that breathtaking tremor of the deck, and the swirl from the stern.
Source: Groom, 1986, p. 27
Mums would hurriedly stock take on kids, making sure none were still on the wharf, or in the wake of the ship. Some dads would make a navigational estimate of when the ship would pass the Hamilton Cold Stores, for at this point the bar would open.
Then the Koopa would steam downriver, past New Farm and Bulimba, down the Hamilton Reach. A bit of a pong at the abattoirs at Colmslie, and past Luggage Point everyone would gasp "Whew!" and ladies would apply the cologne-dabbed hanky to noses.
Out in the bay it was the high seas. Shrieks as spray spattered over the bows and the folk clustered at the sharp end. Maybe the ship would roll a trifle as a sea lifted the stern. More shrieks.
|Timetable for Koopa|
Exhibition Week 1947
Source: WMHS newsletter
no. 62 May 2014 p. 4-5.
On to Bribie where the jetty had a great, heavy trolley on rails for baggage. People, hanging desperately on to straining dogs, would be towed down the gangplank, sometimes headlong. Dads and mums would stagger on their way to holiday houses, suitcases dragging at their arms. Day trippers would fan out for their couple of hours of fun.
This was the Koopa picture from 1912 until 1942 when the old lady of the bay was called up for World War II service. She served as a mother ship for patrol boats along the northern coasts of Papua New Guinea. While being fitted out for this task, Brisbane was agog with rumors that the old lady was being prepared as General MacArthur's secret weapon in a fearsome assault on the Japanese.
The old Koopa returned to civvy life in 1945, but her time was running out. She made her last bay trip in May, 1953, and the old girl finished as scrap iron on a Myrtletown mud flat.
She brought a lot of pleasure to Brisbane in her long career. Trips, staff picnics, all fun occasions. To small boys and girls she was a wonder ... a real, live, noisy, exciting engine room for all to see. And an impressive real, live captain on the bridge. Waves, jellyfish, seagulls, the thud of waves on the bow, the boiling wake. Wow! What a day!
Groom, Neil (1986) A super day on the bay aboard the Koopa. In: "The Sunday Mail - Nostalgia Book" by Neil Groom, with contributions by Ken Blanch. 1986. p.26-28.
ISBN 0 949381 07 1
Wynnum Manly Historical Society Inc. (WMHS) Newsletter no. 62 May 2014 pages 4-5