Early Days at Bribie Island
by Reg Campbell, October 1963.
The following article was published in The Bribie Star v.2(9) 19 October 1963, p. 15.
Early Days at Bribie Island, pictures by courtesy of Reg. Campbell, author of this article.
In the year 1905 our family set sail in the cutter Salina from Hayes Inlet, just up from Clontarf, for our new home at the mouth of Ninghi Creek, Pumicestone Channel.
My father, the late Joe Campbell, came to take charge of Mr. J. Clark’s extensive oyster farming operations. The oyster leases and dredge sections extended as far up the channel as Donnybrook, and some of them went as far up as Mission Point, which is about 10 miles north of Toorbul Point.
Our near neighbours were Mr. C. Dean and Mr. Fred Turner. Other families in the area were the Days, Bestmans, Bastins, and still further up Ninghi Creek were the families Freeman, Davis, Dux and Bishop. Mr. Harry Wright lived on Bribie Island and Mr. W. Mohr and J. Gallagher lived at White Patch. Mr. H. Bowles lived at Mission Point and a little further up the Passage was Mr. T. Tripcony, Mr. August Wilson and Mr. C. Bardon were at Donnybrook.
Oystering was the foremost industry carried on in those days, and the main oyster lessees were James Clark, Moreton Bay Oyster Company, J. Markwell and T. Tripcony. Apart from oystering, there was also dairy farming, and a good deal of log timber was handled in and around Toorbul and Bribie Island.
|Oyster Dock [Reg Campbell photo]|
The log timber for James Campbell’s mills at Brisbane was shipped by the paddle-wheelers Lintrose and Bell from the rafting grounds at Ninghi Creek, Donnybrook and Coochin Creek.
Mr. T. Tripcony ran a service with his motor auxiliary to and from Caloundra and Brisbane, carrying Government stores to Bribie and “lead lights” to the northern end of the Island and Caloundra. On the return trips he carried shell-grit, oysters, citrus fruits and also pineapples from Westaway’s orchard near Caloundra.
The only school was on Toorbul Road, not far from Elimbah Creek, and as this was too far for us to attend we did not receive any school until 1908 when Mr. James Clark built a small provisional school at Toorbul Point. This building still stands there, but during the last war some additions were made to it. Miss Eustace was the first school teacher and there were only 14 pupils.
In 1910 Mrs. Sarah Ball established a fish cannery on Bribie Island, and the building stood opposite to where “Shady Glen” now stands. The cannery operated until 1914 when it was forced to close down because of a shortage of tin plate which occurred just after the war began. The building was sold to a Brisbane jam factory and it was removed to the city on the s.s. Porpoise, owned by Burke and Sons.
In 1911 the E. and A. liner s.s. Eastern ran aground on Salamanda Reef off the southern end of Bribie Island. After unsuccessfully trying for some days to refloat the vessel it was decided to jettison some of the cargo, after which the liner was freed from the reef.
The jettisoned cargo, which included bags of rice, canned foods, cases of petrol in 4-gallon drums, shark oil and bags of peanuts, was washed up on Ocean Beach. The bags of peanuts burst and loose nuts were blown from one end of the Island to the other. Eventually there were peanuts growing on many parts of the Island.
It was not long before customs officers were sent from Brisbane to inspect and destroy the cargo washed ashore on Ocean Beach. The officers rode along the beach on bicycles and cut holes with hatchets in all of the tinned goods that could be found.
Some of the cases of petrol (it was called benzene in those days) were salvaged at the Caloundra end of Bribie, and Mr. Charles Godwin was engaged to ship it to Brisbane in his auxiliary launch Victory. Returning from the second trip, Mr. Godwin was accidentally drowned after being hit by the sail of the Victory and thrown overboard into the Passage. The body was found several days later floating near the fish cannery jetty.
From 1906 to 1911 the Royal Australian Naval Reserve carried out annual gunnery
practice in H.M.A.S. Gayundah off Bribie Island. The targets were erected in Horeshoe Bay, just opposite where Mr. Gazzard’s home now stands in Webster Street, and the Gayundah anchored near the Deception Bay beacon.
During these same years, 1906 to 1911, the Brisbane Tug Company sent their tugs, Greyhound and Beaver, which had been fitted up to carry passengers, to Bribie Island on holidays such as Easter, King’s Birthday, etc. A square-end punt with seats all around was used to take passengers ashore. A rope was tied to a tree and to the boat, and the punt was hauled to and from the bank just opposite the Bongaree water tower near the Bribie Island Bowling Club.
Other visitors to the Island in their sailing yachts in those days were Messrs. T. Welsby, I. Bond, J. Plumridge, B. Fox, the Ruddles and many others.
One noteworthy happening which took place about this time, 1910, was when Mr. J. Clark had a telephone line erected to connect with Caboolture Post Office where Mr. Dick Draney was the post-master.
There was no telephone on Bribie at this time and it was a boon to Bribie residents to be able to send urgent messages from Clark’s private phone.
About 1911 the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company decided to start a regular service to Bribie Island, and an order was placed with Ramage and Ferguson, Scotland, for the steamer which was intended for the Bribie run. Eventually, the ship, later named the Koopa (the word means flying fish) arrived in Brisbane under the command of Captain Douglas Taylor, and after docking and general overhaul the Koopa was placed on the regular service from Brisbane to Woody Point and Redcliffe. Later the services was extended to include a Bribie trip on Sundays, but as there was no jetty in those days the Koopa had to anchor in the Passage and any passenger wishing to go ashore were taken in rowing boats by local fishermen.
In those days the return fare on the Sunday and Thursday trips was 2/6 and campers could obtain a return ticket tenable for twelve months for four shillings.
Early in 1912 the construction of a jetty was started by Taylor Bros., of Brisbane, and although not quite completed it was used to land passengers by Easter of that year.
A residence was built near the end of the jetty for the first caretaker, Mr. George Jaques, and later a bush-house where refreshments were served was built at the rear of the residence. Shortly afterwards another building was brought from South Passage, Moreton Island, and erected beside the caretaker’s residence for use as a cafe. The building had been previously used for this purpose at Moreton Island.
About this time water tanks were erected at the shore end of the jetty. Water was brought each trip from Brisbane and pumped into the tanks, thus providing a good water supply for campers.
Mr. A.T. (Arty) Bestman, a bee farmer, was the first settler in the area, and when the Government decided to survey the township of Bongaree the first survey peg was driven on Mr. Bestman’s property on the corner of what is now First Avenue and Toorbul Street where the Four Square Store is located.
The Brisbane Tug Company built six 12ft. by 14ft. weatherboard huts along the foreshore just north of the jetty which were let at a rental of 6/- per week. The huts were so popular that another six were built shortly afterwards and they became known as the Twelve Apostles.
About this time a building was brought over from South Passage, Moreton Island, erected just about where the Bongaree water tower now stands, and used as a dance hall. It was in this hall that the first Bribie island school was conducted under the guidance of Mr. L. Diplock, Bribie’s first school teacher. There were about 16 to 20 pupils attending when the school first started. Later the building was sold to the Bribie Island Bowling Club and it now forms the main portion of the present club house.
Sometime in 1914 A. Tripcony and Son began a motor-launch service which connected with the Koopa and ran from Bribie to Caloundra.
In 1915 the Avon, now referred to as “the wreck” on Blackbuoy Bank, near the mouth of Dux Creek, was placed in its present position to form a breakwater to protect the oysters on the bank from heavy southerly weather. The Avon was a condemned coal hulk, which, in its early days, had been a schooner engaged in bringing South Sea Islanders to Queensland to work the canefields.
In 1916 Messrs. J. McDonald & Son built a big house in Banya Street for Mr. Norm Congeau, the proprietor of a well-known Brisbane wine saloon. This building is now the property of the Church of England.
About this time the novelty gardens belonging to Mr. R.J. Davies, in Campbell Street, were really beginning to take shape. A cypress pine hedge around the property was trimmed into shapes of men, kangaroos, emus, etc. In addition to this there was a small collection of animals and birds and a small aquarium. There were also several hundred pineapples growing on the property.
|"Pirra" one of the barges used to transport road metal|
to Bribie Island. [Reg Campbell photo]
Vera Campbell Album VC8_128
Online at SLQ APA-114-0002-0008
After the necessary clearing had been done it was graded with the Caboolture Shire Council’s grader which, with the bullock team, was brought from the mainland by the late Mr. Joe Campbell, using a motor-boat and pontoon belonging to Mr. J. Clark.
|Gantry for unloading road metal for road from|
Bongaree, Bribie Island, to Woorim.
[Reg Campbell photo]
When the road was opened to traffic the first four buses to carry passengers across the Island were T model Fords. Later Mr. W. Shirley added an International truck, converted to carry passengers, and the first bus drivers on the run across the Island were Messrs. W. Shirley, Nobby Meelham, R.J. Campbell and J. Green.
After the road across the Island was completed the township of Woorim was surveyed, and a kiosk was built by Mr. W. Bishop for the Tug and Steamship Company. The timber for the building was shipped from Johnson’s mill at Caboolture, down the Caboolture River and across Deception Bay by a launch towing a pontoon. The men in charge of the towing job were W. Freeman and R. Campbell.
It was about this time, soon after the Ocean Beach road was constructed, that the Tug Co. added another steamer to their fleet. It was the ex-H.M.S. Wexford, renamed Doomba, which is the aboriginal word for “wombat”.
A little later Mr. Kerr and his son built a brick oven in Toorbul Street and started the first bakery on the Island. About two years later the bakery was closed and Mr. Kerr went over to Redcliffe and opened the Peninsula Bakeries. Mr. Heenan then opened a bakery in Foster Street, opposite the Church of England Hall. The business later changed hands and was conducted by Mr. T. Read until a new bakery was built in Banya Street. When Mr. Read left the bakery it was carried on by the present owner, Mr. F. Kling.
|Steamship Koopa bound for Bribie Island|
Reg Campbell photo
During the 1914-18 war there was little progress on the Island. Apart from the
building of a few small houses Bribie was at a standstill. After the war the Island progressed slowly, then came the Second World War when forces were station here and Ocean Beach was closed to civilians. The progress of Bribie speeded up after the war and today it is fulfilling the hopes of the pioneers who foresaw the Island’s future potentials.
Campbell, R. (1963) Early Days at Bribie Island. The Bribie Star v2(9) 19 October 1963, p. 15.