Saturday 27 February 2016

Small piece of history returns

Small piece of history returns
Dinner plate recovered from the seafloor donated to the Seaside Museum 
for display in the Koopa cabinet

Article published in The Bribie Weekly, Friday, Feb 26, 2016, page 23.

An exciting item of Bribie's past came to light in December 2014 when Danielle, an 8-year-old girl from Brisbane, was fishing with her grandmother and brother from the Bongaree jetty. No fish had been caught that day but suddenly the young girl thought she had a monster on her hook and had to get help to pull her fishing line in.

Koopa discovery: Eight-year-old Danielle with the
Koopa dinner plate she discovered in the water at Bongaree.
Photo: Bribie Island Historical Society
What Danielle had hooked on to was an old dinner plate.  Not just any dinner plate, but one with the crest of the Brisbane Tug & Steamship Company on it.

The plate was covered in shells which broke off almost as the plate was placed on the jetty, but it was still intact.

The pottery plate, about 25cm diameter, had the makers name of 'Dunn Bennetts - Burslem' factory in England marked on the back, with the crest of the Brisbane Tug & SS Company on the front. The words 'patent unscratchable surface' are also beside the maker's name.

The steamship Koopa started its trips to Bribie Island in 1912 and the steamship Doomba in 1923.
Other than the period when requisitioned for duties in WW2, the Koopa continued until May 1953. The Doomba was not returned.

At some time during one of their many days berthed at the Bongaree jetty, this dinner plate must have fallen or been thrown overboard, and has remained on the seafloor ever since.  How long it was there is anybody's guess but it certainly was not less than 61 years, and possibly over 100 years.

Considering the extensive maintenance activities carried out at the jetty over the decades, it is amazing that it was still there, complete and in one piece, and even more remarkable that it managed to get hooked on a fishing line.

Danielle showed the plate to Seaside Museum staff when it was first found at Christmas 2014, but the family have held on to it until recently when they were contacted by Graham Mills, past president of the Bribie Island Historical Society.

The family advised that they would like to loan the plate to the Seaside Museum for display. This kind offer was accepted and Danielle came to the Seaside Museum on Bribie Island on January 15 to donate the plate for display to future visitors.

The plate is now on display in the Koopa cabinet at the Seaside Museum as a very special addition to our local history.

For details about the location of the Bribie Island Seaside Museum go to

Friday 19 February 2016

Nostalgia - Trip to Bribie by Ken Blanch 1988

When a trip to Bribie Island was a big adventure by sea
By Ken Blanch

Published in The Sunday Mail Magazine, Sep 11, 1988, page 37.

Today [1988] a visit to Bribie Island is little more than a comfortable suburban run north from Brisbane; but 25 years ago [1963] a Bribie outing was an adventure.

Those were the days before bitumen roads and a bridge, when access to the quiet, bushland Moreton Bay island was by cruise boat from Brisbane or barge from Toorbul Point.

You had to be a real Bribie-lover to make the trip in those days.

Back in the 1950s you could still go by the old steamship Koopa, which took about three hours - including a stop at the Redcliffe Jetty if the weather permitted.
Published in The Sunday Mail Magazine, Sep 11, 1988, page 37

The Koopa, with its outmoded, smoke-belching coal furnaces, could fill your eyes with cinders and blacken you crisp summer clothes when the wind was contrary.

But she was an institution beloved by Brisbaneites and most other Queenslanders who knew her, and there was hardly a dry eye among Bribie addicts when they took her off the island run.

Who could forget the old steamer's grand staircase, leading to the saloon where cool salads were available in summer and hot snacks of soup and stews in winter?

Then there was the homely old weatherboard kiosk that stood by the island jetty, where you could sit down to strong tea and a home-cooked square meal before tackling the bone-shaking trip across the unsealed road to the surf side.

The cross-island journey was made on the back of a truck fitted with hard wooden seats, and covered by a galvanised iron canopy. Dust swirled around you in dense clouds, and, if it rained, you got wet. But, despite those small discomforts, a trip to Bribie was fun.

All that changed dramatically 25 years ago [1963] when a bridge was built across Pumicestone Passage and overnight Bribie was no longer either an island or remote. Sealed roads and endless streets of houses and businesses are now the order where peace and solitude once reigned.

In the old days you really wanted to go to Bribie. Now people do it without a second thought.

Anyhow, resident Bribie Nostalger Denny Field tells me the silver anniversary of the bridge that changed all that will be celebrated with the island's biggest carnival from October 5 to 10 this year [1988].  The festivities start on Wednesday, October 5 [1988], with a wine festival.  There are a celebrity golf event and a beer fest on October 7 [1988].  And the big week-end starts with aquatic events, birdman contest, Freeps concert, race meeting, fireworks, disco and ball on the Saturday.
Festivities on the Sunday provide the whole works from recovery breakfast through a bridge opening re-enactment, procession, raft race and Wickety Wak floor shows to a rock 'n' roll concert. And there's more on the following and final day.

A far cry from the trip a Sunday Mail colleague made by barge from Toorbul Point in 1955 when she wrote about getting mudbound for one and a half hours before she reached "Bribie Island, picturesque, its deep waters full of fish, its sloping beaches looking across to the dramatic contours of the Glass House Mountains, which should be an asset to Queensland".

They were talking about building a bridge in those days; but, then, they had been talking about building a bridge for 40 years, hadn't they?

"In the meantime," our intrepid reporter wrote, "the emus chase the visitors, the barge gets stuck in the mud, the old man kangaroos come and nibble in your backyard of an early morning and the road across the island does its best to dislocate your spine."

I hope all those revellers at the silver anniversary celebrations spare a minute or two to think about that.

Ken Blanch