Thursday 29 June 2017

Earliest Monument to Cook

Cook's Earliest Monument
Donna Holmes, BIHS past president

What connects an 18th century French chateau with the much-lauded English explorer Lieutenant James Cook, the French explorer Laperouse and W.H. Traill, author of the Queensland section of Picturesque Atlas of Australasia?

In the Christmas 1895 edition of The Queenslander was an article written by W.H. Traill entitled Cook's Earliest Monument and thanks to the wonderful online resource Trove (provided by the National Library of Australia) Traill's article can be viewed here

Englishman W.H. Traill (1843-1902), journalist and author, described the first monument ever erected in honour of Captain Cook - not in Australia or England but in a secluded private park in France - a memorial of Cook's heroic voyages placed about the year 1794 by French admirer Jean-Joseph de Laborde.

Laborde's two sons accompanied the French explorer Laperouse on his voyage to New Holland and sadly, like Laperouse himself, were lost at sea.

W.H. Traill had travelled to France in the early 1890s and seen the monument.  Later he conducted some research on the monument's history and owner.  When Traill wrote up his findings, he realised his 1895 article would be the first account of the earliest monument to James Cook's courage and adventurous spirit.

While the whole article should to be read to understand W.H. Traill's enthusiasm for his topic, here is a small excerpt from the article to whet your interest.

Excerpt from Cook's Earliest Monument
W.H. Traill, 1895

"News came to Australia but the other day that the inhabitants of the Yorkshire hamlet which was the birthplace of James Cook are bestirring themselves to repair the dilapidations of the monument erected long ago in memory of the distinguished son of one of their old-time farm labourers. It is not, however, to this neglected structure that the title of this article refers. It is a singular fact - and it is still more singular that the circumstance should have escaped the researches of all Cook's biographers - that the earliest monument erected to commemorate his fame, and that which to this hour transcends all such memorials in beauty and costliness, owes its existence to the generous appreciation of a large-minded foreigner, and stands in secluded grandeur in the bosky recesses of a private park in France. . . . "

"There was special reason why banker de Laborde was so remarkably appreciative of the merits of Captain Cook that he thus anticipated even the countrymen of the great navigator in raising a memorial to immortalise his fame. Cook was killed at Hawaii (or Owhyhee, as it was then spelt) in 1778. Laborde bought Mereville six years later. But Cook's fame was already diffused years before his death, and the French Government had despatched the now almost equally celebrated and equally ill-fated La Perouse to emulate his career.  With La Perouse on his early voyage sailed two of de Laborde's sons. . . ."

Cook's Earliest Monument by W.H. Traill
The Queenslander, Sat 28 Dec 1895, p. 1222

Further reading:
An image of the monument "Le Cenotaphe de Cook" can be seen on the website of 
Le Parc et le Chateau de Jeurre et ses Momuments 

'Cook, James (1728–1779)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 30 June 2017

Wikipedia entry for Jean-Joseph de Laborde (1724-1794)

Wikipedia entry for Jean-Francois de Galaup, comte de Laperouse,_comte_de_Lap%C3%A9rouse

1778 - Stowe, Buckinghamshire, England - Captain Cook Memorial - By George Nugent Temple Grenville (1753-1813), 1st marquess of Buckingham (also 2nd Earl Temple 1779-1784).
Photos of Captain Cook's Monument, Stowe: The Elysian Fields at

1781 - Vache Park, Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire, England - Memorial to Captain Cook - By Admiral Sir Hugh Palliser
Article: Patron of Captain Cook: an Admiral's foresight. The Age, Sat 21 Jun 1952, p. 10
Photos at

1794 - Chateau de Mereville, Mereville, Juine Valley, France - Le Cenotaphe de Cook - By Jean-Joseph de Laborde

1827 - Easby Moor, North Yorkshire - Captain Cook's Monument - by Robert Campion

1874 - High Cross, intersection of Avoca, High, Belmere, and Perouse streets, Randwick, New South Wales - Statue of Captain Cook - By Captain Thomas Watson. Unveiled on 27 Oct 1874, the anniversary of Cook's birthday.
Article: Unveiling of a statue of Captain Cook. Empire (Sydney) Wed 28 Oct 1874, p. 2
Photos at
Article: Captain T. Watson and his Captain Cook statues: a tribute to kindness. Pittwater Online News, issue 227, August 16-22, 2015.

Squatters Homestead

Squatters Homestead Building
Bribie Island
circa 1970s - 1990s

A unique building existed from the 1970s to the 1990s, on the road that crosses Bribie Island from Bongaree to Woorim.  The road was then known as the Caboolture-Bribie Island Road and today known as First Avenue.  The building had been known as Squatters Craft Homestead, Squatters Homestead and Squatters Restaurant.

Photo from a tourist brochure entitled
  Cross the Bridge to BribieIsland: Queensland's island in the sun.
The brochure was produced by the Bribie Island Chamber
of Commerce in conjunction with Caboolture Shire
Council and Queensland Tourist and Travel Corporation
 around the year 1980.
Squatters Craft Homestead: Home of Creative Arts
Source: Postcard, Murray Views, Gympie, circa 1980.

These photos show the building when it was owned and operated by the Buckley family and one of the attractions were the goats that delighted children with little buggy rides!

By 1989 the building was home to the Squatters Homestead Restaurant and the following advertisement and article were published that year.

Restaurant now a Landmark!
The Bribie Islander March 1989 article

Caption: Squatters Homestead has been a landmark on
Bribie for 14 years [by 1989]

Source: The Bribie Islander v6(3) March 1989, p. 40, 44.

Squatters Homestead has been a landmark on Bribie for 14 years.  It was built by Don Buckley, a man trained in woodwork and coach building in the 1930s.

Don took up crown land in 1972 to build a centre that would inspire and accommodate craftsmen of different trades where they might work and sell their particular products.

The timbers used in construction for this centre were collected over a period of many years and consist of soft and hardwoods cut from the bush.  It took Don and his son-in-law, Russell Curtis, seven months of dawn till dusk work to build the slab homestead.  It was completed in 1975.

It remained as such until 1981 when its conversion to a restaurant was initiated.  Squatters Homestead Restaurant was a full restaurant until 18 months ago [1987] when a section was adapted to house arts and crafts once again.  Current owner [1989] of 3 ½ years, Dave Condie said “The public demand for locally made artifacts was so great, we had to bring them back”.

The extensive range of craftwork on display at the Homestead is definitely something worth seeing.

When you enter Squatters Restaurant, be prepared for a step back in time to the era of colonial Australia. The building itself was built using the same constructive methods as that of the pioneers of our country. The walls are adorned with blacksmiths tools, various saddlery, even a yoke.

In the corner is an organ, in working order, that dates back to the last century and punka fans, also in working order, hang from the ceiling.

The fireplace is actually a 44-gallon drum which was converted to a fireplace by John Gilpin of Montford.  Expect to see this conversation piece well ablaze all through winter.
Squatters Homestead Restaurant is famous for its Pepper Steak, Garlic Prawns and Pumpkin Soup, but has a comprehensive menu to suit all tastes as well as a special menu for children. From Thur – Mon, Squatters dial-a-dinner is the perfect alternative for the stay at home types.

Dave invites you to spend your leisure time browsing around and soak up the environment of yesteryear.
Source: The Bribie Islander v6(3) March 1989, p. 40, 44.

Source: The Bribie Islander July 1989

An 1989 advertisement for the Squatters Restaurant, First Avenue, Bribie Island 

Murray Views, postcards, Gympie.
Restaurant now a landmark. The Bribie Islander v6(3) March 1989, p. 40-44.
Advertisement for Squatters Restaurant. The Bribie Islander v6(7) July 1989, p. 36.

This compilation was prepared by Donna Holmes, Historical Database Project Coordinator, BIHS, June 2017.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Jun 2017 speaker

Shipwrecks of Northern Moreton Bay
David Jones
Guest speaker at BIHS meeting 14 June 2017

David Jones is a life-long resident of Brisbane with a keen interest in local history, particularly nautical and aviation history. David is a member of the Queensland Maritime Museum and Queensland Air Museum and his books and papers (some co-authored) reflect this interest

David commenced his talk by showing the channels in northern Moreton Bay and explaining why the route, for entering the Brisbane River, changed from the South Passage to the northern route past Cape Moreton.  

Beginning with the Norfolk, Lt. Flinder’s sloop David explained that though she wasn’t wrecked, she was laid up near White Patch (Bribie Island) for necessary repairs, caused by a bad leak during his expedition in July 1799.  Flinder's journal gave details of the sandbanks and shoals in the Pumicestone Passage and the difficulties of navigating into Moreton Bay because of strong winds and squalls. 

The history of the wrecks Avon, Cormorant, Koopa and Gayundah were detailed and photos shown of them as wrecks as well as in their prime.  The makeup of the largest group of wrecks near Tangalooma was described with David advising that the first 6 hulks were scuttled in 1963 (Maryborough, Remora, Bream, Dolphin, Kookaburra and Iceberg) followed by 10 more over the next 20 years, the last being the Echeneis in 1984. The reason for their dumping and why in 2015 the wrecks were cut down to water level, which changed the silhouette of the wrecks, was explained.

David then showed some early photos of dumped WW2 landing barges on Bribie Island and a discussion ensued on where they were positioned from the background in the photos.

The story of the grounding of the Anro Asia, a 16,336 ton roll-on/roll-off container ship off the northern tip of Bribie in 1981 was told as was the Kanimbla which in 1952 was grounded off Caloundra because of blinding rain squalls and blasts of wind. The account of the Eastern’s mishap in 1911 was then presented with David advising how she ran aground on the Salamander Bank which flanks the western side of the channel. After being 10 days aground strong winds and seas carried her over and across the Salamander Bank into the deeper water of the north-west channel. Though damaged she was repaired in Sydney.

David then detailed some early shipping catastrophes commencing with the wrecking of the Sovereign, a 119-ton paddle-steamer which plied the coast before being wrecked in the South Passage with heavy loss of life on 11th March 1847.  The Young Australia, an emigrant clipper, who broke her back on the rocks of North Point on 31st May 1872. The St Magnus a 300-ton barque that went missing after arriving off Cape Moreton, from Adelaide, on 17th March 1875, in particularly stormy weather, took a pilot on board but failed to arrive in Brisbane. Five days later a passing steamer came upon a capsized hulk, bottom-up drifting 30 miles north of Cape Moreton, she fitted the description of the St Magnus.  David spoke also about the Danish barque Aarhus which struck Smith Rock on 24th February 1894 and sank in 15 minutes with no loss of life and the Waipara a passenger ship which also struck Smith Rock, but though needing extensive repairs, survived her encounter. The St Paul, a French steamer, similarly struck Smith Rock but foundered within four minutes with a loss of life of  18.  The Marietta Dal arrived on a fine day on 15th May 1950 but ran onto Smith Rock and was firmly wedged. She broke in two and is now completely submerged and a popular, though challenging, dive site.

David closed his presentation with the story of the Kaptajn Nielsen a 1,600 ton Danish dredge brought to Moreton Bay to deepen the north-west channel.  On the evening of 18th September 1964 she was in the channel near Tangalooma when at 11.30pm she suddenly capsized trapping men inside the upturned hull.  David described how crew member Erik Poulsen raised the alarm and the harrowing race-against-time rescue by divers Joe Engwirda and Ivan Adams  as they pulled survivors out one-by-one. Captain Karl Flindt being the last survivor rescued. The three heroes were all awarded the George Medal.

Further information
David Jones' books available from Boolarong Press

The Lady of the Water: the story of the SS Koopa 1911 to 1953
by David Jones and Colin Jones

Saving war relics

War Relic was Holiday Home on Bribie
Barry Clark, Bribie Island Historical Society

We have recently been contacted by a lady from Brisbane with wonderful childhood memories of living in one of the Fort Skirmish Military buildings at Woorim.

It is one of only 2 remaining buildings in the area of Rotary Park, which is soon to have informative signs erected and improvements carried out. The structure is known as RAN 4 and was the Control Room for submarine detection cable laid on the sea floor, across to Moreton Island to detect and destroy enemy ships. 

There were several defensive installations throughout Moreton Bay which are shown on diagram 1. After the war the military equipment was removed but the structures remained.
1. Diagram of Defence installation
during WW2.

There were 5 rooms in the Control room building, for various equipment and wartime observation activities, plus a toilet for the Officers and another for the ratings. The layout and use of the rooms during the war years is shown on diagram 3.  Further back from the sea was the accommodation camp for about 30 servicemen plus various other military structures. The only other building that has survived is one of the Generator rooms which is still visible in Rotary Park.

Soon after the war the submarine cables were recovered and most buildings were removed or lost in the shifting sand dunes. By 1953 the RAN 4 Control Room was almost out of sight under the sand.
2. In 1953 it was almost buried,
before the Olsen family moved in.

Between 1948 and 1953 the Control room structure was used as a "weekender" by Brisbane butchers Bertha and Ern Koppe under a special lease. They installed double bunks and turned the Loop, Wireless and Observation rooms into bedrooms, and the Artificers Workshop became the kitchen.
The lease was taken over by Ray and Joan Craft who continued to use it as a weekender until 1958.

They installed a wood stove, but were unable to leave anything at all in the building when they were not there as it had no windows and was not secure.
3. Military use of rooms during WW2.
4. Rooms as Holiday home for
Olsen family 1958 to 1969.

Bribie Island was still quite remote in those days with only a car ferry from the mainland to the island, and a population of about 400 people.

The road across the island was rough and basic and there was only a sandy track from the Hotel north to the Control room.

Other families also leased Gun Emplacement structures opposite Fourth Avenue. Viv Daddo and family had use of the tiny Generator room still standing in Rotary Park.
Everything required for the holiday visits had to be carried in and taken back home afterwards.

On 12th March 1958 Frank and Oral Olsen took over the lease of RAN4 Control room and continued to use it as a holiday home for the next eleven years until end January 1969.
By 1970 the building was so broken down and unsafe that it could no longer be used.
Helga Newmann (nee Olsen) recently wrote the following letter to the Historical Society with her memories of those days, and provided a diagram of how they used the rooms as a home.

My memories of holidaying at "The Fort" Bribie Island 
by Helga Newmann (nee Olsen) April 2017
Between March 1958 and January 1969 my family (parents and five children) holidayed at various times (school holidays) at Bribie Island staying in "The Fort" leased by my Uncle Francis Lloyd Olsen (Frank Olsen). We would catch the barge  over from Toorbul Point to Bribie Island then drive across the island towards the ocean beach.

The road in to the fort was only a poorly maintained sandy track through the bush. First thing when we arrived Dad started the windmill so we could have water and got the kerosene refrigerator going. There was no electricity so we used primus lanterns for lights, a kerosene refrigerator and a wood stove. I don't remember stockpiles of wood for the stove so maybe we had some other means of cooking but I don't recall. Maybe a primus stove.

The windows would have had bars but I don't recall whether there was glass in them. The sand dunes actually came right up under the windows (within a foot of the windows) on the beach side. People used to wander along the beach and stop to look in the window. Many a time you'd surprise somebody looking in at you.

We used to swim and fish in the surf right in front of the fort. We also did lots of walking going to some of the inland lagoons. It was wonderful at night to lie in bed and listen to the only sound - the ocean breaking on the shore - and shadowy figures walking past the doorway when Mum and Dad passed with a lantern.

Saving Our War History
After 1970 the Control building continued to deteriorate and became extensively vandalised over the next 25 years, until in 1996 the newly formed Rotary Club of Bribie Island initiated a project to refurbish the building. Volunteers worked for many months inputting thousands of volunteer hours to uncover the building, clean and paint the interior rooms and external structure.
5. Control room before Rotary Restoration in 1996.
6. Restoration work by Rotary volunteers in 1996/7.

When completed it was almost as good as new and was positioned just above the high water mark. Despite the efforts of Rotary there was no interest by State or Council to provide adequate protection or signage.
7. After Rotary restoration vandals struck again in 2000.
In subsequent years king tides and storm surges eroded the protective sand dune in front of the Control Room, and vandals continued to break into the building and deface the restoration work.
8. Storm erosion in 2011 almost claims Control room.
9. Protective Sandbags after storms of 2011.

A major storm surge in 2011 removed large quantities of sand and seriously undermined the structure until it was almost lost.

Council were then required to construct a large sand bag protective wall around the building, which now sticks out over the beach and is washed by the daily tide.

10. What it looks like inside today.
Bribie Island Rotary Club have urged Council for many years to recognise the significance of these structures and to improve the facilities in Rotary Park and erect their informative signage. This work is scheduled to take place soon and it must be hoped that this will raise public awareness and respect for these important historical relics.

For more than a decade the Historical Society have urged State Government to recognise the almost complete loss of World War 2 structures at Fort Bribie on the north of the island. There are now very few remaining structures remaining intact. I have recently taken 40 people, as one of Council's Public programs, to see the inside of the Control Room and appreciate the role of Bribie Island in WW2. The interior is rapidly deteriorating due to extensive concrete cancer, and its ultimate collapse seems inevitable. Such a pity.

It was lovely to hear from Helga (nee Olsen) with her memories of many exciting holidays with her family, living in an empty concrete bunker on the water's edge ... a million dollar location.

We should all be reflecting on just how close Australia came to being invaded during the war, and the strategic role of the buildings and those who served on Bribie Island during those challenging years.

Thank you to Helga Newmann (nee Olsen) for her kind permission to reproduce her memories of "The Fort" Bribie Island.

The above article was published in the June 2017 issue (pages 14-15) of 
The Bribie Islander

Further Information
Dr Richard Walding's webpages on Fort Bribie - has Loop Hut Floor Plan