Tuesday 26 December 2017

The Cormorant

The Wreck
Popular landmark on Bribie ca1955-1990
ex-steamer Cormorant

Around 1955 the hulk of the wreck Cormorant was placed off South Esplanade, Bribie Island, on the shore in front of the building known as the AFA hut.

Ship wreck on Bribie Island, ca 1955.
Photo: Roy R. Ross
Source: Picture Queensland 261128

The hulk became known simply as The Wreck and was a popular landmark on Bribie Island. As the years rolled by The Wreck slowly rusted and by 1990 it was deemed too dangerous to be on the foreshore. In October 1990 the remains were removed from the beach.

The Bongaree wreck, Oct 1990.
Photo: Lynelle Court
Source: Bribie Times 31 Oct 1990.

1900-1930 - Q.G.S. Cormorant

The tug Cormorant, built by Messrs. Fleming and Ferguson, of Paisley Scotland for the Queensland Government (for service with the Lindon Bates dredges), left the Clyde on 10 September and arrived in Brisbane on 26 December 1900. The Cormorant was a vessel of 161 tons, drawing 6 feet of water, with a steaming rate of 10 knots, length 106 feet, breadth 21 feet and depth 8 ½ feet.

Caption: Familiar to Mariners who visit Brisbane, the
relief pilot boat Cormorant, which at present is laid up
at the northern capital. 

[publication and date unknown]
Clipping held by the State Library of Western Australia,
Collection of Jack Edward Miller

photo 1923
The Q.G.S. Cormorant which has been acting as pilot steamer and
returned to port last night as the result of the strike.
Source: Daily Standard (Brisbane) Thurs 6 Sep 1923, p. 1

photo 1926
Pilot steamer Cormorant.
Source: The Telegraph Sat 17 Apr 1926 p. 15
Masters of Q.G.S. Cormorant
George Irvine - pilot and master (circa 1903)
Captain Michael Brennan - master (circa 1910)
Captain John McVey - master (circa 1912)
Frederick Markusen - master (circa 1919)

Circa 1955 - the hulk towed to Bribie and laid on the beach at South Esplanade

Les Bax shares his knowledge of how the hulk of the Cormorant arrived on Bribie Island circa 1955: 

Les Bax in 2016: ‘I was on the fishing boat that towed the hulk of the ‘Cormorant’ to its final resting place on Bribie Island. The ‘Cormorant’ had been purchased by Bribie resident, George Sharp, with the object of using it to stop the erosion of Bongaree foreshore frontages. As planned we arrived at Bribie at 5:00pm at the top of the tide. Arrangements had been made to meet up with Council employees, who would help put the hull in place, but there was no sign of anyone from Council, after a short time, we decided to go ahead and beach the ‘Cormorant’ ourselves. We fitted ropes to the shore, attaching one to a tree and the fishing boat guided the hull into position. The ‘Cormorant’ rested on the bottom about half way up the beach. Billy Woods had been engaged for the following morning to blow a hole in the hull, ensuring it was to stay where it was placed. He arrived as planned and assuming the hull was where the Council put it, proceeded to place the explosives in the hull and detonate them. 
The ‘Cormorant’ would remain exactly where me and my mate, Ron Duell, had beached her until 1990 when its remains were removed for safety reasons.’


1. Islander Extraordinaire - Les Bax by Kellyanne O'Hare. 
The Bribie Islander July 2016 page 31.

2. Stories from Bribie Island - 1 [27 Aug 2016]
features recollections from Les Bax . . . Also photo of s.s. Cormorant (hulk at Bongaree) . . 

Further Information:
At the June 2017 BIHS meeting our guest speaker was David Jones on Shipwrecks of Northern Moreton Bay.  One of the wrecks mentioned by David was that of the Cormorant.