Wednesday 8 January 2020

1894 holiday on Bribie

The following article from 1894 describes a camping trip to Bribie Island by fifty-five members of Alfred Shaw and Co who cast off the "close atmosphere of Queen street" and reveled in the sandy seashore and beauty of Bribie Island.

1894 Easter Trip to Bribie
on the Tarshaw

Easter Picnic. Alfred Shaw and Co.

Exactly four years ago, shortly after the famous 1890 flood, the above firm generously gave their employees a four days' picnic at Amity Point in recognition of their services in coping with that terrible disaster. This year as Easter was approaching another four days' picnic was arranged amongst the employees and employers, this time in recognition of the mutual good feeling existing. At 8 p.m. on Thursday, the time arranged for starting, saw the Tarshaw lying at her old accustomed place, lighted from stem to stern, as gaily as if she herself had life and seemed to join in the greetings of those who came tripping aboard all dressed in that costume that all who go to the island shores know so well. Fifty-five all aboard fiddling, singing, and a hum of voices like that of many hives, and the snug little steamer cast off her lines for Bribie.
To give you an idea of what the Tarshaw looked like,
here is the ship Tarshaw anchored at Pettigrew's wharf, Maroochydore, 1882.

Source: State Library of Queensland, negative 4357

The trip down the river was enlivened with music and singing. The  run across the bay was appreciated after the close atmosphere of Queen street, and Bribie was reached in the early morning. If stars and bars denote a country, we had a big American company, as bars of burnt cork on the faces of those who slept was the order of the night. Morning dawned, the sailing boats were cast off, the boats lowered, and the company disembarked in double quick time.
Tents were rigged and the village formed on a nice sandy shore. The "Elephant," the caterer's large tent, took the lead in size; but the "A1" tent was most envied. The experience gained by the previous trip taught the party that grouping together in lots to suit tents was the most satisfactory; and of course every group must have its name. The "Toomdoongihanigan" stenciled on the side of one is still puzzling some, and even now some are trying to say it in their sleep. The "Can't be beat," the "Elephant," and the "Up to date" would well become Lytton, the latter most of all. Experience also taught us that a caterer was necessary, and Garget, with his ever pleasant smile, did more than justice can do to him. Fancy, snowy cloths and glass and silver on Bribie to suit the most fastidious. It was a notable fact that nobody was late at meal times.

After boating, fishing, bathing, and all conceivable enjoyments had been indulged in for the day, and when the tent lamps were burning, an impromptu concert was held on the beach, stimulated by the ship's band, the latter being sprung upon us as a surprise. How those woods resounded to the strains of music in the still bright moonlight; it was indeed a novel scene.

The music must have appealed to the reptiles as well as the picknickers, for a large snake was killed amongst the performers to the intense agony of a Toowoomba guest, who offered to pay the bandsmen handsomely if they would keep on all night to draw the snakes away from his chateau. A bush naturalist was also with the party, whose long walks into scrubs made him celebrated ; and this time he will be for ever remembered as Moses in the bullrushes — lost by himself in a morass in the middle of the island from Friday till Saturday morning. All night in a swamp with mosquitoes and leeches and no food was not the thing to get him away from his tent, when he saw it again, just in time to prevent a search party starting.

Monday morning. How the time went by. All fishers up at daylight to get the last chance to angle the top fish, but they were all disappointed, as the long line of fishers on the beach tried all they knew for a good catch. A splash was heard and a cry arose, "Man overboard," from the steamer at anchor. There was rushing to and fro, life lines and belts were thrown down, boats lowered, and as the man was hauled up the ship's side a cheer arose that resounded for miles, and it was generally admitted that he was the biggest catch of the day.

At 12 o'clock all aboard, and off to town. The day was all that could have been desired. In conclusion, if ever there were a ship's company that deserved a word of praise for their never ceasing attention it was this one, from the captain downwards; and when we have our next trip it will not be our fault if he is not there.

Article: Easter Picnic. The Week (Brisbane) March 30, 1894, p. 14 
Available online through NLA's Trove at

Photo: The ship Tarshaw anchored at Pettigrew's wharf, Maroochydore, 1882.
State Library of Queensland negative 4357, viewable online at