Sunday 26 July 2020

Bongaree Jetty Heritage signs 2020

Bribie Island Heritage site signs 
near Bongaree Jetty along the Bongaree foreshore walk

Recently the three "Heritage signs" (on the walking path near the Bongaree Jetty) which had been facing into the weather since 2004, were replaced with new signs.

To view the 2004 signs [Bribie Jetty, Jetty Precinct and Twelve Apostles] go to

1. Bribie Camping Ground and Twelve Apostles
2. Bribie Jetty and Tourism boom
3. Building Business, Having Fun

1. Bribie Camping Ground and Twelve Apostles

Bribie camping ground
Relaxing in a fresh sea breeze, sleeping under the stars, cooking over a fire…camping on Bribie Island has long been popular.

During holiday periods a sea of tents stretched either side of the jetty. Campers carried their kit to a selected site, and hastily erected tents and set up camp all before the sun set.

Enterprising locals would hire out ready-cut tent poles, sell firewood and have water boiling to fill campers’ tea-pots.

1st Caption: Camping on Bribie, ca 1922
2nd Caption: View towards jetty from Bribie Bowling Club Hill, ca 1923-24
3rd Caption: Bribie 1922

Twelve Apostles
Twelve holiday shacks, dubbed the Twelve Apostles, were a distinctive local identity along the Bongaree foreshore.

Built by the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company in 1916, each hut offered an unfurnished single-room measuring 14x12 feet (4.5x4 metres). Holidaymakers carried in everything including stretchers and bedding, tables, chairs, cooking pots and pans.

In the 1920s hiring an ‘Apostle’ for the week cost 6 shillings (60c). Weekend rates were 3 shillings (30c). But during peak holiday periods the price soared to 10 shillings ($1),

Caption: In front of one of the Twelve Apostles, 1920

Dance, Study, Church 
A favourite haunt for holiday makers was the Bribie Island Dance Pavilion. Swim, fish and relax by day – kick up your heels at night! The dance hall also functioned as a community hall, and on Sundays, a church. It accommodated Bribie Island’s first school in 1924. Later, the hall was lowered and relocated to become the first clubhouse for the Bribie Island Bowls Club.

2. Bribie Jetty and Tourism boom
Bongaree Jetty ; Tugs and steamships ; Flying fish - ss Koopa ; Sister ship - ss Doomba
A new road ; No tolls for us ; Buses and barge ; Bribie Island Bridge

Bribie jetty 
At the turn of last century, excursion steamers could be seen plying the waters off Bribie Island. 

Passengers soaked up bay views and island vistas while enjoying on-board luxury saloons and music ensembles. As pleasure cruising grew in popularity, the company running the tours, the Brisbane Tub & Steamship Company set their sights on creating a holiday resort on Bribie Island. But first, a jetty was needed.

From its inception in 1912, the Bongaree Jetty was designed to cope with large crowds. It spanned 66 metres of solid ironbark with a mahogany T bar at the head. As the Island’s popularity grew, the crowds became larger and more frequent and a visitor’s shelter shed with adjacent vendor’s storage were added.

By the mid 1920s, Bribie Island was a well-established tourist destination. In 1926, two additional walkways were added and the T bar, widened, all of which helped delineate arrivals and departures. A third central walkway was converted to a narrow-gauge tramway for the transport of supplies and luggage.

Caption: ss Koopa berthed at the newly finished Bongaree Jetty 1912

Bongaree Jetty was built by the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company. They boasted a large fleet of impressive and popular vessels. They had started their fleet with three tugs, the Boko, Beaver and Greyhound, and later added the Koopa and Doomba – the latter two becoming Bribie Island regulars.

Luxurious, modern and fast, the 62-metre flat-bottomed steamship, Koopa was aptly named after an Aboriginal word meaning ‘flying fish’. The ship was licenced to carry 1,153 passengers. There was a 100-seat dining saloon famous for delicacies such as oysters with buttered bread. Entertainment was provided by a small orchestra along with passengers singing and dancing. Alcohol was only served once the ship was three nautical miles from home berth.

With the outbreak of WWII, ss Koopa was requisitioned by the Royal Australian Navy. The ship was returned to the Bribie Island route in 1947. After a total of 40 years of Moreton Bay service, the heyday of steamship pleasure cruises was waning. She was retired in 1960.

Caption: ss Koopa 1923-24

As visits to Bribie Island increased, ss Koopa needed a sister-ship. The Tug company purchased HMS Wexford from the UK and renamed her ss Doomba. She was an odd choice, for she had been built as a mine-sweeper, but after a refit she was licenced to carry 1,547 pleasure cruising passengers. Doomba and Koopa sailed the Bribie Island route together between 1923 and 1928.

ss Doomba served in the Royal Australian Navy during the war, when she finally got to use her mine-sweeping infrastructure. She was deliberately sunk off Long Reef NSW in 1976.

Caption:  ss Doomba, on the Bribie Island run, 1924.

Tourism boom
The second decade of the 1900s was an exciting time of development at Bongaree. Despite the harsh realities of WW1, tourism here continued to build. (sub-heading)

After completing the jetty, Brisbane Tug & Steamship Company added bathing sheds, toilets and water tanks to the foreshore. They erected a caretaker’s residence near to the end of the jetty from which refreshments were offered. Soon after, a general store and dining room were built serving fresh fish and shucked oyster dinners.

Caption:  Bribie Jetty 1923

Soon after the jetty was built, the Brisbane Tug & Steamship Company obtained a lease to build a tramway to transport people from Bongaree to Woorim – the ocean side of Bribie Island. The idea remained just that for a decade, after which the tramway idea was replaced with a regular road.

In 1923 construction began on, what eventually became First Avenue. Local gravel was unavailable – Bribie is a sand island – so rock was shipped in and moved from ship to shore via a temporary jetty, built alongside the passenger terminal.

Caption: Tramway at Bribie Jetty, ca. 1920. State Library of Queensland.

NO TOLLS FOR US! (heading)
The newly completed road transported visitors in four model T-Ford buses to guest accommodation at Woorim, all courtesy of the Brisbane Tug & Steamship Company. The Company also erected a toll gate, charging any vehicle other than their own. Residents were outraged. Several protested by cutting their own bush tracks to Woorim.

Caption: All terrain vehicle on Bribie Island, ca. 1930. State Library of Queensland.

During WWII, when the army was stationed at Toorbul Point, the military built a road connecting Bribie to Caboolture via a barge service between Sylvan Beach and the mainland’s Toorbul Point. There was also a military jetty at Bongaree.

After the war, a barge service to transport cars became the popular way to travel to the Island until the opening of the Bribie Island Bridge.

Caption: Buses meeting passengers from the SS Koopa, 1945 & Barge 1950.

The Bribie Island bridge was an impressive undertaking. It opened in 1963 with a span of 831 metres making it the longest precast pre-stressed concrete bridge in Australia. To recoup the construction cost a toll gate was erected on the bridge. It remained until 1975.

3. Building Business, Having Fun
Hmmm... fish & chips ; fresh oysters ;
First Post Office ; Fun days ; Best store in town

Building business, having fun

The 1920s were golden years for Bribie Island tourism. With the number of holidaymakers ever increasing, residents grabbed opportunities to service the multitudes. (sub-heading)

As the ships neared shore, a tantalising aroma of fish and chips greeted passengers, enticing them to rush to one of the dining rooms. The closest was next to the Caretaker’s Cottage – which later, in 1929 became Moyle’s Guest House and continued in business until the early 1950s.

Campers could buy fresh fish, seafood and groceries at the adjacent kiosk and cook up their own meals.

Caption: Refreshment rooms at Bribie, 1929

Campbell’s Oyster Kiosk was located at the entrance to the jetty and sold fresh and bottled oysters. The family was well experienced in oyster farming, with Joe Campbell having arrived in the area in 1905 to supervise an oyster farming venture located in the Pumicestone Passage.

The Campbell family also hired out boats for fishing and recreation for as little as 5 shillings (50c) a week.

Caption: Campbell’s Oyster Kiosk, ca. 1926

The Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company built a second caretaker’s cottage to the south side of the jetty – towards Brennan Park. This would later become the island’s first post office.

Peak periods, like Christmas and Easter holidays, could see as many as five ships berthing at the jetty. Companies and clubs held end of year picnics on the foreshore and schools ran annual sports days. Visitors frolicked in the waters, played beach games, fished, went bushwalking and picked wildflowers.

Captions:  Christmas Sports Day, ca 1922
Captions:  Passengers waiting to embark on the SS Doomba for Bribie Island, ca. 1924 State Library of Queensland

With the jetty completed in 1912 and more ships arriving, Alfred Hall and Artie Bestmann seized the opportunity to run a store in Bongaree. Alfred had access to supplies – he owned a grocery store in Brisbane.

Artie was running the Island’s first dairy. In 1918, they began selling supplies through the bedroom window of Hall’s Bribie Island holiday cottage. In 1923, the men built Bongaree’s first general store, which they called, Hall & Bestmann Bribie Store.

Interested in the history of the Moreton Bay Region? Discover council’s many Heritage Trails at

To view the 2004 signs [Bribie Jetty, Jetty Precinct and Twelve Apostles] go to

Thank you to Lynne Hooper for the above photos and text details.

Celebrating 50 Years of Bribie Island living

Celebrating 50 years of loving Bribie Island!

Recently the "50 Years" sign (on the foreshore walking path at Brennan Park) which had been facing into the weather since 2007, was replaced with a new sign.

01: Celebrating 50 years - Ted & Pat; 
Stella ; Sally ; Kling family
Photo taken by Lynne Hooper.

02: Celebrating 50 years - Margo ; 
Frank ; Betty ; Tesch family
Photo taken by Lynne Hooper.

In 2005, residents who had lived a continuous 50 years or more on Bribie Island were interviewed. All have made a lasting contribution to the island’s community. 

‘Fifty years ago, when Past and I were married, we settled permanently on Bribie. The place was paradise – there is no other description for it’. Ted Clayton.  (italic text)

It was on Bribie Island that Ted’s parents fell in love in the 1920s. Ted had spent holidays here, even periodically attending the primary school.

After marrying Pat in 1954, they moved to Bribie Islands and raised three daughters and a son. Carpenter, Ted built the family home at 11 South Esplanade. He built the furniture as well. Ted was also General Foreman during the Bribie island bridge construction.

The couple ran the Bait and Tackle Store. Ted’s fishing skills became legendary. In 1970, he began a 20-year stint writing for the magazine, ‘Fishing World’.

To view the 2007 sign details - Ted and Patricia Clayton

After the war in 1946, newly-weds, Stella (nee Aroney b. 1919) and returned solider, Percival Ray arrived on Bribie Island. They purchased land at 4 Spowers Street (for around $45 in today’s currency) and erected two small ex-army huts. They, along with daughter, Glenda lived there without electricity, running water or sewerage before completing their new home in 1980.

In the early days, the couple ran a boat hire business and caught and sold yabbies. As tourism grew, Stella worked in the boarding houses, cafes and take-away shops.

Bicycle Stella: The family never owned a car, so Stella rode her bicycle everywhere. At the age of 75 she was hit by a car but recovered to continue her active life.

To view the 2007 sign details - Stella Ray

Beautify tree-lined Brennan Park, where you stand today, is named in recognition of the community service shown by Sally and Bernie Brennan.

Sally (‘Sarah’ nee Herbert, b. 1920) and Bernie Brennan settled into Bribie life a year after marrying in 1940. Sally was the daughter of publicans – she was born in the hotel they ran in Sandgate. The family had also lived on Bribie Island for a few years in the 1930s.

Sally and Bernie raised three boys. They opened ‘Brennan’s Store’ in 1945, using a small wooden house they had purchased in Toorbul Street (almost opposite this sign).

The store sold a wide variety of goods and produce, proving very popular with holiday makers, most of whom in those days pitched tents along the foreshore. The family ran the shop for 33 years.

Gold Ticket: In 1965, Brennan’s Store sold a winning Golden Casket Lottery ticket to Island resident, Stella Ray.

To view the 2007 sign details - Sally Brennan

Three members of the Kling Family may hold a record for the longest continuous Bribie residency: Mavis arrived 1920, Fred, 1935 and son, Peter, 1945.

Mavis (nee Ormiston) was born on Bribie Island in 1920. In 1937 she married baker, Fred Kling who had arrived here for work.

During the Second World War troops moved onto Bribie Island. Residents, aside from those few who could service the troops, were evacuated. The Kling family purchased the Island’s bakery from Tom Read, (who had operated it since 1931) and supplied baked goods to the troop here and at Toorbul Point.

The bakery was located at 18 Banya Street for 55 years. When son, Peter took over the business, it was relocated to Cornett’s Arcade on Welsby Parade. Peter retired in 2001.

Community dedication: Aside from running the bakery, Fred was a 1949 founding member of the Bongaree Bowls Club, and their other son, Richard, became a doctor to the Island’s residents.

Margo was one of the first pupils to enrol in the new Bribie Island State School in 1924. Generations of Margo’s family all attended the same school. 

In 1918, at the age of six, Margo (Madeline) Whitney’s family moved to Bribie Island. Father, George worked in road construction. He helped construct the road from Bongaree to Woorim using coal cinders from the furnaces on the ss Koopa.

During WWII, when most residents were evacuated from the Island, Margo stayed and worked in the local stores and a temporary hotel (relocated from Woorim). After the war, she opened a shop at Mac’s Corner on Third Ave selling fruit, vegetables, poultry and fabric.  In 1962, she opened ‘Pretty Girl’ frock salon in Toorbul Street, and in 1970, ‘Coast Casuals’ in the new shopping block on First Ave. For 87 years Margo contributed much to the character and commercial development of the Island. She was also a founding member of the Bongaree Ladies Bowls Club in 1952.

The ‘Twelve Apostles’: These were holiday huts that once lined this foreshore. Margo, her two sisters and mother, Louisa lived in one for a while.

To view the 2007 sign details - Margo Whitney

Frank Lee’s knowledge of commercial fishing contributed to sustainable fishing practices for Bribie Island.

The Lee family arrived on Bribie in 1953 when Frank was a young boy. It was fishing that caught Frank’s interest, and he immersed himself among the Island’s fishing community.

Frank became a commercial fisherman. Over the years his knowledge and experience of environmental and conservation fishing grew and he opened his own training company for sustainable fishing practices and accreditation. 

Island burial: Frank’s father was a soft drink manufacturer. He became one of only two buried on the Island. When the land was wanted for development, he was exhumed and relocated to the mainland.

To view the 2007 sign details - Frank Lee

After serving in the British Air Force during the war, Betty (b. 1920), along with her mother, arrived in Australia. It was 1951.

They were following Betty’s younger sister who had married an Australian solider and were now living in Caboolture. A couple of years later Betty met Horace Lougheed, a keen fisherman and they moved to Bribie Island.

Here Horace became involved in property and building. Their home at 179 Welsby Parade was known as Avalon. It was set opposite the bay, although in those days wind-beaten trees and swamp bushes obscured their view to the water. Today, the home has an expansive bay vista.

Duck Inn: In the early days, Betty’s local store (now Cornett’s Supermarket) was nick-named the ‘Duck Inn’ – you had to duck in, as the doorway was set below street level.

To view the 2007 sign details - Betty Lougheed

The Tesch family have made a huge contribution to Bribie Island, including running a cinema, a barge service and an electrical repairs business. 

Ben and Myrtle Tesch ran a cinema in Caboolture n the 1930s. Their son, Ivan, became their projectionist. The cinema was working round the clock during the war years entertaining the troops.

After the war the family moved to Bribie Island and Ivan married Clare. They built a unique round house at 17 Banya Street in 1950.

In the 1950s the Tesch family set up a cinema in the Anglican Church Hall where Clare played the organ during church services. The cinema moved to its own premises in Cotterill Ave, but attendance waned as TV’s popularity grew. It closed in 1973.

Ionosphere: In 1967, the University of Queensland established an ionospheric Research Centre on Bribie Island to monitor signals in the upper atmosphere. Ivan was their laboratory manager for the electrical workshop, a position he held for 18 years.

At the bottom of the sign in a coloured band.
For more information about celebrating 50 years of loving Bribie Island, visit or email

Research by historian and Rotarian, Barry Clark to commemorate the centenary of Rotary International in 2005. Moreton Bay Regional Council would like to thank all families for generously donating their memories.