Stories from Cribb Island – 1

Crib Island - Sand garden competition

Cribb Island – Sand garden competition

Cribb Island was a former small settlement on Moreton Bay, just to the north of the mouth of the Brisbane River. Today, it lies under the runway of the Brisbane Airport. Here are some of the stories of its former inhabitants:

From Bev Gant:

“Moreton Bay maps no longer carry the name of Cribb Island.  As one ex-local quipped it was “unexpectedly demolished to make way for a hyperspace bypass” (Quote from “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams 1986.)

“Cribb Island was originally named after John George Cribb, a Brisbane Banker and later businessman (of Cribb and Foote fame) who in 1863 purchased 150 acres of low lying land bordering Moreton Bay just north of Serpentine Creek at the mouth of the Brisbane River.  In 1886 Cribb sold 65 acres to James Jackson who went on to grow pineapples, bananas and watermelons there.  He even had his own pineapple cannery.  Because the makeshift road to Cribb Island was submerged at high tide, James Jackson built a flat-bottomed punt “Bramble” to transport his produce to the Brisbane markets.  Fish, caught by both weekend fishermen and professionals, were also sent to market on the “Bramble”.

“Other men also farmed and ran dairy and poultry on the Cribb estate until 1913 when the remaining 80 acres were sold for subdivision into building blocks.  This area was then known as Cribb Town.

“James Jackson then subdivided his land and granted leases to 160 owners whom he allowed to build small weekenders or holiday homes of their own choice, some even from car cases.  This area was known as Jackson Town or Jackson Estate.  At holiday time, Cribby would be awash with the same revisiting families year after year.  Getting there was a bit of a problem until in 1925 Alex Gibson set up a bus service to the city (The Gibson family also operated the fruit boats to the southern Bay islands).” (2)

From Tom Gibson:

“Early in the 1920s, my brother, Alex had begun a bus service at East Brisbane, and in 1925 moved with his family to Cribb Island and commenced a bus service to Brisbane. Cribb Island was a popular fishing spot and safe swimming beach. Sculpturing competitions in the area’s black sand were a popular event. Weekend entertainment in the form of vaudeville concerts was often held on an open stage erected on Jackson’s estate.

“Eventually the Gibson’s had to move into a bigger house at Cribb Island, which also included a garage for the buses and sleeping accommodation for the drivers, myself,  Ernie Gibson and Jack Campbell, who all took our meals with the family. Known as the “Red and White Line” the service began with 2 buses and eventually expanded to 14. It ran to Nudgee railway station as well as Brisbane.

“During WWII, the Cribb Island buses could be commandeered at any time by the American Army forces, which were then billeted at Eagle Farm Racecourse. If objections were raised, the army just threatened to send out drivers and take over themselves. Alex had no option but to comply, and borrowed buses from J.T.Ford of Sandgate and Hornibrook Highway to try to get his disgruntled passengers to and from their homes.

“Alex died in February 1946 and his widow, Margaret kept the Cribb Island business running until 1953 when it was sold. After living for 28 years at Cribb Island, the remainder of Alex Gibson’s family moved to Auchenflower, a Brisbane suburb. I had driven buses with the firm for 23 years until my wife’s health forced us to move to a drier climate. We settled at Kingaroy where we operated a milk delivery service for many years.” (1)

Crib Island bus

Cribb Island bus


(1) Ludlow, Peter. Moreton Bay People-The Complete Collection. privately published, Stones Corner, 2000

(2) Ludlow, Peter. Moreton Bay Letters. privately published, Stones Corner, 2003

(3) Ludlow, Peter. Moreton Bay Reflections. privately published, Stones Corner, 2007

(4) Ludlow, Peter. The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities, published by the Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd, 2013