, ,

Cribb Island sales (Cameron Brothers)

Cribb Island sales (Cameron Brothers)

From Ron Farry:

‘I attended the Cribb Island School from 1924 to 1927. The teachers were “Hoffie” Hoffman and “Spud” Murphy. It was built out on the marsh and at high tide we walked up to our knees in water to get there. In 1927, there was great excitement when solo flyer, Bert Hinkler, flew over Cribb Island in his monoplane. This was also the year that Kingsford Smith also flew over in his “Southern Cross”.

‘At that time we lived on the Jackson’s estate. There was a shop and a dance hall, both owned by a man called Burgess. There was no police station, so if required, Policeman Long had to ride a horse from Nundah Police Station. There were about 150 houses on the Jackson’s Estate then and they were available for rental at 5/- a week. A lot were empty. There were also about 150 houses up the top end of Cribb Island. The Slade’s who ran the buses lived there, and also the Leo’s.

‘Personalities at Cribb Island included the brothers, Eric and Mick Leo, fisherman who rowed 14 foot dinghies. My brother, Ricky, used to help them. They netted at Shark’s Gutter at the mouth of the Brisbane River at Sambo Creek (named after an Aborigine) and at Bishop Island (then called Wreck Island because of all the hulks placed there to prevent erosion from ships’ wakes).

‘Sharks were in abundance and included Grey Nurse, but not Bull Sharks as you have suggested. One shark that comes to mind was known as “Big Ben”. He used to follow the vessel “Olivene” that took workers between Woody Point and Shorncliffe Pier. He was partial to scraps of food that were thrown overboard to him. A ₤5 ($10) reward was offered to anyone who could catch him, and eventually somebody did.

‘During the 1950s, while the Tangalooma Whaling Station was in operation, a whale oil slick came right from Tangalooma into Nudgee Beach, a suburb next to Cribb Island. We used to watch the sharks fins going up and down the channel, just beyond the beach. I remember that a boy was taken at Cabbage Tree Creek near the boat ramp. There’s a deep hole there. It was late in the evening and he was being piggy backed across the Creek to Diners Island. I am not sure of the date but it may have been just before WWII. Incidentally, it was on Diners Island that some prison escapees hid out for some days before their recapture.

‘Our family used to have horses. People used to have a loan of them sometimes to ride up to T.B.Childs’ vineyards, where the Nudgee Golf Club is now. They used to make their own wine there, which they sold for 2/6 (25 cents) a bottle. Often the horse would come back riderless. Wine was the standard alcoholic beverage consumed at Cribb Island then. There was no pub there.’ (3)

From Brian McGrath:

‘During the port development days, we had a series of tide gauges near where we were doing our work, and one of them was on the jetty at Bishop Island. I was down there one day and was putting a new chart on the tide gauge and there was a dear old lady fishing there. I got talking to her and she told me how much she enjoyed coming to Bishop Island every year for her holiday. When I asked her where she came from, I was expecting her to say something like Western Queensland, but she pointed across the river and said, ‘From over there at Cribb Island.’ (4)

From Margaret Taylor:

‘Pete and I also purchased Christie’s Bait Shop, which was situated under the Victoria Bridge on the north bank of the river. We used to dig worms from Fisherman Islands and sell them as Cribb Island worms, which were much sought after by local fishermen. They were sold as 10 full worms plus 2 bits for 4/- (40 cents) a packet. They also sold mullet gut for bait. An 18-inch (45 centimetres) tube cost 4/-.’ (4)

From Jack Little:

‘Bulimba is one of Brisbane’s oldest suburbs, and in the early days, its residents were either fishermen or boat builders. However my father had a newsagency. When I was about seven, my family had a weekender at Cribb Island. We used to make the trip down there by horse and sulky. There were pineapple farms there then and mangoes.  Many Brisbane residents spent their weekends at Cribbie in huts built for that purpose.  There were also retired people there.’ (1)

From Peter Ludlow:

‘I visited Cribb Island only once. It was on a weekend drive with some friends during the 1960s when, out of curiosity, we thought we’d pay the place a visit. Although I didn’t have a camera with me at the time, a single mental image of the place has remained with me over the years. Cannery Row springs to mind to describe the collection of houses. The weathered wooden workers houses fronting the Bay were a far cry from the Bayside mansions we are becoming accustomed to seeing today.  Storm clouds were brewing over the water and on the verandah of one of the shacks the motionless figure of an old woman was gazing out to sea. She watched our car trundle past and I had the strange impression that we were intruding on the lives of this isolated community.

‘I have always wanted to return, but alas Cribb Island has been swept aside by progress.’ (3)

Beach shack at Cribb Island 1928 (State Library of Queensland negative number 27.35574,153.113953)

Beach shack at Cribb Island 1928 (State Library of Queensland negative number 27.35574,153.113953)


(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