Stories From Coochiemudlo Island – 1

The name Coochiemudlo is a misspelling of the island’s original aboriginal name, Kutchi Mudlo, the place of red ochre stones. Closest of the Bay islands to mainland ‘civilisation’, tiny Coochiemudlo Island nestles off the tip of Victoria Point in the southern section of Moreton Bay.  

Matthew Flinders (alias Ted Jones) lands at Coochiemudlo Re-enactment
Matthew Flinders (alias Ted Jones) lands at Coochiemudlo Re-enactment

Matthew Flinders:

‘Traces of men were scarcely visible: there were, however, several fire-places, and many other marks of the island having lately been visited. They met with some boughs so ranged as to keep off the southerly winds; and from the fire-places which they were placed to defend it was inferred that not less than five or six natives had made this their place of residence, probably a temporary one only, as they do not meet with any huts regularly constructed.’

Reference: Journal entry describing his men’s exploration of the Sixth Island (now called Coochiemudlo) on July 19, 1799


Norman R. Wright: 

‘Dad had an idea of running pigs so we bought a couple, a Berkshire Boar that we named “Dennis” and the sow “Bridget”.  They lived on yams, roots, prickly pear etc. and soon multiplied.

‘We lived on side at the eastern end of the beach.  Our humpy for a start was 8’ x 8’ all galvanised iron and later we made a lean-to on the eastern side in which we stowed the dinghy and odd gear.  For the first year we collected oysters, shell grit, peat and firewood.  We were generally three weeks on the Island and one week at home trading our goods, cutting a supply of firewood etc.  We brought a pig home from time to time and it was slaughtered and sold.  We were the only people on the Island.  ‘Once a few steers appeared, they walked across from Victoria Point at low water and I had seen a couple of stockmen round them up.

‘The aboriginals learned our habits so when we were away they came after the suckers but left as soon as we returned.  The oysters were fair for a couple of years then the worm showed up and destroyed the best of them.’

 Reference: Letter addressed to Mrs F.G.Elliott, Coochiemudlo, November 21, 1966


Edward Field Jones:

‘During the last week of August 1883, a cataclysmic event hit the island (Coochie). What was described as a wall of water like a chalk mountain, surged down the Bay, flooding low lying contiguous areas as it swept towards Innis Island (now known as Coochiemudlo) at great speed. Four men were washed overboard from a southern bound boat and were lost from view. On the western side of the island the wave tore through the mangroves before smashing into the cliff. On the eastern side, the (Morwong) Beach bore the full force of the wave as it crashed through the casuarinas, and continued on its way to the southward, ripping off branches, snapping trunks, uprooting trees, and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

‘When the inundation had drained away, the Island resembled a battlefield, with debris strewn all along (Norfolk) Beach and out into Moreton Bay.

‘As the wave continued down the Bay, a load of bananas which had been piled up on the Redland Bay Jetty awaiting shipment to Brisbane, was swept away & never seen again.

‘After twelve hours immersion, the four men who had been washed overboard, were rescued when they were discovered clinging to floating tree trunks, totally exhausted after their terrifying ordeal.’

Reference: “Chronicles of Coochiemudlo”


Rosemary Opala:

‘Well, in the middle of, after leaving Peel the first time and going back the second time, I was working at the Cleveland Hospital, and I met Mrs Morton there, who was one of the farmers from Coochie. Her mother was in St Anne’s Hospital, and she pointed the island out the window to me, and said that’s where she lived.  I thought it looked a very interesting place. It looked just lovely then, didn’t have all the buildings down the foreshores on Cleveland like there is now.  You could just look down the street and see the mangroves, and you could just see the island.  It didn’t have Toondah Harbour or any of that – it was just very undeveloped round there.  There was just a farm where the hospital was. The hospital stood in the middle of somebody’s farm, actually, with cabbages and things round it.

‘So I had this dinghy, and on my day off once I rowed up to Coochie to see if it was as nice as it looked, and it was, so that’s how I started to get interested in Coochie.’

Reference: Redland Shire Council Oral History Project.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s