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Old postcard from Bulimba

Old postcard from Bulimba

Ralph Duffield:

‘When Frank Duffield arrived in Brisbane from Townsville in 1922, he purchased the motor launch “Appollo'” and commenced a ferry service across the Brisbane River from Bulimba to Hamilton. Prior to this, river crossings had to be made laboriously by rowboat. However with the motor launch service, it became quicker for the residents of Bulimba to cross the river to Hamilton and then catch a tram into the city rather than to walk to the tram at Balmoral. For the added pleasure of the ferry’s patrons, a draft board was set up at the Hamilton terminus.’

Reference: Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection

John Wilson:

‘The first (heavy/large) flying boat to visit was Imperial Airways S.23 Empire flying boat G-ADUT “Centaurus” when it arrived on the first survey flight from England on 21 December 1937. It alighted on the Bulimba Reach of the Brisbane River just off the Bulimba ferry terminal, turned around near the Newstead wharves and taxied up to a buoy off the gardens, a little upstream from where the new footbridge is now.’

Reference: Moreton Bay Letters

Graham Mackey:

‘During WWII, Anti aircraft guns were being installed around Brisbane and its river. One 3.7 gun had been installed at the back of Bulimba Cemetery and we were hoping if ever it was fired it would not awaken the dead. Fortunately it was never fired for any purpose. Incidentally, 3.7 means that the shells fired from the gun were 3.7 inches in diameter at the base of the shell.’

Reference: Moreton Bay Reflections

Graham Mackey:

‘Opposite Bretts Wharf and the Apollo Ferry at Bulimba there used to be what was known as Bulimba Hill. The Yanks were looking for extra areas close to the river for workshops and camps and Bulimba Hill was chosen. We had never seen so many bulldozers and large graders working together at the one time. The area below Bulimba Hill was all swamp almost down to Cairncross Dock. The moved some houses from the top of the hill and bulldozed that part of the hill down to fill in the swamp. That reclaimed area was where they housed all the Chinese labourers. There was also a massive Small Ships Yard there, with long, wide concrete ramps running up from the river, suitable for handling barges, Catalinas, Fairmiles, torpedo boats and other small craft. There were workshops and housing for the workers as well. It was all constructed in next to no time with earthmoving machinery from the Sea Bees Camp at Whinstanes.’

Reference: Moreton Bay Reflections

Alex King:

‘When the Japanese invaded China during Word War II, many Chinese escaped from China and Hong Kong, with the assistance of the Americans, I would say. Several hundred of them arrived in Brisbane and the Americans set up a camp for them at Colmslie, where they worked for the American engineers. The Americans were building big barges– refrigeration barges, oil barges, and crane barges. The construction site was set up by the Allied Works Council, who was working under contract to the Americans. The Americans employed the Chinese and a lot of Australians. I worked for them for a while.

‘The Chinese were part of the workforce that built the bow of the wrecked Rufus King, which they towed away to New Guinea. Before they could tow it up the river, they had to put a bulkhead in her and seal it.

‘They had a working pace that never changed – not too slow, and certainly not too fast. I worked with them sorting out the parts for the oil barges, which were being constructed on huge timber platforms. I would pick out a part from a plan and tell the Chinese foreman where it should be placed. I might casually say ‘Could two men pick up this part, and two men that part.’ He would look at it and say ‘No. That part three men one’ or ‘That part four men one’ despite the fact that I could probably lift it on my own. But you could not argue with them. If he said ‘three men one’ then that’s what it had to be.’

Reference: The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities

Dennis Burchill:

‘The Chinese workers caused quite a lot of friction with the local workers.  The yanks paid them well and they always had plenty of money.  As beer in those days was rationed and was only served in sessions, the Chinese who had worked all night would have a sleep and then stroll down to the Balmoral Pub when the session started.  When the meatworkers and the stockmen arrived after work they found that the Chinese had downed most of the beer on tap.  This led to several nasty brawls with the stockmen chasing them down Oxford Street on their horses and hitting them with palings that they had ripped off fences.’

Reference: Bulimba @ War