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            Recent times have seen two significant changes to Kooringal’s essential services: First it was Kooringal’s ferry service to Amity Point that closed in April 7, 2010. This virtually cut off the village of Kooringal on the southern tip of Moreton Island.  What could have been a death knell for Kooringal was reversed on Thursday December 2, 2010 with the reopening of the ferry link between North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island. This time the Amity Trader barge is the Scorpio owned by Steve Wallace, and under the Captaincy of Moreton Bay marine industry identity Allan Chaplin. The additional choice of access to Moreton Island has already proved a boon when the Brisbane River flood of January 2011 closed the other access point from Pinkenba.

Kooringal’s Gutter Bar (photo courtesy Kathy Brinckman)
Kooringal’s Gutter Bar – with remembrances of three of its best loved residents – Ray, Frank, and John Day (photo courtesy Kathy Brinckman)

              On a sadder note is the closing of the Gutter Bar at Kooringal on January 30, 2011. Once a favourite haunt for both locals and visitors alike, this Moreton Bay icon will be sorely missed. However, as Kathy Brinckman says, the shifting sands of Moreton usually refill a hole. Let’s hope it won’t be too long.

Editor: Since the publication of ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ the Gutter Bar has reopened. You can check it out on its own Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/search/top?q=the%20gutter%20bar

            Our next stop in John’s 4WD tour is at the grave of Edward Jones, an oysterer of earlier times, who died on 1stNovember 1916. His is a lone grave on a hilltop out in the bush behind the settlement. No path leads there, and we have to rely on Nancy’s expert guidance to find it.  The grave’s metal fence is in excellent condition and still very sturdy after all these years, but the marble headstone has broken again (a former attempt to glue it has come unstuck). Also, as Kathy notes, it has been moved off-centre. 

            (Editor: Since the publication of ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ there has been an update to the story of Edward Jones. See Barbara Dummer’s comments of 18th April 2018 in the Readers’ Forum page of this website, or click here.)

We leave Edward to the company of the bush, walk back to the vehicle, and drive to our next stop atop the cliff overlooking Moreton Bay. A table has been erected here and everyone agrees that this is an ideal spot to have a drink and watch the sunset. Unfortunately, we cannot wait for the sun to set today, because the tide is ebbing and we have still to call in to visit Tom Peebles before we set out for the mainland.

            Tom, along with Nancy, is one of the original landholders still residing at Kooringal. Opposite his home is a tree to which are nailed dozens of thongs – the lost legacy of many a boatie. The trunk is well covered with them now, and a long ladder is required to add more. We cross over the sandy street to Tom’s house where he is waiting to greet us.

Tom Peebles

            ‘I’ve been living at Kooringal since 1987 – the same as Nancy, but I first came here with the Wynnum-Manly Fishing Club in 1968. We came over in Harold Walker’s Vega and at that time, the Moreton Fishing Club has an old Blitz (an ex-army truck) over on Reeder’s Point, which I slept in. I liked the place so much that I began squatting here at Kooringal in 1969. I came over with Frankie Boyce in his Fairmile (an ex World War II vessel) called Hurry Up with my small caravan across the stern. We got the van on at the Ampol Refinery at the mouth of the Brisbane River, and unloaded it at Campbell’s. We got a lot of painter’s planks for the job and eight of us got it onto the beach, then we towed it to the waterfront just near the Unity Fishing Club. 

            ‘When the Government held their second land auction in about 1970, I bought this present block. We didn’t know where we had bought because the block was in the bush and there was no road there then, but we thought we might as well move the caravan onto our own block. A couple of weeks later our present neighbour, Harry Jackson, moved in as well. There were only survey pegs in the bush to mark our blocks, and to our consternation he came up to me and said. “I think you’re on my block!” We had to do a lot of peg searching to sort out the problem! 

            ‘I was in the trucking business then, and there were seven or eight of us truckies who bought land here. Now there are only two of us left. 

            ‘For eighteen years we did the paper run every Sunday. We’d go over to Amity, collect the papers, and bring them back to Kooringal. Things were fairly primitive here then. Old Frankie Day got us an old ex-Cabarita kerosene fridge. He was into ex – World War II Army demolition materials, and got us an ex-army 12-volt battery charger, with a little Sunbeam motor on it. Within a few months everybody had one. Lights were originally kerosene wick lanterns, then came the Primus pressure lanterns. These gave a good light, but the cloth mantles were fragile and were easy to prick, after which they had to be replaced. Refrigeration was also very important to us here, especially since we were a fishing community, and eventually the kerosene fridges were replaced by gas operated ones. These days, people are getting out of gas and going into electric fridges operated by generators or solar power.’

            Regrettably, time and tide wait for no one, and John Watt reminds us of this fact. We take our leave, and head off in his 4WD to the beach, his boat, and a smooth trip back to Raby Bay and ‘civilisation’.

Peter Ludlow

5th July 2011

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)