SETTLING THE STILL WATER SIDE – Part 3

Recalled by Ian Hall

The partnership of Hall and Bestmann then constructed a small butcher shop on the allotment behind their grocery store.  This they leased out, the first butcher being Bill Friese.  Naturally, he was obliged to purchase his meat from the Hall and Bestmann slaughterhouse which they had also constructed on their grazing land. The increasing demands of the store at Bribie coupled with several school age children and a grocery store in Brisbane often necessitated that Alfred Hall remain at Bribie while his wife, Emily, remained in Brisbane.  Eventually, in 1924 Alfred sold the grocery business in Brisbane to concentrate his business interests at Bribie. 

The kind of fish caught at Bribie in 1925. Tom Whinney (left) and Tom Stone (right). (Photo courtesy Jan Burge.)

The arrival of the “Koopa” was a big event at Bribie and all the locals turned out in force to greet her.  At this stage there were three walkways onto the jetty to handle the large number of passengers using the steamships.  Indeed, so large were the crowds at the jetty, that the Tug Company was forced to construct gates across the walkways to protect the public from injury during berthing operations.  Bill Freeman was the first caretaker for the Tug Co and part of his job involved tying up the “Koopa” when she berthed.  His house was situated beside the jetty, and, soon after its establishment in 1913, the first Post Office was moved there.  His wife operated the PO under their house. Later, in 1922, when telephones first came to island ‑ there were about six of them ‑ she was in charge of switchboard.   The phone came by overland wires to Toorbul Point on the mainland, and then by undersea cable to Bribie. Much of the construction work was performed by the Campbells, but the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company assisted by transporting poles, men and materials to Bribie free of charge. 

  “One of the Bribie identities at that time,” Ian Hall recalls.” Was Jimmy Hagen.  Perhaps due to gangrene in the first World War, Jimmy had been unfortunate enough to have both legs amputated just below the knees.  With the locals’ penchant for imparting nicknames to well-known figures, Jimmy was not unkindly referred to as “Jimmy‑No‑Legs”.   The disability did not prevent his mobility, however, and he got around with thick pads on his knees.  He lived down beside the creek in a little shack and had a dinghy which he used to row up to meet the “Koopa” when she berthed.  There was no pub on the island then, and the bar of the “Koopa” was the only place available to have a few ales.  Jimmy would be very merry after drinking for the full three hours of the “Koopa”‘s berthing, and I often used to wonder how he managed to row home after his binges, but he always seemed to make it!” 

Another of the Tug Company’s community services was to transport drinking water to the island from Brisbane.  Swamp water on Bribie was brackish and unsuitable for drinking, and as there was no reticulated water then, residents were forced to rely on tanks. Houses had their own tanks which were refilled by rainwater.  However, the campers were so numerous that the “Koopa” and “Doomba” used to fill their 5 or 6 tanks each time they visited the island. 

About 1918, just after the war, the Tug Company constructed twelve huts on their foreshore leasehold just behind the Bribie jetty. The aim was to provide cheap holiday accommodation for visitors who did not wish to camp. In later years, these “Twelve Apostles” as they became popularly known were to provide more permanent accommodation to the island’s pensioners. 

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

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