With Clair Craig, Brookfield

Cape Moreton Light (photo courtesy Rebecca Heard)

            “There were many flags at the lighthouse which the keepers used for signalling approaching ships.  We children used to play under the flags when they were pulled down.  I was never called on to help my father as there were Three Assistant Keepers to do that. During the era of 1912 – 1916 the Lighthouse staff  were:

            Superintendent:              George P.Byrne

            First Assistant:               E.Harper

                                                                                    Oliver Birrell (later)

            Second Assistant:           Johnson

            Third Assistant:             Lockhard

            “My mother worked in the office and she kept the records of the shipping.  She was paid a small amount by the Marine Department.  My mother always maintained high standards around the house.  She always had damask tablecloth and serviettes, and for a time while she worked in the office she had a maid to help around the house.

            “The keepers worked four hour shifts in the Watch House, on the lookout for approaching ships.  My father, as Superintendent, always had a daytime shift.  However, if a ship left a night, he was always notified by the keeper on watch by a knock on the window and the words “Steamer (NAME), departed North (or South) at (TIME)”.  All this had to be recorded in the logbook in the watch house.  My mother would then transcribe this into her log in the office.  Also we had to give berthing instructions to the approaching ships such as “Berth at Dalgetty’s wharf or AUSN, or head upstream (or downstream) etc.”  All this too had to be recorded.

            “When shipping approached from south or north the Watch House at Cape Moreton would signal (with flags during the day, Morse at night) “Do you want a pilot?”  If the ship required a pilot to guide it into port, we then notified them on board the pilot boat which was anchored near us at the Yellow Patch in the shelter of the island, and they went out to meet the approaching ship. The pilot would then board the ship and guide it up to Brisbane, the entrance being rather hazardous due to sand banks.  After berthing he might stay in Brisbane for a few days break before rejoining the pilot boat.  The pilots lived aboard, so they were always glad to visit us for a break on dry land.  We used to watch them coming up the narrow track to the Cape.  We always knew Captain Scott by his attire of white duck pants and a black coat.  He would stay with us for a few days.  We had an upright piano in our house which my father imported from America in 1900.  Both my mother and Captain Scott were good pianists, and they loved playing duets together. 

            “The Assistant Keepers did not come to these musical evenings.  In fact my father never fraternised with his men.  They used to call him “boss” and he called them by their surname, that’s why I don’t know any of their given names.”

“A Fine Collection of Hats!” The keepers at Cape Moreton Light early 1900s. 

Standing: Mr Johnson, Mr Maxwell. Sitting: Coney Reilly, Mr Byrnes, Henry Lockhard. 

Photo courtesy Beth Lawler.

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.


With Clair Craig, Brookfield

Cape Moreton Light (photo courtesy Rebecca Heard)

            Of all Moreton Bay’s islands, the most inaccessible has always been, and still is, Moreton Island itself.  For those obliged to stay there, in particular the lighthouse keepers and their families, this isolation posed its own set of problems, not the least of which was the education of their children.

            At Cape Moreton, one of the sleeping quarters was converted into a school room in 1879 for the 21 children from the five families there including the Braydon, Griffin, Pascoe, and Jones families.  Henry Ward was the first teacher and he remained there, popular with both his students and their parents, until his transfer in 1890.

            Subsequent teachers proved less well adapted to their environment with repeated requests for transfers for reasons ranging from the isolation, poor supply of fresh produce, irregular mail communication, ill health, and the unfriendliness of the locals.

            Discontent was to peak in 1912 when Mrs Harper, wife of the First Assistant Keeper, established herself as teacher for the Cape Moreton School.  The Harpers proved to be socially unacceptable to the other members of the community and Mrs Harper was eventually removed from her position as school teacher.

            She was followed by a succession of teachers who, although competent and on good terms with the locals, left after a short period because of the reasons already cited.  Eventually, in 1926, the Cape Moreton Provisional School was closed and it was suggested that the remaining children enrol in correspondence classes.

            Today, Claire Craig remembers her four years at Cape Moreton where her father George Byrne was Superintendent of the Lighthouse from 1912 until 1916….

                                       SCHOOL DAYS AT THE CAPE

            “I was seven when we went to Cape Moreton and was nearly 12 when we left.  Our house was made of stone quarried locally and constructed by prison labour.  It was situated on the exposed cliff near the Cape Moreton Lighthouse.  The school house was a minute’s walk away down the hill which made it more protected from hurricanes than our house which was right on the top. 

            “I didn’t go to school for some time because my father, George P.Byrne, didn’t approve of the teacher, Mrs Harper, who was the wife of the First Assistant Keeper.  During my time at home, when my mother, Elizabeth Emma Byrne, wasn’t giving me lessons, I went with my brothers to chip oysters from the rocks.  We had to be very careful though because rogue waves could sweep away the unwary.  One of the Harper’s sons, Vince, had been drowned off the rocks there.

            “Eventually Mrs Harper resigned as the school teacher and her husband, First Assistant Harper was replaced by Oliver Birrell.  From then on, the school teachers were all single women.  Miss Lucie Tardent was my first teacher there.  I had two brothers who went with me to school for the first year, but then had to go to the mainland school for their higher grades.  There were about a dozen pupils including the three of us Byrnes, and the Henderson’s from Yellow Patch.  On Saturdays, after my brothers went away, I used to walk down to the Hendersons and stay with them overnight, being watched by telescope walking down the track until I reached the turn off to Yellow Patch.

            “Teachers only stayed for a short time.  I don’t know whether it was policy for them to stay only a year, or whether they left because of loneliness.  Although they stayed in a room in our house, my mother was in her thirties and Miss Tardent was only 18, so she must have missed people of her own age.  Then Gladys Heaney came as teacher and she was there when war was declared in 1914.  She was replaced by Miss Pocock who was quite elderly.  Although I didn’t like her very much, I was obliged to go walking with her simply because she asked me and I couldn’t very well refuse.”

The Cape Moreton Class of 1914

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.


(Allan Counter, North Point, Moreton Island)

I’ve always been a bit of a loner and have had a go at all kinds of jobs from cane cutting to professional fishing.  Prior to my coming to Moreton Island I had lived in an army bush tent at Double Island Point for three years where I fished for a living.  But the Forestry Department took it over and I was forced to leave.  I had been fishing off Moreton so I thought it would be a good place to go to.  I chose North Point just round from the Cape Moreton light because it is the pick of the island. Ted Newman was the only other squatter at North Point when I arrived there in 1977.  He was a net fisherman, unlike myself who used only a line.

I constructed a (20 foot by 20 foot) zincalume shed on a cement slab which I used as a house and fished from a 17 foot aluminium boat which I launched in the surf from a trailer towed by a Landrover 4WD.  The nearby reefs – Brennan’s Shoal, Roberts’ Shoal, Deep & Shallow Tempest, Flinders, and Hutchisons Reef – yielded Schnapper, Sweet Lip, Pearl Perch, Maori Cod, and Mackerel.

I had two 5 kva diesel generators at the shed which I used to power five freezers and a fridge.  I had one for ice, one for bait, and others for fish.  I always kept my fish iced and not frozen because the eyes go if you freeze them.In the early days I used to take my catch in the boat to Bribie Island Fish Board, but when that closed down, I loaded them, freezer and all, in the back of the Landrover and took the barge across to Morgans at Scarborough.  They always took my catch & paid well.

Launching the dinghy

Harry and Jessie Wadsworth were still living at Moreton when I first moved there.  Harry was a great fisherman and Jessie great at cooking them. 

The squatting community at North Point continued to grow over the years and in the end there were 38 huts there.  Most were weekenders and were not always occupied but about 100 people frequented the Point.  The Hospital Fishing Club also had a place there.  Our community held a regular darts contest against the Bulwer community and there was a 9 hole ‘course’ around Cape Moreton which also provided a golfing challenge between the two communities.

With increasing numbers of people coming to Moreton Island and more and more holiday homes being erected there, the pressure was on for us squatters to be moved on.  I guess the wealthy people at Cowan objected to us living for free when they had to pay considerable rates.  We formed the North Point Environmental Protection Committee and even engaged the services of a lobbyist who had done work for Keith Williams.  Each hut contributed $200 on three separate occasions over a two year period, but in the end the Environment Minister wiped the lot of us.  We offered to pay rates but the Department of Natural Resources gave us two months to leave.  I was never one for city living and so I plan to move to Childers where I have bought 5 acres of bush.

Allan Counter with a fine catch

Allan Counter

July 1999

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.


With Keith Farnsworth

Johann Carl Gustav Dux, known as “Gus”, was born in West Prussia, on 1st June 1852.  Johann worked as a seaman, jumped ship in Cooktown, N.Q., and then worked his way down the coast until he arrived at German Station, now known as Nundah (a suburb of Brisbane).

Johann married at the age of 20 to Wilhemine Rose, 24 Years, from Grunhage, West Prussia.  When she died at the age of 28, he married Bertha Lange, age 17 years, from Weinsdorf, West Prussia.  Their first child, Friedrich Carl August Dux, known as “Augie”, was born on 2nd August 1878.

Gustav and Bertha Dux

Dux Creek on Bribie Island was named after Gus, who eventually settled in what is now known as Dux Street, Caboolture. At the time, Dux Street ran right down to the Caboolture River, and it was from here that Gus did his fishing, crabbing and oystering, culling oysters from oyster banks at Pumicestone Passage, north of the Caboolture River, and on Bribie Island. It was a long hard pull by rowboat from Caboolture down the Caboolture River to Bribie Island for Gus, so he would camp overnight when he worked his oyster banks.

William, another of Gus’s sons, carried on his father’s business, and was known locally as Billy, the crab-man.

In the early 1900s Augie, Gus’s eldest son, moved to southern Moreton Bay where he worked as an oysterman eventually gaining employment with the Moreton Bay Oyster Company based at Currigee on South Stradbroke Island. He married Lillian O’Connell of Currigee in 1905. In 1910, Augie and his family moved to Labrador where they rented a house until he and the boys had built a bark hut from local timbers. They moved into the hut in 1918.

Dux family home c1918, Broad Street, Labrador. The house made of saplings and bark, with a hardwood floor was demolished and replaced in 1929 with a more substantial residence. Timbers of the 1918 building were recycled in the hut on South Stradbroke Island.

 When this bark hut was demolished in about 1930 to make way for a more substantial house, the timber was used to construct a hut and jetty on South Stradbroke Island. This hut, with some alterations, is now Heritage Listed as Dux Hut. 

Dux Hut today- remains of jetty in foreground

The oyster bank, which Augie and some of his sons worked, still shows on some maps as Dux Oyster Bank. The family retained the licence to this bank (#122) until 1957.

At Labrador, the sports field across the road from where the bark hut and Dux family home, (still held by some of Augie’s descendants), was named Dux Oval many years ago.

Extract from Queensland’s German Connections