(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.
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.
Extract from ‘Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.
3 thoughts on “A LONER MOVES ON”
Thanks for that interesting article. I was a regular visitor to Moreton as we shared in that A Frame down at Kooringal in Midgin Street. My great mate Brian Ward’s brother Terry was, as I’m sure you know, the Lighthouse Keeper up on the hill for about 10 years and yes, I have played that golf course but we had too many XXXX to remember each hole. We would visit Terry, watch the whales, and try to rock fish from Yellow Point, where there is a plaque to the young lad taken by a shark just off that point. I lost many a rig fishing from those rocks. You might have met Absie, a mate of ours who often visited the squatters and was a hard core rum drinker. There was also that guy down at Kooringal who lived next door to the shop who brewed his own beer and would drink a prodigious number each day. Last time I visited the Gutter Bar a 6 pack of black rats cost about $40–rip off merchants. Enjoy your new life in the bush. Dr Frank Moloney
Ps Did you ever know ‘Busy’ Ken? He lived in the shed behind our A Frame.
What a lovely story. Allan must have been a great fisherman. What a terrible shame that the authorities get involved and spoil people’s lifestyles and enjoyment. I know Childers quite well also, as a family member lived at the seaside close by, and Childers was the go to town for supplies and entertainment. I hope Alan loved living there. I guess by now Allan would have gone to God.
It was a bit of a local joke that, if Allan gave you a couple of fish for a feed (which he was known to do) and someone not ‘In the know’ asked where you got them from, the standard reply was “Counter’s Reef”.
I also had some memorable rounds of golf on the Cape course. I had a T-shirt, with the lighthouse on it, which stated “I Played Around on Moreton Island”.
I seem to recall that the last ‘keepers there were Arnie and his wife, Shorty?