Neil McMillan Todkill – Deep Sea Diver

Val Knox writes…

Neil McMillan Todkill was born on June 8th 1921 in Maryborough, to Norman and Mary Todkill, the fourth of eight children, Mina, Alexander, Bon (William Norman), Neil, Ronald, Ashleigh, Robert and Beverley. The family moved to Brisbane in 1924 living at 50 Coutts Street, Bulimba.  Along with his brothers and sisters he attended the Bulimba State School until 7th Grade and had his first job at a Sweet Factory near the Bulimba Avro Picture Theatre and then obtained a job at Hardie Brothers at Newstead.  While growing up he and his brothers spent their spare time swimming, fishing and sailing in the Brisbane River. 

He married Valma Ruth Thompson in 1939 (the youngest daughter of Les Thompson) and they lived at 47 Love Street, Bulimba.  They had eight children, Valma, Mary, Neil, Stanley, Donald, Suzanne, Phillip and Amanda.  In 1962 the family moved to Barton Road, Hawthorne and in 1986 Neil and Ruth retired to their house at Bribie Island which he had bought in the 1950’s.  In July 1991, they returned to live in Brisbane at Tarragindi.  He lost Ruth, his partner of 59 years, on the 2nd March 1998.

Neil was well known to the sailing fraternity on the Brisbane River and raced in the 22-foot restricted yachts, 16-foot skiffs and 18-foot skiffs.  He was a Life Member of the Brisbane Sailing Squadron and a Life Member and Vice-Patron of the Brisbane Eighteen Footers’ Sailing Club.  After his retirement, Neil enjoyed playing bowls and when he lived on Bribie Island, looked after the greens for a period at the Bribie Island Bowls Club where he became a Life Member. He was also a member of the Wellers Hill Bowls Club and the Colmslie RSL.

Salvaging Wrecks

His salvage career began in July 1942 when the “Rufus King” ran aground on South Passage Bar near Point Lookout.  The salvage team on the “Rufus King”, which included Neil Todkill, was under the control of Captain Jim Herd, Master of the tug, “Tambar”.  Neil rejoined the vessel when it sailed to Darwin to salvage the ships sunk by the Japanese and he worked as a diver with The Marine Salvage Board over a period from 1942-1946 working on the wreck of the “Koolama” off the coast of Western Australia, and also on the “Portmar”, “Kelat”, “Meigs” and “Mauna Loa” in Darwin Harbour.

During the war, he walked from the Edward Street Ferry to the Story Bridge underwater clearing debris from the area to be ready for dredging.

In 1946 he formed a partnership in wharf construction and diving with Harry Fennimore who died shortly afterwards while diving in the Brisbane River.  He carried on as a Marine Contractor and the business was known as N Todkill and Sons changing to Todkills’ Marine Services when his sons Stanley and Donald joined the business.  Many of the pipelines crossing the Brisbane River and marine constructions in the Brisbane River, Moreton Bay, and in ports up and down the coast of Queensland, were the result of work carried out by him.  His son, Donald, carries on the business as Todkill Marine Services.

The stricken ‘Marietta Dal” on Smith’s Rock. Behind can be seen Les Thompson’s “Warrior” (Photo courtesy Val Knox)

When the “Marietta Dal” ran aground on Smith Rock off Cape Moreton in June 1950, Neil formed a syndicate with Norm Wright and Bill Morgan and bought a tug to salvage the cargo.

In 1951, a three-engined Drover plane crashed in the Huon Gulf, New Guinea, and Neil established the fate of the crew and worked to salvage gold from the wreck over a period in 1951/52.

Some of the notable shipwrecks he has worked on are the “River Burnett” – Port Phillip Bay; the “Palana” – holed off Townsville; and the “Eifuku Maru” on Wreck Reef, East of Mackay in 1957.

When the Whaling Station was established at Tangalooma, he built the Slipway for the Whaling Station and was there when the first whale was pulled up to the flensing deck.  He later dismantled the deck when the Whaling Station became a tourist resort.

He carried out a survey of the Queensland Coast from the coastline to the Continental Shelf, from 1963 to 1965 for the Commonwealth Government with his vessel, “Pacifique”.

Neil skippered the “Olive R” for fishing charters in the early 1960’s before it went to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria and was renamed “Tambo Lady”. He bought the “Tambo Lady” in May 1965 and sailed her back to Brisbane where he was contracted to run the Ferry Service to Tangalooma on Moreton Island from 1965 to 1972.  He was Manager of the Tangalooma Tourist Resort for three years during that period.

He took part in many Brisbane to Gladstone Yacht Races and skippered various boats up and down the Queensland Coast as well as doing delivery trips along the eastern Australian seaboard.  He also skippered the Game Fishing Mother Ships, “Melita” and “South Pacific II” in North Queensland.

In 1997, Neil was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation and plaque in recognition of valuable diving assistance provided to the Queensland Police Service from 1944 to 1964.

Sadly, his last few years were marred by ill health.  He is remembered for his many daring diving exploits in helmet and suit, his fine seamanship and his great love of the sea.

Neil Todkill with his diving gear, 1952 (photo courtesy Val Knox)

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Letters’ Peter Ludlow 2003)

Three Generations of Auctioneers – 3 – Anthony (‘Tony’) Love

Compiled from family history material supplied by Judy Noble (nee Love)

Nim’s son, Tony, has also joined the firm founded by his grandfather, now trading as McGees National Property Consultants. From his grandfather, he has also inherited a love of boats, with his own yacht “Sweetheart” recalling the name of his family’s pride. Also following his grandfather, he has served as Commodore of the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, and President of the Brisbane Club.

Nim had always mentioned to Tony that following the passing of ‘The Skipper’ he spread his ashes in his favourite place in the Bay – Myora, and expressed the wish that when his time came, he would like the same resting place. Upon Nim’s death in 1999, Tony was able to fulfil his father’s wish.

As a result of submissions made by the Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron, the Department of Transport renamed the Port Lateral Beacon immediately to the south of Myora ‘The Nim Love Beacon’ in memory of one of its longest serving members who spent a lifetime of recreation in nearby waters.

Tony Love at the Nim Love beacon

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Letters’ Peter Ludlow 2003)

Three Generations of Auctioneers – 2 – James Peile (‘Nim’) Love

Compiled from family history material supplied by Judy Noble (nee Love)

Born in 1906, the youngest of ‘The Skipper’’s five children, Nim acquired his nickname because from infancy he could not pronounce the word James (Jim) – a nickname that stuck to him for all of his 92 years.

It was from his brother, Russell, that Nim developed his interest in mechanical things, and so he soon found himself in the role of ship’s engineer, responsible for maintaining and operating the machinery aboard “Sweetheart” whose Brooke petrol engine was always kept spotlessly clean and all brass and copper pipes were highly polished during each trip.

Sweetheart at Dunwich jetty (Photo courtesy Antony Love)

As a young boy, Nim remembered seeing the capture of a shark (pictured below) which when opened up was found to contain a young girl’s head. (Editor’s note: Although it is known that this incident followed the wreck of a vessel, the name of the vessel has not been recorded. Could this have been the girl that Captain Dudley Scott heard was taken by a shark at the wreck of the “St Paul” in 1914? Nim would have been 8 years old then. I am inclined to think it was). 

Getting jaws Tangaluma 1914

At the age of 17 in 1923 he joined Isles Love and Co. as an office boy learning his way around the growing town of Brisbane and his trade as an Auctioneer. One anecdote Nim passed on about finding his way about town was that his father had always told him that if in doubt, ask a policeman. When given a delivery to the office of Nicol Robinson Fox and Edwards and being unable to find them, he asked the policeman on point duty at the corner of Queen and Creek Street, to which was the reply “Gees son, do you want the whole of Queen Street!”

In 1958, Nim Love was to purchase own his own boat “Mollie II” which he, his family and his friends used as a pleasure and fishing craft for many years. 

Nim Love aboard ‘Mollie II’

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Letters’ Peter Ludlow 2003)

Three Generations of Auctioneers – 1 – James Love

Compiled from family history material supplied by Judy Noble (nee Love)

In October 1889, James Love, then a clerk with the Queensland National Bank, was spending the weekend with his friend James Thomas Isles (of Finney Isles and Co). Both were dissatisfied with their prospects so James suggested that they both resign and go into partnership as Auctioneers. This they did and with each aged 23, they formed the firm of Isles Love and Co. The business prospered and was soon joined by James Isles’ brother, F.A.J. Isles. 

James Love was known to his family and close friends as Skipper, but in wider business and sporting circles as ‘Jic’. Described as a prince of good fellows, ‘The Skipper’ became a leader in his profession and in commercial circles in Brisbane. He was President of the Lawn Tennis Association in 1905; a founding member of the Brisbane Club in 1903, becoming President in 1921; Commodore of the Royal Queensland Yacht Club in 1923; President of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland and Australian in 1925 and a member of the Board of Advice of the Queensland National Bank, retiring as Chairman in 1941.

In 1899 following an interstate tennis match at rather unsatisfactory temporary tennis courts at the Brisbane Cricket Grounds, James Love, in the course of his auctioneering business, came in touch with the Dunmore estate at Auchenflower, part of which he became convinced would make an admirable tennis site. It was mainly through his efforts and those of Mr R.J.Cottell Jnr that this site was purchased and established as a centre for the Lawn Tennis Association by 1905.

James Love became the proud owner of the auxiliary ketch “Sweetheart” which was built for him by J.H.Whereat at Bulimba in 1911. 

“The Queenslander” of September 2, 1911 describes “Sweetheart” as follows: “Sweetheart” is 52 foot over all, by 10 foot 8 ½ inch beam, 4 foot 8 inch deep, and has a registered tonnage of 17.92 tons.

“She is built of full inch mountain pine planking, with yellow-wood ribs, and ironbark keel. The deckhouse is all of polished silky oak, with arctic glass windows, to each alternate one of which is fitted a moveable mosquito frame of brass gauze….

“Upon entering the saloon, which is 16 foot long, one is struck first by the beauty of the Queensland silky oak with which it is fitted throughout, and secondly by the excellent arrangements for comfort and convenience. There are four bunks, each with wire mattresses, velvet cushions, and cabinet chest of drawers beneath. There are two sideboards, an ice chest, a cabinet table with three drawers, and an airtight breadbox. The floors are covered with dark green inlaid linoleum, and the stairs are in maple, with corrugated brass treads. There is a handsome silky oak toilet cabinet against the bulkhead, similar to those in the large overseas steamers, fitted with washbasin, mirror, medicine cabinet, and cupboards. The doors are all of silky oak with satinwood panels, and on the sideboards are glass and bottle racks, and the usual fittings surrounded by a pediment of silky oak pillars….

“The engine is 45 horse-power, by Brooke, of Lowestorft, England, and is almost noiseless in action. … The lighting of the ship generally is by acetylene gas from a copper generator in the cockpit, but the engine-room is, for safety’s sake, fitted with shell electric lights, which are operated by electric batteries and accumulators….”

With his family and friends, he was to spend many happy times ‘down the Bay’. Photographic history of early days aboard “Sweetheart” show Myora anchorage and the many fine catches of fish taken from the Rainbow Channel. It was said that if you couldn’t fish you had better be able to play Bridge as ‘The Skipper’ was adept at both.

With the advent of radio telephony, “Sweetheart” became the first privately owned yacht in Australia to be equipped for transmission of voice. James’ son, Nim, operated Radio Station VK4JL from 1928 until 1939 when “Sweetheart” was requisitioned for the War effort.

James Love aboard Sweetheart off Stradbroke. (Photo courtesy Antony Love)

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Letters’ Peter Ludlow 2003)

A Diggers Life at Nudgee Beach

Reg Fleming writes…

Just before the war in 1939, a meeting was held in connection with electricity for Nudgee Beach. The authorities demanded each house owner deposit £1 as a guarantee that they would have power connected. After holding this money for about four years, it was returned. The council claimed that, because of the war, the work could not go ahead.

When war was declared, many answered the call. One (resident) still remains in New Guinea and will never return. During the war, the School of Arts was taken over by the Australian Army Searchlight Division, and had about four batteries along the foreshore. Mrs Hough’s residence was used as a school. After the war was finished, the Army left and the school was returned to the School of Arts.

Building materials were scarce after the war, and the QATB building was sold and demolished, as was a pavilion on the reserve, which was used for Progress meetings. The kiosk, built in 1930, was burnt down. This was the beginning of the end for buildings on the reserve.

I was made Trustee for the School of Arts in about 1946, and held that position until the building was demolished. After the School of Arts was condemned and demolished, only the shelter shed, which was one of the first buildings on the reserve, and the toilet block were left.

The School of Arts was built in 1926 and was used for many purposes including dancing, school, voting, meetings, church, concerts, library, wedding receptions, and many other functions.

From the early 1930s until just after the war, Nudgee Beach was like Cribb Island, that is, a very close community with everyone knowing each other by their first name. About half of the population were permanent residents, and there was a percentage of “floating” population. During this time, we had cricket matches on the reserve every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer and tennis was played all the year round. We had social evenings and dances to raise money for our clubs. Euchre tournaments were held in the School of Arts every Friday night. Table tennis was organised by the Progress Association with the proceeds going to the upkeep of the School of Arts, books for the library, and the maintenance of the buildings on the reserve. On Sunday nights, social evenings were held in private homes, where bingo and euchre were played. Profits went to the Sports Club. 

The School of Arts was taken over by the Australian Army for the duration of the war years, and the Sunday night social evenings continued throughout the war years. When the boys returned from war service (only one soldier, Harris Knight, was killed in action in New Guinea) a big Welcome Home party was arranged by the social committee and held in the School of Arts.

In 1942, I was home on leave, and Jack Cahill asked me to go net fishing at 2:30 the next morning. It was low tide with a strong northeast wind blowing; the net was about 180 yards long. Jack said that when the net was out, he would hold up the lantern. By this time, the wind had blown the lantern out, and I told my mate that we had better head for the shore. We managed to get little more than half the net out, and when we dragged the net in, the wings were loaded with big whiting. When we reached the back of the net, we found four huge sharks that were of the man-eating variety. By the time we bagged our fish and cleared the sharks out of the net, it was daylight. We put the net out again, this time the whole length of it. The same thing happened again with the whiting in the wings. But, when we reached the back of the net, the sharks had gone right through.

I have seen fishermen standing waist-deep in water, fishing for whiting, and sharks with their fins exposed swimming nearby in the channel between them and the shore. Oddly, during the time I have lived at Nudgee Beach, I can’t remember any cases of shark attack!

Nudgee Beach today has sealed roads, a reasonable bus service, a postman, water, electricity, sewerage, one shop, and some nice homes. Pre-war, we had a kiosk, School of Arts, Ambulance shed, toilets and dressing sheds, three shops, a Progress Association building, a school, a cricket ground and tennis court, a fair bus service, and butcher and baker daily deliveries.

Nudgee Beach today

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Letters’ Peter Ludlow 2003)

Frank Day – Man of Moreton 

Evelyn Jarvis(nee Day) writes…

Frank Day married Sylvia Campbell (daughter of Robert Perkins Campbell) on May 6, 1914. They started their married life together on Bribie Island. I, Evelyn, was their first born of four children. Dad worked for Colin Clark. He was manager over the Kanakas who worked the oyster banks at Toorbul Point. They then shifted to Amity Point where he went fishing with his brother-in-law, Bob Campbell when the sea mullet were in season. Owing to ill health he took on oystering on Moreton Island in the 1920s from which he sold cultured oysters until World War II broke out and Moreton Island was closed to everything except military operations. For four years he worked with the Water Transport Board. Dad had a forty foot boat, the “Valiant” and it was commissioned by the army to carry all their food, ammunition, and supplies which had arrived at Amity Point from Brisbane aboard the “Mirimar” to ship them across the South Passage Bar into Day’s Gutter. The Army called it Day’s Gutter because that was where he lived when they took over.  His boat was also used for towing large target boards out over the South Passage Bar for practice shooting. The boards did a lot of tossing through the rough waves.

Mum and dad’s home became the Army Hospital and it was declared an official hospital the day the first sick soldier was brought in. The telephone had been installed before the war at dad’s home and a line connected to the lighthouse at Cape Moreton, so he was given the job of Post Master of Moreton Island, as all the calls had to come through him.

On Moreton Island – Frank Day’s bottle collection with his house in the background (photo Carolyn Riley)

The Red Cross ship “Centaur” was sunk by a small Japanese sub. Only one person, a nurse, survived.  She swam to the beach on Moreton Island. Mum and dad were then told to be prepared in case they had to leave the island. One small house was made into a shop where the Army would buy cigarettes and tinned goods, and the soldiers were not allowed to go further North than our place. Dad’s house was named “Whimberel”, the proper name for the Curlew.

Fred Eager (of Eagers Car Sales) was a regular visitor to Moreton Island, coming over in his boat “Tangalooma”.  He had a truck parked in a shed next to the house, which they would drive to the outside beach to go fishing. Once, while they were out there, the “Tangalooma” started to drag anchor, and Bobby my brother went out to secure her from running aground, for which Fred Eager gave him a watch in appreciation. He also gave dad a double-barrelled shotgun, which became his pride and joy.

I can remember dad telling me that there was a beacon marking the entrance to Day’s Gutter where he has seen the clear water turn pink from so many Schnapper swimming around it.  After the war, the oyster banks died out from not being worked, so he set about to restock them, but with declining prices for oysters it was not worth the effort, so he sold up and moved to Southport where he managed the oyster banks for the Moreton Bay Oyster Company, coming back to Moreton Island in later years to live there until his death on May 15, 1976.

On Moreton Island – Kooringal’s Gutter Bar – with photos of Ray,Frank,and John Day (photo Kathy Brinckman)

Evelyn Jarvis, June 2002

(Extract from Moreton Bay Letters Peter Ludlow 2003)

People of Peel Island – 7 – Doris Isobel Gabriel

Doris Isobel Gabriel was always known to her friends as Jonnie, a nick-name given to her by her father, and one she retained throughout her life. It was so typical of the person whose unaffected nature and readiness to help out where needed endeared her to so many. Jonnie revelled in helping out; whether it was on the Princess Alexandra Hospital’s Women’s Auxilliary, Ignatian’s Musical Society, the Qld Light Opera Company, the Qld Conservatorium of Music, Savoyards or the Art’s Theatre. She was always there when needed.

When I first began my researches into the history of Peel Island’s Lazaret (way back in 1986) Jonnie Gabriel was the first person I interviewed. Jonnie, a former Theatre Sister had been married to the Late Doctor Morgan Gabriel, the Lazaret’s last Resident Medical Officer from 1951 until 1959. As such, she had lived on Peel in the doctor’s house during that time, and the couple raised their two children, Ruth and Bill, there, thus dispelling the myth that children could never remain on the island after birth because they were considered at risk of contracting the disease.

Doris Gabriel and Eric Reye revisiting the lazaret’s doctor’s quarters in 1993 (photo Peter Ludlow)

The Gabriel’s were always passionate about dispelling the stigma of leprosy and of leprosy (Hansen’s Disease) patients. To their credit, they were always prepared to lead by their own example.

Jonny remembers her near decade on Peel with her husband and young family as a time of great personal happiness and contentment. Dr Gabriel worked strict business hours, with an hour off for lunch, during which time he would often take his wife and children for a picnic at Horseshoe Bay. At other times, while he attended the hospital surgery, Jonny Gabriel would attend to the housework or take her children on walks through the bush to collect wild flowers. (She always carried a bill-hook, though, in case she chanced upon a snake). 

The diesel generators were switched on at dusk and operated until ten o’clock producing electricity for the settlement. On ‘non picture’ nights, Mrs Gabriel would spend her time catching up on her family’s ironing. However, she was always ready to join in any parties at the recreation hall, and one ex-patient still has a chuckle at the memory of a very pregnant Johnny Gabriel kicking balloons around the floor of the rec hall during a pre-Christmas wing-ding! 

During their time at the Lazaret until its closure Jonnie and her husband amassed a great collection of memorabilia: photos, memories, stories, other contact people, and artifacts. All of these Jonnie was more than happy to share, not just with me, but also with the Friends of Peel Island, and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Much of the fine collection we have today is due to the generosity of Jonnie and Morgan Gabriel.

For this I am grateful, but most of all I am grateful for her friendship.

Peter Ludlow


(Extract from ‘Peel Island History – A Personal Quest‘)

Playing the Banjo – Part 3

Frank Willoughby continues:

Other Ventures, Other Families

 “In the sugar season which started in the first week in August, they used to run sugar from Steiglitz.  The cane was equally divided between Jimmy Gibson who owned the fruit boats and the Kleinschmidt’s.  Jimmy had the run up the Albert and Logan Rivers to get the rum in the “Ivanhoe” and the “Roo”.  The old “Ivanhoe” had been requisitioned by the military during WWII and was subsequently blown up.  After the war, Jimmy bought the “Brither” which became the new “Ivanhoe”.  He was later killed in the vessel in an accident while loading cargo.

Mineral Deposits Limited sand mining plant on Brighton Parade circa 1952 (photo Jim Yuke)

“A depot was built by Scott Moffatt just before WWII alongside the Kleinschmidt’s at Southport to handle the mineral sand mined on the beaches from Broadbeach to Fingal.  The depot was called MDS (Mineral Deposits Southport).  They used to separate all their sand there.  They had massive vibrating tables to separate out the sand and you couldn’t sit at the table in our house next door while they were working.  Just after the war, Kleinschmidt’s started transporting mineral sand in bags from Dunwich to Southport using the “S’port”.  After separation, the sand was sent back to Brisbane and over to Yankiland.  The crew on the “S’port” was dad, Dot and Nancy Mackie.  When this folded the MDS barge (owned by Riverside Coal) took over and this was towed by the “Ena” but it took too long and used to run aground.  The channels used to change.

Huth’s jetty at Jacobs Well (photo Graham Day)

“After WWII the “Florant” came back from war service at Thursday Island.  The two Huth boys and Rudi were still working her for a couple of years from 1947 until 1949.  Then the Huth’s sold out and the firm became the “Kleinschmidt Brothers”.  Then in 1950 we came into the picture and Kleinschmidt put it to dad we go 60/40, so the firm became Willoughby and Company, the Willoughby’s being George Senior, Tom, George Junior, and with myself on the payroll as a deckhand.  They’d taken the “S’port” off the Southport run in about 1948/49 and had her towing the “Stockton”, an ex-refrigeration barge from the war.  The “Florant” was left on the Southport run.  This finished in 1952 when we gave it away and Kleinschmidt sold out to Bay Transport which was owned by Aubrey Matthews.  After 1952 I spent 39 years in gravel on the Brisbane River, mainly on the “Maid of Sker” from 1952 to 1975.”

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection’)

Playing the Banjo – Part 2

Frank Willoughby continues:

“I was born in 1933 but before that my brothers Tom and Bert, and my sister Gwen worked the “Regina” with dad.   Then later, my other brother, George Junior (“Nugget”), firstly on the “Regina” and later on the “S’port”.   Then I came along.  I started on the boats as a kid from when I was 6 years old.  When I got a bit more muscle, I used to work the guy which controlled the boom on the jetty at Southport.  The boats were loaded on Mondays in Brisbane and they arrived at Southport on Wednesdays. 

The trip from Brisbane

“I remember making many trips to Southport working on the “Florant” with my father, George.  Allan Thompson was the “Florant”‘s engineer because I was too young.  When we went aground, I used to have to roll all the drums on the deck aft to get over the bank.

“Florant” at Norman Wright’s boatyard (photo courtesy Graham Day)

 “Dad called me “Nap”.  On the trip down from Brisbane, when we reached Pott’s Point (we called it Pat’s Point) on Macleay Island he would flip a coin and ask me to call.  Heads we’d go through Canaipa or tails via Jacob’s Well. If we went by the Well, we’d lose a day and I’d miss out on time for sailing or going to the pictures.  If we went to Canaipa I had my sleep from Pott’s Point to Tulleen oyster banks, then dad would have his sleep while I rowed for two hours against the tide from Tulleen to Jacobs Well with the groceries.  Then if the tide was right, we got a good run to Southport and I’d have time for swimming and the pictures.

“We’d also call in to Bill Doberleen where Couran Cove now is.  Also, Bob and Mrs Latter used to live there, and the Fishers. To go there by boat was 7/6 but dad would waive the fee in exchange for fruit or crabs.  We also got oysters from Currigee.  If we arrived too early for them, I used to help them bag them.  

            “On the Broadwater as we approached Southport, our vessel would pass the Deep Hole, round the first buoy to Biggera Creek, pass the Grand Hotel, then fisherman’s wharf at Marine Parade.  Then came Mitchell’s wharf, and we’d swing to a set of butterfly leads that took you to Parrot Rock where Tuesley’s had an oyster bank and where they used to pump yabbies.  Then we’d round the beacon, pass the Pier Theatre, pass the buoy in front of the Civic Hotel, then swing to port and up towards the Basin and the old “Mawonda”.  Then we had to stop and lower the mast to get under the old Jubilee Bridge.   In the old days the bridge had a lift span which had to be raised by hand.  I think Harry Crompton used to do this.  Then the authorities put a hump in the bridge so the Kleinschmidt’s could get their boat under.

“On the return trips, the boats called into the White Cliffs on Stradbroke Island to load sand for the glassworks, Queensland Glass Manufacturers (QGM) in Brisbane.  We also supplied sand to Silso Sand Soap, Sargeant’s Foundy, and children’s playgrounds.

Playing the Banjo 

This was the term used for shovelling sand onto the “Florant” at the White Cliffs in the Canaipa Passage on Stradbroke Island.  All the work was done by hand, even at night by the light of paint pots filled with burning dieseline.  An added bonus for working at night was that the smoke kept the mossies away.  The “Florant”‘s days were to end at the White Cliffs when she caught fire and burnt there.

            Sand shovelling was back breaking work and was not for the faint hearted.  Indeed, sand shovelling championships were organised at Southport to see who could fill a truck the fastest.  Graham Dillon was one of the champs.  Best times were about twenty minutes for one man or ten minutes for a two-man team.  In original competitions, a keg of beer was the prize, but later prizes were chrome plated shovels.

“Florant” loading sand (photo Graham Day)

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection’)

Playing the Banjo – Part 1

Frank Willoughby writes:

George Willoughby Senior was born in 1900 in Hong Kong, the son of George Richard Mayo Willoughby who was Harbour Master at Hong Kong from 1900 to 1904.  George started work in the railways, but then in the 1920s joined ‘Hub’ Tuesley building the rock walls on the Brisbane River with stone quarried from Mt Ommaney.  Later he began professional fishing with ‘Hub”s brother, Jack Tuesley on South Stradbroke Island.  George did a lot of fishing with the Tuesleys. They netted from the beach or from row boats in the surf, along with the Boyds from the Tweed who used to come up to fish the area as well.  They all had their own designated areas which they all respected.  Incidentally, the Boyd Bridge on the Tweed was named after the Boyd family.

George Willoughby and Jack Tuesley built a kiosk on South Stradbroke Island.  It was situated where Seaworld is now (the entrance has moved north).  The whole area has now changed but a few tree stumps from Tragedy Island still remain.  The Tuesleys had a jetty at Southport on the Broadwater.  They used to run fishing parties and took day trippers to their South Stradbroke kiosk to purchase worms to fish with.

The Kiosk on South Stradbroke Island 1922 (photo Frank Willoughby)

Later still, George got onto the cargo run with the Kleinschmidts in the “Maid of Sker” and gradually he worked his way up to the position of skipper.  The Kleinschmidts had started with sugar growing at Steiglitz which was then known as “Little Germany” because of the concentration of German immigrants in the area.  Then Ted Kleinschmidt started out with the firm of John Burke Ltd. Working on the “Wandana” and he made enough money there to buy the “Maid of Sker”. The Kleinschmidts started with Rudi Huth and were known as the firm “Kleinschmidt and Huth”. The crew consisted of Ted Kleinschmidt, Rudi Huth, George Willoughby, Roy Wilson, and George (“Ike”) Kleinschmidt.  They transported cargo from Brisbane to Nerang.

When the “Maid of Sker” finished her cargo carrying days, Ted Kleinschmidt purchased ground at Southport near Gardiner’s Creek adjacent to the Jubilee Bridge.  He put in a wharf and started with smaller boats, the “Florant”, “Regina”, and “S’port” (a commonly used abbreviation at that time for Southport). After WWII they got the “Bremer” from a gentleman named Manders which ran from Brisbane to Ipswich.   As vehicles became more active in the area the ground at Southport became the depot from which the cargo was distributed.  They used to carry fuel for the Nerang pumping station which supplied fresh water for Southport.  They had competition from the trains which was no worry at all.  But after the war (WWII) road transport was able to provide depot to depot service quickly and in all weathers, which gave them the advantage over the boats which were confined to “weather permitting” in the bay.  It would be nothing to get held up sheltering at Green Island in a nor’ easter or King Island in a sou’ easter.

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection’)