The exploits of Wilhelm Ludwig Leichhardt in Australia had tweaked the public’s interest in Europe and especially in Germany. He was born in 1813 at Trebatsch in Prussia, and after pursuing but not completing University courses in Berlin and Göttingen, pursued the study of medical and natural sciences in England with his friend William Nicholson, who later paid Leichhardt’s fare to Australia. It was Leichhardt’s intention to explore the inland of Australia. The first such expedition took place in 1845 in which Leichhardt’s party went from Jimbour on the Darling Downs to Port Essington completing an overland journey of nearly 3000 miles (4828 km). Leichhardt was hailed as ‘Prince of Explorers’ and his party as national heroes.
For his next expedition in 1846, Leichhardt planned to traverse Australia from the Darling Downs in the east to the Swan River in the west. However, after 500 miles, the party was forced to return home.
His contemporaries valued his work highly: in April 1847 the Geographical Society, Paris, divided the annual prize for the most important geographic discovery between Leichhardt and Rochet d’Héricourt, and on 24 May the Royal Geographical Society, London, awarded him its Patron’s medal as recognition of ‘the increased knowledge of the great continent of Australia’ gained by his Moreton Bay-Port Essington journey. Prussia recognized this achievement by the king’s pardon for having failed to return to Prussia when due to serve a period of compulsory military training. Geologists and botanists valued Leichhardt’s collections of specimens and the records of his observations which, in an age accustomed to extravagant travellers’ tales, were remarkable for their restraint and accuracy; he believed that as long as the traveller was truthful the scientist at home would be thankful to him.
In 1848 Leichhardt and his party set out on a second Swan River expedition, but somewhere during the journey, all disappeared without a trace. The enigma of his fate only served to increase the public’s interest in the man and in the ‘Great South Land’.17
17. Erdos, Renee; Australian Dictionary of Biography.
Wilhelm Gericke with Auguste Richter, Carl Gerler and Johann Hermann formed a second party of missioners who had been commissioned on August 21, 1843, arrived in Sydney, January 2, 1844, and at Zions Hill on June, 1844.
The Aborigines continued to steal and it was during one such raid in 1845 that Haussmann nearly lost his life. The missioners had formed an outstation at Burpengary, the Nordga of the natives, where they had cultivated an area of some ten acres, which they planted with corn and potatoes. 11
The outstation at Noogir (Burpengarry) was being manned by Haussmann when they came for maize and potatoes. As the natives drew near, calling him, Haussmann turned and fled into the hut. But not before they speared him in his back. They forced their way into the hut after him and it was only the diversion of ripping open a flour bag that saved his life. Haussmann escaped and crawled back the 26 miles to Zion’s Hill and eventually went to Sydney for treatment. In time he made a good recovery.
Although the raiders now fled, for fear of reprisals by the police, the missionaries deemed it wise to close the out-station and concentrate solely on Zion’s Hill. Ironically, soon after, a group of Aborigines led some shipwrecked sailors safely to the missionaries, much to the joy of the crew! 12
In 1846 Dr. Simpson reported that the mission school had ceased to function, though probably a school was continued as a purely educational institution for the white children. 13
In 1846, the MORETON BAY COURIER reported:
The Missions for spiritually enlightening the Blacks, and ameliorating their wretched condition, two of which were for some years existent in this district, are now both at an end. The Roman Catholic establishment at Dunwich is broken up; and the missionaries, the Rev. Messrs. Snell, Lewis, and Morris, left for Sydney by the William, on Thursday, en route to the Sandwich Islands. Our readers are, perhaps, aware, that the German Mission is also abandoned. Sir George Gipps, we think wisely, has discontinued the assistance, which it formerly received from the public revenue. –Moreton Bay Courier. 14
In 1848 when the Government decided to survey the reserve and sell blocks of land, some of the families brought a number of these blocks. They included the Zillmann, Franz, Gerler, Rode and Wagner families. 15
From the original settlement at Nundah, the families gradually dispersed, their descendents becoming absorbed in the general community, where they entered into all professions and callings in the national life of Queensland. When in 1885 the railway to Sandgate was built through the German Station, the Settlement had lost its distinctive racial note of German origin and was renamed Nundah.
Of the original missionaries:
Ambrosius Theophilus Wilhelm Hartenstein died at German Station on December 2, 1861.
Wilhelmine Christina Sempel died at German Station on August 21, 1858
In 1848, Messrs. Haussmann and Niquet went to Sydney to undertake a course in Divinity at Dr. Lang’s Australian College, and both were ordained. Pastor Haussmann served Lutheran congregations in Victoria at German Town, at Bendigo, and returned to Queensland in 1861. In 1866 he established a new missionary undertaking near Beenleigh, which he named Bethesda. By 1883, the mission had proved a failure, and Pastor Haussmann, who had organised a German Lutheran congregation at Beenleigh, remained there as pastor, until his death on December 31, 1901.
Pastor Niquet left Brisbane in 1856 for Victoria, where he served a Lutheran pastor of a congregation at Ballarat.
Pastor Schmidt left Brisbane in 1845, and went to Samoa as a missionary of the London Missionary Society.
Pastor Eipper left the Nundah mission in 1844. He joined the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales at Braidwood, near Maitland.
Gottfried Wagner was ordained at Sydney on October 9, 1850. He was in Tumut, New South Wales, until the end of 1851. Thereafter he lived at German Station, Nundah, until his death in September, 1893.
Mr. Franz, whose first wife was the widow of Moritz Schneider, died in 1891.
Franz August Joseph Rode died on May 27, 1903, at Victoria Street, West End. Probably, he was the last survivor of the original band of Goszner missionaries, being 92 years of age at the time of his death.16
11. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.
12. Turner, Pam, op.cit.
13. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.
14. Launceston Examiner, Saturday 1 August 1846
15. Nundah and Districts Historical Society Inc. op.cit.
On July 5, 1841, Mr. Schmidt writes that he had commenced schoolkeeping, and had some days above 20 children around him.
The native children who attended the mission school were taught side by side with the few children of the whites, the missioners thinking that in a mixed school the discipline of the white children would have a steadying effect on the black. The youngest children only of the natives, generally those about six years of age, could be persuaded to submit to school discipline. They learnt readily enough, but the constant habit of going into the bush with the tribe prevented any sustained training. The children would learn the Lord’s Prayer, and then when the tribe visited the township, repeat it to the whites in the Settlement in return for a coin, a penny or a sixpence.
Education was, in fact, merely a matter of merchandise to the native youngsters; attendance at school was regarded as a service rendered to the whites, to be paid for in food.5
The missionaries tried to learn the language and culture of the Aborigines and hoped, in time, to break down their nomadic habits. Many people at that point in time, believed the Aborigines to be no better than animals – depraved like the convicts in the nearby Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. Nevertheless the Lutheran missionaries were receiving financial aid from the mission society under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church and had been warmly welcomed on their arrival by Dr Lang.
The missionaries discouraged handouts from the start. Whenever the natives helped in the building or gardening, they were paid wages in the form of food. The Aborigines came to accept the missionaries and even attended the Sunday services. They always greatly enjoyed the hymn singing.
But thieving became rife amongst the natives. Night watches had to be kept in an effort to prevent raids on gardens. Even when the missionaries were summoned to prayer by the hammering of a tin dish, the natives came to learn this was the safest time to raid. Once, Haussmann was attached on an out-station and seriously wounded. 6
The worst attack came one night on 21st March 18407 when the Aborigines approached carrying firebrands and menacing spears and clubs. … the missionaries fired warning shots to frighten them off. The commandant of the nearby Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, L. Gorman, demanded an explanation of the incident. He had heard that several natives had been wounded and regretted the incident because he had been on excellent terms with them for forty miles around. Opposition for the mission continued. The Government was convinced that Zion’s Hill should be closed down and a new mission established further away from the evil influence of the penal settlement. 8
5. Sparks, H.J.J. op.cit.
6. Turner, Pam; First European Settlement of Queensland 1838-1988’, Zion Lutheran Home 1987
As the result of Dr Lang’s visit to Pastor Gossner at the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in Berlin, ten laymen expressed willingness to undertake the journey:
Gottfried Haussmann, farmer, and his wife Louise Wilhelmina.
Johann Gottfried Wagner, a shoemaker.
Peter Niquet, bricklayer, and his wife Marie Sophia
Ambrosius Theophilus Wilhelm Hartenstein, weaver, and his wife Wilhelmine Christina
Johann Leopold Zillmann, blacksmith, and his wife Clara Louise.
Friedrich Theodor Franz, a tailor.
Ludwig Doege, a gardener.
August Rode, a cabinetmaker, and his wife Julia Emilia.
August Olbrecht, a shoemaker.
Moritz Schneider, medical student, and his wife Caroline. (Moritz died from typhus in the Sydney quarantine station).
The party was joined by two clergymen, Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and Christoph Eipper, and their wives Louise and Harriet. Without these two clergymen the English parliament refused to provide financial assistance for the undertaking. 4
In all, with their wives and children, the party numbered twenty persons.
In July 1837, the missionaries and their families sailed from Bremen for Greenock, Scotland, where they embarked on “the fine firstclass Bristol-built ship Minerva, 380 tons, under the command of Captain Thomas Furlong.”
The Minerva arrived at Sydney on January 23, 1838. On March 19, several of the missionaries left for Moreton Bay in the Government schooner Isabella, 126 tons, Captain More. They arrived at Moreton Bay on March 30, 1838, the remainder of the party arriving in June of the same year.
When the missionaries arrived at Moreton Bay, the Settlement was on the verge of being transformed from a penal to a free settlement. The convicts, who in 1831 numbered 1,066, were being gradually withdrawn, and in 1837, the year before the arrival of the missionaries, only 300 were left.
The area between the Settlement and the coast remained in the undisturbed possession of the blacks. In this area, a site was allotted for the formation of the mission station, covering about 640 acres, by Major Cotton, Commandant of the Penal Settlement at the time of their arrival.
In his 1841 account Pastor Eipper describes the missionaries settlement:
“Their settlement is situated on a hill, from which they have given it the name of Zions Hill, it consists of eleven cottages with enclosed yards, kitchens, storehouses, etc.: these cottages are built in a line on the ridge of the hill from east to west. In front of the houses small gardens are laid out down the hill towards a lagoon; at its base and in the rear of the yards larger gardens run down on the opposite descent. The houses are either thatched or covered with hark; the walls are built with slabs and plastered with clay both inside and outside, being whitewashed with a species of white clay found on the spot, and mixed with sand. The ceilings are formed of plaits of grass and clay wound about sticks laid across the tie-beams, and the floors of slabs smoothed with the adze; each cottage having two or three rooms and one fireplace.”
4. Nundah and Districts Historical Society Inc. op.cit.
From Moreton Bay’s beginning as a penal settlement in 1824, the authorities intended to use it as a base for missionary work among the aborigines. The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane, intimated through the Attorney General, Mr. Saxe Banister, to a deputation from the London Missionary Society, a wish that something might he attempted on behalf of the aborigines.
In his book Cooksland Dr. John Dunmore Lang describes the genesis of the German Lutheran Mission he was instrumental in founding at Nundah: “My attention,” he writes, “was strongly directed to the subject of establishing a mission to the aborigines of Australia so early as the year 1831, and during that year, and in the year 1834 I made three successive attempts to establish such a mission by means of Scotch missionaries, but without success.
The difficulty of securing Scottish missionaries was probably due to the fact that at the time there was an exodus of Scottish peasants to Canada, and that the Scottish clergy preferred to follow their own flocks to minister to their spiritual needs in the new home they sought beyond the seas. 1
In 1837 Dr Lang had been in Great Britain in search of missionaries to evangelise the Aborigines in the Moreton Bay area. He had been about to return to Australia without any success when he heard of Pastor Johannes Evangelista Gossner and his lay-missionary training centre at the Bethlehem Evangelical Church in Berlin. Dr Lang travelled to Berlin and enthusiastically outlined his plans to Pastor Gossner and his students, saying he felt Moreton Bay was ideally suited to a mission station. 2
A knowledge of Australia was widespread throughout German-speaking Europe: Yde T’Jercxzoon Holman, or Holleman, was second in command of the Heemskerk on Tasman’s second voyage, and on Cook’s second voyage he was accompanied by two German scientists, Johann Reinhold Forster and his son, Johann Georg Adam. The son’s work in particular, with its account of the Great Barrier Reef, was widely read. A German account of’ the third voyage was also published. Flinders on his voyage in the Investigator (1801-1803) had with him an Austrian, Ferdinand Bauer, whose account of the voyage was embellished with 1400 illustrations of Australian botanical specimens. 3
This is an image of Doryanthes excelsa from Ferdinand Bauer’s ‘Illustrationes Florae Novae Hollandiae’.
1. Sparks, H.J.J.; Queensland’s First Free Settlement 1838–1938.
‘Caroline’, immigrant ship, from London, via Plymouth, was refused pratique (permission granted to a ship to have dealings with a port, given after quarantine or on showing a clean bill of health) yesterday in consequence of fever having broken out amongst the passengers during the voyage. She will probably be towed to the quarantine station to-day.
The Brisbane Telegraph, Wednesday 3 May 1882:
In Quarantine.— A Government Gazette Extraordinary was issued yesterday afternoon, containing a proclamation to the effect that;— ‘ Where it has been reporter to the Governor in Council that the infectious disease called scarlet fever exists on board the ship “Caroline,” lately arrived from Plymouth, at the Port of Moreton Bay, and now lying at anchor in that port: Now, therefore, His Excellency the Governor, by and with the advice of the Executive Council, and in pursuance and exercise of the authority vested in him by the said Act, doth order, and it is hereby ordered, that the said ship, and all the crew and passengers thereof, together with all the persons now on board, be placed in quarantine, at the Quarantine Station, Peel Island, and so continue until other order shall be made in that behalf.’
Brisbane Courier, Friday 5 May 1882:
THE Under Colonial Secretary received a telegram yesterday from Mr. J. Hamilton, superintendent at Dunwich, giving the names of the persons who died on board the immigrant ship Caroline during her voyage out.
They are :-
Hugh Elliott, infant, who died of the 2nd February, from convulsions resulting from diarrhea (diarrhoea).
Mary Hay Elliott, 2 years old, on the 3rd February, of marasmus (undernourishment) and bronchitis.
Eliza Dinein, infant, on the 2nd February, of diarrhea.
Edward Floyd, infant, on the 25th February, of hydrocephalus (a condition in which fluid accumulates in the brain, typically in young children, enlarging the head and sometimes causing brain damage) and diarrhea.
William Henry Oliver, 5 years old, on the 9th March, of scarlatina fever (or scarlet fever, an infectious bacterial disease affecting especially children, and causing fever and a scarlet rash. It is caused by streptococci).
Charlotte Oliver, 2 years old, on the 10th March, of gastric fever.
Ellen Jones, 2 years old, on the 24th March, of gastric fever.
William Jones, infant, on the 21st April, of scarlatina fever.
Ellen Mears, infant, on 24th April, of scarlatina fever.
The Brisbane Telegraph, Wednesday 10 May 1882: RELEASE OF THE CAROLINE. AN order of Council appeared in a Government Gazette Extraordinary issued yesterday afternoon, releasing the ship ‘Caroline’ from quarantine, the health officer having certified that no contagious or infectious sickness exists amongst the crew.
(All entries in italics are explanations inserted by this editor, Peter Ludlow)
‘To finance my medical studies, I helped a restaurant. I had left home when I was about sixteen, and teamed up with a Russian friend Kyrill Wypow who was 15 years older than I was. I had put together a bit of money from building fishing rods, and screen printing, and all sorts of other things: I was a bit of an entrepreneur. We started a restaurant called ‘The Pelican Tavern’ down on St Paul’s Terrace. It was a tricky life because I had often went to the markets at 5 in the morning, help with the business, go to lectures, and study at night. I’ve never slept more than about 5 hours a night all my life. (It’s still a misery for my wife, Eileen, at times!)
‘Carl was my elder brother: he was eight years older than I was. He was a boating man always. Carl and I both went to an auction of land at Kooringal on Moreton Island. The prices were so good that we bought two blocks there. I urged Carl to set up his medical practice there, so he paid $1800 for one block and $1670 for the other. He started a practice there, and I started going back seeing people at Amity again, but only at the weekends, and that lasted for years and years. In our spare time we’d visit each other and go fishing. There were a lot of kerosene fridges at Amity after the electricity arrived, and standing on the foreshore was an old windmill which I had rigged up with an old International truck generator and that sent a bit of power into the place to recharge the batteries. Once the power came on at Amity the fridges and the windmill went over to Kooringal. I had a big punt and as long as people gave me enough money for fuel, I’d bring the fridges over for them. Carl’s son, Peter, put in a nice generator there. Carl did a couple of amazing saves of people’s lives by being able to call up the helicopter. By that time, I was only seeing the odd patients at Amity or those occasionally coming in from Dunwich. I was still claimed as a fellow soul by the Aboriginal families such as the Coolwells, and some of the Ruskas. Every time I was in town my good friend of many years Emma Coolwell would rush up to me and give me a kiss and a hug – much to some people’s amazement.
‘Although I had brought my family up to Brisbane from Amity, I never really left my medical practice on the island. I’d go back for a week sometimes, but I really felt worn out. The Tazi mine people, wanted me to be a full-time doctor there, and were going to give me a surgery at Dunwich. They wanted me to do all their staff medicals as well as being a GP. Dunwich was coming on because the barges had started, but Frank Carroll had bitten the bullet and said he would give it a go, and he was very successful. I had started the practice at the office at the Forbes’ place – Elkorn Lodge on the beach at the end of Birch Street, next to the old Post Office – I still have the sign: my brass plate and the hours. I’d go down either in my boat or on the barge on a Friday and come back on a Monday morning. Then I’d go to work (in Brisbane) Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before returning to Stradbroke on Friday. The grape vine there was absolutely phenomenal. The islanders knew exactly how long it would take me to get from Dunwich (where the barge landed) to Amity; whether I was on the barge; and they knew when the boat was late; but as soon as I got to the surgery the phone would ring ‘Hello doc. I only need a script’.
‘Our house at Amity was called ‘Didjabringabiralong’ It looked like an Aboriginal word and people would say ‘How do you pronounce it?’ It was the Gregory’s old house which they had bought in 1931. The house was built in 1926, which I bought and added to. It grew like topsy. We also owned the place behind it. I sold up both and we moved down the beach a bit to a site more protected from erosion by rocks placed on the foreshore, and now known as “shoreline armouring”. In the shoreline management plan, all those rocks are illegal under the rules of the Maritime Services (then Harbours and Marine), and EHA (Evironment and Heritage Agency). It has now been proven to work with the aid of a remarkable man called Konrad Beinssen, a very wonderful marine and littoral scientist. He is now a world authority on beach front erosion in many parts of the world. He has discovered what we call a slide-flow breach is a change in the patterning of the slope of the sand, as in the Rainbow Channel. If you dig a hole at the bottom of the slope it puts the sand at a different pitch as the sand starts falling into it, and it keeps falling into it, until it makes this enormous fan shaped hole which is pouring out into the deep water, until it hits something that stops it. The boss of littoral science from the Netherlands, called Dick Masbergen, came out and verified Konrad’s discovery. We have now stopped the erosion at Amity. We invited the whole of the Redland Council over and about 9 or 10 came. They had lunch and I said I would stand the Mayor on a rock that we had put in 42 years before. They couldn’t believe me because they’d paid $50,000 to a littoral engineer to produce a report that said Amity is doomed. This meant that if your house was so many metres near the waterfront, you either had to knock if down or take it away. Which is rubbish. Anyway the Councillors came over and wanted to know how long this thriving frontal protection had been going on! They were absolutely astounded. This is a problem with many Government Departments, who make decisions without ever having physically observed the problems themselves.’
David Cilento was a too young to ever go to Peel Island when it was in business as a leprosarium (1907 – 1959). His father, Sir Raphael Cilento, when he was Director General of Health, had removed all the Aborigines from Peel in 1940. He was away in Europe when the War ended, because he was one of the world’s top epidemiologists and he was controlling epidemics in up to 10 million displaced people in Europe. Then the cure for leprosy came in at Peel in 1947: firstly Promin which wasn’t very efficient, then Dapsone, and lastly the Triple Therapy (dapsone, rifampicin and clofazimine) which is still used today.
The Aboriginal people at Peel were transferred to Fantome Island in the Palm Island Group because Peel was becoming very overcrowded by 1940. The Aborigines were a dispirited lot having been bought to Peel from such places as Cherbourg and outlying districts out west and up north. There was a pocket of leprosy north of Townsville and another at Yarrabah, which was an isolated mission then – no roads or anything. But Sir Raphael, as Director General of Health, had the power to move the Aborigines from Peel up to Fantome Island which had been a lock hospital, and had a few huts. Orpheus Island was nearby and was privately owned. Palm Island had a settlement. None of them had any water, which was a serious problem. The water table was a problem and was only about a metre below the surface. David can remember his father saying that to get water into there they had boats coming over on a weekly basis.
David continues: ‘When dad came back from overseas after working with the United Nations, he came back to a job but the Government had changed. Not only was he the Director General of Health, but he was knighted for removing malaria from Australia. What he did, of course, would have put him in jail now, because he drained a lot of wetlands! But it got rid of the anopheles mosquito. He became a barrister and he became Director General of Health and Home Affairs, which included the police, and he was always getting called into Court. He was a most interesting bloke, and was better known than my mother at that time. He was well known overseas while her star was rising here. When he came back, he thought ‘Well, I’ll become a GP again.’ So he did, and worked up on the Sunshine Coast.
‘When the treatment for Leprosy (Hansen’s Disease or simply HD as it became known) became available in 1947 after the second world war, my dad was overseas. But he was still smart enough to make a diagnosis of HD in a patient at Royal Brisbane in about 1955. He asked the doctors what tests they had done: pauci bacteria or multi bacteria but they had already lost their diagnostic skills for HD. He wrote the book ‘Treatment of Tropical Diseases’ in the 1930s, which was used by the Americans and the Japanese, but the Australians decided that they would use something else at first, but later they decided that they woulduse it. There is an old saying One is rarely a prophet in one’s own backyard.He also wrote the book ‘Triumph in the Tropics’ with Clem Lake for the Queensland Centenary in 1959.
‘I was born in Australia as was my father, Raphael. I was fourth generation Australian. My great grandfather was Salvatore and he was then the Prince of Naples and the two Sicilies. This was the time when the civil war was on and Ferdinand and Victor Emmanuel wanted to unite all of Italy and make the one king over the lot My great great great grandfather was the king of Naples and the two Siciles, the “Sicily the first” being part of the boot and “Sicily the second” being the island.’
After the closure of the Benevolent Asylum at Dunwich in 1946, Stradbroke Island was left without a doctor until Dr David Cilento arrived at Amity in the 1960s. Life at Amity was very simple then: there were two bakeries, the butcher and the hairdresser. The island’s fuel also came in there and that was very important. People brought their cars over and empty tanks for water storage. David still recalls the sound of an empty tank rolling down a rough road in the middle of the night. Three days a week the pub at Point Lookout sent a truck around to Amity and Dunwich, which, under the laws, was supposed to be a pre-ordered delivery, but it had a cash register in the back and an awful lot of stock!
As well as Amity, David had a medical practice in the Brisbane suburb of Grange, and lived opposite the Wilston State School. His neighbour was Stan Spencer, an entrepreneur who ran E.S.Spencer Typewriters. He was importing Helvetia and Hermes Typewriters, and he had his own brand too. He owned a boat called the ‘Mahra’, a beautiful 1904 yawl, and although he had been crippled with polio as a youngster, he refused any help to sail it. David also had a boat called the ‘Phaethon’ (a Greek god but also a species of the Frigate bird) and it was this common interest in boating that brought the pair together.
Stan was very interested in maintaining Bird Island, an islet situated just off Dunwich, because it was subject to washaways. In those days, it had a smattering of beach grass but nothing else, so Stan took a couple of Casuarina trees over there. Then he suggested to David that they should plant some more, and as David was often down there anyway with his boat ‘Phaethon’, he readily agreed.
David remembers: ‘I collected a bundle of Casuarinas from Amity and we took them over to Bird Island and planted them. I had a couple of big rubbish tins which I filled with water. There was a creek at Adam’s Beach at Dunwich from which we obtained fresh water, or we went to Myora springs. They still had the weir there then and if you went on a good tide, you could just paddle in, and dip water out of the weir. Of course, they’ve knocked all of that down now. Anyway we took the water over to Bird and watered the trees. They grew very well, actually, because there was plenty of organic matter and plenty of birds. We did that for a few years, but I had to come back to Brisbane because we had to make a decision about where to send the kids to school. People frequently came over to Bird Island from Horseshoe Bay on nearby Peel Island. They could nose their boats right in to the northern side of Bird because there was a drop off there, and they could tie up to one of the trees. We put a rubbish tin for a while, but somebody stole it.
David continues: ‘I left Amity after about three years, so there was no permanent doctor on Stradbroke for a few years, until Frank Carroll arrived in about 1972. Frank came from Ipswich and he had a big family. He was a good bloke, but well suited to island life and became a real institution. He was an exceptional doctor.
‘Then the Environmental Protection Agency and their minions decided that I had been an ‘Enviro Nazi’ so they went over to Bird Island, cut all the trees down and poisoned them. They put up a notice which stated that the trees had been planted illegally by members of the boating public and an island identity (which must have been me, I think), and they said it endangered the native birds, and a lot of other hogwash. Everyone was outraged, but the authorities responsible just left the trees where they fell, and people just piled them up in a big heap. They didn’t know what to do with them really. There was terrible outrage, especially from the boaties. Then an Osprey came along and over a period of some weeks, it had torn up a few bits of timber and it started building a nest on the pile of twigs. It felt safe in the isolation, because no one was going there much. It was just a desert island again. Then the wind started blowing the sand away. Sand loss was exacerbated further in 1974 when cyclone ‘Wanda’ removed about 10 metres from the eastern end of the island and put a new little channel through the island. It lasted a few years but then filled up again. After the trees had been cut down, they never grew back, and people just pulled the timber remnants off the island and probably used them for firewood. ‘