On June 30th this year, FOPIA will close down for good. FOPIA was formed in 1998 to assist in maintenance and restoration work of the former lazaret, and to promote public awareness of Peel’s cultural and historic values. As one of the original founding members, I was a bit sad to see this group, once so full of hope for the future of Peel’s restored lazaret, finally call it a day. It had been a long time coming, but its death knell was surely last year’s decision not to rebuild a jetty to access the island. This effectively put a stop to any future development – for better or worse.
However, many fond memories of FOPIA remain: our work parties often visited the lazaret and stayed overnight; many public lectures on the island’s history; fund raising boat trips; and curating a Peel Island exhibition at the Redland Museum which also visited the Redcliffe museum and was then on permanent display at Fort Lytton.
But to my mind, FOPIA’s most memorable achievement was to host a Peel Island Lazaret families’ day. What a day! After two unsuccessful attempts due to inclement weather, we were third time lucky, with the weather beautiful and the sea calm for a unique gathering on Peel Island at the lazaret. Family of patients and staff of the lazaret, along with FOPI members, QPWS staff and others travelled to Peel Island on Sunday 26 September 2008 to commemorate the Centenary of the lazaret, and of National Parks in Queensland. For some it was their first time to the island, for others it was the first time in many years, but for everyone it turned out to be a very special day. Connections were made or renewed, and with stories of the place and the impact of its history shared.
In the words of Welcome to Country from Aboriginal elder, Auntie Margaret, ‘it was ..a day of getting together with beloved families and friends of patients. Friends and families of the staff, and most all the Aboriginal families of our Aboriginal workers who worked here all those many years ago… Today is for all to come together, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. To reflect with kindness, unity, and most of all trust because deep down, trust is a gift of learning, everything that life brings.’
Marjorie recalls: I had married Dr Eric Reye in August 1945, and by this time, Eric had been appointed a full-time Government Medical Officer, and was visiting the Peel Island Lazaret (Leprosarium) regularly. In January 1947 Promin therapy was introduced there, and its daily intravenous administration necessitated Eric remaining full time on the island. Thus, he became Peel’s first Resident Medical Officer, and I was appointed a temporary laboratory assistant, because no one was available at the time, and because the nurses were fully occupied. By the end of 1947, the services of a science graduate Miss (later Dr.) Herbert had been obtained, and I was no longer needed.
There was no provision for accommodation of a Medical Officer on Peel so to accommodate me, Eric purchased a wartime surf landing dory that, because of its flat bottom, was easily beached amongst the mangroves at the base of the lazaret’s north embankment. The mosquitoes and biting midges could be very troublesome at times and we had double mosquito nets on our barge which we also sprayed with fly spray for more protection.
Eric and I were forced to continue living on the boat for about a year. Patient accommodation was also desperately short, and it was only on Eric’s threat of resignation that two ex-army huts were procured from Redbank and shipped to the Island. Finally, in September 1947, we were able to move ashore and occupy the new Doctor’s residence which was situated at the top of the embankment several hundred metres to the east of the men’s compound. Its small balcony commanded a fine, sweeping view northwards across the waters of Moreton Bay towards the rolling tree covered sand hills of Moreton Island. Closer to home in the water at the bottom of the embankment, Eric’s yacht Maroomba rested at her moorings.
My laboratory duties involved taking blood samples, and I went to the Red Cross Blood Bank in Brisbane to learn the basics. There I learnt how to perform white and red blood cell counts. I also tested patient’s urine samples for diabetes. The blood samples were taken from the patients’ ear lobes because there was less chance of infection from that site. Before I took the sample, I would wipe the site with ether to cleanse it.
Another of my occupations on Peel was to read to the blind patients, especially Bert Cobb, who was a learned man with a fine collection of books in his hut. He was not able to learn Braille because his Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) had left him with no feeling in his fingers.
In those days, boat’s hulls were painted with a mixture of red lead powder and linseed oil for protection from seawater vermin. However, we didn’t have any linseed oil, so Eric substituted shark liver oil which had a most unpleasant pong. However, the smell didn’t worry me, so I went on using it. I used to get the red lead in my hair, which I washed out with kerosene from our Primus stove. This turned me from a blond into a redhead, and earned me the nickname of ‘Miss Red Lead’.
One of Eric’s duties as Medical Officer at Peel Island was to search out new cases of Hansen’s Disease occurring on the mainland. Once I accompanied him to Mona Mona on the Atherton Tableland to pick up two Aboriginal sisters who were found to have the disease. One however was sick and she had to be left off at Cairns before being sent on to Fantome Island (the Aboriginal Leprosarium in the Palm Island Group, which Eric was also in charge of).
Eric resigned as Medical Officer at Peel Island when he was not allowed by the Health Department to do further patient surveys in the Aboriginal communities behind Cairns. I had been interested in Aboriginal anthropology to the extent of going down to Sydney to the university for six months, but when Eric resigned, I gave it away. We stayed on his boat on the river at Yeronga, where Eric commenced his study of biting midges. We then split up and I went home and worked as a librarian, first at Stones Corner and then at South Brisbane.
Extract from ‘Moreton Bay People 2012 by Peter Ludlow (now out of print)
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
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.’
Some five years ago, I blogged the question “Whatever happened to duelling?”
to which Paul Bailey replied that the first libel laws were passed to stop people from settling disputes with duels. More recently, American author Amor Towles wrote in his wonderfully perceptive book “A Gentleman in Moscow”: When duelling was first discovered by the Russian officer corps in the early 1700s, they took to it with such enthusiasm that the Tsar had to forbid the practice for fear that there would soon be no one left to lead his troops.
I had always been under the impression that duelling was a historically recent contest between two people to settle a point of honour, and, indeed, my computer’s dictionary backed me up with:the sense of duelling as a contest to decide a point of honour dates from the early 17th century.
However, last week I participated in a seminar in which one of the speakers, Ray Kerkhove, mentioned that Australia’s Aboriginal people also conducted individual and collective duels under strict rules and fought with their traditional weapons such as spears, boomerangs or fighting sticks. Presumably, the history of their duels dates back much further than the European’s 17th century.
Maybe our sense of honour has always been an inherent part of our human nature, and more importantly, its defence seems vital to our survival as individuals, communities, or nations.
“Remembering Them” – Cleveland Library’s book commemorating Redlanders who fought in World War I
Part of the centenary commemoration of the First World War, this book brings together photographs and biographical information of those listed on Redland’s cenotaphs.
The project was a collaborative effort from several individuals including myself, and organisations, including the North Stradbroke Island History Museum. As well as a limited hard copy run of the book, the Cleveland Library has made a PDF copy freely available on the Cleveland Library’s website at:
Left insert: Standing together by the refurbished Petrie memorial are Janice Hall (Great Grand daughter of Tom Petrie) and Maroochy Barambah (Great Great Grand Daughter of Kulkarawa, Grannie Kitty, who was one of the few Turrbal People that survived the adverse impact of European settlement in Brisbane.) Right insert: Tom Petrie.
Tomas Petrie arrived in the penal colony at Moreton Bay with his parents in 1837 when he was just 6 years old. His father, Andrew Petrie, was to become Clerk of Works in the colony. Thomas was educated by a convict clerk and was allowed to mix freely with Aboriginal children. He learnt to speak the local language Turrbal and was encouraged to share in all Aboriginal activities. He was witness to convicts labouring in chains on the government farms along the river and saw numerous floggings of convicts on Queen Street. At 14 he participated in a walkabout to a feast in the Bunya Mountains. He was accepted by the Aborigines and was often used as a messenger and invited on exploration expeditions. He also learned about surveying, bushcraft and the local geography while travelling with his father, Andrew Petrie.
After his marriage to Elizabeth Campbell in 1858, Tom bought property in the North Pine district, which he called Murrumba (Good Place) and where he was helped by friendly Aborigines to clear his land and construct his first buildings. He continued to explore widely, his main aim being the search for new timber areas and places for further settlement along the coast.
When the Government opened Queensland’s first Aboriginal reserve on Bribie Island in 1877, Petrie became its chief adviser and overseer. The experiment was terminated next year largely because Petrie’s report on Aboriginal attitudes and activities was not encouraging
Petrie died at Murrumba in 1910, and the name of the North Pine district was changed to Petrie in his honour. There is also a new suburb in the area named Murrumba Downs.