The People of the Passage – Part 2

Bribie in its Golden Era of the 1930s (continued)

Here comes the “Koopa”! That speck of soot has now formed into a hull and superstructure.  People can be seen crowding the rails. Looks like a full shipload – a thousand at least.  The jetty surges with locals. This is their social highlight.  When the ship finally docks, passengers surge down the gangplank. Bob Davies is there spruiking on the jetty at the top of his voice “Fresh fish dinners this way!” and Mrs Moyle rings a bell from her restaurant’s verandah. Bill Shirley’s Tin Lizzies have now arrived and their motors idle in anticipation. Aboard the “Koopa”, engines throb, steam hisses, passengers jostle, bells ring, whistles blow. The trippers have found their release from the workaday world.

The Koopa (photo courtesy Yvonne D’Arcy)

Soon everyone has disembarked and the crowd disperses to eat, swim, fish, or just laze on the beach and soak up the atmosphere. Bribie obliges in all departments.  

For some, the afternoon lapses into anticlimax. They fill the emptiness with sleep.

Wally Campbell leases Clark’s oyster banks. It’s low tide now, and his sisters, Millie and Rosie, are at the banks, chipping off oysters from the rocks with little hammers.  They load them into chaff bags and leave them on the banks for the tide to come in.  When it does they’ll bring the dinghy and load it up with the oyster bags.

It’s 2 o’clock and the water tanks are now open. Mr Freeman, the Postmaster, is in charge of this precious commodity. Unlike the city, there’s no reticulated water on Bribie, and drinking water is brought down on the “Koopa” then pumped into tanks at the end of the jetty. When the taps are unlocked each day campers and locals line up with their empty kerosene tins which they fill for 2d each.  

By 2.30 the sun hovers over the Passage waters which the afternoon breeze fans into a shimmering sheet. A woman fishing on the beach throws her line into its midst while seagulls perch on the seawall and wait for results. She watches the slow passage of time trek across the sky to leave a dazzling path across the water to Toorbul Point.  Still later, the sun touches the mountains in the distance. Clouds have appeared, and into their pink billows the Glasshouse Mountains thrust their weird shapes.

The “Koopa” is getting up steam. It’s whistle blows. That’s the first sign to the passengers to get ready to embark. It’s also a signal that the “Koopa”‘s bar is about to open. (Its had to remain closed while in port). There is no hotel on Bribie and the “Koopa”‘s bar run by Elsie Davis is eagerly sought by those locals who fancy a drink.  A second whistle blows and the drinkers gulp more quickly. The passengers hurry aboard and the gangplanks are withdrawn. Bill Shirley’s Tin Lizzies pull up at the jetty and the last of the passengers hurry aboard. With the third whistle, the ropes are cast off and the “Koopa” is homeward bound. The drinkers clamber off onto the jetty across the widening gap of water but one lingers in the bar too long. He’ll come home on the next trip.

Soon the “Koopa” is once more a shrinking speck, a piece of soot on the horizon that is eventually whisked away on the cool evening breeze. Mozzies descend with the evening and citronella mingles with the aroma of cooking fish and smoky fires.

Dave King sends his son, Eric, to the shop for sugar. There the lad sees Wally Campbell about to leave for a few days fishing. Wally consents to Eric’s pleas and to let him come along. As the boat passes Dave King’s hut Eric sees his father looking out and does what any kid would do, waves. The sugar will have to wait another four days until he returns.  So will his father’s anger.

Beneath the jetty, in the deep dark waters now left vacant by the “Koopa”‘s departure, giant Grouper lurk in mysterious caves. Their mouths are so large they could swallow a child whole. On the jetty, a young boy ponders the monsters lurking beneath the boards on which he stands. He’s seen photos of Peter Rich, the “Grouper King”, and his monster catches. The stuff of future dreams…..

Bribie – Giant Grouper caught at Bribie Jetty, 1920s (photo courtesy June Berry)

Fred Bell Senior is at the far left while Fred Bell Junior is fifth from the left (in white hat).

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

The People of the Passage – Part 1

Bribie in its Golden Era of the 1930s

In the semigloom of first light, a silhouette moves about hut number 4. The wheezing breath identifies Dave King. He was gassed in WWI and has spent much of his later life in Rosemount Hospital. When they let him out, he comes to Bribie and rents one of these cottages – the locals call them the ‘Twelve Apostles’ – from the Moreton Bay Tug Company for 2/6 a week. It’s a “Koopa” day, and Dave instinctively looks out beyond the beach and the jetty and the dark waters of the Passage across the bay to Redcliffe where the “Koopa” will call first.

Bribie Island’s Koopa jetty, 12 apostles cabins, and tents (photo courtesy Marian Young)

Dave, a seaman of old, still splices the wire ropes for the “Koopa”. Beer money.  There’ll be a few pots today.

Bribie is a bastion of isolation; the Passage its protective moat. There are no bridges to connect with cities and bustle and people and the conformity of urban life. The only timetable here belongs to the “Koopa” and her sister ships: arrive 12.30pm, depart 4.30 pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

It’s Saturday and Dave’s son, Eric, is here for the school holidays. So are hundreds of campers in white tents that fill the foreshore beneath its thick mantle of trees. With the approach of dawn, tent life stirs. Hurricane lamps flicker silhouettes of dressing figures on the canvas. Fires are being lit, twigs crack, people yawn, wind passes, billies boil.

Further up the Passage, beyond Dux Creek, the air reeks. It’s the Campbell’s, Wally and Reg, preserving their nets. They boil them in tar in a 44 gallon drum on an open fire. They’re Aborigines descended from the Campbells of Dunwich.

Another Aborigine from Stradbroke Island is Lottie Tripcony. She’s Tom Welsby’s housekeeper and came with him when erosion forced him from his property at Amity.  It is said that Lottie was once married to a German named Eisler. During WWI she suspected him of spying so she had him interned.  End of marriage.

With the daylight Lottie is up and cooking breakfast for herself and Welsby, while he sits on the verandah overlooking the Passage and ponders the next chapter of his memoirs. Welsby’s a quiet, shy man who keeps to himself. He saves his words for his books. Later in the day Lottie plans to row up the Passage to collect Boronia flowers. She does this for her own pleasure and not to sell them to passengers on the “Koopa” as do the other locals.

As morning progresses, the autumn chill melts. On the beach Bribie pulses with passion: Freddie Crouch has just returned with a big haul of mullet.  He is packing them in ice for the “Koopa” to take to the Brisbane markets.  Fred, like everyone else on Bribie, depends on the “Koopa” for his livelihood. Ned Bishop has come over from Toorbul.  He’s there every “Koopa” day with his oysters and meat, his boat tied up at the jetty waiting for his customers to arrive at noon. He is a short plump oysterman who has a little shed just to the north of the jetty. Ned never wears shoes and has cracks on the bottom of his feet large enough ‘to put your fingers in’.  He’s been known to carry a 44 gallon drum of fuel from his half cabin cruiser up the soft sandy beach to his hut.  Not a task for the weak!

Someone has spotted the first smudge of smoke from the “Koopa”‘s funnels. She’s left Redcliffe. The day trippers will soon be here! To the north of the jetty, Mrs Moyle prepares the china at her restaurant; to the south Bob Davies and his sisters lay places at their Gardens. It’s fresh fish on every menu.

Across the island at the Ocean Beach, Bill Shirley and his drivers assemble their convoy of Tin Lizzies and set off for the “Koopa” jetty. They’ll nab their share of customers for a hot fish dinner too.

Pumicestone Passage basks in the noon sun. To the north, its waters are masked by fingers of mangroves prodding out into its banks of mud and sand.  Donneybrook is somewhere up there, too. Billy Dux, the crab man, has made it his home. He doesn’t like the fisherman coming up because they kill the muddies that get caught in their fish nets. To a crab man, that’s just a waste.

But here comes the “Koopa”!

Bribie Island’s ‘new’ Bongaree jetty in 2006

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

Two rivermen are remembered by Mabel Persson -2- Ted Humphreys

ADVENTURES WITH TED

            As a youngster I lived at Wynnum, and used to love going over to Myora at The One Mile with my Uncle Ted Humphreys and his wife in their boat, “Mersey”.  This was in the 1920s and it was mostly sailing boats then, and on the Christmas and Easter holidays about a hundred of them would sail to the One Mile and anchor there.  At night it became a tradition for them to have hurricane lamps alight all the way up their stays and on their masts.  We used to call this the Lantern Festival and the scene was like a small town with all the boats anchored together.  It was never rough there and the boats were tied onto each other so that we could walk from one to another.  The boats were mostly small, and Ted’s “Mersey” was the biggest at 36 foot.  There were plenty of fish in the Rainbow Channel then and Ted had another little boat which he used to sail up and down the Channel with three people fishing from her.  They caught enough whiting and squire to supply all the boats with fresh fish.

            Uncle Ted was a shopfitter and did a lot of the Queen Street Department Stores.  It was fashionable then for the wealthy store families to own boats, and it was probably this that influenced Uncle Ted to buy the “Mersey”.  Ted Humphreys was a man who owned a boat because he could AFFORD a boat, not because he was a boating man.  In this respect he was the opposite of Charlie Persson.  Ted was a big man who used to panic when he couldn’t get the engine started.  He also had trouble managing the sails.  Fortunately, his wife, Kate, a tiny little thing, was wonderful with the boat and used to bail him out of trouble.

            For example, one night we were anchored at the Horseshoe on Peel Island when a South Easter sprang up at midnight.  The boat began dragging her anchor and we were heading towards the rocks.  Ted could never get the engine going, and half the time it was because he’d forgotten to turn the petrol on.  True to his form, Ted could not get the engine started on this occasion either, but when I suggested that he check that the petrol was turned on, I got into trouble for my impudence – even when it turned out my diagnosis was correct!

Coming ashore at Horseshoe Bay

            On another occasion I was sent below and told not to move, but I opened the porthole and looked out.  However just at that moment the “Mersey” rolled and I took all the skin off my nose.  Then to add insult to injury, Uncle Ted reprimanded me for not doing as I was told.

            However, the most memorable occasion occurred just off St Helena when the island was still being used as a prison.  Once again, Ted was having trouble starting the motor, and the boat was drifting in towards the island.  Now it was a rule that the Warders on the island would fire warning shots over approaching boat’s bows to shoo them away from their prohibited waters.  Sure enough, bullets soon began to whistle across our bow, and Ted got very excited.  Still he couldn’t get the motor started and the boat kept drifting in.  As usual, though, his wife calmly got the sails up so we could get away!

            “Mersey” was a beautiful, two masted boat and Ted had his own slip at Wynnum.  Once, he was offered £1000 ($2000) for her but refused.  Next morning “Mersey” went missing.  She was seen up at Bribie, but when the thieves saw the Water Police coming, they set fire to the boat and she was burnt to the waterline. 

 Mabel Persson, July 1997

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

Two rivermen are remembered by Mabel Persson -1- Charlie Persson

            Charlie Persson’s parents owned a large house at Gladstone Road, Dutton Park close to the Brisbane River.  One of their neighbours was Thomas Anderson, Captain of the “Lucinda” and often the young Charlie would wag school to go on cruises down the river to Moreton Bay.  Once in the Bay Captain Anderson would let Charlie take over the helm because he reckoned that Charlie knew the channels as well as anyone. 

            Charlie was a river man long before we were married.  He had a skipper’s license and used to run the cargo boats down to Southport for the Kleinschmidts.  He was doing that when I met him, and I went down with him for the trip one day.  He also skippered the “Wilfie” boats for the Port family.

            I suppose you’d call him a freelance skipper – he could take any boat out.  While skippering a boat, this was his total preoccupation.  He and the boat were one – and the river.  Charlie, the boat, and the river – they were one. This was why, when he died in 1995, we took his ashes back to the river.  It was the only place we could think to put them that was right.

            Charlie was not a talker.  Although he helped form the Southport Yacht Club, we never went there for dinner.  He didn’t like getting dressed up, and his feet rarely knew a pair of socks.  His great love was mucking around in boats.  He could fish, but preferred to have a sleep while others in his boat did the fishing.  He loved sleeping out on the boat, and on weekend trips down the Bay would prefer to sleep overnight amongst the mossies in the Boat Passage rather than leave from Brisbane early the next morning.

Charlie Persson’s Gold Crest at the Bremer River 1930s (photo courtesy Queensland Newspapers)

            Charlie bought the “Crest” in 1935 before we were married. She had been a cargo boat and was ‘pretty rough’ but he altered her for passenger cruises.  He used to moor her at Kelly’s at the mouth of Norman Creek. 

            After our marriage Charlie worked as a crane driver, initially at the New Farm Powerhouse, then from about 1947 at the Darra Cement Works.   Although he could have supplemented his income by chartering the “Crest”, Charlie was not a ‘money person’ and was happy to take friends for river cruises or fishing parties down the Bay or outside.  If he just got enough to cover the cost of food and fuel, he was happy.

            “Crest” was a beautiful old boat – 39.5 foot in length with an 11 foot beam and very big side decks with big railings.  She didn’t roll and people could sleep on the decks in comfort.  She had a very large engine – possibly a Wilson – which was run on kerosene.  This made her very ‘fumy’.

            The name “Crest” was shortened from “Gold Crest” because it was once owned by R.M.Gower who owned the flour mill of that name.  Charlie bought her from J.D.Valentine for £275 ($550)

            Charlie eventually sold the “Crest” because it drew too much water for Bay use.  It was renamed the “Hero” and was used as a fishing boat.  It was later wrecked on the Tweed bar and her upturned hull was washed ashore on the beach there.  People used to camp and light fires in it.  

            In 1945 he bought the pleasure boat “Diane”.  It had a big Packard engine, and the year before it had won the race to Myora.  He later replaced it with another engine, which turned out to be slower.  The Packard is still under the house.

            Charlie had a habit of filling the petrol tank while we were going along.  On one occasion in 1970 we were near the Apollo Ferry crossing on the Brisbane River after a fishing trip down the Bay.  Charlie had just filled the tank, and we were experiencing a big wash from another boat.  I jumped down to the galley to take the kettle off the stove, when I saw flames.  I had a bag of money from my job in the West End and just had time to grab it before the fire took hold.  We were both lucky.  Charlie burnt his hands badly and was in hospital for three weeks.  The “Diane” was burnt to the waterline.

            That fire was the end of our boating for Charlie and me. 

Mabel Persson, July 1997

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.

Under the Boardwalk

‘Snow’ Portone told me this story…

Manly Jetty on Regatta Day 1914 (Photo courtesy State Library of Queensland)

When the Port family moved to the Bayside suburb of Manly, they leased, and lived in, the Kiosk on the end of the Manly jetty.  As well as fishing, the family was also heavily involved in sailing 18 footer skiffs, and it was not unusual on a Sunday night for skipper Bert Port to generously invite home his entire crew for dinner. This would naturally throw his wife into a panic trying to roust up an impromptu meal for an extra dozen or so mouths.  However, she knew she could always depend on her youngest son, ‘Snow’, to come up with a haul of fish at short notice.

You see, ‘Snow’ had this secret fishing spot where he knew he could land a good haul of Bream whenever he wanted.  However, he kept its location a secret from the rest of the family, and, being a fishing family, they respected his right to secrecy for his ‘good spot’. 

For years ‘Snow’ kept the location of his fishing spot a secret from his mother, but perhaps his reasons were more than for mere professional secrecy.

It was before the days of sewerage, and the plumbing for the men’s public toilet at the end of the jetty was just a short pipe above the water, and, yes, you guessed it, all ‘Snow’ had to do was lower his line through the urinal pipe and down into the water below. The pipe was just wide enough to pull up a decent sized Bream through it, and there always seemed to be a school of fish there!  The burly must have been good!

(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)

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’)

Disaster ‘Down the Bay’ (contributed by Nick Moffatt)

(Editor: Moreton Bay has always been a popular boaties’ escape from the confines of life in up-river Brisbane. It was a chance to ‘get lost’ for a holiday without the cares of its business world.  To be uncontactable. It was also not without its risks, as the moods of Moreton Bay were unpredictable. Such was the experience of William Gillespie Moffat who with his brother, James Campbell Moffat, owned a Drug Store (Moffat Brothers) on Edward Street, Brisbane at the time.)

Mouth of Brisbane River 1920s (photo contributed by Tony Love)

THE LATE BOAT ACCIDENT (12 May 1882)

A MAGISTERIAL inquiry relating to the late boat accident at the mouth of the Brisbane River was commenced before Colonel Ross on Monday, and resumed yesterday. In all, four witnesses have been examined, and their testimony is to the following effect:-A party, consisting of William Gillespie Moffat and son, James Phelan, Wilfred Bartley, Robert Waine, E. S. Diggles, and Alfred Edwards, started in the Native, a boat belonging to Mr. James Edwards, of Kangaroo Point, from Mr. Edwards’s shed at 4 o clock on Saturday afternoon on a fishing excursion to Mud Island.

They reached their destination at half-past 9 o’clock on the same evening, and anchored for the night. The weather was rough, with a heavy sea during the night, and in the morning a stiff breeze was blowing from the south-east. The party fished the next morning until about half past 9 o’clock, when a start was made for home. 

When they got to the mouth of the river, near Luggage Point, Phelan, who was in charge of the boat, reefed the sails, putting two reefs in the mainsail and one in the jib, and made one tack to Fisherman’s Island, and then stood in towards Luggage Point. When within about twenty yards to the leeward of the black buoy a heavy puff struck the beat, and laid her down to the combings. Both sheets were at once slacked, and the boat partly righted, when another stronger squall struck her more abeam, and a heavy sea struck her on the weather bow at the same time. 

Although the crew were all sitting up to windward, the ballast shifted to leeward; and the craft commenced to sink immediately. Moffat’s little boy was under the deck, and Bartley pulled him out and gave him to his father, who took him. Phelan got into the dingy at once, and tried to cut the painter which secured it, to the boat, but was unable to do so, as the boat sank stern first. He went down with the dingy while endeavouring to free her, and when he came to the surface, he was exhausted and could see nobody. He struck out for the shore, but after going some little distance came up to young Edwards, who sang out for help. 

Phelan, seeing the dingy’s paddles floating some distance off, swam to them and brought them to him. He kept in company with Edwards for some time, encouraging him to keep on. After a while he lost sight of Edwards and could not turn to help him as he was quite exhausted himself, the sea being very rough. Phelan reckoned he swam about a quarter of a mile before getting ashore; he passed Bartley and Waine as he swam ashore. When near the shore he sank from exhaustion, but recovered himself sufficiently to gain the bank. Diggles reached the shore first, Phelan next, then Bartley, who was followed by Waine. 

They remained on the beach where they first landed about half-an-hour, and then walked along the beach looking out for Moffat and the others, but could see nothing of them. They picked up one of the paddles Phelan had given young Edwards to assist him in swimming, and also the rudder of the boat, and continued to walk along the beach until they came to a fire, where they remained another half-hour. After warming themselves they felt stronger, and walked to the house of a German settler, who gave them some tea. Diggles was in advance of the party. They met a fisherman, who took them to his house and gave them some refreshments. Phelan related the occurrence to the fisherman, and he went with another man to look for the bodies. 

Phelan stated he had been down the Bay in the Native several times, and considered her perfectly safe. He attributed the accident entirely to the weather. The sheets were not fast at the time of the accident. He also stated he had sailed in the Bay for several years, and was competent to sail a boat. The party were driven to town in two spring carts- Diggles arriving first and reported the occurrence to the police. The last that was seen of Moffat alive was just after the boat went down. He then struck out for the shore, with his son in his arms. George Payne, a Customs boatman, went over to Luggage Point on Sunday afternoon, and found the dead body of W. G. Moffat on the beach, in charge of a fisherman. He had the body brought to Brisbane.

(Extract from The Brisbane Courier, Wednesday 24 May 1882.)