A Little Night Navigation with my Father and Uncle Jack – by Marilyn Carr

(This is the third article sent in by Marilyn. You can read the previous two at 03.12.2016 – Bullets and Beans and at 10.12.2016 – Koopa Memories)

My father had bought, from Army Disposals, a compass – its half-orb wobbled inside a squat, navy wooden box. I think it was a deep blue box but this is only a memory – and from over seventy years ago. Dad and Uncle Jack’s small adventure with night navigation happened on Moreton Bay on a trip down the Brisbane River and across to Bribie Island, in January, 1947. Well, I have calculated it was then.  If so, I would have recently turned eleven and I became a somewhat seasick witness to their escapade.

Dad had been attending a night class in navigation and, as he was quick with numbers, he would have been keen to practice his newly-gained skill.  And he had the boat! She was the “Lady Ellen” which he owned with two other members of the family. Now, do not think motor launch circa 2020 with sleek lines, running on marine diesel. 

The “Ellen” was about seven metres in length, wooden, squat; it had two bunks, the engine cover acted as a table, there was a rudimentary galley, a heads – and here I have a memory of confusion with rope and anchor storage.  However, the singularly most unsatisfactory circumstance about the “Ellen” was the engine.  (I have had ‘phone discussions with a cousin not seen for years about this.) After the war, engines were scarce, very scarce to obtain.  Evidently, the engine found for Dad’s boat was scavenged from a 1920’s car called an Essex Four. The boat was seriously underpowered, though possibly not for the time it had been built.

The Simes’ boat moored in the Bribie Passage

After the day spent organizing for the trip, Dad and I were ready to have our evening meal aboard the “Ellen”, as she was at her mooring in Breakfast Creek which runs into the Brisbane River. How many meals does one remember from one’s childhood?  Well, I recall that offering from Dad.  He opened a tin of Libby’s luncheon beef from a tin with a key and there were grapes. That was dinner.  It grew dark and I was put to bed on one of the bunks (next to the engine). Dad was waiting for Uncle Jack to join him. I thought we were to set off down the river at first light.  

Asleep on the bunk, I was unaware when Uncle Jack had joined Dad. They had decided to catch the ebbing tide, not wait for the dawn, and start down the Brisbane River. (If this was, indeed, 1947, petrol rationing was still in effect and conserving it was paramount.) Passing Bishop’s Island at the mouth of the river, with the lights across to Redcliffe enticing them on, their charts at the ready and all fair before them, rather than wait for the dawn, they sailed on to navigate to Bribie at night.   

Sometime later I woke up. There were Dad and Uncle Jack in the dimly-lit cabin. We seemed to be at the heaving centre of war-time-remembered shiny, black-out darkness.  The old engine grumbled at an idle. The “Ellen” rose, was slapped and dropped, ruled by the waves’ chop.  We were well out into the bay; it was past midnight. But the boat was not powering forward. She was moving only at the sea’s whim.  And it was getting windy.

Awake, although feeling decidedly queasy, I managed to get up and to hoist myself onto a cabin bench; I did my retching over the side! From then on, I watched what happened half asleep and wrapped in a blanket. 

 The “Ellen” had stopped travelling forward! The connection from the steering wheel, the helm, through to the rudder had snapped.  The screws of the propellor were turning but the boat’s direction could no longer be controlled.  And we were really not that very far from the main shipping channel into Brisbane.  

Checking today a map of Moreton Bay and the sea route to Bribie Island by crossing Deception Bay, the land area of around Deception Bay shows much development – it might even be referred to as an outer suburb of Brisbane, maybe.  Dad’s navigation trial, though, was over seventy years ago, when there was no electricity available on from the seaside town of Scarborough until Caloundra. We were at sea, unable to control where we were going and, around us, all was new-moon darkness.     

 Somehow, Dad had to get the “Ellen” back on course, and sailing forward towards Bribie.  I have never known if the solution Uncle Jack and Dad came to was their ingenuity, or if the solution was a standard ploy in such situations. I do know it worked. Uncle Jack crawled into the stern of the “Ellen”, after the hatch had been removed.  His feet could reach the rudder control rods and he was able to command the direction the rudder – with his feet. On we went: Dad at the helm, Uncle Jack standing in the stern’s hold. 

Although, we were on our way again, and hopefully not much off course, around us was the darkness.

Years after this adventure of Dad’s and Uncle Jack’s, my Father would tell how, trying to discern something ahead, he had found, far-off, one pin-prick of light. He reasoned it could be a fisherman on Bribie and steered towards this lone night beacon. He was right:  it was a solitary fisherman with his lantern on the Bribie Island jetty.  

They edged past the jetty and cruised close into the shore until they discerned the huge gum tree in front of “Torphins”, our seaside house on the island.  The anchor was dropped.  We scrambled into the dinghy we must have towed all the way, rowed ashore and amazed the family when we appeared out of the darkness.  

That was Dad and Uncle Jack’s adventure in night navigation on Moreton Bay. There are many stories about the yesterdays around Moreton Bay – here has been the telling of one more. 

‘Torphins’ in 1948
Peter, Allan, and Marilyn Simes with their father, Peter in 1948

 The navigators: Peter Simes (1906 – 1974); Jack Kieseker (1914 – 1983)

Writer: Marilyn Carr (nee Simes)

A Fisherman’s Daughter (Lyne Marshall) – Part 3

My Art

From when I was about two years of age, I can remember drawing – I used to draw on my mother’s walls. I have always drawn and painted – drawn more than anything. Once at school they announced they were going to have an art competition, so I got quite excited and went straight home and did my drawing that night. When I took it to the school next morning, they laughed at me and said that they hadn’t even made any plans yet. So, entering art competitions must have been in my blood even at that age – I must have been 6 or 7. Later, as a young mother, when I working, I went to different people for training. I used to paint under the mango tree at Bribie. This was in my mother’s yard, but I was painting the world.

When I was about 25 I was going to an artist for classes. That tutor would have liked me to go to university to study art, but I put my art career on hold until I was 44 when I had raised my kids – although I was still painting at home in the more traditional style.  When I did commence my university degree (B.A. in Visual Arts), I wanted to understand modern art concepts, and art history. I came out of university in 1994, but didn’t find my real creative direction until 2005 when I began to relate once again to the land. The work that I do now in the contemporary art world could be considered old fashioned.

The movements in modern art have been more biased towards conceptual photographic and video work than painting the spirituality of the land as I do. I feel my passion is manipulating paint and depicting the lighter side of life but having said that I feel the stirrings for change that may see me head in a new direction. I always paint in the studio for the process rather than the commercial side of it all. I feel that will always takes care of itself later. This is one reason why I am happy to have my work out into travelling shows, because I can think ‘Well it’s now serving its purpose, so now I can get back into doing what I want to do, and we’ll worry about what happens to that work afterwards.’

There’s a difference between a painter and an artist. As an artist your work is about finding your creative direction through who you really are, whereas a painter just paints. Art is a journey, and I always think you should go back to your early childhood memories. Our personalities as children and the things we did are the true ‘us’. The personality might seem like it changes but it never does, it just grows stronger with age.

There was that little child in me that loved the freedom of running down the beach, and I used to read a lot. I loved nature and the way water was always eroding the beaches and the patterns the tides formed. When I was at University studying art, it was suggested by a tutor that I draw on my nursing background, and as I was still nursing, that did seem to be who I was then. Nurses work with people so I started painting figures rather than landscapes and it took me another ten years to get this out of my painting. 

Lyne at Tallegalla 2011 (photo courtesy Peter Marshall)

In nursing I was healing through the use of my hands. Now I want my paintings to have that same effect, heal by giving a sense of contemplation and peace and have the viewer get in touch with who they are. I think I was lost for many years and my art really began to take shape when I went back to landscapes. I had been playing with different things but it wasn’t until I went to organic sources that I found myself.

Suddenly I was painting the horizons and skies that I had grown up with. And it was the skies that I had always known as a child as Bribie is a little flat island, with all horizons and sky. The Glasshouse Mountains were also an influence. I’d seen them from the Bribie Passage for so long, so, in spite of the Aboriginal legend forbidding women to venture close, I had to go and explore them. I think that suddenly when I began painting the landscapes with the water and the eroding sands, I was home again on my beloved Bribie. Here at Tallegalla I sometimes feel like I am still on an island when first thing in the morning the mist has filled the valley and we look out over it to the mountaintops sticking out like islands through the low cloud. But then Bribie has changed. It’s so contained now ­ they have concreted in the foreshore for example. But people love it. It’s a great family place. You don’t get loads of young people with their surfboards going there because Bribie doesn’t offer that kind of surf. But just getting there can be a problem with all the traffic congestion going north out of Brisbane in the holiday seasons.          

My Island Home (Lyne Marshall)

Lyne Marshall

Tallegalla

March 2011

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)

Editor: In 2020 Lyne relocated her home and art studio to Ningi, a small township adjacent to her original home on Bribie Island. Further details can be found at:

www.artclique.com.au

Studio Gallery at Ningi Qld 4511

Open by appointment

Mobile 0418 876 230

A Fisherman’s Daughter (Lyne Marshall) – Part 2

My Mother’ Family (Ormiston)

My grandmother, Elsie Rose O’Sullivan, was just 14 when she married my grandfather, Jim Ormiston, who was then 25. Jim Ormiston had one of the first shops on Bribie. My mother, Eileen, was one of their five children. Her sister, Mavis, married Fred King, the baker. Jimmy, Eric, and Gordon Ormiston were her brothers. All the kids did it pretty rough because the father left and the mother raised them. They were often hungry and the kids would raid his farm for food. 

I grew up in Hall Avenue, but at some stage someone swapped the street signs over and I spent the rest of my time in Cottrell Avenue. No one ever changed them back. This is something that seems to follow me because since we came to live up here at Tallegalla, our address has changed six times and we have never moved!

My Early Life

I went to the Bribie Island State School. Mum put me in there when I was only four years old so I had finished primary school when I was barely twelve. I used to top the class. There was no High School at Bribie then, so the kids used to go by bus to Caboolture. Although it was illegal to finish school before the age of 14, I was never sent on to High School. However, it didn’t hold me back in the long run, because now I have two university degrees and three nursing qualifications. In that educational side of my life, I have always come in the back door, so to speak.

Lyne at 16 on the beach at Woorim, Bribie Island

So, after I left the Bribie School, I had several jobs on Bribie, and at 17, I moved to Brisbane and worked for Coles/Pennies. After I left the island – it was after the bridge was opened – I was very homesick for Bribie, and I would go home every weekend until I got married. My wage wasn’t wonderful but I’d have enough to get my bus ticket and go down to Bribie every weekend that I didn’t have to work on the Saturday morning. I never caught the Koopa to Bribie, but as a kid, I remember we used to meet it when it berthed at the jetty.

When I married someone from the air force, I lived interstate a bit. The marriage lasted nine years and I never got to live on Bribie during that time. Later I lived with the kids in Brisbane until I met and married Peter, my present husband. He always wanted to live in the country so we came up here to Tallegalla (not far from Rosewood). In a way, life at Tallegalla now is similar to the way Bribie was in the old days – no power (we now have solar power) and no water (we have to rely on tank water). 

My brother died in a car accident on Bribie in 1975 and I did get home to visit my mother there until my father’s death in 1977. After dad’s death, my mother left Bribie and often followed my sister Pam around to country towns where she and husband John Smith bought and managed pubs. Mum died at Beachmere just as Pam retired and would have now been living with them on Bribie Island in Cummings Street had she still been alive.

Life at Bribie

A student of one of my classes also remembers her visits to Bribie as very beautiful and free times. And that’s just how I feel about Bribie. I don’t think we Bribie kids were doing anything different from kids everywhere in those times. Kids from that era were freer. Looking at some of the things the kids have been doing in the floods today may seem crazy, but then we remember we used to do the same things in our younger days. Perhaps we are too over regimented today, but we do have a responsibility as parents now. So, we were just like kids everywhere at that time, except that when other kids from the mainland came to Bribie, they’d think we were so lucky because they had their bitumen covered playgrounds at school whereas we could walk around barefoot because our play area was just a big paddock.

A lot of holidaymakers used to stay in tents then along the waterfront on the Passage, and we kids used to like walking along at night and say hello to them and look at the canvas lit up with their lights. Of course, other visitors stayed in holiday houses or in huts left over from the war such as the Visitors’ Centre. We kids actually resented their intrusion into OUR island during holiday times, but we had the island to ourselves for the rest of the year. Of course, many of the locals depended on the visitors for their livelihood. For a number of years, the local ambulance used to put up a stage at Christmas near where the library is now at Bongaree and held a Christmas pageant there. 

The Bribie Bridge (photo courtesy Kgbo)

Another thing we kids used to do was to play sport against other schools, such as Humpybong, Caboolture, and Dayboro. It was always a big event when we met all these schools together at Caboolture. We had about a hundred kids at our school then and the whole school would climb aboard buses and go across on the barge to Caboolture for this big event. It would have required a lot of organizing for all the different grades involved. It was an athletics day and each school had its own colours. Bribie’s was a red top with a white skirt and it was tied up with a gold sash.

The locals were very ‘anti’ the bridge being built, and when they got it they were then ‘anti’ the toll. They said that it should only be visitors and not locals who should pay. However, the bridge gave us young people a lot more freedom. We could go off the island into Caboolture, which although it was a very small town then, was our ‘big city’. For our big night out we used to go to the Milky Way – a milk bar attached to a service station! Bribie did have a hall, which is still there today. It’s only small, but to me as a child it seemed huge. It served as a dance hall on Friday nights, where we’d do all the old fashioned dances such as the Pride of Erin. On Saturday nights it was the movie show, and on Sundays it was church. The hall was everything.  The movies were shown by Ivan Tesch who lived in a circular house, which is still there today. It was at Bongaree and was very innovative for Bribie when it was built.

There were other churches on Bribie – a Church of England further along the same street, I think. There was also a Catholic church, the Church of the Little Flower, down near the school. We kids were allowed to go to the movies on Saturdays and we’d walk up there as a group. In those days there were a lot more trees and the roads were a lot less defined but I was surprised to see the hall still there on a recent visit to Bribie.

Ian Fairweather was living on Bribie when I was a kid but I don’t think he had much influence on my later work as an artist. I knew he was a painter who lived in a bush hut, and we’d see him walking around town. He used to come down to get his groceries and used to come into the shop where my mother worked. So she knew him. The owners of the shop had some of his paintings. I don’t think the locals really understood how important he was. There were people from city galleries visiting him, but the locals saw him as a bit of a hobo. He always looked a bit derelict, and of course he was probably not all that young when I was there. But I think in later years when I was working with figures he may have had some influence on my painting. But I didn’t go to any of his exhibitions when I was young. He didn’t have any as such on Bribie but he did donate the occasional painting to local organisations. He didn’t shun the local community. 

Ian Fairweather and hut (colourised) (original photo courtesy Ron Powell)

For us, to go to Brisbane then was a major adventure. We would have to go down to the waterfront at 6 in the morning and wait for the barge. It would take us an hour to get across the Passage because the barge would have to come across and then take us back. So we never really felt as though we were off the island until the bus pulled off on the mainland. Even then it was quite a long way to Brisbane via Caboolture, so we didn’t go to town all that often. So, if Fairweather did have an exhibition in Brisbane, we kids wouldn’t have known anything about it. Then after he died, his living area wasn’t preserved, because the Council didn’t really understand, and weren’t interested.

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)

A Fisherman’s Daughter (Lyne Marshall) – Part 1

My Father’s Family (Crouch)

My parents were Fred and Eileen Crouch. There were also other branches of the Crouch family on Bribie – George Shillington Crouch, and Edgar Crouch. Dad’s father was Charles Frederick who they called Charles (‘Tiff’ or ‘Tiffie’). Dad was also Charles Frederick but they called him Fred. Charles’ brothers were Edgar and George.

My Grandfathers head stone (Photo courtesy Lyne Marshall)

Dad’s father died of peritonitis while fishing. This was in 1915. They got him into shore but there was not a lot they could have done at that time because this was before the time of penicillin here. Dad was born in 1904 and he left home when he was about 14. He was always involved with the sea. He joined the Navy and became a marine engineer on the HMAS Penguin and as such travelled the world.  When he left the Navy, he went to Bribie, where he married my mother. He was 29 then, and she was 17. This would have been in 1933. When World War II broke out in 1939, dad joined up again. This time it was in the Army. When the war finished, he came back to Bribie and recommenced fishing. The sea was always in dad’s blood, and he was only happy when he was there. He always said that people underestimate the sea, so they do silly things and they die. You can’t underestimate the sea.

Dad worked with the Leo Brothers, from Scarborough. They went to sea in their little inboard motorboats. On their homeward journey they dropped dad off at Bribie before continuing on to Scarborough. Dad then rowed home across the Pumicestone Passage.  One of my memories was watching this little dot in the distance getting bigger and bigger as he drew closer. He stood up to row – he was only very short, about 5’7” but very nuggety. He had what we called punts – grey boats, very solid, with nets in the back. I don’t think he ever used outboard motors – he always rowed.

When the men were fishing, they followed the mullet so we went to Scarborough for three months of the year, which was pretty traumatic because mum put us in a school there. This is when I was in primary school. I was born in 1948 so this would have been in the 1950s. This was a Catholic school and the nuns caned me because I couldn’t hear the bell, which was a tiny hand bell that had to be heard by the whole school. It was all so foreign, the whole thing. 

So for these three months of the year, they fished for mullet off Scarborough, but for the rest of the time they fished from Red Beach on Bribie.

At weekends we used to walk around from our house at Bongaree to Red Beach. It was quite a long hike. It was winter then, and by the time we got there – it was probably just gone daybreak – dad would had already been in the water twice up to his waist to pull in the nets because the fish would run early. He’d have all his wet flannels hanging up to dry.

My mother also went fishing on her own and she’d bring home buckets of whiting, but then dad would come in with his fish, and when they were fishing around Red Beach, they piled them all up on our front yard. They had these old army Blitzes – snub-nosed trucks left over from the war. They brought all their fish in, dumped it on our front yard, and then cased it in wooden cases. They were primarily mullet, which they sent off whole – no gutting. The fish were grouped according to size, and then sent to the Brisbane Fish Markets by boat.  They left some for us and we ate a lot of fish and their roe (eggs) – white and yellow roe. When the trawlers were in, dad also swapped some of his fish for prawns and crabs so we got a bit of everything. It was a good diet for growing kids.

Hauling in the Mullet (colourised) (Photo courtesy Lyne Marshall)

Dad would be away for weeks at a time and the bread he took with him would go mouldy, but when he came home, it was a big event, and if I was at school at the time, I was allowed home for lunch with him and mum. He’d pick us up at school and we’d have our roast dinner, then he’d take us back to school. We fishing family kids were the only ones that did it. The others had to sit and eat their sandwiches at school. I always thought it was lovely to be included in our family’s homecoming meals, because it could be that he would be off again straight away, and if I were at school, I would miss out on seeing him.

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)

Bayside Reminiscences – Bribie – Nell Birt (nee Covill)

In 1930, due to my father’s ill health my family moved to Bribie Island, and took a lease on the kiosk on the ocean beach side.  I stayed in Brisbane to attend school, and for the first year saw my family only on school holidays, then for the next two years, I went to Bribie each weekend.  We travelled on the Koopa (and a couple of times on the Doomba).  After leaving Brisbane the vessel would call in at Redcliffe to pick up more passengers, then sail on to Bribie.  Music was provided for the passengers in the form of gramophone records, played on an old wind-up gramophone – mostly waltzes as I recall.  There were many other children in my situation – one of them being Dorothy Shirley, whose reflections are mentioned in Moreton Bay People – and the trip was never boring.

On arrival at Bribie I caught the bus (driven by Dorothy’s father, Bill Shirley) to the ocean side – the island is three miles wide at this point. (My younger brother, who was seven at the time, would ride his bike across to school at Bongaree each day).  Apart from the kiosk, which apparently had been shifted further from the beach due to erosion, and the lifesavers’ shed, the only other buildings were a few ‘weekenders’ built on a narrow dirt road leading from the kiosk north for a few hundred metres.  The kiosk itself was comprised of a shop, large dining room and kitchen, and living quarters, with a couple of bedrooms for boarders or over-nighters. After we left the island – around 1933 – the kiosk was later renovated as a guesthouse, and the lease taken over by Bill Shirley.     

In the shop we sold basic groceries, sweets and drinks, and in season Boronia wildflowers and Christmas Bells, which my elder brother would collect from inland.  We would serve hot fish dinners for visitors.  I recall the kitchen with its very large wood stove and enormous frying pans where my mother would cook the freshly caught fish.  Mr. Shirley would phone from the bay side to tell us how many people from the Koopa were coming across, though this wasn’t always an indication of how many of them would want dinner, some bringing their own picnic lunch.

We had a couple of cows, and there was always plenty of milk. Our dog – a Blue Heeler – was trained to round up the cows and bring them home when they strayed.  There was no refrigeration so the problem of keeping eggs fresh was overcome by placing them in a large tin filled with a viscous substance called, I believe, “waterglass’, which would keep the eggs from contact with the air. There was no wireless, but I remember my dad and brother making what they called a crystal set. We had a piano, and on the weekends the lifesavers would often come over and one or two would bring instruments and we would have a very enjoyable evening.

The ocean beach at Bribie Island

The beach was, of course, beautiful – broad and white and clean.  We sometimes went by truck on the beach as far north as the point where Bribie almost touches Caloundra.  Eugary (known as ‘pippies’ to southerners) were plentiful and could be collected just by feeling in the sand with your toes at the water’s edge.  As for fishing – when I look at the size of the whiting served and sold today, I can’t help thinking of the whiting of over 12 inch (30 cm.) length the men caught by throwing a line in the surf in front of the kiosk.  Worms were the most used bait, which my brother was very adept at catching.  Apparently, this is not an easy task but I enjoyed watching him.  He would carry what was called a “stink bag”, filled with old fish heads and such. This he would drag along the sand until a worm popped its head up.  Then instead of just pulling it out quickly, in which case it would break off, he ‘stroked’ it until it relaxed, when it could be pulled out easily.  This was quite an art!

After about three years my family moved back to Brisbane, and it was many years before I visited the island again.  However, while speaking of Bribie, I was interested in a mention in Moreton Bay People of Fairweather’s The Drunken Buddha, the fascinating book he translated from the Chinese, and illustrated with his paintings.  My daughter, Cyrelle, who was Production Manager at the UQ Press, designed the cover and layout of the book, and with publisher Frank Thompson visited Fairweather on Bribie.  Frank was amazed to see many of the paintings in the open, at the mercy of bird droppings etc.

‘The Drunken Buddha’ book cover

Nell Birt (nee Covill)

February 2009

Jack Wheeler’s Memories of Moreton Bay

At the September 2005 meeting of the Redcliffe Historical Society, I listened to the lecture by Peter Ludlow on Peel Island. It brought back memories to me of some of the Bay islands, when I was a very young boy, about seven or eight years old.  I was born in 1910, so this would have been around 1918.  By then, the Otter, the Government vessel, took supplies over to the three islands, St. Helena, which was the penal settlement; Peel Island, the lazaret; and to Stradbroke Island, at Dunwich, where there was a home for the elderly.

In those days you had to obtain a permit from the relevant department to travel on the Otter.  I think if you had relatives at Dunwich you could travel more often, but other people were limited to visiting there once a year.  I distinctly remember going there one day with my grandmother.  We sailed firstly to St Helena where a trolley was rolled out along the jetty by men who I take it were the ‘residents’.  The supplies were loaded onto this trolley.  Then we proceeded on to Peel Island where the same procedure was followed, the trolley perhaps rolled out by the healthier patients, or possibly staff.  Then the boat sailed on to Dunwich where I think we stayed for about two hours.  This gave you time to visit residents or walk around the area.  Then of course the Otter returned to Brisbane at North Quay.  I understand that it made this trip about twice a week.

The Otter at Dunwich Jetty (Photo courtesy Ossie Fischer)

It’s marvellous how listening to Peter’s lecture has revived my memories about these events.  Also, referring to old memories, I think it must have been in late 1914 or early 1915 that my father took me to Redcliffe. I would have been four or five.  I remember going there on the Koopa.  Now the Koopa, to us young boys, was the pride of the Brisbane River.  It had to be because it had two funnels, and any ship with two funnels was marvellous, you know!  I remember pulling in to the old Redcliffe Jetty, walking along this long jetty and coming to this house in the middle – I think we called it the halfway house – then stepping ashore at Redcliffe.  That was my first visit.

The second visit to this area was landing at Woody Point, on the Lucinda.  This boat used to bring the children of the State Schools there, for a picnic once a year.  Once again, I was with my grandmother.  We left Queen’s Wharf to sail down the Brisbane River, and then cross Bramble Bay to Woody Point.  We never came to Redcliffe for these picnics, just Woody Point.  I remember doing this trip a couple of times.  They were my early memories of Moreton Bay.

The Queensland Government’s vessel – Lucinda

My memories of Bribie Island were when the Brisbane Tug Company who owned the Koopa and the Beaver had a lease of the island.  There was a caretaker there, and little huts on the Passage side.  I remember staying there with my grandmother.  The huts were simple, one room, with beds, a wood stove and a sink.  There was no running water.  You had to use the pump at the caretaker’s house and carry the water in a kerosene tin back to your hut.  I think the rent was two shillings and sixpence (25 cents) a week.  That’s all there was at Bribie.  There was nothing over at the main beach.  We walked across, about three miles, on a sandy track.  I remember my mother and me doing this walk carrying drinking water in a billycan, which was always very warm on arrival!  There was only one vehicle on the island, which belonged to the caretaker, who was the only permanent resident.  It used to be amusing.  We’d sail to Bribie on the Koopa, which was equipped with a bar.  The people holidaying on the island would be waiting for us to tie up, then, as we went ashore, they would board the boat and enjoy the bar facilities.  This procedure was reversed when we were about to leave in the afternoon.  In later years, when people came to live on Bribie, a bowling club was formed.  In those days, Brisbane had no hotels open on a Sunday.  The bowling club had a liquor license, but could sell alcohol to members only.  This resulted in many Brisbane people joining the club, which was reputed to have the largest membership of any bowling club in Queensland!

The old Koopa kept on running, year after year.  Then the Second World War broke out in 1939. I was in the Navy, and I came across the Koopa at anchor in Milne Bay in New Guinea.  She was the mother ship to the Fairmile class of small Australian patrol boats.  I never heard of her after that, and don’t know what happened to her – whether she lies somewhere still or has been broken up for razor blades.

The Koopa (photo courtesy Yvonne D’Arcy)

Later when I was about fourteen, I sailed the bay with my family and friends.  I remember that we always skirted around Peel Island, afraid that we might get washed up there.  Then we sailed on to Dunwich, where we would get lovely fresh bread and stores.  We would travel down the Canaipa Passage, on to the Broadwater and Southport, where we anchored.  Altogether we spent a lovely two weeks around the southern part of the bay.  We lived on the boat, but went ashore for events such as the New Year’s Eve festivities at Southport.  Unlike some events today, with young people running wild, these were orderly yet enjoyable occasions. In those days, too, the waters were quiet, not crowded with the shipping that there is today.  There were no ‘tinnies’ with outboard motors, no jet-skis.  The Bay was peaceful as you sailed across, and plenty of fish for dinner!

Anyway, these are memories I like to think back on, and when you hear a lecture, someone else talking about these items, it brings back more recollections.  So to have people such as Peter Ludlow revive these memories for me is indeed a real pleasure.

Jack Wheeler

Redcliffe Historical Society

September 2005

Editor: Like my lecture to the Redcliffe Historical Society, I hope this blog will invoke many such memories of our Moreton Bay for you, my reader. But if you have none to invoke, then I hope my words will stimulate you go down to the bay and collect some of your own.

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)

Moreton Bay Mysteries – 2 – The Underground Hospital at Fort Bribie

At the ruins of Fort Bribie in 1993, John McKenna and Dr Noel Ure (photo Peter Ludlow)

In my 2001 book ‘Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’ I made the following reference to the underground hospital situated at Fort Bribie situated at the northern end of Bribie Island:

The existence or otherwise of the underground hospital is a topic currently hotly disputed by Bribie’s residents. Many vehemently swear (literally) that years ago they descended its steps. Some entered and found it still set up and ready for use. Others could not open the door because sand had collected against it. All had returned years later only to find its steps completely covered by sand and, with fading memories and an overgrowth of scrub, its location ‘lost’.

And there are also those who just as vehemently swear (literally) that the underground hospital never existed. They say that all army personnel requiring hospitalisation were taken to Caloundra, so why should another hospital be built at Fort Bribie?

Perhaps the answer rests with Doctor Noel Ure, medical officer at Fort Bribie in 1943. He says: “The underground hospital DID exist because I set it up at Fort Bribie in 1943. It was a large underground room with steps descending into it. There were about 15 stretcher bed set up inside.

 “It is quite true that sick personnel were sent to the hospital at Caloundra. The purpose of the underground hospital was for emergency use in case of an enemy invasion of the Fort. We now know that this never occurred, and so the hospital was probably never used as such. But in 1943 at least, it DID EXIST!”

  Fifty years later, on June 18, 1993, we trek with Doctor Ure to the site of the underground hospital. He remembers it to be no more than 50 feet from the entrance to the Officers Mess hut. We use a site plan to locate firstly the foundations of the enlisted men’s latrines, and then work our way through thick entanglements of lantana across the foundations of the sergeants’ latrines, officers’ latrines, and finally their mess. There is a lantana-covered mound of sand where Doctor Ure remembers the underground hospital to be. It all looks so different. With a probe we search for cement beneath the sand. There is nothing, not even air vents common to the other underground structures of the camp.

Then, about 50 feet south of the officers’ mess, our probe hits something solid. We quickly shovel off the sand covering a cement slab.  About 2 metres long by 1 metre wide its pebbly texture resembles that of a path. Could it lead to the steps going down into the underground hospital?

We are hot, tired, thirsty, and scratched by lantana. Our shovel is no match for our imaginations. The hospital must still remain a mystery. Perhaps time, a metal detector, and a team of shovel and machete wielding volunteers may one day answer this intriguing question.

Reminders of Peoples Past – 10 – Pebble Beach Memorial

Pebble Beach Memorial unveiling 17.9.1995 (Photo courtesy Albert Jeays)

As in so many other cities, suburbs, and towns of Australia, it is fitting that war memorials have been erected to honour the sacrifices of those men and women who have served in our armed forces. The Northern Moreton Bay Region is no exception, and here I have chosen just one example: the Pebble Beach Memorial at Toorbul Point

Pebble Beach Memorial (Photo courtesy Albert Jeays)

The inscription reads:

Erected by the Caboolture Shire Council

as an “Australia Remembers: 1945 – 1995 Project

to commemorate the Toorbul Point combined operations centre

and to the many allied personnel who engaged in amphibious training exercises here

during World War II.

Unveiled on September 17th 1995.

Reminders of Peoples Past – 09 – Ian Fairweather

In it’s early days – before the bridge was built – Bribie was a haven from the rat race of civilization. Its lifestyle was simple and close to Nature, where people could be themselves without undue interference. Personalities flourished and eccentrics were accepted as the norm. Bribie’s best-known eccentric was the reclusive artist, Ian Fairweather. At age 60 he went to Bribie and took up residence in a grass hut in the bush at Bongaree so that he could paint undisturbed.

Ian Fair-weather standing outside his hut at Bongaree on Bribie Island

It paid dividends and his art flourished to the point where he started winning prizes and he gained national attention from the galleries, from the newspapers, and from the general public. His grass hut became a bit of a tourist attraction and he was constantly visited by curious onlookers. Paradoxically, his success destroyed the very reason why he went to Bribie – to find a bit of peace and quiet!

Of course, when they built the bridge, that was the beginning of the end for his Eden. People visited the island in droves and neighbours began to encroach on his hut in the bush. There were complaints about rats and the Caboolture Shire Council was forced to intervene.

Eventually, Fairweather was forced to build a fibro hut on a cement base next door to his grass hut that he had occupied for so long. It was harsh and cold. He missed the sand between his toes, the smell of the thatching and the warmth of his kerosene lanterns. His art production all but stopped.

When he died, the grass hut was demolished amongst much controversy, and the fibro house was moved. Today the cement slab still remains in the pine grove where he once lived and worked. A large stone has been placed on the slab and an inscription reminding us that Ian Fairweather once lived there.

Ian Fairweather’s memorial at Bongaree

Th Plaque at the Fair-weather Memorial

Reminders of Peoples Past – 08 – Gustav Dux

Dux Creek is part of a canal development on Bribie Island

Johann Carl Gustav Dux, known as “Gus”, was born in West Prussia, on 1st June 1852.  Johann worked as a seaman, jumped ship in Cooktown, N.Q., and then worked his way down the coast until he arrived at German Station, now known as Nundah (a suburb of Brisbane).

Johann married at the age of 20 to Wilhemine Rose, 24 Years, from Grunhage, West Prussia.  When she died at the age of 28, he married Bertha Lange, age 17 years, from Weinsdorf, West Prussia.  Their first child, Friedrich Carl August Dux, known as “Augie”, was born on 2nd August 1878.

Dux Creek on Bribie Island was named after Gus, who eventually settled in what is now known as Dux Street, Caboolture. At the time, Dux Street ran right down to the Caboolture River, and it was from here that Gus did his fishing, crabbing and oystering, culling oysters from oyster banks at Pumistone Passage, north of the Caboolture River, and on Bribie Island. It was a long hard pull by rowboat from Caboolture down the Caboolture River to Bribie Island for Gus, so he would camp overnight when he worked his oyster banks.

William, another of Gus’s sons, carried on his father’s business, and was known locally as Billy, the crabman.

Gustav Dux outside his shack at Burpengary (Caboolture) around 1895