Moreton Island has always been the least accessible of Moreton Bay’s treasures.  It’s furtherest from the mainland, and has no developed road system. It is largely still unspoiled by civilization.  Even today it still has a frontier feel about it.  Even so, it has had to weather the effects of a garrison during WWII, a whale station in the 1950s, and threats of extensive mineral sand mining.  Here are some snippets from Moreton Island People …. 


         “I joined the Royal Australian Engineers during the Depression in 1932 and was stationed at Fort Lytton at the mouth of the Brisbane River.  It was an active garrison then and its six inch guns commanded a view of the entrance to Moreton Bay right up to Caloundra.  I remember there was a moat of water round the guns so that they couldn’t be taken from behind.  The ground was very swampy and the mosquitoes were bad – so bad, in fact, that the horses would drag their tethering pegs right out of the ground.  In 1939 when war was imminent, I was sent with the Engineers over to Cowan Cowan to build facilities for a garrison to be stationed there.  We firstly cut our own timber to build a bridge over the swamp behind Cowan, then constructed a rifle range where the land begins to rise to Mount Tempest.  I’ll bet it’s still there today because we made it out of ironbark.  It was backbreaking work shovelling sand.

         “Next we sank a well on the Cowan side of the swamp.  Up until then we depended for our fresh water on supplies brought down on the “Grazier”.  Washing was done in the bay with the sharks!  Then we constructed wooden towers to hold the corrugated iron tanks for the water, then ablution blocks for the showers.  We then cut stumps and had them sunk and levelled ready for pre-cut huts brought down on the “Grazier”.

         “Then the artillery and foot soldiers moved in to join us 120 engineers.  I remember we had Church Parade on Sundays conducted by Padre St.George from Sherwood.  Sickness was the only exemption, but one Sunday a few of us buzzed off and went for a walk along the beach.  We saw a lot of sharks in the water nearby and one of my mates fired off three quick shots at them.  The parade heard this and thought the island was being attacked.  The alarm was raised.  Needless to say, we were not very popular!

         “I was only on Moreton for 31 days after the war commenced.  The Engineers were transferred to the A.I.F. and we were mobilised to go overseas.  This involved being vaccinated with eight different needles.  However, I had an allergic reaction to one of these and contracted osteomyelitis. I was evacuated from Moreton to the Mater Hospital and then put in the Reserves.

         “During the war there was a huge camp for the American soldiers at Camp Cable near Tamborine.  I was driving cabs by then, and would charge £2 a head for the 45 minute trip to the Camp from Brisbane.  I would sleep the night in the cab outside the camp until 6 am when the next troops on leave would hire me to take them to Brisbane. It was very lucrative because the Americans gave a good tip, however in 1944 the tax office billed me for £400 being, in their estimation, the tax due on my undisclosed tips.  It took the shine off my income, but even so it helped me build my first house.”

Camp Cable Plaque

 Roy Gardner, Beachmere

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.