Early Residents of Cleveland – George and Robert Burns

William Edward Burns (Senior) was born in Stockport, England in 1858, and at the age of 16 he migrated to Australia. He later married Elizabeth Caroline Shire and they settled on a farm at Burns Flat, Mount Cotton. (This is just down the opposite side of the road from where the Sirromet winery is presently situated).

Much later, they moved to live at Cleveland (opposite the present Star of the Sea Church). They had nine children, two girls, Elizabeth and Florence, and seven sons, three of whom – Fred, Bob, and Sam – were described as having a ‘larrikin’ streak in them, while their other brothers were very ‘straight laced’. 2

The Burns Family Back row: on left Bob, on right Frederick Middle row: from left 1st Charles, 5th George (Identified only by age and appearance)
The Cleveland Farm of William Edward Burns (Junior)

Of the Burns brothers, George William, a carpenter then aged 29, and Robert Wallace, a farmer aged 21, enlisted for service in the AIF on 24 January 1916 and they were given the service numbers of 5303 and 5304 respectively. Their rate of pay was then 5/- (50 cents) per day. Both enrolled as Privates in the 25th Battalion and embarked for active service from Brisbane aboard HMAT ‘Itonus’ A50 on 8 August 1916.

The last time his father saw George was when he was driven on his brother’s bicycle down to the Cleveland Central train station to join the AIF, for George died on 11 March 1917 of wounds received in action while fighting on the Western Front in France and is buried in the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Dernancourt, Picardie, France. He posthumously received the British War Medal, and Victory Medal.

Robert’s fate was more fortunate. After serving in France and Belgium, he returned to Australia 1 July 1919 and settled back to life as a farmer. Bob’s farm was situated in Cleveland between Queen, Middle, and Island Streets).

Sources of information:

(1) National Archives of Australia

(2) Keith Burns (son of Sam Burns)

(3) Betty Burns (wife of Doug Burns, one of William Burns Senior’s grandchildren)

The Lighthouses of Cleveland Point

On a site at the tip of Cleveland Point stood the original Cleveland light. Originally placed there in 1847, it was little more than a wooden pole holding a kerosene lamp. The pole was erected at the expense of Francis Bigge on the understanding that the Government would provide the oil and a person to look after the light. This job fell to the local police constable who looked after it, cleaned the lamp, lit it every night, took it down every morning, and stored it by day in a small sentry box at the base of the pole. To do this, he had to walk half a mile (0.8 k.) each morning and night. However primitive this may have seemed, the light served its purpose of guiding rafters and sailors moving between Brisbane and the Logan Rivers for 17 years.

This light was replaced in 1864 by the more substantial wooden tower (now relocated, as a memorial, to the SW corner of the Cleveland Point reserve). Alfred Winship, the local Customs House officer and first postmaster at Cleveland, was appointed the first keeper of the new lighthouse. He was replaced by James Troy in 1877. Troy was a carpenter and had been employed at Francis Bigge’s sawmill on Cleveland Point. When the mill was demolished in 1867, he had used some of the bricks to construct a new home for himself and his family midway along Cleveland Point. From here, he and his family tended the light at Cleveland lighthouse, morning and evening, from1877 until 1926, thus creating an Australian record in lighthouse keeping for one family. During this period, the illuminant was changed from kerosene to acetylene gas.

From 1927 until 1951 the lighthouse was tended by Charles Klemm. The illuminant was changed to electricity in1934. The wooden lighthouse remained in use until the laser light was commissioned in 1976.

Lighthouse Cleveland Point c1954

The wooden lighthouse remained in use until the laser light was commissioned on the same spot in 1976. The wooden lighthouse was moved to its present site.

Laser light, Cleveland Point

Perhaps, by 2009, and due to bay craft having their own navigation systems, a working lighthouse on Cleveland Point was deemed unnecessary, for in that year it was removed to make way for a movie set, the third in the Narnia series, ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’. Watching the filming was a great interest to locals.

‘Dawn Treader’ at Cleveland Point 2009

After the removal of the ‘Dawn Treader’ at the end of filming, the Point was relanscaped and the old lighthouse renovated as a tourist attraction. The only working lighthouse today remains the Lighthouse Restaurant – where locals and patrons come from all over Brisbane and beyond to enjoy a cup of coffee or a seafood meal.

Lighthouse Restaurant, Cleveland Point

First Steam Trains to Cleveland (submitted by Ian Kirk)

Thomas Kirk was born on 30 September 1858 in Osnaburgh, parish of Dairsie, Fifeshire, Scotland. He sailed on the “Maulesden” from the Tail o’the Bank, Glasgow on 1 march 1883 and landed at white cliffs, Fraser Island (near where Kingfisher Bay resort now stands) via River Heads near Maryborough, Queensland on 12 May 1883 this was, at that time, the fastest voyage by a sailing vessel from Glasgow to Queensland.

After the death of his first wife, Marjorie in 1886, Thomas at 36 years old married Annie Marian Chappell, 31 years old from Sheffield, England. Annie had arrived in Queensland on the RSM “Jumna” on 6 April 1887. They were married in Brisbane on 17 March 1890. 

Thomas Kirk was employed as an engine driver for the Queensland Railways, and when the railway line to Cleveland was opened on 1 November, 1889, Thomas Kirk was the first engine driver. 

Thomas Kirk and fireman with their steam engine (photo courtesy Ian Kirk)

Thomas and Annie Kirk lived at 151 Shore Street, Cleveland.   This house still stands next to the old courthouse (now a restaurant). The Kirks had six children.

The Kirk’s house “Craigie Lea” next to today’s Court House restaurant c.1890

(Editor: The name “Craigie Lea” was probably derived from the popular Scottish song of the 19th century “Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigie-Lea”)

Accident on the Cleveland line – a narrow escape!

‘An engine drawing the 9.15am train from Melbourne Street broke down badly near Wellington Point at about 10.40am today (writes our Cleveland correspondent under Saturday’s date). Both driving rods are broken, and the boiler is much injured by the revolving of the broken rods at a great rate. Driver Kirk and fireman Smith were uninjured. Later further inquiries and inspection show that in the breakdown of the engine on the Cleveland railway line on Saturday morning there was but a very narrow escape from a most serious accident which could scarcely have failed to be attended by loss of life. The first driving rod broke at the top of a down grade of 1 in 70, a t the bottom of which there is a wooden bridge, a waterway over 20ft deep, approached by an embankment. Down this grade for about 200 yards the train raced, as for some moments the brakes were useless, owing to the escaping steam and water rendering the rails asslippery as ice. The guard B.Finaldi, however, stuck to his brake expecting the engine and tender to be derailed every moment, as did also driver Kirk.

‘As at every revolution of the wheels the two pieces of broken shaft struck everything within their compass, at the same time propping on the sleepers, fairly lifting the engine on that side. So that it was almost certain to topple over on one side down the embankment. Just as the train was slowing, through the brakes beginning to act, the second driving rod broke, but did not do much damage on that side. The fireman Smith, received a knock on the head from a piece of wood, a portion of the cab, and was knocked back into the tender on to the coals. Kirk’s pluck in sticking to his post at the risk of his life is beyond all praise, and can quickly be realised on an inspection of the engine. By the time the relieving engine arrived from town, the broken shafts had been removed by Kirk, and the disabled engine was shunted at Wellington Point, and later in the day drawn up to Brisbane.  There were only eight or ten passengers in the train at the time of the breakdown, and they received a considerable fright.  This is the third engine that has broken down on the Cleveland line this month.

‘In the first case, after the arrival of the 5.30pm train at Cleveland, and as the engine was being shunted into the shed for the night, she sprang a leak in the firebox, and in a few moments all the water was out into the fire. In the second case, an engine broke down at Manly station on the Prince of Wales birthday holiday, and disarranged the traffic for the day.’

Cleveland railway station 1950 (Raby Bay and Ormiston are in the background)

Cleveland newspaper report-June 1910

‘Cleveland school of arts on Saturday night, the 16 June 1910, a very pleasant evening was spent, the occasion being a gathering of the residents to bid farewell to Mr. and Mrs. T. Kirk, the first railway people stationed there; Mr. Kirk having driven the first engine to Cleveland in 1889, where he had resided up to the present date. Between two and three hundred people were present to meet them and their family. During the evening Mr.L.Hugonin, speaking on behalf of the residents, and with much pride, presented Mr. Kirk with a most handsome clock, on which was inscribed: “presented to T.Kirk from the well-wishers and friends of Cleveland 16.7.10”, remarking that he hoped it would keep as good time as he (Mr. Kirk) had always done. He likened his leaving to a tree losing one of its best branches and said that although new branches might come in its place, they would never be like the old one. Mr. Hugonin brought in a touch of humour bysaying that he had always found that Mr. Kirk was a very conscientious worker, taking for example the time of political excitement – he carried both friends and foes alike to town in his train instead of dumping his foes in some lonely spot on the way -but instead of that he was glad to say there had never been one single accident on the Cleveland line during Mr. Kirk’s 21 years running. Mrs. Kirk was presented with a beautiful silver tea and coffee service with her initials engraved on, in token of the high esteem in which she had been held amongst them all. Mr. Danaber, head station master, spoke on behalf of the railway, saying thathe felt that it was with regret that the occasion had arisen to part with his fellow workman, as both in his public capacities and as a private citizen he had never met with a more valued and esteemed friend, and on resuming his seat he wished Mr. and Mrs. Kirk and family all god speed. In replying, Mr. Kirk said he could not find words to express his appreciation of the great honour done to him at this great event of his life as he had only tried to do his duty and was quite overcome at the extent of their generosity both to himself, his wife and family, and heartily thanked them all. He said that what gave him most pleasure was to see the great gathering of fellow residents to do him so great an honour on his leaving them, stating that it was not for any gain or advancement for himself that he had taken this step, but having a young family to bring forward, their interests had to be put before his own. Both he and his wife, for their parts, would prefer to have remained where they were, having a great affection for Cleveland and its people. He said he did not need the clock to remind him of the days gone by but it would always remind him of a milestone passed on the way. He then thanked them on behalf of his wife, for the valuable present given to her, and said he knew for a fact that no-one could make better tea, but even hers might be the better for coming out of agood silver pot and he hoped that one and all would visit them in their new home, “Clevedene ” at Gladstone Road, Highgate Hill, and sample it.

‘A splendid programme was carried through including several songs, a recitation good music and dancing, and refreshments served, which reflected great credit on the working committee chosen for the occasion. At the conclusion of the evening all hands were clasped and voices joined in singing the favourite song of “Auld Lang Syne”.’

Annie Kirk died in Goodna Mental Hospital on 30 July 1922 aged 58 years old. Thomas Kirk died in Brisbane on 14 September 1942, 84 years old. The old Cleveland rail line closed in 1963.

Ian Kirk, October 2006

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Reflections

The Kirk’s former home “Craigie Lea” as it appeared in 2014

‘Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigie-Lea

Thou Bonnie Wood of Craigie-Lea

Near thee I pass’d life’s early day,

And won my Mary’s heart in thee…’

Kate Millar’s Cleveland – Part 2

After dad’s accident, I became literally dad’s ‘right hand man’. Of an afternoon, I used to have to go up on my pushbike to Raby Bay train station, which was situated down a little dirt road that went down towards the water from where the Sands Hotel is now. I used to meet the rail motor from Manly, which used to get in about 5.15 in the afternoon, and pick up the bundle of “Telegraph” newspapers. Then I’d have to do a paper run on my bike to deliver them. One of my first deliveries was to the Sands Hotel, which at that stage was under Thurhect’s management. I used to take the paper in to the hotel and front up to the bar for a ‘double sars’. After I’d had my drink at the bar, I’d get on my bike and do the paper run which went all around the Raby Bay area, then down Middle Street, Oyster Point, and then along Cleveland Point. I’d always end the run in the darkness of night. All I had for a light was a battery-operated torch that fitted in a holder between the handlebars. On one occasion, near the Police Station that was then situated near the Cenotaph, I was riding up towards Oyster Point and passed a beautiful old Queenslander home that belonged to the Ramsey family. The house was next door to the bakery of G.W.Walters – where all our bread came from. Actually all the houses in that area were owned by G.W.Walters and were used by the employees of his bakery. In those days, Cleveland was owned by virtually just a couple of people. 

Just up from the bakery was the Hospital where, much later in my life, I was to give birth to three of my children. It was a private hospital that handled general patients as well as maternity cases. I remember the Matron during my time because her name was Ray Rae. Sister Hutton was the Sister there. My youngest son, Anthony, was born in 1952 at Whepstead Manor at Wellington Point, which at that stage was a Convalescent Home. Doctor Foxton delivered Anthony there. 

Now in those days, cattle were free to roam the streets, and the Wallace family-owned cows near where our shop was. There was a well in a fenced off area near our shop just off Shore Street, which had a hand pump on it so that water could be pumped up for the cattle to drink from. Anyway, on this particular night, just near the Church of England, I was pedalling along like mad with my head down, and with only this little feeble light to guide me, when ‘Bang!’ I ran into a cow. The light went one way, the bike went one way, the cow went one way, and I sat there bellowing in the middle of the road. Nobody came to rescue me, but it was something I never forgot. 

Right next door to our house was the show grounds. Every July there was an annual show there, and all the farmers in the district would bring along their agricultural produce, and they also had the dog show, and chooks. It was at this time too that the schools’ sports were held. The hall from the old show ground was later moved to its new site in the present showground in Smith Street. 

During World War II, members of the VDF (Volunteer Defence Force) used to meet at our shop and practice their Morse Code, with dad sitting at the head of the table. Some of them had been issued with rifles, but there were not enough to go round. When the Centaur was sunk, some of our fishermen went over to Moreton Island to help. 

After the war, the Robinson family started a Devonshire teahouse at what is now the Old Courthouse Restaurant. They had a house next door that was right on the water and had a shark proof bathing enclosure where people could go and swim. The Old Courthouse was also used for accommodation and one family who stayed there was the Dingles. However, during the war one of its occupants was a lady who, while her husband was away in the war, had local tongues wagging when she entertained the American soldiers on leave.

Bobby Fitzjohn used to bring his boat, the Karboora, across from Stradbroke Island. Alfie Martin was the engineer. Many of the Stradbroke Islanders used to catch the Karboora over to Paxton Street, and then get the train up to Brisbane. They used to call into our shop, which was next to the station. Dad had a lot of dealings with the Perry Brothers who were Aboriginal oysterers on Stradbroke who would put them through the Fish market opposite the Old Court House. Dad used to get orders for the oysters that they supplied. These had to be filled at particular times, but for one reason or another, supplies were not always available on time. 

Originally, there was no jetty at Paxton Street, and before the Fish market was built there, the fisherman would bring their catches to dad at the shop and he would take them up to the Fish Markets in Stanley Street in Brisbane. 

When dad had his accident and lost his arm, the people in the district took up a collection for him, and with the money, dad built a trailer that he took up to the markets in Brisbane. 

When the Cleveland fish depot was completed, dad went in to manage it. We had sold the shop by this stage, and had built a house in Paxton Street where we then lived. They built the condenser tower at the side towards the back. At the back of the cold room were the tanks where dad would make large blocks of ice. In between the cold room and the front office was ‘Leaping Leena’- the machine that kept the cold room and everything going. Dad used to have to top it up every now and then with ammonia. When it was time for dad to have a holiday, it was difficult to find someone to take his place because dad knew ‘Leaping Leena’ like the back of his hand, and he could do anything with it to keep it going – even though he had never any experience in refrigeration! 

Kate Millar in later life as a school teacher in Cleveland (photo courtesy Kate Millar)

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

Kate Millar’s Cleveland – Part 1

My dad was Peter Millar. He met my mother – a McQuillan – while living at Galloway’s Hill. Her father had a dairy farm at Cannon Hill, and he worked very hard to have a school established in the area. When mum was 13 her mother died and being the eldest of 8 children, she had to look after them. After their marriage and when I was 13 months old, dad and mum moved down to Cleveland. They rented a shop just near the railway station at the Paxton Street Jetty. A lot of the property down from the Grand View Hotel was owned by a Mrs. Rooney. Mum and dad eventually built on the corner of Little Shore and Paxton Street (the building is still there today). 

During World War II, when many American forces were stationed in Brisbane, many American personnel used to come down to Cleveland on weekend leave. They’d arrive by train at the station at the back of our shop. The Americans would head for the Grand View Hotel, where they’d stay for the weekend and have a good time. The proprietors of the Grand View Hotel at that time were Banko and Bair. 

George Lippincott (American serviceman) with me and my sister Ruth. The building in the background is our shop. (photo courtesy Kate Millar)

One day, an American serviceman, George Lippencott, came into our shop and asked mum and dad if they knew of someone who would give him a bed for the weekend. George was on General Douglas Macarthur’s staff, and was based in the AMP Building in Brisbane. George, being a Christian who didn’t drink alcohol, did not wish to join his mates at the Grand View Hotel. After talking it over, my parents offered him a bed at our place. We had a newspaper run and sometimes George would go out on the run to deliver papers for dad. 

George was a devout Christian and he used to attend the Methodist Church here in Cleveland. Actually, he donated a crucifix to them. I think it is still there, but no longer on display in the church. George used to attend the church every Sunday that he was able. After the war, when he was leaving to go back home to America, he told mum that he had bought himself a pair of binoculars so he could watch the coast of Queensland until it was no longer visible. Mum corresponded with him after the war. His parents had a garden cemetery in Baltimore called Sunset Memorial Park. 

There was an American Army camp at Victoria Point and, praise the Lord that they were there, because when dad had an accident and lost his arm, they were there to help. Dad had a utility truck and used to go into Brisbane once a week on Thursdays to get groceries for the shop from a company called QCT (Queensland Country Traders). He also went to the markets in Roma Street to get fresh produce. However, on this particular day, he also had with him granddad and a crabber, Bill Austin. The Austin Brothers were fisherman from our district. Granddad liked to have a drink – and so did Bill Austin – but dad could take it or leave it. On the way back to Cleveland, on the old Cleveland Road where it intersects with Creek Road, dad’s utility was side swiped by another coming in the opposite direction. Dad used to drive with his arm out the window, and unfortunately it was torn off. Fortunately, though, there was an army convoy coming up from Victoria Point, and they had a doctor who was able to render immediate assistance. He was then taken to the Mater Hospital. It was late in the afternoon, and I can still see our phone in the shop (it was mounted on the wall then) – our number was Cleveland 27 – and I can still see mum in my mind’s eye standing at the phone taking the call. She was a very brave woman. When dad did come back to work in the shop again, the local kids were very intrigued by his new appearance. 

“What happened to your arm, Mr. Millar?” 

“Well, I was driving along, and it just fell off, so if you can find it can you let me know.” 

He had all the kids in the district looking for his arm.

Peter Millar with his children (photo courtesy Kate Millar)

Stories from Stradbroke Island – 1 – The Lost Beer Keg

A beer keg similar to that lost by the Buffaloes.

The kegs were being loaded at Cleveland on a wet and windy Friday night onto the Flirt to be consigned to the Buffaloes’ Stradbroke Lodge. One keg had been carried down the stairs of the Paxton Street Jetty and placed on the landing prior to being loaded. The other keg was being carried down the steps when the carrier slipped in the wet conditions and the keg he was carrying knocked the first keg, so that both kegs finished in the Bay. The Lodge advertised to let it be known that finders could have the contents as long as the Lodge got the kegs back, because there was a £7 deposit on each keg. One was returned very promptly but the other remained missing for some time until a party returning from Cleveland to Dunwich found the keg embedded on Cassim Island and which had been exposed by a very low tide. The contents were said to be in good condition.

Story by Ben Coghill, Dunwich

(Extract from Peel Island History – A personal Quest)

Moreton Bay Mysteries -1- The Grand View Hotel’s ‘lost’ cellar

‘Lost’ things intrigue me. They challenge me to find them again.  It may be as simple as locating my wife’s glasses (a plea always issued as I stand holding the front door open while waiting to go out) or as complex as rescuing a ‘lost’ soul for their redemption (I’m no so good at that one). But locating a ‘lost’ cellar in our local pub is a different matter altogether. That really stirs my imagination. How could this happen? How could a cellar be isolated in such a way? Was it fully stocked? If so, the whiskey must be well matured by now. And why hasn’t anyone bothered to find it? 

Grand View Hotel

These questions surfaced again recently when, with a tinge of nostalgia, I heard that my local pub has been sold to a ‘Southern Conglomerate’ (what a cold, unfriendly term that is). The hotel has been a venue for some of my book launches and history presentations – the last most recently as this month. The Grand View Hotel boasts the title of Queensland’s oldest licensed pub still in operation. Its long history, by Australian pub standards anyway, dates back to 1851 when it was known as the Brighton Hotel. The Brock family has owned it since 1992, when the Brocks renovated and researched its history. It was then that the tale of the ‘lost’ underground cellar emerged.  The hotel was remodelled into its present form sometime before 1900. Perhaps it was then that the cellar was ‘lost’. I wonder if the new owners will renovate again. Perhaps the cellar will finally be recovered.

Stories from Cleveland (New exhibits at the Redlands RSL Library and Museum)

The Redlands RSL Library and Museum

For anyone visiting Cleveland who is interested in war memorabilia, the Redlands RSL Library and Museum is well worth a look (even if you have just lost all your money at their ‘pokies’ across the road).

There are several new exhibits if you haven’t called in recently:

Just inside the entrance, is a cabinet that contains the memorabilia of Kevin George Conway, Sergeant Temporary Warrant Officer Class 2, 13097 – Australian Army Training Team (RAINF), who was killed in action 6 July 1964. Kevin was the first Australian killed in the Vietnam War. 52 years after his death he was returned to the Redlands and buried in an official service at the Cleveland Cemetery in front of family, friends, Federal and State Government, Redland City Council, Redlands RSL, and Vietnam Veterans representatives.

It was the fourth and final resting place for Warrant Officer Conway whose body was previously exhumed in Vietnam and then twice in Singapore.

Warrant Officer Conway was the only Australian serviceman attached to a United States Special Forces team A-726 at Camp McBride in Nam Dong.

The contents of the cabinet have now been donated by his niece Kathy Woodford

The Memorial cabinet to Kevin Conway

The museum also now contains a dedicated WWI room. Its newest exhibits are devoted to animals who served in the war:

‘Medical Dog’ mock up in the Museum’s WWI Room

‘Gas Mask Dog’ mock up in the Museum’s WWI Room

The mask shown here is only one of two still remaining in the world.

‘Tank Dog’ mock up in the Museum’s WWI Room

The Russians had trained their dogs, which were fitted with explosives, to hide under the enemy’s tanks whereupon they would be detonated. They had trained the dogs on their tanks which were diesel driven. However, the German tanks were petrol driven, and the dogs preferred the smell of diesel to petrol. The experiment literally backfired!