A Visit to Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island)

This week, as part of a group from the Redlands National Trust, I paid a visit to Goompi (Dunwich) on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). The ferry schedule was the only timetable I needed there, for at Minjerribah, everything goes by island time. Well perhaps I shouldn’t even call it time – it’s more a feeling of relaxation. For time stops at the jetty. 

Right across the road from the jetty is Goompi’s famous Cemetery which contains the graves of the ill-fated passengers and crew of the Emigrant who died of typhus in 1850; the graves of 8,000 of the former inmates of the Benevolent Asylum (Old Peoples Home); as well as Aborigines (First Nation People). People of all types in the cemetery made equal in death.

Dr Ballow and Dr Mitchell still overlooking the graves of their Emigrant cares

Nearby were the graves of John and Mary Cassim whom I wrote about in my recent post of 10.04.2021 (Where’s Toondah? – Part 2). And right next door, my personal connection to the cemetery, the grave of Dr Frank Carroll, who came to our rescue in 1978 when our daughter had a severe asthma attack in the middle of the night – twice.

The grave of Mary and John Cassim
The grave of Dr Frank Carroll

Our main quest however was a visit to the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum.

In 1992, I interviewed Ellie Durbidge for my proposed book ‘Moreton Bay People’. The following extract concerns her involvement with the setting up of the museum at Dunwich:

‘When the North Stradbroke Historical Museum Association was formed and incorporated, Ellie presented the museum with an aboriginal axe as its first catalogued exhibit.  Since then, they have started a day book which one day will be computerized. 

‘When the old Queensland museum was moving to its new premises at South Brisbane, the Association wrote to them asking for old shelving and metal cabinets for storage. After being palmed off by various departments, it went to the old building itself, selected its furniture, had it fumigated and took it away. By similar direct negotiations, the Association obtained cataloguing drawers from the Redland Shire Council, and exhibits such as a Convict‑built bed from the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, and an old telephone from the Post Office.  Then the museum asked the Earl of Stradbroke for permission to use his crest.  Not only did he consent, but he came for the opening and offered the use of videos about his family as a means of raising funds. 

‘With promises from the Redland Shire Council to restore a building given by Consolidated Rutile, and with the donation of a large private collection of aboriginal artifacts, the future success of the museum seems assured.’

The North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum

At the museum, there are a range of permanent displays about the Quandamooka people, convict history, shipwrecks and maritime history, the story of sandmining on the island, as well as lots of photos of the old fishing shacks, boats and buses that helped kick off the tourism industry on Minjerribah. There is also a room dedicated to sharing the story of the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum, and they have a range of photographs and documents to assist family historians.

After morning tea, Howard Gill gave a lecture about the island’s history. Here are the main points:

  • Aboriginal population prior to occupation estimated at 600-800 on Mulgumpin (Moreton Island) and 800 on Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island). BY the end of the 19th century total for both islands reduced to under 200
  • The convicts Pamphlett, Parsons, and Finnegan were cared for the Aborigines in 1823
  • A pilot station was established at Pulan Pulan (Amity) in 1825 and a garrison and trans shipping station at Goompi (Dunwich) in 1827
  • Armed conflict most prominent 1831-1932 led to the withdrawal of the garrison
  • Mulgumpin ‘cleared’ of Aborigines in 1847 with around 40 killings
  • Moongalba Mission established at Myora 1893 (came under Protection Act in 1897) closed 1943
  • Its residents moved to One Mile which in 2018 still lacks reticulated services

We then walked to the one remaining ward from the Benevolent Asylum (Ward 13) which was built in the 1890s. It is currently in the process of nomination to the Queensland Heritage Register. It will join Dunwich Hall, St Marks Church, and cemetery as State Heritage.

On our return walk to the ferry we glimpsed the convict built rock causeway and the privy pit – the only two remaining remnants of early convict occupation.

Rocks from the convict built causeway are still to be seen

Conveniently situated beside the jetty is the Little Ships Club where we had lunch and a beer while waiting for the ferry’s timetable to kick in and take us back to the mayhem of mainland life.

Incidentally, Minjerribah translates as place of mosquitoes, but I didn’t see any that day.

Early German Immigrants to the Moreton Bay Settlement – 7 – On the Darling Downs

The first German settlers were enticed to the Darling Downs in 1854. After Queensland’s separation from NSW, a continuous stream of assisted German emigrants flowed into the new colony, although there was a brief halt between 1866 and 1869.  From the 1850s onwards, the German Consul for Sydney, Wilhelm Kirchner, and the Hamburg merchant and emigration agent Johann Christian Heussler had succeeded in attracting settlers from Prussia, the Uckermark, Pomerania and Silesia, and to a lesser degree from Hesse, Baden, and Wurttemberg. Generous work contracts lured whole villages of peasants and tradesmen to Queensland. Each participant in the scheme was obliged to labour as a shepherd or boundary rider in the first instance.  Wages were high and paved the way for land purchases, often to the annoyance of the ‘squattocracy’. In due course the womenfolk followed from the old country to set up house in what was frequently little more than a crude slab hut with a bark roof and an earthen floor. 25

Slab hut at Templin Museum

Dalby, 27th December 1861:

Free travel is gladly arranged through the Gentlemen Heussler and Francksen and as you can see in the encl. every newcomer to our new Colony (Queensland) as from the 1st of January 1861 receives £2.

Ernst Magnus Wuth, M.D.

My address: Dalby, Darling Downs District

Queensland, Australia

The Darling Downs presented a slightly different aspect of German settlement. It became one of the regions with the largest number of German families, but began with unmarried men who were brought out under contract to work as shepherds

on the large pastoral leases between 1852 and 1855. Living frugally in remote parts of the runs, and with their rations provided, they were able to save more than some of less sober habits, so that when land became available for purchase around Toowoomba in the 1860s, many took it up.26


The Marbs and the Aurora, the first two immigrant ships to arrive at Moreton Bay (Brisbane) direct from Hamburg, brought almost 1000 German settlers, mainly from the Tauber River Valley in southern Germany. Arriving on 22nd March, they were more than a quarter of the year’s total immigration into what is now Queensland. There had been 47 deaths on the ships due to outbreaks of typhus, cholera and measles. Some passengers went to jobs in the Ipswich area, some to the Maryborough area, and many went to work in the Toowoomba district. The arrival of these settlers was due to Edward Lord, a storekeeper from Drayton on the Darling Downs, who pioneered the idea of encouraging German migration direct to Moreton Bay, rather than through the port of Sydney. He had been at a meeting of Darling Downs’ squatters and businessmen held on 21st July 1851 in the Bull’s Head Inn at Drayton*. This meeting decided to bring German workers direct to the Moreton Bay (Brisbane), rather than through Sydney. From October 1851 to July 1852 Lord, who had been educated in Germany, advertised in the Moreton Bay Courier, offering to landowners his services as an unofficial immigration agent. Wilhelm Kirchner, the Consul for Hamburg and for Prussia in Sydney, was not happy about Lord’s actions, as he was already the official German immigration agent for NSW (which still included Moreton Bay). Edward Lord’s 1854 trip to Germany promoting Queensland was a major factor in the emigration of the passengers of the Marbs and the Aurora

The Royal Bull’s Head Inn at Drayton

*The Royal Bull’s Head Inn, Drayton, south of Toowoomba. The original inn was built in 1848 and was replaced by the existing building in 1858. The first proprietor was William Horton and it was the location of the first Anglican service on the Darling Downs, conducted by Reverend Benjamin Glennie in 1848


25 Corkhill, Alan, op.cit.

26 Kleinschmidt, Robin; Ludlow, Peter; Tesch, Matthew: Queensland’s German Connections.

Beyond the Bay – 1 – Stourhead Revisited

Recently, I was asked to deliver a Cameo speech for my local Probus Club. I had been reflecting that it had been three long years since my last visit to the Stourhead Gardens in England’s West Country, so naturally, I welcomed the chance to share with my fellow members one of my favourite places in the world – in memory at least…

Stourhead’s bridge and Pantheon

I had long been intrigued by pictures in travel magazines of the Roman Pantheon incongruously nestling somewhere in England’s green and pleasant countryside, so it was a great surprise to find it at Stourhead when taken there by my English friends. Stourhead – another strange English placename – is located near the village of Stourton. It’s situated at the head of the River Stour – hence the name. Stourton takes its name from the Stourton family who had lived on the Stourhead estate for 500 years, until it was sold in the early 18thcentury firstly to the Mere family and then to the Hoare family.

The Hoare family had made a vast fortune out of the South Sea Bubble Crisis in 1719. Like so many wealthy English families of the day, they built an imposing manor house, but it is the gardens that attract the visitors today. The Hoare family dammed the River Stour to form an artificial lake and built the gardens around it. Following a path around the lake is meant to evoke a journey similar to that of Aeneas’s descent in to the underworld.  Also in the gardens are a number of structures inspired by scenes of the Grand Tour of Europe, which was fashionable among the wealthy at the time. Such structures include the Temple of Flora, dedicated to the Roman goddess of flowers and Spring, and a Gothic Cottage Summerhouse.

Stourhead Spring blossoms


Interior of the Gothic Summerhouse

Next the path leads to a Grotto. These grottos were popular in Italian Renaissance gardens as places of retreat from the summer heat. Stourhead’s Grotto is a circular, domed chamber built to resemble a cave. The Grotto recreates the scene from Virgil’s Aeneid in which Aeneas meets the nymphs and the River God and is shown the way to the Pantheon and the altar of Hercules.

The Grotto nymph

But it is the Pantheon that is the showcase of Stourhead.Inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, this structure was built in 1753-54. It’s the largest garden building at Stourhead. ‘Pantheon’ means a temple sacred to all the gods. The temple is filled with statues of classical deities, including a marble Hercules created by Rysbrack. The interior of Stourhead’s Pantheon, as were the other buildings in the garden, was modelled on the classical art of that time. 

The painting on which was based the Pantheon’s interior

Yet still the path beckons us on, across the dam to the Temple of Apollo, God of music and the arts.Then the path leads us back to the restaurant and lunch. Stourhead is a wonderful place to celebrate important occasions with long-time friends.

Stourhead is a wonderful place to celebrate a significant birthday
More Stourhead blossoms

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.

A gentleman in Moscow

 Fifty years ago this October, I briefly visited Moscow en route to the UK. There were signs that the cold war between East and West was slowly defrosting but even so I felt a sense of excitement just to be there: that I was infringing on an alien culture. I was staying at the Hotel Berlin on Red Square and the autumn cold was already seeping through the double glazed windows of my austere room. Outside, in Red Square an endless stream of Muscovites lined up outside the Lenin Mausoleum waiting their turn for a glimpse of their revolutionary hero; another line waited outside the GUM department store to shop; and at the far end of the square, St Basil’s Cathedral was undergoing restoration, though I was still able to enter and marvel at the holy icons adorning the walls of the many private chapels of the former Tsars and other Russian nobility.

St Basil’s Cathedral on Moscow’s Red Square. Undergoing restoration in 1968

The 1965 movie and hence the book of Boris Pasternak’s ‘Doctor Zhivago’ were still very much an influence on me then. For me, it helped to humanise the inhumanity that occurred during and after the Russian revolution; it was ordinary people tested in extraordinary times; it put the individual before the State – a fact that caused the Soviet Government to force Boris Pasternak to reject his Nobel Prize. 

The cover of Amor Towles 2016 book ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’

‘A Gentleman in Moscow’ is another life-affirming book full of humour and charm that brings together the profound, the political and the personal aspects of Soviet life during and after the revolution. In this case, the novel’s protagonist is Count Alexander Rostov, starting in Russia’s turbulent early 1920s and spanning 30 years. When the Count is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Having never worked a day in his life, he must now live in one room as history is being made outside.

Happily I now read that the book is soon to be made into a television adaption. Kenneth Branagh is to play the Count. I hadn’t imagined what the Count might have looked like, but Kenneth Branagh seems to be ideal. 

Moscow’s Metropol Hotel in 2018 (Google street view)

The Peel Island CyArk Project is now available online


Church interior, 1950s. Originally built by Melanesian patients, this was the main church on the island. Photo by Doctor Morgan Gabriel.

You may have heard of the Peel Island Lazaret CyArk webpage which is now available to the public. (For more information, I refer you to my previous blogs of 14.05.2016 – Digitising the Lazaret at Peel Island; 15.10.2016 – Click; and 07.03.2017 – Peel Island episode now available to view on BBC’s ‘Click’ )

You are welcome to view the page here: http://www.cyark.org/projects/peel-island-lazaret

However it requires the latest and fastest computers or it may take too long to load. My computer overheated but I did manage to view the attached photo which is described as ‘Church interior, 1950s. Originally built by Melanesian patients, this was the main church on the island.  Photo by Dr Morgan Gabriel.’

However, I think it is more likely the church interior was at Fantome Island and not Peel. Comparing the external and interior images, it is obvious that their dimensions do not coincide.

Peel Island Lazaret – c.1955 – Anglican Church. Photo by Doctor Morgan Gabriel.

Doctor Gabriel did visit both Peel and Fantome Islands as part of his medical duties, and as such did take both photos. However much later the church interior may have been mistaken by others for Peel and not Fantome.

Friends of Peel Island Invitation

Friends of PeelIsland Association Inc.

The Friends of Peel Island Association Inc, PO Box 9019, Cleveland DC, Qld, 4163 Email: friendsofpeel@gmail.com

 Come and Join  The Friends of Peel Island 

on  SATURDAY, 9th SEPTEMBER, 2017 

Fort Lytton National Park 
South Street, Lytton 
between 9:30am and 10:00am 

followed at 10:30am by 
“The History Behind the Horseshoe” 

Peter Ludlow, author historian, has been researching and writing about the unique history of Peel Island since 1977. With his PowerPoint presentation, Peter highlights Peel’s history including pre-European occupation, its use by Europeans and, in 2007, the Island being gazetted as a National Park and Conservation Park and the Lazaret Buildings being Heritage Listed.

The Friends of Peel Island Exhibition Room 
will be Open for Inspection following Peter Ludlow’s Presentation
also included will be

Entrance Ticket : $25.00 per person 

(Note: Bookings and Payment to be received in Advance by not later than close of business on Friday, 1 September, 2017)

 Cut along Line – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Name: ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Address: ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Email: ……………………………………………………………………………………..

Telephone: ………………………… Mobile: ……………………………………..

Number of People: …………………………………………………………………..

Amount Paid: …………………………………………………………………………..

To secure your booking please either: 

  • • Post the completed Booking Form to PO Box 9019, Cleveland DC 4163, together with your Cheque or Money Order made payable to “Friends of Peel Island Association”


  • • Email your details to “friendsofpeel@gmail.com” and make payment by way of direct deposit to our account at the Commonwealth Bank, BSB: 064-000 Account: 10649391

(If paying by direct deposit, please ensure your name is clearly indicated to identify your deposit)

Enquiries : Contact – Scott on 0407 934 147 or Email – friendsofpeel@gmail.com

Put up a Parking Lot

The Big Tree at Cleveland.

On my morning walk to Cleveland Point last week, I was surprised to see a new addition to the old Lion’s Club and former Schoolhouse Gallery in Linear Park. Although the building was familiar to me, I couldn’t place it, until when I drove home past the nearby RSL Club I noticed that the old building next door was missing. Of course! They have moved it (and demolished a shop next door) to make was for extra parking at the RSL Club. I am not really in favour of cars taking precedence over history, but at least, as I learnt in the local paper next week,  the 128 year old stationmaster’s cottage has now been preserved in a better historical spot for use by the Cleveland Community.

The former Station Master’s house arriving at its new home in Cleveland.