With Adrian Dalgarno
After World War II the postal address of the Still Water side residents became known as Bongaree, aboriginal for calm waters, and the Ocean Beach became Woorim.
The hotel at Ocean Beach was started just before the war. Original owners were the Goodwins, two Irish brothers, Pat and John, and their sister. It was a fibro construction with a bar, a road separating their enterprise from the guest house of Bill Shirley.
Adrian recalls these post war years: “Boronia grew in the middle of the island in a swampy area called the Plains, and in spring my aunt, uncle and myself used to walk miles there collecting these beautiful purple and blue wildflowers as well as wattle, white cauliflower plants etc. We’d take huge bunches of them tied up in cellophane on the bus to the jetty and sell them to passengers returning on the “Koopa”. We could never get enough. These days, picking wildflowers is prohibited, which is probably not a bad idea, but in those days, it was considered acceptable.
“The Plains were also plentiful with staghorns and elkhorns and my uncle and I would carry an extension ladder in and collect them to hang around the house. My Uncle was a pretty keen gardener and we’d go down to the creek and collect peat, bring it home, break it up and mix with cow manure from Bestmann’s farm in a 44 gallon drum. After fermenting for a week it would grow huge lettuce.
“Bribie sits on a water table, twelve to fifteen feet down (four to five metres), and they’d just use a spear hand pump to collect water in a 44 gallon drum. As kids we used to pump like mad and if you didn’t, you’d get your backside kicked, or for a good job you’d get a penny (one cent). Eventually my uncle got a motor to pump his water.”
There was a fish and chips Café right on the beach next to the “Koopa”‘s jetty. At high tide the water would come up right under the decking. When the “Koopa” docked, old Mrs. Richardson would come out on the verandah with a large bell, ring it feverishly, and call out to the disembarking passengers about her fish and chips. They would flock in for a fresh fish meal. They would savour big slabs of mullet or cod in thick yellow batter with a big plate of chips, while all around the walls were pictures of huge grouper which had been caught up the Passage.
Another enterprise profiting from the visits of the “Koopa” belonged to Ted Shields. He had a 35 foot boat, the “Marlin”, in which he used to take fishing parties up the Passage schnappering. He had a landing on the side of the “Koopa”‘s jetty, and many people went over on the “Koopa” specifically to go on his schnappering trips. Taking a large catch back to Brisbane presented some difficulties as there was no refrigeration on the “Koopa”. The catch had to be preserved by gutting the fish, rubbing salt into the backbone, then hanging them in the shade in the breeze under the afterdeck awning on hooks provided by the “Koopa” for the three and a half hour journey back to Brisbane.
“The “Koopa” could hold up to 1100 people on board, but the average number was about 700. She had a large dining room which would cater for functions such as wedding breakfasts. Captain Jones dressed formally, and we kids used to try to catch his eye on the jetty. If we were lucky, we got a trip up to the wheel house, but if we were told to beat it, we did so quickly.”
After the war the “Koopa” service to Bribie was re‑commenced, but the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Co didn’t want to make a go of it so they sold it to another company. However, after four or five years the venture failed. The “Koopa” eventually became part of the wall in Boggy creek.
Later, Hayles “Mirana” took over the run to Bribie as well as to Dunwich. In the interim, however, Frank Duffield started running three boats from Scarborough, one of which was the “Tivoli”. They were all 35 to 40 footers and ran on Friday nights. There was also a run on Saturday and on Sunday, where it picked up what the “Koopa” and later the Hayles boats had left behind. These Scarborough boats used the military, or army, jetty on the south end of Bribie. The Hornibrook Bus service ran a coordinated bus service to link up with them from the Sandgate station. They were rough old boats, with just a wheel house and enough wooden seats to hold about forty people.
“As well as myself, one regular Friday night passenger was Father William Frawley from the De La Selle College at Redcliffe. He had done a lot of work in the islands, and dressed in khaki padre gear. He conducted religious services in a hut on Ocean Beach ‑ not only for Catholics but for anyone who wished to attend. A big Alsatian dog always travelled with him which people referred to as God.
“As we got older (I was about 18) my mother had returned to Bribie to live. I, my best friend and my fiancee, went down to Bribie every weekend. They were student teachers, & I was a clerk. None of us had much money & we used to jump on the “Mirimar” at North Quay, buy a bag of fresh cooked prawns or if the money didn’t run to prawns, some cut ham and rolls, at 6 pm on a Friday after work and at 9.30 on the dot, she’d get to Bribie. Sometimes it would call to the Redcliffe Jetty.
“At Bribie, the buses would be waiting ‑ one did a run around the streets on the Passage side and the other on the Ocean Beach side. The Friday night regulars on the “Mirimar” religiously kept to their own groups: there was our group, the bowlers’ group, the life‑savers group, the fishing club’s group, then there was the odds and sods’ group and each group all had their particular place on the boat ‑ except at holiday times.”