Life at Lota in the Early Days

Barrie Shrimpton writes…

(In your book ‘Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection’) mention is made of an old housing method of hessian bags sprayed or stuccoed with cement.  I remember a similar house at Lota made of the same material, but with the added material… flattened out kerosene tins.  If my memory serves me correctly, the last time I was down that way, the house is still standing, but has been “renovated” with an outer covering.  I wonder if the original hessian bags are now hidden?

I lived for a few years very close to the old sanitary depot at Lota, and I remember the smell of the tar they used to boil up to paint the pans with.  The house we rented had no electricity or reticulated water.  We had kero lamps, and tank water, a wood stove, and no bathroom, so we had to bath in a round galvanised tub in front of the fire… and as referred to in your book … the dirtiest went in last, and hope the water was still warm.  My brother and I used to walk from Lota to the Manly school every day along Whites Road which was then gravel.  The school headteacher was named Gould.

I remember old Dirty George and his camera.  I have a couple of group class photos he took at the Manly State School.  Dirty George hated anyone whistling, and the kids at school used to whistle if he was passing the school.  As they say, boys will be boys, and I remember one of my mates setting fire to the bush in which Dirty George had his humpy.  The fire wasn’t serious so his hut was spared.  Believe me, Dirty George’s hut was a patchwork quilt… made of everything.  One thing for sure, he was a good photographer, especially considering the gear he used.

The old boat that used to travel across Moreton Bay to the RKLM islands to pick up produce from the farms etc I remember seeing on many a clam day from the beach at Wynnum.  My wife and I and a couple of friends (before we were married) used to go to picnics on Coochiemudlo Island, and we remember (only) a couple of houses and farms (being there). Quite often we would be the only ones on the beach … it is a different story now.  The flying boats landing and taking off were great to watch.

I mention before closing that my parents owned a shop on the beach at Sandgate (below the Brighton Hotel). It was a real goer until the Hornibrook Highway opened, then all the traffic went past.  I remember we sold a billycan of hot water for 6d (5cents) to picnickers so they could make tea.

My wife and I spent part of our honeymoon on Bribie Island, when to get there meant a gravel road from near Caboolture, and then over on the old barge, then more gravel and earth roads. Boy, what a difference today.

Lota House built from 1856 by William Duckett White still remains today as a reminder of Lota’s early history.

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay Letters’ Peter Ludlow 2003)