Stories from Peel Island – 6 (Quarantine – T.J.Ives)

Stories from Peel Island – 6 (Quarantine – T.J.Ives)

Horseshoe Bay’s Mystery Grave

There was one grave on Peel Island, which caused quite a deal of comment. This was situated at Horseshoe Bay just above the high water mark. Inscribed simply with the initials T.J. and bearing the date 1802, the markings on the wooden cross seemed to indicate that the grave could only have been that of a crewmember of one of Matthew Flinders’ exploring trips of that year. However, Tom Welsby was later to hear from one of the elderly residents at Amity Point that the real date had been 1892 and that one of the Amity locals had changed the date by chiselling out part of the 9, thus making it a 0. In actual fact, the grave was that of T.J.Ives, a comedian and actor from Islington in London. He had travelled in the Oroya from London to Sydney, and thence in the Buninyong for Brisbane to fulfil an engagement there. Before reaching his destination, however, he and the 120 other passengers on the Buninyong were quarantined at Peel after a smallpox suspect had been reported from the Oraya.  Ives developed the disease and died aged 32 after being in Queensland only a fortnight. He was buried at Peel in the grave that was later to be the subject of a local’s sense of humour. Perhaps he would have appreciated the joke that fooled everyone for so long.

Source: Tom Welsby, Brisbane Courier 1923. 

Ives’ Grave at Horseshoe Bay (Harold ‘Sandy’ Cowell)

In the early 1990s, on one of my visits at Peel to stay with Ray Cowie, the Redland Shire Council’s Ranger there. I was surprised when he produced a large metal hoop that he had found hanging on a tree branch just behind the sand dunes to the eastern end of Horseshoe Bay. I immediately recognised it as the ship’s fitting that had been attached to the grave of T.J.Ives, whom I had written about in 1988 for my book “Peel Island, Paradise or Prison”.  We surmised that a bushfire had destroyed the wooden cross, causing the metal hoop to fall to the ground, where it would have lain for many years until a boatie picked it up and hung it off a nearby tree. Ray showed me where he had found the metal hoop, and we searched around on the ground beneath the tree on which it had been hung, hoping to find some evidence of the grave, (e.g. a coral border or a Lilly as shown in the picture) but to no avail. The grave site still remains a mystery.

Reminders of Peoples Past – 01 – John Oxley

John Oxley and his memorial at Redcliffe

21 years after Matthew Flinders’ journey to Moreton Bay, Surveyor John Oxley was dispatched from Sydney in the Mermaid in November 1823 to find s spot for a new penal depot. When he cast anchor at Point Skirmish on Bribie Island on 29th November, he was surprised to be met by a white man, Thomas Pamphlett, who was living with the natives there.

(With John Finnegan, Richard Parsons and John Thompson, Pamphlett had set out from Port Jackson for the Five Islands [Illawarra] to cut cedar. Blown north by a storm in which Thompson died, the boat was wrecked on the outer shore of Moreton Island. After some hardships, mitigated by help from Aborigines, they crossed to the mainland. Believing themselves south of Sydney they had sought a northward route homewards. Aborigines again helped them with food and directions during which they had crossed a large river.)

On the day following Oxley’s meeting with Thomas Pamphlett at Bribie, John Finnegan returned to Point Skirmish from a hunting trip, and on 1st December accompanied Oxley and his crew in the Mermaid when they set sail to explore Moreton Bay further. Oxley landed at Redcliffe Point on December 2nd 1823. This he chose as the site for the new penal depot as there was plenty of fresh water, fertile soil and plenty of timber for building.

Oxley also explored the inlet to the north of Redcliffe Point which he named Deception Bay (Oxley originally thought the bay was a river which he named Pumice Stone River. Later, when he discovered his mistake, he changed the name to Deception Bay.)

As well as exploring the western part of Moreton bay, Oxley sailed 80 kilometres up the river that Pamphlett had described (and which Flinders had missed). This he named the Brisbane River in honour of the NSW Governor Brisbane, who had sent him on this mission.



Reminders of Peoples Past – 00 – Matthew Flinders

27.01.2018 – Reminders of Peoples Past – 00 – Matthew Flinders

In the following few months, I will be looking at just a few of the people who helped form the communities that now make up our Northern Moreton Bay Region – and how we remember them today. When explorer John Oxley recommended Redcliffe Point as the site for a settlement, he ushered in a great influx of immigrants. Here, I highlight the lives and influences of those who followed him and who called the region home.

Flinders is rowed ashore to Bribie Island (inset: Bungaree (on left) Flinders (on right)
from a painting by nautical artist Don Braben.

The first European to enter Moreton Bay was Lieutenant Matthew Flinders in the sloop Norfolk on Sunday 14th July 1799. He was on an expedition to explore the coast from Port Jackson (Sydney) north to Hervey Bay. At eight in the evening the anchor was dropped in seven fathoms (42 feet or 12.8 metres) at the entrance of Glass House Bay (Moreton Bay), Cape Moreton bearing ESE two or three miles (3.2 to 4.8 kilometres).

On 16 July 1799, Flinders left Glass House Bay about two miles (3.2 kilometres) east of the shore in the Norfolk. He sailed south-west between Moreton Island and the mainland parallel to the southern shore of Bribie Island until spotting an opening in the low western shore. He anchored at 8:15am and transferred to a smaller craft with a small crew and Bungaree, a Port Jackson Aborigine he had brought with him.

Flinders 1799 map of Moreton Bay
Modern day map of Moreton Bay

He landed on Bribie Island unaware that it wasn’t the mainland and met a small group of Aborigines who had gathered on the beach. Although Bungaree didn’t speak the same dialect as the local aborigines the meeting was peaceful until one attempted to remove Flinders’ hat. Flinders refused and the Europeans and Bungaree returned to their boat. As they left the man threw a spear that missed the small boat and crew. Flinders fired his musket and wounded the man. The Aborigines fled the beach. Flinders named the southern shore and site of the confrontation Point Skirmish (South Point)

Flinders needed to repair leaks in his boat and pulled it ashore some five miles (8.0 kilometres) north of the area he had the incident with the locals for those repairs. Once his boat was repaired he explored the mainland side of the passage (Pumicestone Passage) and scaled one of the Glass House Mountains (Mt. Beerburrum) to get a view of the area.

The Norfolk then sailed southwards in the bay and on Wednesday 17th July Flinders landed at what we know as Woody Point. Flinders placed the name ‘Red cliff Point’ on the south-eastern part of the Peninsula on his chart of Moreton Bay. His sloop Norfolk had been anchored 1.5 miles off that part of the Peninsula and his men had rowed him to a landing place somewhere near the present Woody Point Jetty.

From Red Cliff Point he pulled over to a green head (Clontarf Point) about two miles to the westward. There he found an aboriginal humpy, and observed tracks of dogs (dingoes) kangaroos and emus on the beach. Flinders took away with him a large aboriginal fishing net and in its place left a tomahawk.

For the next few days, Flinders and his crew sailed slowly south within the bay, exploring and charting its unknown waters.  It was Flinders’ hope to discover a large navigable river that would lead to the inland. To each of the smaller islands he encountered, Flinders ascribed a number, the first being the most northerly: 1 is Mud Island, 2 St Helena, 3 Green, 4 King, 5 Peel, and 6 Coochiemudlo.

Flinders didn’t find his river.