On June 30th this year, FOPIA will close down for good. FOPIA was formed in 1998 to assist in maintenance and restoration work of the former lazaret, and to promote public awareness of Peel’s cultural and historic values. As one of the original founding members, I was a bit sad to see this group, once so full of hope for the future of Peel’s restored lazaret, finally call it a day. It had been a long time coming, but its death knell was surely last year’s decision not to rebuild a jetty to access the island. This effectively put a stop to any future development – for better or worse.
However, many fond memories of FOPIA remain: our work parties often visited the lazaret and stayed overnight; many public lectures on the island’s history; fund raising boat trips; and curating a Peel Island exhibition at the Redland Museum which also visited the Redcliffe museum and was then on permanent display at Fort Lytton.
But to my mind, FOPIA’s most memorable achievement was to host a Peel Island Lazaret families’ day. What a day! After two unsuccessful attempts due to inclement weather, we were third time lucky, with the weather beautiful and the sea calm for a unique gathering on Peel Island at the lazaret. Family of patients and staff of the lazaret, along with FOPI members, QPWS staff and others travelled to Peel Island on Sunday 26 September 2008 to commemorate the Centenary of the lazaret, and of National Parks in Queensland. For some it was their first time to the island, for others it was the first time in many years, but for everyone it turned out to be a very special day. Connections were made or renewed, and with stories of the place and the impact of its history shared.
In the words of Welcome to Country from Aboriginal elder, Auntie Margaret, ‘it was ..a day of getting together with beloved families and friends of patients. Friends and families of the staff, and most all the Aboriginal families of our Aboriginal workers who worked here all those many years ago… Today is for all to come together, indigenous and non-indigenous alike. To reflect with kindness, unity, and most of all trust because deep down, trust is a gift of learning, everything that life brings.’
Following on from my blog of last week (07.01.2017) entitled ‘Closure and Closure’ I have reached a compromise with the aid of the good folks at WordPress and am happy to relate that my website ‘Moreton Bay History’ (www.moretonbayhistory.com) will continue as before. I’ll keep on blogging, too, but probably not on a regular Saturday morning basis as I have been doing, because I am still resolved to pursue the writing of ‘the novel’.
Also, looking at the image I published last week of myself at the typewriter in 1970 reminds me of my muse at that time: my new brother in law, Patrick Vaughan, who wrote under the name of Bill Cody.
Cody was a gifted writer with a wonderful grasp of words that were able to capture the personalities and events of his life in the Irish countryside. That’s his window on the upper floor of the Vaughan’s house at Dromagh. From here he could look out over the schoolyard next door and across the green fields that surrounded his house.
Regrettably many of his works were lost when they went missing after his death in 1986. However, the Irish Government did honour his memory when they erected this plaque in the fence outside his home:
If you are like me, you have probably been singing Auld Lang Syne at Hogmanay all you life and still don’t know the meaning of the terms. Well, this year I have resorted to Wiki to enlighten us.
Wikipedia says of Auld Lang Syne:
The Hogmanay (Scots word for the last day of the year) custom of singing Auld Lang Syne has become common in many countries. Auld Lang Syne is a Scots poem by Robert Burns written in 1788 and based on traditional and other earlier sources. It is now common to sing this in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year’s Day, though it is only intended that participants link arms at the beginning of the final verse, co-ordinating with the lines of the song that contain the lyrics to do so. Typically, it is only in Scotland this practice is carried out correctly.
‘And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.’
However, in all the versions I have ever sung it is really just the first verse and chorus that I know (like nearly every other song in my ‘repertoire’):
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
In the days of auld lang syne?
For old lang syne, my dear,
For old lang syne,
We’ll take a cup of kindness yet
in the days of auld lang syne.
(repeat chorus amid kissing, hugging, fireworks, drinking and much celebrating).
For the Scots, the New Year must also be a time for fond remembrance of their motherland. My mother (whose father was a Glaswegian) would have loved to visit Scotland and in later life often chose the heather-clad hills as a subject for her china painting. I can still re-evoke the strong smell of the solvent she used in the painting process. Phyllis and I, spent our honeymoon motoring through Scotland to the Isle of Skye. The heather was brown at that time of the year and there was no intoxicating smell of mum’s china painting solvent, but (before the fog set in) I gathered enough memories of my grandfather’s auld country to love it like he and mum did.
Oh, incidentally, the song’s Scots title may be translated into standard English as “old long since”, or more idiomatically, “long long ago”, “days gone by” or “old times”. Consequently, “For auld lang syne”, as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as “for (the sake of) old times”.
When I was six, maybe even younger, my father used to take me down to the lowest deck on the SS “Koopa” to watch the two stokers at work shovelling in the coal; we would also pause further along the passage-way at the half-door which allowed a small child, partly hoisted up by their father, to peer down into the gleaming engine room. The engine was painted red and green; the brass plaque that would have said when and where the S.S. “Koopa” was built truly shone. It must be fifty years since the “Koopa” last sailed across the Bay to Bribie – after stopping at Redcliffe jetty. I can remember a Thursday trip in 1950 or 1951 which would have been close to when it stopped running, but my earliest recollections go back to before its service elsewhere during the Second World War.
However, if I shut my eyes, in my imagination I can curl my hands around the varnished, curved railings still.
What wonderful stories that “old girl” could have told! May I share a couple of stories that come to mind? First, we were told an enormous groper was supposed to have its home under the shelf just where the “Koopa” berthed at Bribie. Legend had it that once some foolhardy soul did not heed advice and dived into the water off the “Koopa”. He went straight into the jaws of the waiting groper!
There were bottles of oysters that could be purchased by passengers from a little kiosk (which was painted black and sat between the two runways that led out to the wharf) as they returned to the Koopa after their three hours’ stay on Bribie. Three short toots signalled the vessels immediate departure back to Brisbane. Life on Bribie revolved around the arrival and departure four times a week of the “Koopa”. (I think there may also have been some night trips at one time.)
One has to be a little careful here, though the lady of this story was most respected by my family. She still, I believe, would have many relatives around Moreton Bay. The lady grew carnations which she would take to the “Koopa” for them to be sold in Brisbane. She had also been left by her former employer a motor car (possibly one of the very few cars – not trucks – on the island. One needs to think “Model T” now) and driving this car she would automobile (“drive” as a word seems inadequate and there were not really roads anyway) to the jetty all dressed up in flowing white wearing a large hat and carrying her big, big bunch of carnations.
Occasionally, on her return home could one say the warmth of the day would overcome her and she would stop for a little snore!
Just before the final journey of the “Koopa” to Bribie, Bribie’s Lady of the Carnations made her last trip as well. She had passed away and the captain of the “Koopa” had the task of the dispersal of her ashes from the “Koopa”’s deck. Now, I only heard this story but it goes like this: there was a sudden wind change at the critical moment of the dispersal ceremony. Bribie’s Lady of the Carnations did not return immediately to the Bay but to the “Koopa”’s decks! Her spirit furious, that was the end of the “Koopa”!
My father would comment that the shock waves from the explosions would lift “Torphins”, our beach house, momentarily off its high Queensland stumps and the windows would rattle, the iron bedsteads groan. There would be the loud, loud clatter of machine guns firing and sundry booms and cracks from high-powered rifles. “Another practice landing,” my Father might have thought and, as the noises subsided, have calmly pumped up the “primus” to boil water for a very early cup of tea.
That was around 1944, during the Second World War in the Pacific. The American marines had a large training base at Torbul Point, on the coast of Moreton Bay. There, American troops practised amphibious barge landings. This was training for the island-hopping strategy to be used to retake the Pacific Islands then held by the Japanese. The sounds that shook “Torphins” were just rehearsals for what was to be real later in the Solomon Islands and, too, on Iwo Jima.
So, barges filled with armed, invasion-ready marines would churn across the half-mile of Pumistone Passage, their bow-plates would be lowered and out the troops would storm onto the uninhabited northern part of Bribie Island with all guns truly firing. Then, Bribie Island had but few permanent residents and only land-owners with security passes could access the island. My family still went there for school holidays. The trial invasions were regarded as very necessary and quite accepted.
On occasions troops would be moved around the island’s sandy tracks in trucks with the troops standing up on the tray behind. I have the distinct memory of a convoy passing our house and one of the troops falling off the truck. He picked himself up and ran alongside the truck to jump aboard again. I watched from the verandah of “Torphins”. Other items seemed to get left behind as well. Once, I found a well-balanced dagger. George, a retired circus rouseabout who acted as our caretaker when we were not on Bribie, taught me how to throw it. I have always regarded a dagger as my weapon of choice!
For their ‘invasions’ the Yankie marines also took along food supplies. These came in wooden boxes, holding gold-coloured, squat tins on which, I think, was written two capitals letter ‘Ds’, with between them an arrow. I had found a full box of such rations close to “Torphins”. Do know that, for children (and I would have been eight in 1944) chocolate was a nearly unheard of dream. There was food rationing, but not for chocolate. Such sweetness had seemed to have ceased to exist. But I, with my find, had found a cache of chocolate!
The wooden box’s tins had three different contents: some were K rations (which I believe implied emergency food) some contained baked beans and others hash, rather like Australian camp pie – not particularly tempting but I am sure with meat rationed, every tin was used by my family. The K ration tins held chocolate, biscuits and some had cocoa, while some powdered coffee – unheard of in Australia then. The chocolate in each K rations tin was consumed with relish.
However, the baked beans, heated up on the wood-fired stove, were mouth-wateringly delectable and are, to me, more remembered. Every-day, so-ordinary baked beans were then quite unobtainable until after the war had ended. Over seventy years later I still enjoy baked beans served on toast. Breakfast at a five-star hotel holds a special delight as one spoons a serve of baked beans from a highly-polished silver serving dish onto one’s plate. The memory of my first taste of baked beans comes back. And, for me, they are deserving of being served out of a silver dish.
One box of army rations discovered must have made my cousins and I decide to search for more after another invasion trial not too far up from “Torphins”. There was Cousin George, Cousin June and I and it may have been the winter school holidays, in 1944. Our Grandmother must have been in charge. We were to keep to the beach – where we could be seen from the house for quite a distance.
We found the invasion spot where the vegetation was trampled, some trees tattered. There we found another wooden box but this one was deeper and sturdier. It had been opened. It did not contain food tins. Instead, it held machine-gun bullets about six inches long and held into a long chain of metal. A disappointment, but we decided to take them home. With George leading, and the bullet chain looped between us, we ambled back along the beach to “Torphins”.
Grandma saw what we were carrying. She was aghast. Grandma gathered up some oars, made us take the bullets down to the beach and help her push out our rowing boat into the Pumicestone Passage. Into the rowing boat she clambered, fitted in the oars and rowed out to what she thought was the channel. There she dumped our find of machine gun bullets overboard. I do wonder, would over seventy years be enough for them to have disintegrated?
After WWII a huge demand for whale oil triggered a world-wide interest in whale hunting. To help satisfy this demand, a whaling station was opened at Tangalooma in 1952.
The Tangalooma whaling station had an annual quota of 600 Humpback whales. However, when vegetable oils were introduced to replace whale oil in margarine production, the price of the whale oil fell dramatically. Quotas were increased to 660 to offset the price drop but the increased cull served only to deplete the whale numbers to such an extent that in the 1962 season, only 68 whales were taken, and in August of that year Tangalooma closed down due to a lack of whales.
Jack Little:‘White Pointers were first attracted into Moreton Bay after the opening of the whaling station at Tangalooma on Moreton Island in 1951. They would follow the chasers back into the bay, feeding off their haul of whale carcasses.
‘Incidentally, the photo of the White Pointer shows cuts around its mouth. These are caused by the barbs of stingrays, its main tucker. I have often seen sharks jump into the air while chasing equally airborne stingrays. Conversely, though, sharks can remain stationery on the bottom for long periods. With the influx of White Pointers into the bay, the sport of Big Game fishing was introduced by Norman Gow. Radio personality Bob Dyer was one of the best known and most successful fisherman in this class.’
Peter Ludlow: While enjoying our morning coffee at the Lighthouse Restaurant on Cleveland Point this week, we were excited to see two whales breeching in the bay about a kilometre north of Peel Island. Then on the news yesterday we saw that two whales – a mother and her calf – were stranded in the shallows off Dunwich. It ended well for the pair, which surely must have been the ones we saw a couple of days earlier.
The National Parks people say that whales come into the bay to rest on their long journey south. Incidentally, a university acquaintance, when mentioning how good it was that whale numbers were increasing, was told by an American colleague that this was a bad sign. Global warming is changing our ocean currents and forcing the creatures closer to shore. I wonder if this is why we have greater shark numbers inshore too?
Phillip Island has some pretty unique attractions, most of all the nightly coming ashore of the Little Penguins. It’s a wonder the hundreds of human spectators don’t put them off. Then there is the chocolate factory. It’s hard to miss as it’s one of the first attractions you come to on the island. Rev heads flock to the GP Circuit at certain times of the year, but fortunately for us, this was not one of them. Then there are the quiet sandy beaches on Western Port Bay or the surfing beaches on the rugged ocean side of the island.
We stayed five nights this time: enough time to see all the compulsory attractions and then – relax! Clementine resorted to collecting shells, while we did little else but eat, drink coffee, walk, and gnash our teeth at the jigsaw puzzle kindly left by the landlord.
Phillip Island is a very beautiful place; its green fields and ocean cliffs remind me very much of Ireland, and we had our share of rain while we were there but mostly it was at night. Its September days were bracing but ideal for walking. Sundown was the best time for a stroll because one is likely to see a wallaby feeding or a family of rabbits. (Strange to us Queenslanders where there is a hefty fine, $44,000, for keeping rabbits. I guess they are not in plague proportions here yet).
I hadn’t tried a jigsaw puzzle for over 50 years, so I was quite surprised at how it gradually drew me into it again. After struggling with it for all of our stay, we had to admit defeat and leave it unfinished. A 1,000 piece jigsaw knows no time limit.
In the semigloom of first light, a silhouette moves about hut number 4. The wheezing breath identifies Dave King. He was gassed in WWI and has spent much of his later life in Rosemount Hospital. When they let him out, he comes to Bribie and rents one of these cottages – the locals call them the ‘Twelve Apostles’ – from the Moreton Bay Tug Company for 2/6 a week. It’s a “Koopa” day, and Dave instinctively looks out beyond the beach and the jetty and the dark waters of the Passage across the bay to Redcliffe where the “Koopa” will call first.
Dave, a seaman of old, still splices the wire ropes for the “Koopa”. Beer money. There’ll be a few pots today.
Bribie is a bastion of isolation; the Passage its protective moat. There are no bridges to connect with cities and bustle and people and the conformity of urban life. The only timetable here belongs to the “Koopa” and her sister ships: arrive 12.30pm, depart 4.30 pm every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
It’s Saturday and Dave’s son, Eric, is here for the school holidays. So are hundreds of campers in white tents that fill the foreshore beneath its thick mantle of trees. With the approach of dawn, tent life stirs. Hurricane lamps flicker silhouettes of dressing figures on the canvas. Fires are being lit, twigs crack, people yawn, wind passes, billies boil.
Further up the Passage, beyond Dux Creek, the air reeks. It’s the Campbell’s, Wally and Reg, preserving their nets. They boil them in tar in a 44 gallon drum on an open fire. They’re aborigines descended from the Campbells of Dunwich.
Another aborigine from Stradbroke Island is Lottie Tripcony. She’s Tom Welsby’s housekeeper and came with him when erosion forced him from his property at Amity. It is said that Lottie was once married to a German named Eisler. During WWI she suspected him of spying so she had him interned. End of marriage.
With the daylight Lottie is up and cooking breakfast for herself and Welsby, while he sits on the verandah overlooking the Passage and ponders the next chapter of his memoirs. Welsby’s a quiet, shy bachelor who keeps to himself. He saves his words for his books. Later in the day Lottie plans to row up the Passage to collect Boronia flowers. She does this for her own pleasure and not to sell them to passengers on the “Koopa” as do the other locals.
As morning progresses, the autumn chill melts. On the beach Bribie pulses with passion: Freddie Crouch has just returned with a big haul of mullet. He is packing them in ice for the “Koopa” to take to the Brisbane markets. Fred, like everyone else on Bribie, depends on the “Koopa” for his livelihood. Ned Bishop has come over from Toorbul. He’s there every “Koopa” day with his oysters and meat, his boat tied up at the jetty waiting for his customers to arrive at noon. He is a short plump oysterman who has a little shed just to the north of the jetty Ned never wears shoes and has cracks on the bottom of his feet large enough ‘to put your fingers in’. He’s been known to carry a 44 gallon drum of fuel from his half cabin cruiser up the soft sandy beach to his hut. Not a task for the weak!
Someone has spotted the first smudge of smoke from the “Koopa”‘s funnels. She’s left Redcliffe. The day trippers will soon be here! To the north of the jetty, Mrs Moyle prepares the china at her restaurant; to the south Bob Davies and his sisters lay places at their Gardens. It’s fresh fish on every menu.
Across the island at the Ocean Beach, Bill Shirley and his drivers assemble their convoy of Tin Lizzies and set off for the “Koopa” jetty. They’ll nab their share of customers for a hot fish dinner too.
Pumicestone Passage basks in the noon sun. To the north, its waters are masked by fingers of mangroves prodding out into its banks of mud and sand. Donneybrook is somewhere up there, too. Billy Dux, the crab man, has made it his home. He doesn’t like the fisherman coming up because they kill the muddies that get caught in their fish nets. To a crab man, that’s just a waste.
But here comes the “Koopa”! That speck of soot has now formed into a hull and superstructure. People can be seen crowding the rails. Looks like a full shipload – a thousand at least. The jetty surges with locals. This is their social highlight. When the ship finally docks, passengers surge down the gangplank. Bob Davies is there spruiking on the jetty at the top of his voice “Fresh fish dinners this way!” and Mrs Moyle rings a bell from her restaurant’s verandah. Bill Shirley’s Tin Lizzies have now arrived and their motors idle in anticipation. Aboard the “Koopa”, engines throb, steam hisses, passengers jostle, bells ring, whistles blow. The trippers have found their release from the workaday world.
Soon everyone has disembarked and the crowd disperses to eat, swim, fish, or just laze on the beach and soak up the atmosphere. Bribie obliges in all departments.
For some, the afternoon lapses into anticlimax. They fill the emptiness with sleep.
Wally Campbell leases Clark’s oyster banks. It’s low tide now, and his sisters, Millie and Rosie, are at the banks, chipping off oysters from the rocks with little hammers. They load them into chaff bags and leave them on the banks for the tide to come in. When it does they’ll bring the dinghy and load it up with the oyster bags.
It’s 2 o’clock and the water tanks are now open. Mr Freeman, the Postmaster, is in charge of this precious commodity. Unlike the city, there’s no reticulated water on Bribie, and drinking water is brought down on the “Koopa” then pumped into tanks at the end of the jetty. When the taps are unlocked each day campers and locals line up with their empty kerosene tins which they fill for 2d each.
By 2.30 the sun hovers over the Passage waters which the afternoon breeze fans into a shimmering sheet. A woman fishing on the beach throws her line into its midst while seagulls perch on the seawall and wait for results. She watches the slow passage of time trek across the sky to leave a dazzling path across the water to Toorbul Point. Still later, the sun touches the mountains in the distance. Clouds have appeared, and into their pink billows the Glasshouse Mountains thrust their weird shapes.
The “Koopa” is getting up steam. It’s whistle blows. That’s the first sign to the passengers to get ready to embark. It’s also a signal that the “Koopa”‘s bar is about to open. (Its had to remain closed while in port). There is no hotel on Bribie and the “Koopa”‘s bar run by Elsie Davis is eagerly sought by those locals who fancy a drink. A second whistle blows and the drinkers gulp more quickly. The passengers hurry aboard and the gangplanks are withdrawn. Bill Shirley’s Tin Lizzies pull up at the jetty and the last of the passengers hurry aboard. With the third whistle, the ropes are cast off and the “Koopa” is homeward bound. The drinkers clamber off onto the jetty across the widening gap of water but one lingers in the bar too long. He’ll come home on the next trip.
Soon the “Koopa” is once more a shrinking speck, a piece of soot on the horizon that is eventually whisked away on the cool evening breeze. Mozzies descend with the evening and citronella mingles with the aroma of cooking fish and smoky fires.
Dave King sends his son, Eric, to the shop for sugar. There the lad sees Wally Campbell about to leave for a few days fishing. Wally consents to Eric’s pleas and to let him come along. As the boat passes Dave King’s hut Eric sees his father looking out and does what any kid would do, waves. The sugar will have to wait another four days until he returns. So will his father’s anger.
Beneath the jetty, in the deep dark waters now left vacant by the “Koopa”‘s departure, giant Grouper lurk in mysterious caves. Their mouths are so large they could swallow a child whole. On the jetty, a young boy ponders the monsters lurking beneath the boards on which he stands. He’s seen photos of Peter Rich, the “Grouper King”, and his monster catches. The stuff of future dreams…..
Springtime up on the Downs is always an exhilarating experience. Our visit on Fathers’ Day is just too early to catch the Spring blooms, but in some pockets the first blossoms have appeared on the apple and pear trees. The wattles are the only trees wearing their full yellow coats.
The environs around Stanthorpe beckon the hiker, but at our age, we are content with a short walk, a sample or two of local wines, and a feast of food. We always visit Anna’s Italian Restaurant whose Saturday night smorgasbord is enough to make the trip from Brisbane a worthwhile and memorable experience. But on Sunday night, when Anna’s is closed, eating out is a different experience for us.
‘You can walk down the street and not be afraid of being attacked or mugged,’ says our host, and we can understand why when we look for an eatery in the main street on Sunday night: it is deserted and in darkness. No discos, nightclubs, or wild pub brawls. (So what do Stanthorpe’s young folk do for entertainment?) However we peer in the window of O’Mara’s Hotel – one of those good old fashioned country pubs that are rapidly disappearing – and are delighted to see the dining room packed with people – family groups mainly, probably celebrating Father’s Day. We go inside and eat a hearty pub meal in a warm and friendly atmosphere.
Amongst the typically Australian names littering the map of Stanthorpe – Goldfields Road, Hooters Hut, Possums Road, and Rabbit Fence Road, are a scattering of French names: Amiens, Pozieres, Bapaume, Passchendaele, Messines – all battlefields of WWI in which Australian soldiers fought. Those who survived the carnage were rewarded by the Australian Government with a block of land, which as ‘soldier settlers’ they could farm. Many took up the challenge and tried their hand, but not being ‘of the land’ they failed. However the names of these, their second battlefields remain as their legacy.
This pile of huge granite boulders, dubbed Donnelly’s Castle after the original settler in the area, is also reputed to be the hideout of former bushrangers and of the legendary Yowie both of whom have sunk into the folklore of the district.
I can’t recall many towns in Australia that have adopted well known Irish city names such as Dublin, Limerick, Belfast, or Cork, but for some reason, Killarney was chosen for a remote spot outside Warwick. I have often thought I should visit the place to make a comparison. On our way home we divert to satisfy our long held curiosity. But, apart from its mountain backdrop it is difficult to imagine a place less like its Irish namesake or what inspired the name. On the way out there, though, there is a patchwork of fields under cultivation, which could easily have inspired the song ‘Forty Shades of Green’.
At its opening by John Deuchar in 1868, and dubbed ‘the finest house in the colony’ it was renown as the social hub of the Downs. Sadly Deuchar went broke before the building could be completed. From the front, its entrance faces out over manicured lawns and gardens with views all the way to Cunningham’s Gap. From the side, though, it appears almost as though it is a film set. Situated at Allora on the Warwick – Toowoomba road just off the Toowoomba turn off before you reach Warwick, the house and its heritage centre are well worth a visit by anyone interested in the history of the region.
On Saturday 3rd October, 2009, my wife Phyllis and I had attended the sixth annual Deuchar Dinner – a ‘black tie’ event to raise funds for the restoration of Glengallan House. To see the place full of people all dressed in their finery was a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the homestead in its glory days.
‘The Aborigines on Bribie would have been startled by the visit of Matthew Flinders in 1799. Gradually, after the settlement of the Moreton Bay district from 1824, Europeans began visiting the island, initially as escaped convicts, then as free settlers.
‘Fishing and oystering were the great attractions. In the 1890s fish canneries and oyster leases were set up. Recreational fishing had also become popular, and in 1911, the Koopa began bringing holidaymakers and day-trippers to the island. Camping was popular along the Passage foreshore and a plethora of boarding houses also sprang up.
‘When the bridge to Bribie was finally completed in 1963, Bribie came within easy reach of Brisbane’s motoring public, and an ever-increasing dormitory for the workers of Brisbane.
‘Today, Bribie is a popular destination for day-trippers, but also supports a growing population of both workers and retirees who find its easy going lifestyle a welcome alternative to the stress of modern city living.’
‘My memories of Bribie Island were when the Brisbane Tug Company who owned the Koopa and the Beaver had a lease of the island. There was a caretaker there, and little huts on the Passage side. I remember staying there with my grandmother. The huts were simple, one room, with beds, a wood stove and a sink. There was no running water. You had to use the pump at the caretaker’s house and carry the water in a kerosene tin back to your hut. I think the rent was two shillings and sixpence (25 cents) a week. That’s all there was at Bribie.’
‘At weekends we used to walk around from our house at Bongaree to Red Beach. It was quite a long hike. It was winter then, and by the time we got there – it was probably just gone daybreak – dad would had already been in the water twice up to his waist to pull in the nets because the fish would run early. He’d have all his wet flannels hanging up to dry.
‘My mother also went fishing on her own and she’d bring home buckets of whiting, but then dad would come in with his fish, and when they were fishing around Red Beach, they piled them all up on our front yard. They had these old army Blitzes – snub-nosed trucks left over from the war. They brought all their fish in, dumped it on our front yard, and then cased it in wooden cases. They were primarily mullet, which they sent off whole – no gutting. The fish were grouped according to size, and then sent to the Brisbane Fish Markets by boat. They left some for us and we ate a lot of fish and their roe (eggs) – white and yellow roe. When the trawlers were in dad also swapped some of his fish for prawns and crabs so we got a bit of everything. It was a good diet for growing kids.
‘Dad was be away for weeks at a time and the bread he took with him would go mouldy, but when he came home, it was a big event, and if I was at school at the time, I was allowed home for lunch with him and mum. He’d pick us up at school and we’d have our roast dinner, then he’d take us back to school. We fishing family kids were the only ones that did it. The others had to sit and eat their sandwiches at school. I always thought it was lovely to be included in our family’s homecoming meals, because it could be that he would be off again straight away, and if I were at school, I would miss out on seeing him.’
All References: Peter Ludlow ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’