Here’s the view of Moreton Bay from Cleveland Point yesterday. The smoke from the bushfires on Stradbroke Island has obscured it entirely from our view. Even Peel Island in the foreground is obscure. Here is the same view on a clear day:
Since 1926 the rusting remains of the dredge Platypus has been a well-know landmark for boaties frequenting the waters surrounding Peel Island. But not for much longer…
The Platypus was sunk on Thursday, 21st October 1926 and with time and tide, about to claim its final vestiges, it seems appropriate to revisit some of its history both as a dredge and as a breakwater.
On Wednesday 13th October 1926, the Brisbane Courier reported:
The End of the Platypus.
‘The love of a seaman for his ship is one of the most worthy human emotions, and many an old salt on the Queensland coast will give a sigh for the old dredger Platypus, whose demolition is now taking place at the dry dock, South Brisbane, after 40 years’ service on the Queensland coast. The oldest unit in the dredge plant of the Harbours and Rivers Department will soon be stripped of all useful gear. After that indignity is over her future Is uncertain. The Platypus, which was built about 1884, at Renfrew, is a self-contained bucket dredge. Unlike ordinary dredges, she did not require to use a barge, as she carried out the two operations of dredging and conveying the material. She differs from her successor, which will be ready for service on the Queensland coast in a few months’ timer, as her well is in the bow instead of in the stern as is the case with the new Platypus. The (old) Platypus on arrival in Queensland began her long work on the Queensland coast by opening up the port of Cairns. During the years which followed she was a frequent caller in Queensland ports. She co-operated in the early developmental work in Townsville, relieved the Wolunga in the job of making a channel at Normanton. Port Douglas, Thursday Island, Cooktown, and Brisbane where she took away the sharp bends at Kangaroo Point, and the Gardens Reach also had the use of her services. Life on board the Platypus must have run with an even tend, as only one accident of importune occurred during her long career. Crossing Moreton Bay one night 38 years ago she collided with the Tinana, sustaining very little damage from the encounter. The Platypus had many masters in her day. Among the most prominent were Captains Stewart, J. Crawford, W. J.Evans, Lawson, W. Williams. Three years ago Captain Madams handed her over to the department for the last time. Among her engineers were Messrs. S. Kavanagh, R. Gillett, G. Shipley, and Morgan Jones.’
For the next 90 years, the Platypus served faithfully as a breakwater for Peel’s stone jetty where vessels were able to unload visitors and stores for the island’s lazaret (leprosarium). One of the leprosy patients recalls:
‘For the men patients, fishing was a major pastime. Some had boats that they moored just below the men’s compound. Several patients constructed a jetty there, using Ti-Tree posts cut from the surrounding bush. Favourite fishing spots included the coral reef just off the lazaret, and the reefs around the hulk of the dredge Platypus at the stone jetty. At times the patients would moor their boats alongside the Platypus and sleep the night on her decks ready for an early start to the next day’s fishing. Schnapper were in abundance then, as well as Parrot fish, the largest of which was some 10 lb. There was also reputed to be a 500 lb. Grouper living in the vicinity of the ‘Platypus’, a rumour that was to persist for the next half century. Red and Yellow Sweetlip, Cod, Sole, Taylor, and Flathead were also caught in abundance.
‘Sharks, too, were very common around Peel. Not only were they present in great numbers, but their size was also enormous – Junta King, onetime launch master of the Karboora once saw two 20 foot White Pointers intertwined in their mating ritual on the surface of the water between Peel Island and Dunwich.’
Another patient, an ex-seaman, had been one of the original crew that sailed the dredge Platypus to Queensland from Scotland. After many years of service, the Platypus was sunk just off the eastern jetty as a breakwater in 1926. When the seaman contracted Hansen’s Disease (leprosy), he was sent to the lazaret as a patient, and it was ironic that both he and the Platypus were to spend their last days on Peel Island literally ‘rotting away’
(Extracts from ‘Peel Island, Paradise or Prison’ by Peter Ludlow)
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.
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.
Ships known to have been quarantined at Peel Island between 1873 and 1896::
Lammershagen(quarantined1873, January 8)
Typhoid, at least 7 deaths:
Kristine Dreseth, 30yrs
Wilhelmine Helmholz, 14yrs
Johannes Johannessen, 21 yrs
Wilhelmina Milenovski, 2 yrs
Emil Oberlie, 16 yrs
Sorrn Christiansen Sorensen, 18 yrs
One death on Peel:
Matilda Kluck, 6 yrs (from ulcerated bowels and chronic diarrhoea)
Bobtail Nag, fromSolomon Islands (quarantined 1875, December 13-24)
Dysentery, one death between December 15-24
Gauntlet, from London (quarantined 1875, December 23)
Gazelle(German warship) (quarantined 1876, January 1)
? Disease. Maybe around 10 deaths, with graves made up and head-boards with suitable inscriptions placed at each one, unlike many of the later graves from English ships.
Indus, from Hervey Bay (quarantined 1876, March 9)
Western Monarch,from Gravesend (quarantined 1876, March 16 until March 24 when pratique granted for most passengers)
2 deaths, one from Typhoid fever
Brisbane(+ the government ship Kate) (quarantined 1876, March 26-April 12)
Sir Arthur Kennedy, Governor Designate for the colony of Queensland, was required to enter quarantine, as were all passengers of the Brisbane, though quarters were arranged for him on the government paddle yacht Kate.
Woodlark (quarantined1877, late January or early February)
Normanby, (quarantined 1877, April 25-28)
Came via Hong Kong, which had been declared an infected port – therefore automatic quarantining.
Charles Dickens, from Hamburg (quarantined 1877, July 19 (approx.)-September)
Measles, typhoid fever amongst other diseases, 18 patients in quarantine, approximately 8 deaths including: Platen, boy, Platen, girl, Idie Stephan.
Windsor Castle, from Gravesend (quarantined 1877, September 16-November 10)
Roxburgshire,fromGreenock (quarantined 1877, October 11- November 16)
Western Monarch (quarantined 1878)
Lammershagen, fromHamburg (quarantined 1878, August 6 – 10)
Friedeburg,fromHamburg, via Rio (quarantined 1878, October 17 -November 27)
Scottish Admiral (quarantined1878, October 20-30)
Clara(quarantined 1879, January)
Fritz Reuter, fromHamburg (quarantined 1879, January 20)
Normanby(quarantined 1879, January 30)
Somerset (quarantined 1879, February 12)
Smallpox. Actually quarantined at the four fathoms hold (off Green Island in Moreton Bay) rather than on Peel Island, possibly because of the crowded conditions already on the island.
Southesk,from Greenock (quarantined 1882, May 13 until late May)
Measles, Typhoid Fever and 4 deaths from Whooping Cough:
James Thomas McKenzie, 18 months
Robert Rodgers, 2 yrs
Margaret Jeffrey, 9 months
Elizabeth Annie Edwards, 2 months
Caroline (quarantined1882, May (approx.) 6-9)
Duke of Westminster(quarantined 1883, September)
Smallpox, at least one death
Western Monarch,from Liverpool (quarantined 1883, October 2-14 (approx.)
Shannon (quarantined1884, March 16 Mar for approximately one week)
Crown of Aragon (quarantined1884, July (?)-August 13)
ExLy-ee-moon (quarantined1885, February)
Smallpox, passenger off Ly-ee-moon quarantined as a smallpox contact
Dorunda,fromLondon via Port Said, Batavia (quarantined 1885, December 19 – 1886, January 9)
Cholera, possibly 6 deaths:
John Blow, 19 yrs
Cornelius Daly, 60 yrs
Bodil Marie Klemmensen, 52 yrs
Anne M Pedersen, 22 yrs
Catrine Marie Sunstrup, 47 yrs
John Westwood, 32 yrs
Khandalla (quarantined1886, April 24 (approx.)
Merkara,from London via Malta, Port Said, Batavia (quarantined 1887, January 10)
Elizabeth Brown Wilson, 17 yrs (T)
Typhoid fever, TB
Mary Isabella Wilson, 13 yrs (TB)
GoalparafromPlymouth (quarantined 1887, January 7)
Bulimba(quarantined1888, January 14 (?)
Duke of Argyll (quarantined 1888, August-September 13)
Taroba (quarantined1889, January)
Buninyong, from New South Wales (quarantined 1892, June 21 or 22- early July
Smallpox – passenger originally off the Oroyafrom London, transshipped in Melbourne.
Thomas James Ives, 32, professional singer from Islington London
Duke of Devonshire (quarantined1896, November)
List compiled by research undertaken by Peter Ludlow, Rod McLeod, Gabrielle van Willigen
Sources of information include:
- Queensland Government Gazette
- The Week – weekly newspaper magazine published by The Telegraph, starting 1876
- The Brisbane Courier, one of Brisbane’s early daily newspapers
- Details from family records of some of the people quarantined on Peel Island, communicated to Peter Ludlow.
- Wiburd C R 1945 Notes on the History of Maritime Quarantine in Queensland, 19th Century Historical Society of Queensland Inc. Journal Vol 3, No 5. December 1945 pp 369 – 383
- Jan Macintyre with material supplied by Eric and Rosemary Kopittke and Les Moreland.
Robin Kleinschmidt writes:
The wharf, office and a house were on the upstream site of where the William Jolly Bridge is now. This photo is of the bins and storage areas of Moreton Sand and Gravel approximately where the Kurilpa Bridge enters the parkland today. It was the secondary part of their operations, but when the shipping on the bay began to lose out to the road and rail transport, this became their mainstay. They acquired it from a consortium of hardware retailers whose building company customers wanted a one stop shop which including the sand and gravel for their concreting. It was run poorly and without enthusiasm until Uncle Ted and his son Ray bought it. They had long been transporting sand from Stradbroke Island for the Brisbane Glassworks at South Brisbane/West End, and eventually some of their boats such as The Maid of Sker and the S’port were converted to gravel barges working the Brisbane River.
It is fitting that we end this series by returning to whence we set out: the Redcliffe Peninsula, and to its world famous export, The Bee Gees. In recent years the Council has renamed a whole street after them and decked it out with memorabilia from their singing career.
On his most recent visit to Redcliffe, Barry Gibb, the oldest and only surviving member of the pop group, told a reporter of the life changing decision they had made as young teenagers. Like many others with too much time on their hands, the three brothers amused themselves by stealing goods from the local shops. However, Barry’s conscience got the better of him, and he took his younger siblings, Maurice and Robin, and their contraband good out to the end of the Redcliffe Jetty and announced to them that they had to make a decision: do we carry on with our stealing or do we do something useful with our lives?
They threw all their stolen goods off the end of the jetty. The rest is history…
As in so many other cities, suburbs, and towns of Australia, it is fitting that war memorials have been erected to honour the sacrifices of those men and women who have served in our armed forces. The Northern Moreton Bay Region is no exception, and here I have chosen just one example: the Pebble Beach Memorial at Toorbul Point
The inscription reads:
Erected by the Caboolture Shire Council
as an “Australia Remembers: 1945 – 1995 Project
to commemorate the Toorbul Point combined operations centre
and to the many allied personnel who engaged in amphibious training exercises here
during World War II.
Unveiled on September 17th 1995.
In it’s early days – before the bridge was built – Bribie was a haven from the rat race of civilization. Its lifestyle was simple and close to Nature, where people could be themselves without undue interference. Personalities flourished and eccentrics were accepted as the norm. Bribie’s best-known eccentric was the reclusive artist, Ian Fairweather. At age 60 he went to Bribie and took up residence in a grass hut in the bush at Bongaree so that he could paint undisturbed.
It paid dividends and his art flourished to the point where he started winning prizes and he gained national attention from the galleries, from the newspapers, and from the general public. His grass hut became a bit of a tourist attraction and he was constantly visited by curious onlookers. Paradoxically, his success destroyed the very reason why he went to Bribie – to find a bit of peace and quiet!
Of course, when they built the bridge, that was the beginning of the end for his Eden. People visited the island in droves and neighbours began to encroach on his hut in the bush. There were complaints about rats and the Caboolture Shire Council was forced to intervene.
Eventually, Fairweather was forced to build a fibro hut on a cement base next door to his grass hut that he had occupied for so long. It was harsh and cold. He missed the sand between his toes, the smell of the thatching and the warmth of his kerosene lanterns. His art production all but stopped.
When he died, the grass hut was demolished amongst much controversy, and the fibro house was moved. Today the cement slab still remains in the pine grove where he once lived and worked. A large stone has been placed on the slab and an inscription reminding us that Ian Fairweather once lived there.
Johann Carl Gustav Dux, known as “Gus”, was born in West Prussia, on 1st June 1852. Johann worked as a seaman, jumped ship in Cooktown, N.Q., and then worked his way down the coast until he arrived at German Station, now known as Nundah (a suburb of Brisbane).
Johann married at the age of 20 to Wilhemine Rose, 24 Years, from Grunhage, West Prussia. When she died at the age of 28, he married Bertha Lange, age 17 years, from Weinsdorf, West Prussia. Their first child, Friedrich Carl August Dux, known as “Augie”, was born on 2nd August 1878.
Dux Creek on Bribie Island was named after Gus, who eventually settled in what is now known as Dux Street, Caboolture. At the time, Dux Street ran right down to the Caboolture River, and it was from here that Gus did his fishing, crabbing and oystering, culling oysters from oyster banks at Pumistone Passage, north of the Caboolture River, and on Bribie Island. It was a long hard pull by rowboat from Caboolture down the Caboolture River to Bribie Island for Gus, so he would camp overnight when he worked his oyster banks.
William, another of Gus’s sons, carried on his father’s business, and was known locally as Billy, the crabman.
A family dynasty is another way we can remember our early settlers. Such is the case with Honorah Doyle who migrated to Australia from Glengariff, a coastal dairy town in Co Cork, Ireland. It was her second husband, a Mr Mullins, who accompanied her to Australia on the ship “Ramsay” in 1875. They settled in Oxley and then moved up to King’s Scrub in the Dayboro Valley where they established the family dairy farm in 1876. It remained as a dairy farm for over 100 years, before becoming a vineyard and winery in 1999, and evolving once more into the award winning Function venue it is today hosting events and weddings from all over the world.
Honorah, herself, was to live to be 114 and even at the age of 95 years she was still milking a herd of 40 cows by hand.
Glengariff Historic Estate is still owned and operated by the sixth generation of her descendants.