Stories from Raby Bay

Raby Bay is that area of water in Moreton Bay between Cleveland Point and Ormiston. It was named by the surveyor James Warner on 1 July 1841, after the Duke of Cleveland who was also known as Baron Raby. In 1885, there was a land sale to the south of Raby Bay known as the Raby Bay Estate.

Raby Bay Estate
Raby Bay Estate

Merv Hazell:

“An Easter tradition was the 10 foot Sharpie races at Cleveland Point.  The race was conducted from Cleveland Jetty and was three times round a triangular course in Raby Bay.  The prize of £5 was presented to the winner at the Cleveland picture show that night. Incidentally £5 pounds ($10) was a substantial sum in comparison to the usual racing prizes of 2/6 or 5/- (25 or 50 cents.)” (a)

Ralph Munro:

“When I joined Queensland Cement I was dredging coral from Raby Bay. We had our own private island that was formed from ironstone pumped up while we were dredging. We closed it down for years, but when they built the Gateway Bridge, we opened it up again. All the coral sent up river to make the cement used in the Gateway Bridge came from Raby Bay.” (b)

Coral Dredge in Raby Bay (photo courtesy Ralph Munro)
Coral Dredge in Raby Bay (photo courtesy Ralph Munro)

Price Family:

“Norm Price is remembered for his vision as a fine diplomat and farmer, introducing the first  crude  channel irrigation system to the Redlands on his Cleveland farm, developing Shires roadways from dirt tracks to gazetted main roads and for his  farsighted proposal in the 1950’s to relocate the showgrounds from Shore  Street North (opposite the Grandview Hotel near the present day Raby Bay development) to its present location.” (c)

Kate Millar:

“Of an afternoon, I used to have to go up on my pushbike to Raby Bay train station, which was situated down a little dirt road that went down towards the water from where the Sands Hotel is now. I used to meet the rail motor from Manly, which used to get in about 5.15 in the afternoon, and pick up the bundle of “Telegraph” newspapers. Then I’d have to do a paper run on my bike to deliver them. One of my first deliveries was to the Sands Hotel, which at that stage was under Thurhect’s management. I used to take the paper in to the hotel and front up to the bar for a ‘double sars’. After I’d had my drink at the bar, I’d get on my bike and do the paper run which went all around the Raby Bay area, then down Middle Street, Oyster Point, and then along Cleveland Point. I’d always end the run in the darkness of night. All I had for a light was a battery operated torch that fitted in a holder between the handlebars. On one occasion, near the Police Station that was then situated near the Cenotaph, I was riding up towards Oyster Point and passed a beautiful old Queenslander home that belonged to the Ramsey family. The house was next door to the bakery of G.W.Walters – where all our bread came from. Actually all the houses in that area were owned by G.W.Walters and were used by the employees of his bakery. In those days, Cleveland was owned by virtually just a couple of people.” (d)

Peter Ludlow:

In June 1979 the Queensland Government approved a canal estate development in Raby Bay and construction commenced in 1983. The first stage was officially opened on 23 November 1984 with 158 blocks to be sold at prices between $53,000 to $96,000 each. By 1997 the final stage (Stage 15) of the Raby Bay canal development was completed, with the last canal flooded in December. (e)

Raby Bay Harbour before flooding
Raby Bay Harbour before flooding

Albert Benfer:

“Well the canal development at Raby Bay was one that I did agonise over for long time. I voted for it despite some of my friends who were vehemently against it and I’m pleased to say that we’re still friends, but I did vote for that, and today I do feel that it was a wonderful project for the Redlands. I feel that it made the Cleveland area quite a paradise, I feel that it made an impression on the Shire and I felt that you either have a massive big yacht marine centre or you have to canals where people can live and tie their boats up. I felt it was better to have people living there and their homes, spending their money in the centre, general economic development was much better for that to happen rather than a massive yacht squadron down at Manly, I never did like that kind of development. Even today, with the antifouling paints, there is massive pollution, heavy metals from that style of congregation of boats and I feel that this kind of Canal development is a better proposition.” (f)

55 - Raby Bay sunset
Raby Bay sunset Sunset on Raby Bay harbour


  1. (a) Peter Ludlow – Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection 
  2. (b) Peter Ludlow – The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities
  3. (c) Peter Ludlow – WW1 Heroes of the Redlands (still to be published)
  4. (d) Peter Ludlow – Moreton Bay People 2012
  5. (e) Peter Ludlow – Raby Quays Newsletter
  6. (f) Redland Shire Council Oral History Project

Blogging with a Tinge of History


Glamis Lodge at 6 Stirrat Street, Coorparoo
Glamis Lodge at 6 Stirrat Street, Coorparoo

I have maintained my ‘Moreton Bay History’ Internet site since 1997 and used it to publish biweekly instalments of oral history until I had sufficient to publish them in book form. It was an inbuilt deadline to meet every second Saturday.

However, I like to live in the present time, as well as in the historical past; and in other areas as well as Moreton Bay. So I introduced a blog page on my Internet site as a way of keeping readers informed of my current thoughts and activities. However, over the years, I have found that history – either from personal reminiscences or from my experiences collected from local history – has more and more infiltrated my blogs. Perhaps I have reached that age when I like to reflect back on my life’s experiences and on those who have influenced me.

It also strikes me that many of the things I have experienced have passed into history itself. It’s beginning to make me feel old! So when does the topical end and history begin? When it ceases to become viable? Looking back on my own blogs, my old childhood home at Glamis Lodge, Coorparoo has now been demolished to make way for units. It’s still causing controversy, and even has its own Facebook page ‘Save Our Coorparoo – Glamis Lodge’. Then there is the Myers shopping centre, Coorparoo, which I lived opposite for ten years: also now demolished for apartments. I guess you could now call both of these ‘history’.

Other blogs revisit wrecks in the mangroves of Moreton Bay and the Lazaret at Peel Island. Still others are just my observations of places I visited on holidays – with a tinge of their history thrown in.

As author, Robert Goddard says: ‘Memories are more than recollected experiences. They’re displacements of ourselves in time and space. They’re events our younger self witnessed and participated in, recalled by an older self who often wonders if he’s truly the same person. They’re visions of people we once knew. And, bewilderingly, we are one of those people.’

Many of you who have been following my ‘Moreton Bay History’ website may not be aware that I have now rebuilt it with WordPress as host.  You may now access it at

You will note that it now includes my weekly blogs, which I update every Saturday.

I hope you will visit and enjoy my pages!

The Majestic Hydro Majestic Today

The Hydro Majestic - escarpment view (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)
The Hydro Majestic – escarpment view (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)

Further to my blog of 5th September, I was fortunate to be contacted by Ellen Hill, Communications Consultant from the Escarpment Group who has just sent me a large amount of information and photos of the Hydro Majestic since its recent renovation, four images of which I have included here. I must say that they exceed all my expectations, and are in keeping with the original specifications of the outrageously over-the-top design of its creator, Mark Foy.

The Hydro Majestic's Cat's Alley at Dusk (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)
The Hydro Majestic’s Cat’s Alley at Dusk (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)

However, for historians such as me, it’s the hotel’s guests who breathe life into its buildings. Its famous visitors have been well documented: opera singers Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Clara Butt; munitions heiress Bertha Krupp, who donated a Bechstein grand piano to the hotel; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, for whom the Blue Mountains were the inspiration for ‘The Lost World’; and more recently, Russell Crowe who was asked to remove his baseball cap while dining in the Great Dining Hall in 1994; boxer Tommy Burns who set up a training camp at the Hydro Majestic ahead of his world title fight against Jack Johnson in Sydney in 1908, running for miles on mountain tracks in preparation; and, perhaps best known, Australia’s former first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton – he had retired from politics and was then a justice of the High Court – who died of a heart attack at the hotel while holidaying there in 1920.

The Hydro Majestic's Wintergarden (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)
The Hydro Majestic’s Wintergarden (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)

But there must have been countless other interesting guests over the last century: honeymooners, health enthusiasts, wealthy Sydney businessmen enjoying a lost weekend, and just ordinary people. It’s their stories that I would like to collect, so if you know of any, please let me know!

Delmonte Accomodation Wing at Hydro Majestic Hotel, Blue Mountains. Room 404. (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)
Delmonte Accomodation Wing at Hydro Majestic Hotel, Blue Mountains. Room 404. (photo courtesy Escarpment Group)

What’s in a Name?

Hydro Majestic Hotel in 2007 (photo courtesy Aadam.J.W.C.)
Hydro Majestic Hotel in 2007 (photo courtesy Adam.J.W.C.)

While travelling in the Blue Mountains from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves, one has to pass through the village of Medlow Bath, whose main claim to fame is its Hydro Majestic Hotel, built in 1903 by Sydney department store mogul, Mark Foy. The hotel sits on an escarpment overlooking the Megalong Valley. The mere mention of such names still brings a thrill of excitement and a yearning to return there again for another look-see.

Hydro Majestic Hotel- view of Megalong Valley
Hydro Majestic Hotel- view of Megalong Valley
Hydro Majestic Hotel – view from the dining room
Hydro Majestic Hotel – view from the dining room

In 2003 our family stopped in for morning tea, and we discussed then how the somewhat neglected building would look after refurbishment.

Hydro Majestic Hotel - Trevor and Edwina in 2003
Hydro Majestic Hotel – Trevor and Edwina in 2003

We called again in 2010, but were dismayed to find the place deserted, and the gates firmly padlocked, without any word of explanation. Was this the end of our dream?

Then just last week, an article appeared in the Australian Design Review announcing the reopening of the restored hotel to its former glory. The details can be found in the following link:

I’m not sure about the red walls. The family says it reminds them of the Overlook hotel from ‘The Shining’ movie. Now that’s a bit scary, but it would add more atmosphere to the place. Must go back there again soon, but hope Jack Nicholson doesn’t appear (especially if he were rugged up like Phyllis’ photo.)

Hydro Majestic Hotel - Phyllis in winter woolies
Hydro Majestic Hotel – Phyllis in winter woolies

Oh, and just what is in a name? Well, Medlow Bath was originally known as Brown’s Siding (how colonial Australian!), while the name Megalong Valley is derived from an Aboriginal word thought to mean ‘Valley Under The Rock’. The Hydro Majestic Hotel stems from the hydropathic therapy (health spas) that the hotel originally boasted, and no doubt from the majestic views that it commands from the escarpment overlooking the Megalong Valley.

Trees, Earth, and Drones

Trees, Earth, and drones

The tallest Norfolk Island Pine in the background was my favourite climbing tree.
The tallest Norfolk Island Pine in the background was my favourite climbing tree.

I haven’t climbed a tree for quite some time now (35 years I think), but I was an avid tree climber in my childhood years. In particular, I favoured the large Norfolk Island Pine that grew in our yard at Coorparoo. It had several advantages: it was easy to climb with branches conveniently placed – almost like a spiralling ladder; I loved the sound of the wind whistling through the pine needles beside me; and there was always that sense of danger when the trunk narrowed near the top and that ever present fear of falling and being dashed to pieces on the cement terrace below. But it was the different perspective that I had from above that inspired me most of all: the ability to see our suburb from above, instead from the street view. I often imagined how great it would be to be able to fly over the neighbours’ houses and look in their back yards without them knowing.


Of course these days, we can do this with drones –  small flying machines that can record a video of all that they see, and I’d even have no need to climb a tree!

When our former home at Coorparoo was put up for sale in 2014, the Estate Agent used a drone to capture its image from the air, and then displayed it on his web site.

If you are droneless as I am, you can always resort to Google Earth on the web for a great aerial view.

Google view of Coorparoo
Google view of Coorparoo (my former home is in the foreground)

At the end of 2014, our former Coorparoo home was sold to a developer and demolished to make way for home units. My favourite Norfolk Island Pine tree was also removed, leaving only my memories and the images on Google Earth and the Estate Agent’s website – until they too are updated.

Site of my former home (and Norfolk Island Pine Tree) 2015.
Site of my former home (and Norfolk Island Pine Tree) 2015.

Myer Memories

Myer Memories

The former Myer Department Store site at Coorparoo, now for redevelopment
The former Myer Department Store site at Coorparoo, now for redevelopment

I must be getting very old, because, with all the talk about people’s fond memories of the Coorparoo Myer Department store, my memories go back even further to when the Roxy Pictures occupied the site (it was up the Woolworths corner of the block). In my childhood days, while I was still living at Glamis Lodge, 6 Stirrat Street, I and the other kids of our street would attend the Saturday afternoon matinee at the Coorparoo Roxy or the Alhambra at Stones Corner. As well as two feature films we were treated to a swag of cartoons. It was a common belief in our group that when the name of a cartoon came up on the screen, the projectionist would leave it on as long as our cheering lasted. Those kids’ matinees were very noisy affairs!

When our family moved from Glamis Lodge in 1958, my father and I rented a flat directly opposite Myer in Old Cleveland Road for ten years. The Roxy held out for several years, but eventually its owner,Mr Fielding, succumbed to the economic pressures of Myer and the competition from TV and sold out. It was still the era of trams, and whenever one trundled past our flat, the noise drowned out all conversation (and the TV).

Much later, from 1972 until 1977, I managed the Henry Francis Pharmacy which was situated within the Myer store itself: more happy memories there!

It’s strange that the Glamis Lodge Facebook page seems to be following so many memories of my former life.

Finally, as a suggestion, would it be appropriate to name the new cinemas in the Myer Apartment complex, the Roxy, as a reminder of its much loved predecessor?