(Dr Charles Roe, South Stradbroke Island)

After several holidays at Southport between 1878 and 1882, Reginald Roe, Headmaster of the Brisbane Grammar School, and two friends each bought 10 acres of land on South Stradbroke Island.  They proceeded to camp there in tents on their holidays until 1885 when a permanent hut was built on Reggie’s block.  It was built on a knoll overlooking the plain where the tents were erected, and which were prone to flooding in wet weather.

The hut had one large room which was a dressing room for the ladies, a large brick floored open space with a fireplace, kerosene stoves for cooking, an ice-chest for food storage, and trestle tables for eating.  On the Broadwater side there was another open space – a verandah where the ladies slept.  Men and boys were accommodated in the tents nearby, sleeping on home-made bunks.

Pit latrines and rubbish pits were dug well away in the surrounding bush which made a long walk on a rainy night with a kerosene lamp usually blown out in a Southeast wind.

In the days before WWI the regular visitors were generally the school boarders.  Reggie and his wife, Maud, often took the maids from the School House to help with the big parties.  The boys roamed the scrub, fished, sailed, swam in the ocean and in the calm Broadwater, and sat down to huge meals at the long trestle tables.  Card games and sing-songs followed the energetic bustle of the day, and everyone slept soundly and long.  An idyllic existence, and it set the pattern for the Kamp parties unto the present day.

In its title “Camp” became “Kamp” through an association with the first name initial of a young regular visitor Katherine Jones who was devoted to the Roe family.

Harpooning sting-rays, shovel-nose sharks and saw fish on a wide sandbank in the middle of the Broadwater was an unusual and extremely popular pastime – the fun was fast and furious, particularly when the quarry swam directly at the line of hunters, and harpoons flew through the air from all directions.  On one occasion a saw-fish was disturbed and swam straight for one of the party, a young lady named Bessie.  Bessie wore a two-piece swimming costume – a dark serge high-neck tunic with a long skirt and serge pants below the knees with white trimmings on all loose ends.  As the saw-fish reached her, Bessie spread her legs and the fish swam through the arch, cutting the cloth on both sides.

Human tower on the sands at South Stradbroke 1922 – image State Library of Queensland

Expeditions such as these often interfered with other more essential Kamp duties, such as rowing to the mainland for milk, bread, and other stores.  Maud spent many exasperated hours on the beach watching the boat with the milk churns in it cooking in the summer sun while the boat crew chased sting-rays on the central sandbank.  At least the party who remained on the island to chop wood could not slide off to fun activities ’til their task was completed to Maud’s satisfaction.

Extract from Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection’.