The Burgess Farm at Russell Island 1920s and 1930s
Gary Day has contributed photos and a scrapbook of his mother, Esther Burgess who was born in 1919 and lived her first 19 years on Russell Island. She hated its isolation. Her parents (and Gary’s grandparents) were Ernest and Alice Burgess. It is their farm that features in the photos and scrapbook.
Clippings from the Russell Island Scrap book of Lorna Burgess:
From August 9, 1938:
John Willes’son, Frederick J. Willes, retires as Russell Island postmaster after more than 50 years. He used to collect and deliver mail from the surrounding islands and take it to and from the mainland in his motor launch twice a week. His father John Willes settled from the English Midlands to Russell Island as its first European resident in 1886.
Post office destroyed by fire. It is thought to be the first building fire on Russell Island.
From August 10, 1938:
10/1/1938 Aboriginal skull and part skeleton found on Stradbroke Island
4/2/1938 Cyclonic storm strikes Russell Island and overturns 30-foot launch. A man was trapped inside for some time
11/2/1938 350 lb shark landed. Mr. Albert Raddon of Lamb Island, fishing from a punt a few yards away from the jetty, hooked an eight feet grey nurse shark, following which he experienced an exciting half hour. The punt was towed across the channel (by the shark) to Karragarra Island and from there along the whole length of the channel between the two islands in the direction of Stradbroke Island. The shark was finally landed on the Lamb Island beach. The shark was finally landed on the Lamb Island beach and was estimated to weigh about 350 lb. A little later a 4-foot shark was caught in the same vicinity. Fishing is becoming increasingly popular round the islands and is attracting Brisbane club fishermen, who are holding a competition here during weekend.
Residents at Canaipa Point, Russell Island, are still thrilled at the visit of Richard Tauber, who visited that beauty spot in the Atlanta, and sang for the island people.
Gary Day 2010
(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)russ
Like Peel Island’s ‘Hole in the Wall’ Russell Island’s ‘Giant’s Grave’ has long been an easily designated favourite haunt for the fishermen of Moreton Bay.
David Willes, a descendant of John Willes the original European pioneer of Russell Island writes: ‘The Giant’s Grave used to be quite a landmark for the old mariners. Situated on the western side of Russell, just north of Brown’s Bay, this large mound of tree covered earth bore resemblance to the grave of an imagined giant.’
Of the Giant’s Grave Joshua Peter Bell writes in his book ‘Moreton Bay and .How to Fathom It’ : ‘This is simply a large, grave-like mound of earth and rock rising somewhat surprisingly from the partial swamp around it. Doubtless of natural origin.’
Steamboat Ken (alias Ken Goodman) writes in his monthly column for the Bay Island News of September 2016: Fellow Islanders, how many of you have heard of or visited the Giant’s Grave on Russell Island? It has intrigued people ever since being reported by Moreton Bay historian Thomas Welsby in 1907. An old oyster gatherer Jack Wall had a camp at the spot for many moons, but I’ll let Tom Welsby do the talking. In his book ‘Schnappering’. Tom says that 30 or 40 feet (9 to 12 metres) above Wall’s camp ‘there rises a curious lengthened mound or knoll. Standing on the southern end, one looks across from Little Rocky to Big Rocky…all appearing to run in the same direction, almost due south or a little west of south. The Giant’s Grave is a some 10 to 12 feet (3 to 3.6 metres) in height, about 20 feet (6 metres) or a little more across, and maybe 80 or 90 yards (73 or 82 metres) in length. The surface consists of pale red-coloured pebbles, with vines and small shrubs growing profusely. Towards the end, dipping in towards the island, there are a few fair-sized trees – the extreme part giving a view of lagoonish-watery country, that might grow something other than mosquitoes and flies, but I think not. One might pass this grave formation and take no heed. Nature’s formation of the mound is indeed curious, yet there it stands in summer boating days and winter’s silence.’
Ken Goodman continues: You need high water to get to the Giant’s Grave by sea. Heading south from the old salt works on Macleay Island towards Rocky Point, when abreast of Brown’s Bay on Russell Island on your portside, swing in towards the northern edge of said bay. The western tip of the bay’s curve is the location of the Giant’s Grave (as marked with an arrow on the accompanying map. Since then, about 40 feet of ground has gone between high water and the grave). Have a look sometime, examine it and wonder at what’s beneath this mound. But don’t linger on your high tide because Browns Bay dries at low water.