Working on the ‘Otter’ 

22.05.2021 – Working on the Otter 

The Otter at Dunwich Jetty (Photo courtesy Ossie Fischer)

The Otter was the supply ship for the old people’s home (Benevolent Asylum) at Dunwich on North Stradbroke Island. It had previously also been the supply ship for the prison at St Helena but this had closed a few years prior to the war. However, the ringbolts for the shackles for the prisoners’ chains were still in the forward cabin in the forecastle, which was part of our quarters. There were also two long forms on either side where the prisoners sat in their chains while being transported to St Helena.

Dunwich was our regular run, on Tuesday and Thursday. We would load up with stores on Monday, leave at 7 am on Tuesday. Passengers who were visiting relatives at the old people’s home at Dunwich had to be aboard by a quarter to seven, and it used to cost them 1/- (one shilling, or 10 cents in today’s money) for the round trip. The Otter left Brisbane just near Victoria Bridge. We’d unload the stores at Dunwich and return to Brisbane by 5pm. The trip itself took about 3-4 hours. On Wednesday, we’d load stores again and make another trip on Thursday, same conditions. On Fridays we would clean up. Everything had to be scrubbed and the brass polished.

At Dunwich there were rail tracks along the jetty and the stores would be transported along these from the shed at the end of the wharf where they were stowed as they were unloaded. We also supplied stores for the Lazaret (Leprosarium) at nearby Peel Island. However, the Otter was too big for its jetty so their launch, the Karboora, would have to come over when the Otter berthed and collect their stores from the end of the jetty at Dunwich. Bonty Dickson was the skipper of the Karboora at that time.

What was interesting was that we also used to bring back the bodies of the old people who had died at Dunwich. We would load the coffins onto the top deck onto big stools. It wasn’t a very pleasant job because if the person had died on Friday and had to wait until we bought them back on Tuesday, the body liquids would have started to seep out of the coffin. We used to have to hose the deck down afterwards. In spite of this, working on the Otter was a very good job – probably one of the best jobs I ever had and I liked it very much. It was lovely trip down the river and across Moreton Bay. I was working on the Otter when the war finished because I remember going up to town with another deckhand, Alan Nagel, for the celebrations on VJ Day. However, I left about a month after that. 

During much of the war, Otter had been on examination service, where she used to meet vessels incoming to Brisbane. However, by the latter stages of the war, when I worked on her, all the war’s fighting had moved further north towards Japan and she was back on the service to the old people’s home at Dunwich. After the war, the Otter was getting old and her condition and the expense of servicing Dunwich were given as reasons for shifting the old people’s home to Sandgate. However, there was a lot of politics involved. I myself thought that Dunwich was a very pleasant place for the old people. Most people seemed to enjoy being there and their relatives could enjoy a beautiful trip down the bay to see them – for just one shilling!

Alex King with a dredger bucket at the Maritime Museum

(Extract from ‘The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities’)

Wartime Brisbane, Through the Eyes of a Lad (by John Thornton)

The definitive histories of Brisbane during World War II have all been long written, sometimes accurately, so these are just the recollections, often inaccurate, of what Brisbane looked like to a schoolboy and youth of that era.

We lived in New Farm from the early 1930’s. New Farm was a very river-oriented suburb; the wharves and warehouses were a big part of life. Big liners like the Strathnaver and Strathaird seemed to tower over the whole suburb. Each year the Navy sent the Canberra and Sydney at Ekka time, and we would visit them at New Farm wharf. It was a personal thing when each in turn was lost during the war.

Things were looking up in the late 30’s, the Depression was over, buildings were going up, and I could watch progress on the Storey Bridge from my classroom at St James in Boundary St. But war was obviously coming, there was no euphoria about it, just dread, an attitude of “oh no, not again”. And so, it started, slowly at first. Evans, Deakin finished their Storey bridge, and were persuaded that ships were not much different from other tanks and silos, so Kangaroo Point got its shipyard.

            At Nudgee in 1941, we farewelled two members of the previous senior class, and within 6 months had memorial services for them. Things then got really bad. Sydney was lost with all hands, then Parramatta with heavy loss, then came the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, the fall of Singapore, and their repeated attacks on Darwin – all within a few months. Current history writers talk of cover-ups, that’s nonsense, information was plentiful, it’s just that disasters were unremarkable, there were so many.

It was a bit of a worry as all our trained forces were half way around the world. Us school kids were sent bush, heaven knows why. But sanity prevailed and by Easter we were back home. The digging of slit trenches was begun around the schoolyard, but boys turned practice drills into a re-run of WW1 trench warfare, so they were stopped.

One day I was watching two fighters stunting over Sandgate, when one nosedived, followed by a thump. He was gone.

            There was a big anti-aircraft unit, searchlights and guns, near Nudgee Station, and for most of 1942 they practiced on aircraft, we thought this more fun than homework. I left school and started work as an apprentice Toolmaker at the Rocklea ammunition factory in early 1943. They were making 3.5 million .303 shells per week plus .38 and .455, and 25 pounder shells. And this was the smallest of 7 factories in Australia! Where did they all go? At the end of 1943 they had enough, and switched to rebuilding aircraft engines, with test bays in the bush at the end of Compo Rd, now Evans Rd. The factory hadn’t really get going properly when the war moved too far north to make it worthwhile, so it closed and I shifted to Evans-Deakin shipyard.

Brisbane was a real mess by this time. It was the first decent port this side of the troubles, so things tended to concentrate here. Macarthur turned up, Canungra was set up for jungle training, all wharves were occupied and other temporary piers were put in wherever possible, USS Benson (or was it Benton) arrived at New Farm with its submarines, Eagle Farm grew new hangars and became the major bomber base, Archerfield housed fighters, and light bombers. I think the river could dock over 1000 ships, and the Bay was thick with others waiting.

I recall watching the arrival of a spectacular mass ferry flight into Eagle Farm of light bombers, mainly Mitchells and Bostons that took most of one day to get in and down. Crashed aircraft were stripped and piled four high in dumps at Eagle Farm, Bulimba, Enoggera, and Meeandah, each of 20 or 30 acres – a lot of grief there.

All this stressed Brisbane quite heavily. The civilian population was only about 250 thousand, and I was told once that about 1 million troops were quartered within 50 miles, a 4 to 1 ratio. All these fit and trained men were very toey, so the brawls were legendary. It was almost an entertainment to go into the Valley to watch the fights. The best riot, because it was harmless, was by the entire 7th Division. They had been overseas since 1940, did Kokoda, and were not allowed beer in camp. They all marched out of Enoggera, down Queen St, acquired a large keg from a pub near the Post Office, broached it there, and went back to camp. They got their wet canteens.

Brisbane was dim and gloomy, and not pretty. The combination of aboveground water mains, ugly concrete blast shelters, blackout lighting, lack of upkeep, and shabby austerity made for a general run-down look, and it did not really brighten up for another 20 years. The Americans kept their black troops, who were mainly labour battalions, segregated on the south side, and they were quite severe on any transgressions. A workmate told me that he saw a Negro shot on Victoria Bridge over this. In fact, the treatment of their blacks probably did more harm to our opinion of them than any other single factor. Actually, the individual American was usually a very nice bloke, but in the mass, they were a lot more foreign than Hollywood had led us to expect. Just in odd little ways. Macarthur himself was too flamboyant for our taste and his army was not much respected, but the air force and navy, and especially the Marines were highly regarded.

I joined the Evans Deakin shipyard late in 1945, installing the main engines in HMAS Murchison, a sister ship to the frigate now permanently on display at Southbank. I was thus a little late to be personally involved in their wartime work, but I knew and heard much about it and it was magnificent. There were few trained tradesmen, so apprentices matured early and it was nothing to see a handful of 17 year-old’s under one or two tradesmen heading off to Colmslie Dock to do a major job on a crippled ship. The submarine flotilla could provide some nasty jobs, like flooded compartments with dead crew, and one had its whole forward compartment blown off, which Evans Deakin rebuilt.

Shipbuilding was very satisfying: to see a pile of rusty steel take shape, get launched, fitted out, and then come alive as the boilers fire up and the engines turn over, is one of life’s great experiences. Sea trials were always a great day, I was out with Murchison, then DalbyDubboBinburra and Bilkurra – all good ships that gave no trouble. It was a pity that the yard could not last, but too much of inefficient work practices, demarcations, and union restrictions had been inherited from the Clyde so it had to go.

            Even though the Mirimar had been impressed for wartime service, it continued to service Amity and even in the black days of 1943 a group of fellow apprentices introduced me to beautiful Pt Lookout. Not that it was any picnic getting across the island, I recall midnight in winter, pouring rain, on the back of an Army FWD truck, bashing through bush. On a later visit we were standing on the beach looking at the half of the Rufus King wreck, then quite close inshore, when some air force planes turned up for target practice. First came a Spitfire, very pretty and interesting to watch. Then a Mosquito. Lots of guns, its speed would check noticeably when firing. Then a Liberator bomber. Gun turrets all over, all firing. Now there were spurts of sand kicking up not far away, so time to drop the rods and run.

One day it was all over, they all left, and we wondered at the quiet. Brisbane slept for years.

USS Chicago in Brisbane River (photo courtesy Ralph Munro)

John Thornton

21.8.2007

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (now out of print)

Stories From Peel Island – 8 – Quarantine – Throwing Down the Gauntlet (1)

A major concern of any Government is to protect the health of its citizens. Of most concern, perhaps, is an outbreak of infectious disease amongst its general populace. When the colony of Moreton Bay ceased to be used for penal purposes in 1839 and was subsequently thrown open for free settlement, foreign immigrants flooded in. With them came their families, their possessions, their skills, their hopes…and their diseases. Many of these, such as cholera, typhus, smallpox, scarlet fever, consumption, measles, and whooping cough were highly infectious, and an outbreak of any could decimate whole communities. The decision to place a ship in quarantine was not an easy one to make. It was an exercise in expense and inconvenience to the ship’s owners, the ship’s passengers, and to the community in general. However, such costs were justifiable when weighed against those which could occur should a serious infection be introduced into the community. When a vessel made port, a ship’s medical officer had first to furnish a medical report to the Health Officer of that port.  If everything was in order, pratique would be granted and the vessel would be allowed to berth.  If, on the other hand, a case of serious infection was present, the Health Officer could order the vessel and her passengers and crew into quarantine until the danger was over. 2

Moreton Bay map showing Cape Moreton, the Bar at the mouth of the Brisbane River, and Peel Island (all underlined)

Such was the case with the iron clipper ship Gauntletof 677 tons which left England from Gravesend on 18 September 1875 with 272 passengers. During the voyage of three months enteric (typhoid) fever had broken out on board. The first case of fever had broken out about forty days out of London, a boy being the first noticeable case. There were twelve deaths up to 21 December. The Gauntletarrived at Cape Moreton on 20 December, and remained there a day (Ed.to take the pilot aboard). It arrived at the Bar at the mouth of the Brisbane River on 21 December and remained there two days while the ship’s medical officer reported to the Port’s Health Officer. Because of the contagious nature of enteric fever aboard, the ship, was placed under quarantine and on 23 December it was towed to Peel Island by the Government tug Kate.

Buildings on Peel Island were provided for single women capable of accommodating one hundred, but which contained ‘no beds or other convenience’. There was a hospital for females and another for males. There was also ‘a small shed for the quarters of the Surgeon-Superintendent’. Male immigrants and families were compelled by the shortage of shelter to live in tents. However, within a few days of the arrival of the Gauntlet the first instalment of beds arrived.

An enquiry was set up to investigate complaints from those quarantined at Peel Island: many concerned the issuing of rations. It was, however, not the quantity or quality of the rations, but the lateness of the issuing on some days. There were also complaints regarding accommodation on Peel Island. Immigrants were placed under canvas, which proved to be inadequate to protect them from the sun or from rain.

Fresh provisions, including live sheep to provide fresh meat, were sent to Peel Island on 21 December and on the following two days. The Gauntletremained in quarantine for forty days.  There were some complaints about the distribution of food on Christmas Day, though there was a view that some complaints were not justified.  There were some men who were too lazy to do any necessary work regarding the tents.  Two hospitals were established on Peel Island, one for males and the other for females.  There were up to ten patients in each.

On 4 February 1976 the Brisbane Courier published a letter to the Editor from the ship’s Medical Officer, Dr J.A. Hearne, in which he challenged some aspects of the enquiry into the condition of the Gauntletimmigrants during the voyage and while in quarantine on Peel Island. In particular he challenged Brisbane’s Health Officer, Dr O’Doherty’s view that he (Dr Hearne) was incapable of preserving order amongst his people. Dr Hearne claimed that order and discipline on the Gauntletwere as well preserved as on any immigrant ship to Queensland.  He also objected to the arrival of two officers of the law, an implication that Dr Hearne needed their presence to maintain order, and to ‘save us from annihilating one another’.  Dr Hearne enclosed two letters he had received from agents for whom he had worked previously, verifying that he had ‘performed his responsible duties to our satisfaction’, including occasions when he had ‘repeatedly over 1000 immigrants under my charge’.

The passengers were taken to Brisbane on 7 February 1876.

The enquiry continued spasmodically until mid-March.

References:

[1]A brief extract from material supplied by Brian Hedges who writes that ‘most of this information has been gleaned from Pennie Manderson and Colleen Bosel, The Voyages to Queensland of the Gauntlet, Maryborough, c.1997, and from the newspaper editions of the Brisbane Courier.’

2 Ludlow, Peter ‘Exiles of Peel Island – Quarantine’

Moreton Bay Mysteries – 4 – The Wreck of the Rufus King

In the early years of Moreton Bay’s European settlement, it was customary for vessels to use the South Passage between Moreton and Stradbroke Islands. However, the loss of the paddle steamer Sovereignon 11 March 1847 led to the closure of the South Passage, with the shipping lane being moved to the bay’s northern entrance between Moreton and Bribie Islands. Poor visibility and rain, however, could continue to deceive ships’ masters into mistaking Point Lookout on North Stradbroke for Cape Moreton, and during 1853–1889 no less than half-a-dozen vessels came to grief on the South Passage. And it was such a fate that befell the American Liberty Ship Rufus Kingduring the night of 7/8 July 1942, as it approached Brisbane with a cargo of vital war materiel from Los Angeles. 

The site of the wreck of the Rufus King

Aboard Rufus Kingwere nine crated B-25 Mitchell bombers plus aviation fuel, and medical supplies and equipment sufficient to outfit three army field hospitals totalling more than 4,000 beds (or more than 17,000 boxes in all). At this time, the Japanese were on Australia’s doorstep to the north, and the Battle of Midway had been fought only the previous month; the Second World War still hung very much in the balance.

Captain Muller, his crew of almost 40 and vital cargo aboard a ship less than four months old, came to an abrupt halt in less than four fathoms (7m) of water, barely 18 miles (30km) from their destination. As rescuers began taking off her crew, 12 hours later the Rufus Kingbroke in two.

Fore and aft halves of the Rufus King (photo Val Knox)

A 200-strong team of Australian and US Army Medical Department personnel in the recovery of the ship’s cargo, the Americans based at Amity and the Aussies on Reeder’s Point. The drifting 330ft (100m) long forward section was taken in hand for salvage; and within four months, it had been sealed, towed into the Brisbane River and converted into its surprising second life.

Salvage workers aboard the Rufus King (photo Val Knox)

The Courier-Mail newspaper reported Captain Muller was taken back to America under arrest; others said he was incarcerated there for the rest of the war. Graham Mackey who had worked on the salvaged section, heard at the time: “we were told by a Yankee officer that the skipper … was a German descendant and had run her aground purposely.”

Whether the wreck of the Rufus King was just an accident or a deliberate act of war still remains a mystery. Perhaps the answer can be found the fate of Captain Muller back in America.

(Extracted from the book ‘Queensland’s German Connections’)


Moreton Bay Mysteries – 3 – Stradbroke Island’s Spanish galleon

M

Spanish Galleon

In 2010, I interviewed Jennie Phillips of Southport about her discovering the remains of Moreton Bay’s legendary Spanish galleon. I recorded our conversation in my book ‘Moreton Bay People 2012’ (which is now out of print):

‘In about 1968/69, my husband, Bill, and I had been fishing in our boat at Jumpinpin with our two small children. On an impulse, we landed on North Stradbroke Island on the north bank of the bar, and decided to take a walk along the ocean beach. We also had a fishing mate, Peter, with us. The children being very young, Bill and I had to carry them, and so we had probably gone only about half a kilometre along the beach and were walking in the sand hills amongst the light undergrowth such as Pigweed, when Peter received what he thought was a bite on the foot. We all gathered round for a look at the wound (and a rest – the kids were getting heavy by that time), but found that Peter’s ‘bite’ was actually a puncture from a sharp object.

‘Naturally we searched amongst the dunes for the sharp object, and found an old square nail sticking up from a piece of weathered wood about 2 inches by 4 inches in width. The nail was green with verdigris, indicating that it may have been copper or brass. More surprising was that there were a lot of other pieces of wood protruding through the sand. It then became obvious from their distribution that that they were tips of the ribs of a wooden ship. They had all been burnt off from bushfires over time. 

‘We scratched further amongst the sand and then found a couple of metal coins, which from their appearance were either of Spanish or Portuguese origin. We could even make out part of a date 15??

‘Could this have been the legendary Spanish Galleon whose remains we had just stumbled upon?  If only we had a camera! 

‘We kept the coins and resolved to return in a few weeks time, armed with a camera to record our find for posterity. Unfortunately a cyclone hit the coast just after our visit, and when we were able to return to the spot, the elements had rearranged the dunes, and the sands had once more reclaimed their treasure. We still had the coins, though, which we placed in an old tin box with a lot of other coins and curios that we had collected over the years. Unfortunately, a ‘friend’ of ours took the collection along to a collector for a valuation, and returned to us empty handed with the news that the box and its contents were worthless. We suspect that he had gambled whatever he was paid for them.

‘And the Spanish coins? Their fate is unknown – swallowed up, like the Spanish galleon in the sands of time.’

***

Recently at our local Probus Club, one of our members, Graham, happened to mention that he, too, had seen the Spanish galleon. In about 1934, as a young lad, he had been fishing with his father in Swan Bay on the southern tip of North Stradbroke Island. They had then waded through swampland to the sand dunes on the eastern side of the island. There they came across a timber skeleton of a ship some 60 to 90 feet long. Only the wooden ribs remained. Its position seemed to corroborate that described by Jennie Phillips.

Swan Bay area of South Stradbroke Island (Google maps)

What a pity they didn’t have mobile phones with cameras back then.

Peel Island’s Platypus – the Incredible Hulk

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…

Peel Island’s Stone Jetty and the Platypus today

 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.’

Peel Island’s stone jetty and the Platypus in the mid 1950s.

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)

Ships quarantined at Peel Island between 1873 and 1896

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

Friedeburg(quarantined 1873)
Scarlet Fever
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)
Typhoid fever

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)
Typhoid fever.

Western Monarch,from Gravesend (quarantined 1876, March 16 until March 24 when pratique granted for most passengers)
Typhoid fever
2 deaths, one from Typhoid fever

Brisbane(+ the government ship Kate) (quarantined 1876, March 26-April 12)
Smallpox
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)
Typhus

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)
Typhoid fever

Roxburgshire,fromGreenock (quarantined 1877, October 11- November 16)
Scarlet fever

Western Monarch (quarantined 1878)
Typhoid fever

Bowen(quarantined 1878)

Lammershagen, fromHamburg (quarantined 1878, August 6 – 10)

Friedeburg,fromHamburg, via Rio (quarantined 1878, October 17 -November 27)
Typhoid fever

Scottish Admiral (quarantined1878, October 20-30)
Typhoid fever

Clara(quarantined 1879, January)
Typhoid fever

Fritz Reuter, fromHamburg (quarantined 1879, January 20)
Typhoid fever

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.)
Fever

Shannon (quarantined1884, March 16 Mar for approximately one week)
Scarlet Fever

Crown of Aragon (quarantined1884, July (?)-August 13)
Scarlet Fever

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)
Enteritis

Bulimba(quarantined1888, January 14 (?)

Duke of Argyll (quarantined 1888, August-September 13)
Measles,1 death?

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)
Smallpox

 

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.

 

Peel Island map

 


			

Piloting the Ronald Reagan into Brisbane

USS Ronald Reagan conducting rudder check in 2007 (photo by M. Jeremie Yoder)

The USS Ronald Reagan visited Brisbane again this week. Getting her into our port requires much planning. On a previous visit in 2007, Captain Steve Pelecanos had this to say about piloting her into Brisbane:

‘There are some episodes that stand out as highlights in one’s career. In 2007 I piloted the USS Ronald Reagan into Brisbane. At 343 metres long and about 78 metres wide, it is the biggest ship ever to come into Brisbane. The preparation for it involved going to the United States and working with the American Navy.

‘The channels in Brisbane aren’t really designed to accommodate ships of that length, so as part our briefing with the US Navy, the Brisbane harbour master requested that the pilotage be done on a simulator first to validate what we thought was possible, and to develop and agree to a methodology for bringing the ship in safely.

‘We identified the most difficult and challenging aspects of the pilotage and worked on those until we got them right. We then worked out where and at what stage of the tide we would be at each stage of the passage. There were other issues we had to deal with. For example, there was the vessel’s sewage capacity which, with 6,500 bodies on board, would be reached in about 4.5 hours – the duration of the pilotage. One of the priorities then, was to get the ship alongside ASAP to plug into a facility that could accept its sewage.

‘The morning the Ronald Reagan was due to enter we went on board to do our pre-passage briefing. Normally on merchant ships this is done with one or two people, but on the Ronald Reagan we were taken into this room and there were about three hundred people there. I nearly fell over. I couldn’t believe it. Every man and his dog were involved.

‘The briefing went on and on and on and everyone seemed to be asking more and more questions. I couldn’t see an end to it. We had worked out that we had to get the first line ashore at 16.30 to plug into the shore sewerage tanks and to do this we had to pass the Fairway Buoy at noon and time was slipping away. I kept telling the captain that we really had to get going. He said ‘Don’t worry we have plenty of time,’ and I said ‘No we haven’t.’ For security reasons, they won’t tell us what their top speed is. It’s all classified. In the end he said, ‘what speed do we need to get to the Fairway Buoy on time’ and I said, ‘we now need 40 knots captain and he said ‘No problem.’ ‘‘No problem?’ I was stunned.

‘The ship just came up on his command. I have never been on a ship displacing 100,000 tons doing a speed of 40 knots before. It was so smooth and silent. It was unbelievable. The ship itself was more manoeuvrable in real life than she had been in the simulator. The entire pilotage – the movement of the biggest ship ever to enter Brisbane, 6,500 soles and eighty aeroplanes on board – went like clockwork. I guess it’s the sort of legacy one can expect from careful and detailed planning.

‘Although at the time I didn’t think it was a big deal, on reflection it was probably the highlight of my pilotage career.’

Captain Steve Pelecanos

Chairman, Brisbane Marine Pilots

February 2008

(Extract from Peter Ludlow’s book ‘The Port of Brisbane, Its People and Its Personalities’)

Stories from Mud Island – 5

The beach at Mud Island
Could this be the grave site?

Helen Ellis writes: ‘I have been spending many enjoyable hours reading as much as I can of the history of Moreton Bay on your various websites and blogs. One item I did read mentioned that there was an unsuccessful search to identify an old burial on Mud Island which may have been of an aboriginal person (Stories from Mud Island – 1 posted on Saturday 23rd January 2016). I did find mention of a burial of a South Sea Islander from the ‘Don Juan’ which arrived in Moreton Bay on 14th August, 1863 in ‘Journey to Sugaropolis’ on the Gold Coast City Council website.  I wonder if this could be the burial.’

The editor has traced back its original reference to the Sydney Morning Herald, 22 August 1863 which records:

‘BRISBANE.

ARRIVAL

August 15.—Don Juan*, from South Sea Islands.

The schooner Don Juan, Captain Greuber, left Erromanga** on the 4th instant, sighted Moreton light at 3 o’clock on Friday morning, rounded Moreton Island at 8 a.m., and anchored off the lightship at 9 p.m. During the passage she experienced a fine S.E. breeze and fine weather until the 12th instant, when the wind changed and blew a heavy gale from the N.E. The Don Juan has on board in all seventy-three South Sea Islanders for Captain Towns’ cotton plantation. One of the islanders died on Saturday last from exhaustion caused by sea sickness. He was buried on Mud Island. The agreement made with these men is, that they shall receive ten shillings a month, and have their food, clothes, and shelter provided for them.—Queensland Guardian.’

Editor’s notes: 

It could well be that if the skeleton was not European, then it may have been that of the unfortunate South Sea Islander.

*The first party of South Sea Islanders (Kanakas) was shipped to Queensland by Captain Robert Towns in the schooner “Don Juan” and arrived at Moreton Bay on August 14th, 1863. They worked on a cotton plantation in the Logan River area.

**Erromango is the fourth largest island in the Vanuatu archipelago