Playing the Banjo – Part 1

Frank Willoughby writes:

George Willoughby Senior was born in 1900 in Hong Kong, the son of George Richard Mayo Willoughby who was Harbour Master at Hong Kong from 1900 to 1904.  George started work in the railways, but then in the 1920s joined ‘Hub’ Tuesley building the rock walls on the Brisbane River with stone quarried from Mt Ommaney.  Later he began professional fishing with ‘Hub”s brother, Jack Tuesley on South Stradbroke Island.  George did a lot of fishing with the Tuesleys. They netted from the beach or from row boats in the surf, along with the Boyds from the Tweed who used to come up to fish the area as well.  They all had their own designated areas which they all respected.  Incidentally, the Boyd Bridge on the Tweed was named after the Boyd family.

George Willoughby and Jack Tuesley built a kiosk on South Stradbroke Island.  It was situated where Seaworld is now (the entrance has moved north).  The whole area has now changed but a few tree stumps from Tragedy Island still remain.  The Tuesleys had a jetty at Southport on the Broadwater.  They used to run fishing parties and took day trippers to their South Stradbroke kiosk to purchase worms to fish with.

The Kiosk on South Stradbroke Island 1922 (photo Frank Willoughby)

Later still, George got onto the cargo run with the Kleinschmidts in the “Maid of Sker” and gradually he worked his way up to the position of skipper.  The Kleinschmidts had started with sugar growing at Steiglitz which was then known as “Little Germany” because of the concentration of German immigrants in the area.  Then Ted Kleinschmidt started out with the firm of John Burke Ltd. Working on the “Wandana” and he made enough money there to buy the “Maid of Sker”. The Kleinschmidts started with Rudi Huth and were known as the firm “Kleinschmidt and Huth”. The crew consisted of Ted Kleinschmidt, Rudi Huth, George Willoughby, Roy Wilson, and George (“Ike”) Kleinschmidt.  They transported cargo from Brisbane to Nerang.

When the “Maid of Sker” finished her cargo carrying days, Ted Kleinschmidt purchased ground at Southport near Gardiner’s Creek adjacent to the Jubilee Bridge.  He put in a wharf and started with smaller boats, the “Florant”, “Regina”, and “S’port” (a commonly used abbreviation at that time for Southport). After WWII they got the “Bremer” from a gentleman named Manders which ran from Brisbane to Ipswich.   As vehicles became more active in the area the ground at Southport became the depot from which the cargo was distributed.  They used to carry fuel for the Nerang pumping station which supplied fresh water for Southport.  They had competition from the trains which was no worry at all.  But after the war (WWII) road transport was able to provide depot to depot service quickly and in all weathers, which gave them the advantage over the boats which were confined to “weather permitting” in the bay.  It would be nothing to get held up sheltering at Green Island in a nor’ easter or King Island in a sou’ easter.

(Extract from ‘Moreton Bay People, The Complete Collection’)