S.S.Cormorant (hulk at Bongaree)
‘I was on the fishing boat that towed the hulk of the ‘Cormorant’ to its final resting place on Bribie Island. The ‘Cormorant’ had been purchased by Bribie resident, George Sharp, with the object of using it to stop the erosion of Bongaree foreshore frontages. As planned we arrived at Bribie at 5:00pm at the top of the tide. Arrangements had been made to meet up with Council employees, who would help put the hull in place, but there was no sign of anyone from Council, after a short time, we decided to go ahead and beach the ‘Cormorant’ ourselves. We fitted ropes to the shore, attaching one to a tree and the fishing boat guided the hull into position. The ‘Cormorant’ rested on the bottom about half way up the beach. Billy Woods had been engaged for the following morning to blow a hole in the hull, ensuring it was stay where it was placed. He arrived as planned and assuming the hull was where the Council put it, proceeded to place the explosives in the hull and detonate them. The ‘Cormorant’ would remain exactly where me and my mate, Ron Duell, had beached her until 1990 when its remains were removed for safety reasons.’
‘I was four years old in 1919 and my family lived in Terrace Street, New Farm. It was just after WWI and Brisbane was in the grip of the Bubonic Plague. So bad was it that the authorities had a horse and wagon which used to go round the suburbs to collect the dead. It was reminiscent of the Black Plague in Europe centuries earlier.
‘One morning dad heard the wagon in the street outside our house and the call of “Bring out your dead.” When he looked out the window he saw four bodies from the house next door being loaded on the wagon. It was all he needed to make up his mind and he called to my mother, Elsie, to pack a port. Then our family caught the S.S. “Koopa” down to Bribie Island.
‘We had no money and nowhere to live, so we went up about a mile south of the jetty where the RSL Club now is. It was all bush then and dad had packed a small tomahawk in the port which he used to strip bark from the pine trees and build a little humpy for shelter. Fortunately food was plentiful. We’d put a lasso out with food to attract goannas, which we’d skin, fillet and cook. Or we would boil up a bucket of yabbies. Fish were also plentiful which we caught using bent pins on a line.’
‘I visited Bribie’s reclusive artist, Ian Fairweather’s hut many times. If we happened to meet at the shops, I would have a cup of tea with him at Joe’s Jetty Café. Fairweather was then heavily involved with his translations of ancient Chinese novels, a task which required enormous concentration and perseverance.
‘So fine were his translations that the Buddhist Society of America, of which he was a member, honoured him by sending him an exquisite rectangular seal. Although Fairweather was not a man to receive honours gladly, But I remember that he was especially pleased with this seal, and the recognition of his Buddhist peers.
‘Best known of these translations was THE DRUNKEN BUDDHA, which had been accepted by University of Queensland Press for publication. Fairweather needed a typist and approached me to do the job for him. Although I couldn’t type myself, I did refer him to another resident of the island who proceeded with the task. However, as the work progressed the woman’s husband became alarmed with Fairweather’s accounts of the main character’s somewhat unorthodox personal habits and thought it best if his wife passed on the task to someone else. As Fairweather himself was a bit of a mystery to the other residents on Bribie, the typist’s husband was probably equating Fairweather’s habits with those of the drunken buddha!
‘Another typist was duly found.’
Ian Fairweather and hut (Photo courtesy Ron Powell)
References: Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection