On my morning walk to Cleveland Point last week, I was surprised to see a new addition to the old Lion’s Club and former Schoolhouse Gallery in Linear Park. Although the building was familiar to me, I couldn’t place it, until when I drove home past the nearby RSL Club I noticed that the old building next door was missing. Of course! They have moved it (and demolished a shop next door) to make was for extra parking at the RSL Club. I am not really in favour of cars taking precedence over history, but at least, as I learnt in the local paper next week, the 128 year old stationmaster’s cottage has now been preserved in a better historical spot for use by the Cleveland Community.
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:
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.’
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
Last year, I accompanied a group of young tech enthusiasts from CSIRO, UQ, and QUT to Peel Island to film a documentary for the BBC. It was all part of the CyArk project with the aim of digitising the Lazaret (see my earlier blogs: ‘Click’ of October 15, 2016 and ‘Digitising the Lazaret at Peel Island’ of May 14, 2016). It was all under the guidance of Nick Kwek, the show’s producer and director who came from London to do the filming. He realised that the story’s human side is really fascinating as well, so I was included in the team to supply a bit of the human history to the now empty huts that the drones and robots were to film.
Now it’s available for all to view on the BBC’s official YourTube account:
Marilyn Carr writes…
When I was six, maybe even younger, my father used to take me down to the lowest deck on the SS “Koopa” to watch the two stokers at work shovelling in the coal; we would also pause further along the passage-way at the half-door which allowed a small child, partly hoisted up by their father, to peer down into the gleaming engine room. The engine was painted red and green; the brass plaque that would have said when and where the S.S. “Koopa” was built truly shone. It must be fifty years since the “Koopa” last sailed across the Bay to Bribie – after stopping at Redcliffe jetty. I can remember a Thursday trip in 1950 or 1951 which would have been close to when it stopped running, but my earliest recollections go back to before its service elsewhere during the Second World War.
However, if I shut my eyes, in my imagination I can curl my hands around the varnished, curved railings still.
What wonderful stories that “old girl” could have told! May I share a couple of stories that come to mind? First, we were told an enormous groper was supposed to have its home under the shelf just where the “Koopa” berthed at Bribie. Legend had it that once some foolhardy soul did not heed advice and dived into the water off the “Koopa”. He went straight into the jaws of the waiting groper!
There were bottles of oysters that could be purchased by passengers from a little kiosk (which was painted black and sat between the two runways that led out to the wharf) as they returned to the Koopa after their three hours’ stay on Bribie. Three short toots signalled the vessels immediate departure back to Brisbane. Life on Bribie revolved around the arrival and departure four times a week of the “Koopa”. (I think there may also have been some night trips at one time.)
One has to be a little careful here, though the lady of this story was most respected by my family. She still, I believe, would have many relatives around Moreton Bay. The lady grew carnations which she would take to the “Koopa” for them to be sold in Brisbane. She had also been left by her former employer a motor car (possibly one of the very few cars – not trucks – on the island. One needs to think “Model T” now) and driving this car she would automobile (“drive” as a word seems inadequate and there were not really roads anyway) to the jetty all dressed up in flowing white wearing a large hat and carrying her big, big bunch of carnations.
Occasionally, on her return home could one say the warmth of the day would overcome her and she would stop for a little snore!
Just before the final journey of the “Koopa” to Bribie, Bribie’s Lady of the Carnations made her last trip as well. She had passed away and the captain of the “Koopa” had the task of the dispersal of her ashes from the “Koopa”’s deck. Now, I only heard this story but it goes like this: there was a sudden wind change at the critical moment of the dispersal ceremony. Bribie’s Lady of the Carnations did not return immediately to the Bay but to the “Koopa”’s decks! Her spirit furious, that was the end of the “Koopa”!
Reference: Peter Ludlow ‘Moreton Bay Letters’
Marilyn Carr writes…
My father would comment that the shock waves from the explosions would lift “Torphins”, our beach house, momentarily off its high Queensland stumps and the windows would rattle, the iron bedsteads groan. There would be the loud, loud clatter of machine guns firing and sundry booms and cracks from high-powered rifles. “Another practice landing,” my Father might have thought and, as the noises subsided, have calmly pumped up the “primus” to boil water for a very early cup of tea.
That was around 1944, during the Second World War in the Pacific. The American marines had a large training base at Torbul Point, on the coast of Moreton Bay. There, American troops practised amphibious barge landings. This was training for the island-hopping strategy to be used to retake the Pacific Islands then held by the Japanese. The sounds that shook “Torphins” were just rehearsals for what was to be real later in the Solomon Islands and, too, on Iwo Jima.
So, barges filled with armed, invasion-ready marines would churn across the half-mile of Pumistone Passage, their bow-plates would be lowered and out the troops would storm onto the uninhabited northern part of Bribie Island with all guns truly firing. Then, Bribie Island had but few permanent residents and only land-owners with security passes could access the island. My family still went there for school holidays. The trial invasions were regarded as very necessary and quite accepted.
On occasions troops would be moved around the island’s sandy tracks in trucks with the troops standing up on the tray behind. I have the distinct memory of a convoy passing our house and one of the troops falling off the truck. He picked himself up and ran alongside the truck to jump aboard again. I watched from the verandah of “Torphins”. Other items seemed to get left behind as well. Once, I found a well-balanced dagger. George, a retired circus rouseabout who acted as our caretaker when we were not on Bribie, taught me how to throw it. I have always regarded a dagger as my weapon of choice!
For their ‘invasions’ the Yankie marines also took along food supplies. These came in wooden boxes, holding gold-coloured, squat tins on which, I think, was written two capitals letter ‘Ds’, with between them an arrow. I had found a full box of such rations close to “Torphins”. Do know that, for children (and I would have been eight in 1944) chocolate was a nearly unheard of dream. There was food rationing, but not for chocolate. Such sweetness had seemed to have ceased to exist. But I, with my find, had found a cache of chocolate!
The wooden box’s tins had three different contents: some were K rations (which I believe implied emergency food) some contained baked beans and others hash, rather like Australian camp pie – not particularly tempting but I am sure with meat rationed, every tin was used by my family. The K ration tins held chocolate, biscuits and some had cocoa, while some powdered coffee – unheard of in Australia then. The chocolate in each K rations tin was consumed with relish.
However, the baked beans, heated up on the wood-fired stove, were mouth-wateringly delectable and are, to me, more remembered. Every-day, so-ordinary baked beans were then quite unobtainable until after the war had ended. Over seventy years later I still enjoy baked beans served on toast. Breakfast at a five-star hotel holds a special delight as one spoons a serve of baked beans from a highly-polished silver serving dish onto one’s plate. The memory of my first taste of baked beans comes back. And, for me, they are deserving of being served out of a silver dish.
One box of army rations discovered must have made my cousins and I decide to search for more after another invasion trial not too far up from “Torphins”. There was Cousin George, Cousin June and I and it may have been the winter school holidays, in 1944. Our Grandmother must have been in charge. We were to keep to the beach – where we could be seen from the house for quite a distance.
We found the invasion spot where the vegetation was trampled, some trees tattered. There we found another wooden box but this one was deeper and sturdier. It had been opened. It did not contain food tins. Instead, it held machine-gun bullets about six inches long and held into a long chain of metal. A disappointment, but we decided to take them home. With George leading, and the bullet chain looped between us, we ambled back along the beach to “Torphins”.
Grandma saw what we were carrying. She was aghast. Grandma gathered up some oars, made us take the bullets down to the beach and help her push out our rowing boat into the Pumicestone Passage. Into the rowing boat she clambered, fitted in the oars and rowed out to what she thought was the channel. There she dumped our find of machine gun bullets overboard. I do wonder, would over seventy years be enough for them to have disintegrated?
World Health Organisation:
‘In 1937 Dapsone, the first of a new sub‑class of sulpha drugs called the Sulphones was produced. Dapsone was found to be thirty times more active but only fifteen times more toxic than Sulphanilamide and in the 1940s is tested as a possible cure for Tuberculosis. Regrettably it is not effective but tests against rat leprosy provide dramatic results. Soon it was tried on human volunteers and by the mid 1940s it was believed that the miracle cure for Hansen’s Disease (Leprosy) has finally been found.’
Dr Eric Reye (Medical Officer, Peel Island Lazaret):
‘On the 23rd of January 1947, twenty of Peel’s most severe cases received their first doses. The philosophy behind its administration was to deliver the maximum amount of drug in the shortest time, and as such the Promin was delivered by intravenous administration each morning for six days each week. In all, by the end of April, my assistants and I have given 1,677 Promin injections, and the results were most encouraging!
(Promin is broken down in the body to dapsone, which is the therapeutic form.)
Thirtieth Session of the National Health and Medical Research Council:
‘The Commonwealth Government should pass a special Act granting to certain Lepers allowances along the lines of those available to sufferers of TB under the TB Act’.
However, the Commonwealth Government refused to accede to the recommendation.
Seventh International Congress of Leprology in Tokyo:
‘The Congress is unequivocally in favour of the abandonment of strict segregation and other restrictive practices as currently applied to Hansen’s patients.’
Following this Congress, a full report was made to the Queensland Parliament, which then implemented legislation for the transfer of the lazaret from Peel Island to Ward S12 at the South Brisbane (now Princess Alexandra) Hospital. Such recommendations were contained in the Health Acts Amendment Act of 1959 (Division VI ‑ Leprosy), which replaced the Leprosy Act of 1892.
‘If isolation is deemed to be necessary, then it must be done within the community, in special wards at community hospitals, where patients and their relatives can go without fear of community ostracism.
‘These are the lessons we can learn from Peel Island. Its past was grim, at one time hopeless, but it should never be forgotten that such events did occur right here at our doorstep, and in recent times. Let Peel Island always remain as a symbol of the individual’s determination to live on in the face of hopelessness, and of mankind’s ability to conquer such terrible afflictions as can beset our community at any time.’
LEVITICUS (regarding a person with leprosy):
‘his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering on his upper lip and shall cry unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him shall be defiled: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.’
Luke 16:1: (In the parable of the rich man and the beggar, which begins…)
‘There was once a rich man who dressed in the most expensive clothes and lived in great luxury every day. There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who used to be brought to the rich man’s door, hoping to eat the bits of food that fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs would come and lick his sores… ‘
C.R.Wiburd (a former Quarantine Officer at Brisbane):
‘Maritime Quarantine, as we know it, commenced in 1348 when the overseers of Public Health at Venice were authorised to spend public moneys for the purpose of isolating infected ships, persons, and goods, at an island of the lagoon. A medical man was stationed with the sick. As a result of these arrangements the first maritime quarantine station of which there is any record was established in 1403 at the island of Santa Maria di Nazareth at Venice.
‘The Venetian Authorities framed in 1348 a code of quarantine regulations which served as a model for all others to a very recent period. All merchants and persons coming from the Levant were compelled to remain in the House of St. Lazarus for a period of forty days before admission into the city. From this is derived the term “lazaret” which has persisted until now.’
The lazaret was established in the north-western corner of Peel Island in 1907.
Tom Welsby (early bay historian):
‘It (Peel) would have made an ideal township, or rather residential quarter, had mercantile buildings been erected at Cleveland and its surroundings. Had the surface of Peel been covered with well built villas and terraces a fifteen minute or less run would have taken the businessmen and others from Cleveland to a home where in summertime the weather is always delightful, and where north‑easters and south‑easters alike cool the day and evening and night with the charm of Southern Seas … but surely so large and conspicuous an island as Peel might have been left from the charge of having its soil so sadly contaminated (by the lazaret).’
June Berthelsen (a former patient at Peel Island lazaret, on her diagnosis with Hansen’s Disease/leprosy):
‘I felt dazed. I had Leprosy ‑ that dreadful disease mentioned in the Bible, where the Lepers were shunned by the people. Lepers ‑ with loathsome sores and disfigured limbs. Would I finish up like that? Would my family and friends disown me as something unclean and horrible? I remembered the fate of lepers in the Bible, how they wandered in the waste places of the desert, treated more like animals than human beings. Cast out forever by their own kind. Would it be like that for me?’
Lloyd Rees (artist, describing his mother’s incarceration on Peel):
‘leprosy was diagnosed. The world being what it was and what it still is, that, of all diseases, threw a stigma. With cancer there was a horror, but with leprosy ‑ a stigma… There was a nasty air of secrecy about it all. From Cleveland, down south of Brisbane…a mysterious launch left to take visitors to the island.’
Reference: Peter Ludlow ‘Exiles of Peel Island – Leprosy’
By 1910 Peel Island’s quarantine station (see blog of 22.10.2016) had fallen into disuse, so it was decided to use the empty buildings as a home for the more vocal inebriates (alcoholics) from the Benevolent Asylum at nearby Dunwich. The Inebriate Asylum operated for seven years from 1910 until 1916 when the inmates were returned to Dunwich, and the wooden buildings demolished.
Ivy Rowell (nee Jackson):
‘In 1910 my family came south from a farm in Atherton to Peel Island,” Ivy recalls. “I was just three years old then. There had been trouble with the inebriate inmates at the Benevolent Asylum in Dunwich, so the authorities shifted them to nearby Peel. Father and Mother were given the task of running the new Inebriate Asylum, which had been established in the old Quarantine Station buildings. I still remember the yellow and green flags in a box in the storeroom. And the large flagpole stood just outside our house. This was the only evidence of the quarantine days. My brother once climbed to the yard-arm and gave Mother an awful fright. Father had to climb up to rescue him.
‘People were sent to the Inebriate Asylum to dry out. We had two types of patients: public and private. Just like today’s health care. Private patients, or their relatives, had to pay one Guinea a week for board and lodgings. Public patients had earn their keep by working.’
An inebriate patient (pleading with his relatives to pay for his board):
‘ (Please release me from) this most awful degraded Hell I can imagine darkening God’s earth.’
Health Department Records:
‘William Simmons of Brisbane was convicted on July 20th 1910 of being found drunk on July 19th in Herston Road. Under the Licensing Act of 1885 (section 84) because he had no less than three convictions against him within the preceding twelve months, he was sentenced to submit to a curative treatment term of twelve months at the Institution for Inebriates, Peel Island. William Simmons was a public patient, and accepted the challenge of going, ‘cold turkey’ by applying himself in the kitchen as assistant to the cook. To keep his mind occupied in the quieter moments off duty, he took up oil painting.’
Dr Linford Row (to the Under Secretary, Home Department):
‘After serving six months of his twelve month term, William Simmons’ condition has improved to such an extent that I wish to make an application for discharge on probation, with every prospect of beginning a new life for himself in Rockhampton.’
‘William Simmons never returned to the Inebriates’ Home on Peel Island, so hopefully he made good.’
The beach below her parents’ house was a favourite haunt for Ivy, her brother and sisters. Every day, when not required for lessons, they could be found playing at its rock pool or jetty. At the other end of the island was the Lazaret, home to Queensland’s Leprosy patients. At this time, the Inebriate Asylum’s dinghy was used to transfer the hapless patients from ship to shore. It was fumigated after each such occasion.
‘One of the leprosy patients had come down from up north in a huge wooden box the size of a room. She had her meals and everything in there. She was probably carried as deck cargo on a ship. At Peel, the box was unloaded onto Father’s dinghy and rowed ashore. After the patient had been removed to the Lazaret, the box was burned ‑ on my beach! To this day, in my mind’s eye, I can still see it burning.’
Reference: Moreton Bay People – The Complete Collection
Memorial (to ‘Emigrant’ passengers buried at Dunwich, August 1850): ‘Around this stone are interred the mortal remains of twenty six immigrants who, seeking in this land an earthly home, have found elsewhere we trust a better country.’
(The quarantine station was moved to the Bluff on Peel Island in 1873.)
Gurski family (quarantined at Peel aboard the Friedeburg in 1873): ‘About 40 of the single men first pitched tents while the rest washed themselves and their clothing. The married people were then sent to do likewise. Some of the ship’s fittings had been landed on the island, and were being used on the tents. When Hamilton discovered this, he ordered the lot to be taken away immediately and burnt. There were only two cases of serious illness on the island. Matilda Kluck, 6 years old who had ulcerated bowels and chronic diarrhoea, and her older brother, Auguste, who had contracted Scarlet Fever the day the ship entered port. By the 29th the captain was able to report that the ship had been thoroughly cleaned and fumigated and (was) ready for inspection. On the 31st the ship’s crew were inspected, released from quarantine, and admitted to pratique.’
Tom Welsby: ‘The quarantine station on Peel occupied a most charming site on the headland (The Bluff) looking towards the south end of the bay and towards Dunwich. As a pure quarantine station, Peel Island has, in this direction, seen many vicissitudes and many eventful phases. On the hoisting of the Yellow Jack, the vessel from whose mast it fluttered was generally taken to an anchorage in the deep water between Peel and Bird Islands, and there stationed until all was well. Serious cases of illness were taken on shore for treatment. The healthy passengers were detained at Departmental will on the island also.
‘During one regime, in all cases of death from virulent contagious diseases the bodies were taken to Bird Island, and there, well above high water mark, were buried deep in the sand, with quick‑lime. In some cases there were burials on Peel Island at no great distance from headquarters…Since that time, many another soul has been laid to rest in that Peel Island cemetery, but I regret to say a couple of years ago a fire passed completely over it, and little now remains to tell of the mortals resting there.’
Dr J.I.Paddle (‘Southesk’ Surgeon Superintendent): ‘The Immigrants, on the whole, behaved very well on the Island and gave little trouble. The single women had to be closely watched all the time, as they had a great tendency to wander beyond their limits. At dusk they were ordered in and mustered to make sure that none were absent. I would further beg to suggest that it would greatly lighten the work of the Matron and the Constables in watching the single women, if a fence could be erected around their precincts.
‘One of the single women, Elizabeth Morris, gave much trouble one night, and I reported her to the Immigration Officer. On Monday evening May 22nd she gave a good deal of abuse to the Matron and kept swearing and cursing among the single women and inciting them to riot. She has been all along a very coarse and vulgar woman and very little amenable to authority throughout the voyage.’
Reference: Peter Ludlow ‘The Exiles of Peel Island – Quarantine’
I recently accompanied a group of young tech enthusiasts from CSIRO, UQ, and QUT to Peel Island to film a documentary for the BBC. It was all part of the CyArk project with the aim of digitising the Lazaret (see my earlier blog Digitising the Lazaret at Peel Island of May 14, 2016). It was all under the guidance of Nick Kwek, the show’s producer and director who came from London to do the filming. He realised that the story’s human side is really fascinating as well, so I was included in the team to supply a bit of the human history to the now empty huts that the drones and robots were to film.
Nick was indeed bowled over by the place and spent many hours filming the buildings as well as the robots and drones. He also conducted several interviews, of which I scored about ten minutes.
Although I did feel a bit out of place amongst all the geeky tech talk, (but I did understand the terms drone and wi-fi) it was a very stimulating experience for an old codger like me to be amid the intelligence and enthusiasm of these fine young University people.
Like the production of all documentaries, most ends up on the cutting room floor, and it was with some dismay that I learned that the entire segment, for the BBC series called Click, would only run for five minutes. I doubt that I’ll get much of an airing in the final product. As an historian, I often lament the discarding of so much history on the cutting room floor, which must be even worse now that we have changed from film to videotape and digital, but the media have little regard for anything outside their current projects. Nick did however say that a full documentary should be made of the place. I hope he talks to someone at the BBC about this idea!
You can watch out for this and other episodes on the web at Click http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/n13xtmd5