Thursday, 10 May 2018

Bribie Postcards

Bribie Island Postcards
circa 1965.

Postcard folder, circa 1965, Bribie Island, Qld.

2. Bongaree Beach and jetty, Bribie Island.

3. Bongaree water tower from beach, Bribie Island.

4. Cyprus Pine Avenue, Ocean Beach Road, Bribie Island.

5. Pelicans, Pumicestone Passage, Bribie Island.

6. Looking south to Wreck Point from Jetty, Bribie Island.

7. Ocean Beach, Bribie Island.

8. Safe anchorage, Pumicestone Passage, Bribie Island.

9. Shopping Centre, Bribie Island.

10. New Bridge and Toorbul Point from Bribie Island.

11. Bellara, from water ski lodge, Bribie Island.

Thank you to Graham Mills.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

1925 Bribie Island The Rising Resort

The following advertorial appeared in the 1925 brochure entitled Mountain and Seaside Resorts from Noosa to Tweed which was compiled and issued by the state Tourist Bureau. 

Bribie Island The Rising Resort
December 1925

Bribie Island, or Bribie, as it is more conveniently called, is reached by continuing the steamer trip in the s.s. Koopa or Doomba past Redcliffe to its furthest limits. It is 38 miles from Brisbane, and is reached after a three hours run from the city, the steamers berthing at a short, well-constructed jetty. Bribie Island and Moreton Island, which lies opposite at a considerable distance, form the most northern outposts of Moreton Bay. Bribie Island is about 20 miles long, from 2 to 3 miles broad, and is well timbered.  

Near the jetty there is a commodious refreshment-room, where fish and oyster dinners are obtainable, and also stores at which campers can purchase requisites. A large pavilion, bathing-sheds, and other conveniences for the use of visitors have been erected. Accommodation is provided for by a number of boarding-houses, and, as a further inducement, the steamship company has erected twelve huts of a standard design and size (14 feet by 12 feet) along the inner beach. 

On application to the caretaker, Bribie, these may be let at the following rates:- Ordinary weekly tariff, 6s.; Christmas, New Year, and Easter, 10s. per week; week-ends, 3s. 6d. 

For the excellence of its fish and oysters, Bribie is known far and wide, and during the summer months the company run their steamer to Bribie every alternative Saturday to afford city folk and anglers an opportunity of a week-end at this resort. 

The Amateur Fishermen's Association has erected a fine cottage for the convenience of members. It is situated about half a mile from the jetty. 

Bribie has made rapid and substantial progress during the past two years. An excellent road has been constructed from the jetty across the island to the Ocean Beach, where a handsome and commodious kiosk has been erected by the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company for the convenience of visitors. 
The main ocean beach is ideal for surfing, and excellent fishing may be enjoyed nearly all the year round. This beautiful hard sandy beach stretches for miles along the eastern side of the island. Motor 'buses meet all steamers and convey passengers to the ocean beach.

 There is a Government experimental station a short distance from the jetty. Visitors will receive much assistance and useful information from Mr. Bob Davies, at his store near the jetty.

Travelling from Bongaree to Caloundra through Pumice Stone Channel
December 1925

Caloundra can be reached by a through smooth trip from Brisbane. The glimpses of scenery obtained during the passage through the winding channel are such that must be seen to be appreciated. Leaving Bribie, Toorbul Point, on the mainland, is passed; thence the old fish-canning works. Presently an old iron hulk is viewed; then are seen what appear like fenced selections on the sea, which are really licensed oyster banks protected by this means against the enemies of the shellfish.

Looking further northward one perceives the green-carpeted sward of the banks on which hundreds of aquatic birds, from the large pelican to small snipe, are peacefully feeding, whilst further away great flocks of black swans are gracefully swimming.

Ever and always about us are the towering peaks of the Glass House Mountains, their grey trachyte sides viewed first from the south-east, thence due east, and again from the north-east. By proceeding from the metropolis to Caloundra Via Bribie, and returning via Landsborough by rail to Brisbane, or Vice versa, a splendid round trip is afforded tourists.

Mountain and seaside resorts from Noosa to Tweed. (1925) Compiled and issued by The Queensland Government Intelligence and Tourist Bureau, 10 December 1925. Bribie Island the rising resort [text and photos] pages 94-94. Travelling from Bongaree to Caloundra through Pumicestone Channel [text and photos] pages 67-70. Viewed on the Internet Archive  

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Nostalgic Reflections of Bribie 50 years ago

The following article was printed in The Bribie Islander, issue 44, March 2018, pages 30-31.

History Page
By Barry Clark
Bribie Island Historical Society
50+ years on Bribie residents plaque, Brennan Park.
Photo: Barry Clark

The following item of “Nostalgia” was first written by Ted Clayton back in 2004, and is one of several documents he has shared with me recording his memories of Bribie Island. 

Ted has over 80 wonderful and challenging years of memories to look back on, and has lived on the island since he married in 1954. Ted and Pat Clayton are one of the “50+ years on Bribie” pioneers that I had commemorated on a plaque in Brennan Park. 

 Ted’s parents Ernie and Marion met on Bribie Island in the 1920s when they had rental properties and lived most of their time here until 1984. Ted grew up in Brisbane but spent much of his early childhood on family holidays on Bribie, attending the Primary School for periods during the 1940's.

Bribie Bridge under construction 1963.

In 1954 Ted married Patricia and they came to live on Bribie in a house Ted built himself at No.11 South Esplanade. As a carpenter Ted did contract building work and together they ran a bait and tackle store. Their family of three daughters and a son grew up on the island.

During the construction of the Bribie Island Bridge in the early 1960's Ted was the General Foreman.

Ted Clayton, Fishing
World cover, Dec 1978.

Photo: Barry Clark
Ted Clayton was also one of the islands most renowned fishermen and from 1970 wrote regular articles about fishing, and became a regular contributor and field editor for "Fishing World" for over 20 years. Ted's articles about fishing around Bribie Island created nation-wide interest.
Ted Clayton + big fish.

There is not a square inch of Bribie Island that Ted has not explored in his 80 years roaming the island.

In 1990 Ted and Pat moved from South Esplanade Bongaree, to live a quieter life at Whitepatch.

The following document is one of several that Ted has written to document and share some of his memories of Bribie Island, and I hope to bring you more of his great memories in the months ahead.


Fifty years ago when Pat and I were married we settled permanently on Bribie. The Place was paradise – there is no other description for it.

Making a living was a starvation pastime but that was the only drawback. 

In my Batchelor days I worked in the scrub in North Queensland. My parents had more use for my spare cash than I did and they repaid the favour with an allotment in South Esplanade. To make it vacant I had to move a small house that was on it to the back of the allotment to the south. My parents owned that block. It already had one house on the front. It was my first house move and I undertook it with more guts than brains. Looking back I wonder at my parents feelings. It was their house and they had a lot at stake. You are a bit thoughtless when you are young.

My partner and I moved a couple of big houses from block to block with the Council tree puller. A bit of sherbet could get you that. Tthere was no dirt for filling on the Island but sometimes a truck would conveniently break down outside the job. All perfectly good natured. Life was a bit simpler then.

The process with the houses was to jack them up – put longitudinal timbers on the stumps then place some more crosswise. The faces of both of these where they met was liberally rubbed with laundry soap (‘Velvet’). The tree puller was attached to the house and once the thing moved the timbers glazed and went quite well. There was a bit more to it than that of course. One had one metre stumps that were rotten and as soon as we started pulling half of them snapped and we had to get under it to salvage things.

I was very fit – I built our house in my spare time in twelve months. We had no floor coverings or curtains, we bathed in a basin. The Rentons were next door and both houses survived on 1,000 gallon tanks.

The Renton’s system, in the kitchen sink, was to wash themselves, wash the kids, wash the dishes then do the laundry. I made our furniture at night at a work bench in the main room. The Council would have a fit these days but no one thought it odd at the time. The toilet was a thunder box out the back. Pat accepted it all in good spirit.

The best advantage was the position. In front we had a pristine beach where one could swim and sunbake. Our children grew up with that. You could not put a price on it. Going fishing was as easy as crossing the road and stepping into a dinghy.

The roads on the Island were simply wheel tracks in the sand. That was South Esplanade – two-wheel tracks. There was not a shovelful of road gravel anywhere.

Early on we had a special Island Registration fee for our vehicles. In theory they couldn’t get onto the mainland.

Mostly we bought old ‘bombs’ that couldn’t run on main roads. One, I forget the make, needed an eighteen inch piece of flooring jammed between the gear lever and the dash panel to keep it in top gear. It had no brakes at all. You turned off the ignition coming into a corner and turned it on again as you came out. I had one vehicle, a Dodge Six, that had as much guts as any four-wheel drive that I have ever driven. 

Its failing was the steering box. It took about six turns of the wheel to have any effect. On a bush track you had a very active time. I used to drive it through the scrub to Dux Creek chasing mud crabs. That area is where Bellara now stands but in those days it was a very pretty marshy place with a lovely fresh water creek running through it. The old Dodge would chug through across a ‘corduroy’ of logs and up a greasy slope on the other side as easy as you like.

One of my most respectable was a Chev, a 1934 I think, that I bought in Brisbane for the equivalent of fifty dollars. It was fully registered, I even took it on the mainland once.
Today’s car buffs would cry. We did some shocking things to some lovely old cars but they were cheap and all that we could afford.

I once went to Brisbane car shopping with my building partner. He finally found one out near Mt. Gravatt. It was a Rugby in immaculate show room condition – hood, upholstery, the lot. He got it for the usual fifty bucks. I drove it back to Bribie. The barge was running by then. We took a hacksaw and cut it off behind the front seat down to the chassis. Everything but the front seat was thrown into the scrub. He fixed some rough hardwood on the chassis and called it a utility. It lasted three years. 

One of the jobs that I took on for a while was driving an eight-ton Bedford truck for the Rentons. Driving to the Darra Cement Works for cement was one task. A bit hairy because at first I had no idea how to get there. Cement had the advantage of being warm. If I missed the last barge I would crawl under the tarp and go to sleep.

I have told you that gravel for building was worth a fortune on the Island in the early days. I later did trips to S&S Gravel at the Pine River for gravel. What one was allowed to put on a truck was foreign to us all. ‘As much as it could carry’. It certainly never occurred to me that anyone would give you more gravel than you paid for. I paid at the office for the load and they directed me to an excavator that would load it. I stood back and watched. After a while the operator looked at me and raised his hands and his eyebrows. Apparently it was up to me to say when. I got to the gate and the mob in the office had a talk. The portable scales were working somewhere so they told me to take a dirt back road to avoid them. Things went OK until I reached a very steep hill and didn’t have enough power to get over it. All that I could see half a kilometre back down the track was a very rickety and narrow bridge. Fortunately I had Pop with me. I stood on the brakes, pulled on the hand brake, turned the motor off in gear and got Pop to put some big rocks under the wheel. Then I got into it with a shovel and put a pile of it into the gutter. You live and learn.

Another choice run was to Attewell’s saw mill at Caboolture for timber. Again you simply loaded all that you could get on. The long stuff piled up on either side of the cabin until you needed to be a snake to get into the seat. I had to back it down onto the barge and at low tide and that was a spooky business.

Another job that I took on for money was an eviction out at Woorim. The tenant wouldn’t get out. It required someone to stay full time on the front verandah for three days. I knew the bloke vaguely and he took it quite well. The inside of the place was a complete pig sty.

I put in a price and got the job of erecting steel towers along the Ocean Beach for the Coordinator Generals Department, and I also renovated one of the old navigation lights at the top end of the Island.

I put the lookout cabin on top of A.P.M.’s (Australian Paper Mill) one-hundred-foot fire tower. Most of it got put together on the ground and was lifted by a crane but I did the finishing touches hanging on like a fly. Anything for a quid.

Ted Clayton, 2004.

Clayton, T. (2018) Nostalgic Reflections of Bribie 50 years ago. The Bribie Islander issue 44, March 2018, pages 30-31.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Alternative Road to Bribie

"Sandstone Point" Motorway proposed as an alternative road concept 
to congested Caboolture-Bribie Island Road

Alternative Road Concept?

Bribie Island Road is becoming more of an ordeal every day with an ever growing number of traffic lights, and no solution in sight for the crawl through Ningi. It would be interesting to look at the growth of traffic to Bribie Island over the past decade. An alternative is for a motorway that would skirt around built up areas. Establishing a corridor for a future 4-lane motorway from the Bribie Island Bridge to the Bruce Highway is a lot easier than having to resume built up areas in the future.

Money may not be available for such a project overnight, but unless a corridor is planned, it is highly unlikely that it will ever be an option. Currently, a route is possible from the Bribie Island Bridge to the Morayfield exit on the Bruce Highway. There are no existing traffic lights at the Morayfield exit, and it is closer to Brisbane than the Caboolture turnoff. The proposed route is shown on the map below.
Proposed 4-lane motorway from Bruce Highway, Morayfield Exit to Bribie Island Bridge
to ease the current volume of traffic on the Caboolture-Bribie Island Road
and reduce the volume of traffic crawling through the township of Ningi.
Graphic source: Ian Hooper
There is also a proposal for Bells Creek Arterial Road near Caloundra to be extended to North Lakes, but it seems to be only a proposal. A motorway corridor from the bridge to this road could still be justified to avoid passing through built up areas in Ningi. 

It is only reasonable to expect that the Queensland Government will not seriously consider this motorway if local residents show little interest. I encourage people to write to this paper, or Simone Wilson, if they would like to see a feasibility study done for this proposal.

Ian Hooper

Letter to the Editor by Ian Hooper "Alternative Road Concept". Island and Surrounds issue 21, February 2018, page 2.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Early Days at Bribie Island

Early Days at Bribie Island
by Reg Campbell, October 1963.

The following article was published in The Bribie Star v.2(9) 19 October 1963, p. 15.

Early Days at Bribie Island, pictures by courtesy of Reg. Campbell, author of this article.

In the year 1905 our family set sail in the cutter Salina from Hayes Inlet, just up from Clontarf, for our new home at the mouth of Ninghi Creek, Pumicestone Channel.

My father, the late Joe Campbell, came to take charge of Mr. J. Clark’s extensive oyster farming operations. The oyster leases and dredge sections extended as far up the channel as Donnybrook, and some of them went as far up as Mission Point, which is about 10 miles north of Toorbul Point.

Our near neighbours were Mr. C. Dean and Mr. Fred Turner. Other families in the area were the Days, Bestmans, Bastins, and still further up Ninghi Creek were the families Freeman, Davis, Dux and Bishop. Mr. Harry Wright lived on Bribie Island and Mr. W. Mohr and J. Gallagher lived at White Patch. Mr. H. Bowles lived at Mission Point and a little further up the Passage was Mr. T. Tripcony, Mr. August Wilson and Mr. C. Bardon were at Donnybrook.

Oystering was the foremost industry carried on in those days, and the main oyster lessees were James Clark, Moreton Bay Oyster Company, J. Markwell and T. Tripcony. Apart from oystering, there was also dairy farming, and a good deal of log timber was handled in and around Toorbul and Bribie Island.

Oyster Dock [Reg Campbell photo]
All goods from Bribie Island were carried by J. Clark’s s.s. Sunset and later the s.s. Sunrise, the Moreton Bay Oyster Company’s schooner, Sir Arthur, and later still by the auxiliary cutters Result and Caloola.

The log timber for James Campbell’s mills at Brisbane was shipped by the paddle-wheelers Lintrose and Bell from the rafting grounds at Ninghi Creek, Donnybrook and Coochin Creek.

Mr. T. Tripcony ran a service with his motor auxiliary to and from Caloundra and Brisbane, carrying Government stores to Bribie and “lead lights” to the northern end of the Island and Caloundra. On the return trips he carried shell-grit, oysters, citrus fruits and also pineapples from Westaway’s orchard near Caloundra.

Only School 
The only school was on Toorbul Road, not far from Elimbah Creek, and as this was too far for us to attend we did not receive any school until 1908 when Mr. James Clark built a small provisional school at Toorbul Point. This building still stands there, but during the last war some additions were made to it. Miss Eustace was the first school teacher and there were only 14 pupils.

In 1910 Mrs. Sarah Ball established a fish cannery on Bribie Island, and the building stood opposite to where “Shady Glen” now stands. The cannery operated until 1914 when it was forced to close down because of a shortage of tin plate which occurred just after the war began. The building was sold to a Brisbane jam factory and it was removed to the city on the s.s. Porpoise, owned by Burke and Sons.

In 1911 the E. and A. liner s.s. Eastern ran aground on Salamanda Reef off the southern end of Bribie Island. After unsuccessfully trying for some days to refloat the vessel it was decided to jettison some of the cargo, after which the liner was freed from the reef.

The jettisoned cargo, which included bags of rice, canned foods, cases of petrol in 4-gallon drums, shark oil and bags of peanuts, was washed up on Ocean Beach. The bags of peanuts burst and loose nuts were blown from one end of the Island to the other. Eventually there were peanuts growing on many parts of the Island.

Destroy Cargo 
It was not long before customs officers were sent from Brisbane to inspect and destroy the cargo washed ashore on Ocean Beach. The officers rode along the beach on bicycles and cut holes with hatchets in all of the tinned goods that could be found.

Some of the cases of petrol (it was called benzene in those days) were salvaged at the Caloundra end of Bribie, and Mr. Charles Godwin was engaged to ship it to Brisbane in his auxiliary launch Victory. Returning from the second trip, Mr. Godwin was accidentally drowned after being hit by the sail of the Victory and thrown overboard into the Passage. The body was found several days later floating near the fish cannery jetty.

From 1906 to 1911 the Royal Australian Naval Reserve carried out annual gunnery
practice in H.M.A.S. Gayundah off Bribie Island. The targets were erected in Horeshoe Bay, just opposite where Mr. Gazzard’s home now stands in Webster Street, and the Gayundah anchored near the Deception Bay beacon.

During these same years, 1906 to 1911, the Brisbane Tug Company sent their tugs, Greyhound and Beaver, which had been fitted up to carry passengers, to Bribie Island on holidays such as Easter, King’s Birthday, etc. A square-end punt with seats all around was used to take passengers ashore. A rope was tied to a tree and to the boat, and the punt was hauled to and from the bank just opposite the Bongaree water tower near the Bribie Island Bowling Club.

Other visitors to the Island in their sailing yachts in those days were Messrs. T. Welsby, I. Bond, J. Plumridge, B. Fox, the Ruddles and many others.

Telephone contact 
One noteworthy happening which took place about this time, 1910, was when Mr. J. Clark had a telephone line erected to connect with Caboolture Post Office where Mr. Dick Draney was the post-master.

There was no telephone on Bribie at this time and it was a boon to Bribie residents to be able to send urgent messages from Clark’s private phone.

About 1911 the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company decided to start a regular service to Bribie Island, and an order was placed with Ramage and Ferguson, Scotland, for the steamer which was intended for the Bribie run. Eventually, the ship, later named the Koopa (the word means flying fish) arrived in Brisbane under the command of Captain Douglas Taylor, and after docking and general overhaul the Koopa was placed on the regular service from Brisbane to Woody Point and Redcliffe. Later the services was extended to include a Bribie trip on Sundays, but as there was no jetty in those days the Koopa had to anchor in the Passage and any passenger wishing to go ashore were taken in rowing boats by local fishermen.

In those days the return fare on the Sunday and Thursday trips was 2/6 and campers could obtain a return ticket tenable for twelve months for four shillings.

Early in 1912 the construction of a jetty was started by Taylor Bros., of Brisbane, and although not quite completed it was used to land passengers by Easter of that year.

First Caretaker 
A residence was built near the end of the jetty for the first caretaker, Mr. George Jaques, and later a bush-house where refreshments were served was built at the rear of the residence. Shortly afterwards another building was brought from South Passage, Moreton Island, and erected beside the caretaker’s residence for use as a cafe. The building had been previously used for this purpose at Moreton Island.

About this time water tanks were erected at the shore end of the jetty. Water was brought each trip from Brisbane and pumped into the tanks, thus providing a good water supply for campers.

Mr. A.T. (Arty) Bestman, a bee farmer, was the first settler in the area, and when the Government decided to survey the township of Bongaree the first survey peg was driven on Mr. Bestman’s property on the corner of what is now First Avenue and Toorbul Street where the Four Square Store is located.

The Brisbane Tug Company built six 12ft. by 14ft. weatherboard huts along the foreshore just north of the jetty which were let at a rental of 6/- per week. The huts were so popular that another six were built shortly afterwards and they became known as the Twelve Apostles.

Building Erected 
About this time a building was brought over from South Passage, Moreton Island, erected just about where the Bongaree water tower now stands, and used as a dance hall. It was in this hall that the first Bribie island school was conducted under the guidance of Mr. L. Diplock, Bribie’s first school teacher. There were about 16 to 20 pupils attending when the school first started. Later the building was sold to the Bribie Island Bowling Club and it now forms the main portion of the present club house.

Sometime in 1914 A. Tripcony and Son began a motor-launch service which connected with the Koopa and ran from Bribie to Caloundra.

In 1915 the Avon, now referred to as “the wreck” on Blackbuoy Bank, near the mouth of Dux Creek, was placed in its present position to form a breakwater to protect the oysters on the bank from heavy southerly weather. The Avon was a condemned coal hulk, which, in its early days, had been a schooner engaged in bringing South Sea Islanders to Queensland to work the canefields.

In 1916 Messrs. J. McDonald & Son built a big house in Banya Street for Mr. Norm Congeau, the proprietor of a well-known Brisbane wine saloon. This building is now the property of the Church of England.

Novelty Gardens 
About this time the novelty gardens belonging to Mr. R.J. Davies, in Campbell Street, were really beginning to take shape. A cypress pine hedge around the property was trimmed into shapes of men, kangaroos, emus, etc. In addition to this there was a small collection of animals and birds and a small aquarium. There were also several hundred pineapples growing on the property.

"Pirra" one of the barges used to transport road metal
to Bribie Island. [Reg Campbell photo]
Vera Campbell Album VC8_128
Online at  SLQ APA-114-0002-0008
The first road between Bongaree and Woorim, Campbell Road, which was recently so named after the late Mr. G. P. Campbell of the Brisbane Tug Co., was built in 1924 by the late William Shirley.

After the necessary clearing had been done it was graded with the Caboolture Shire Council’s grader which, with the bullock team, was brought from the mainland by the late Mr. Joe Campbell, using a motor-boat and pontoon belonging to Mr. J. Clark.

Gantry for unloading road metal for road from
Bongaree, Bribie Island, to Woorim.
[Reg Campbell photo]
The metal for the road was brought from Collin’s quarry (the quarry was located on the bank of the Brisbane River where the Story Bridge now stands) to Bribie by several barges and the steamer Porpoise. The contractors for carting the metal from the jetty to the job were the Blake brothers (Harold and Bert) with two International trucks.

First Buses 
When the road was opened to traffic the first four buses to carry passengers across the Island were T model Fords. Later Mr. W. Shirley added an International truck, converted to carry passengers, and the first bus drivers on the run across the Island were Messrs. W. Shirley, Nobby Meelham, R.J. Campbell and J. Green.

After the road across the Island was completed the township of Woorim was surveyed, and a kiosk was built by Mr. W. Bishop for the Tug and Steamship Company. The timber for the building was shipped from Johnson’s mill at Caboolture, down the Caboolture River and across Deception Bay by a launch towing a pontoon. The men in charge of the towing job were W. Freeman and R. Campbell.

It was about this time, soon after the Ocean Beach road was constructed, that the Tug Co. added another steamer to their fleet. It was the ex-H.M.S. Wexford, renamed Doomba, which is the aboriginal word for “wombat”.

First Bakery 
A little later Mr. Kerr and his son built a brick oven in Toorbul Street and started the first bakery on the Island. About two years later the bakery was closed and Mr. Kerr went over to Redcliffe and opened the Peninsula Bakeries. Mr. Heenan then opened a bakery in Foster Street, opposite the Church of England Hall. The business later changed hands and was conducted by Mr. T. Read until a new bakery was built in Banya Street. When Mr. Read left the bakery it was carried on by the present owner, Mr. F. Kling.
Steamship Koopa bound for Bribie Island
Reg Campbell photo

During the 1914-18 war there was little progress on the Island. Apart from the
building of a few small houses Bribie was at a standstill. After the war the Island progressed slowly, then came the Second World War when forces were station here and Ocean Beach was closed to civilians. The progress of Bribie speeded up after the war and today it is fulfilling the hopes of the pioneers who foresaw the Island’s future potentials.

Campbell, R. (1963) Early Days at Bribie Island. The Bribie Star v2(9) 19 October 1963, p. 15.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Bongaree's jetties

Bongaree's jetties - more from Bribie Island
by Phil Rickard

Cover of Light Railways
LR259 February 2018.
Light Railway Research Societyof Australia Inc.

The following article is from Light Railways 259 February 2018, pages 14-17.
Reprinted with permission.

   I was most interested in Rod Milne’s article on the Tramways of the Moreton Bay Islands (LR 251, Oct 2016) and, like Rod, I was rather amazed at the spindly jetty on Bribie Island, seen in the photo on page 19 of that magazine. However, I suspect its raison d’ĂȘtre has been mis-understood. There were actually two jetties at Bongaree – the one depicted, plus the ‘normal’ passenger jetty just a few yards away to the right, and out of the picture. The photo in LR251 was taken from the foredeck of the ss Koopa which was berthed at the passenger jetty.

Bongaree jetty, viewed from the ss Doomba. Note the three jetty approach walkways,
dating the photo to post-1926. The centre (original) jetty was built in 1912 and
fitted with a narrow-gauge tramway in 1913. The clothing seems indicative of the
mid-1930s however, note, under the awning, the hatless lady in smart white shorts,
bare legs, short-sleeve top and high-heels, rebelling against the fashion status quo

Photo source: State Library of Queensland image 6798-0001-0001
   The story of Bongaree’s jetties starts in February 1902, when James Campbell & Sons Limited were granted a Special Lease (SL 724) over 12 acres of land on the western side of Bribie Island, on Pumice Stone Channel as a wharf site.[1] The following year, in August, the Brisbane Tug Company Limited was formed; a partnership between three existing firms that undertook towage in the port of Brisbane – Gibbs, Bright and Company; Webster and Company; and James Campbell and Sons. George Peter Campbell was named as manager and secretary. In addition to undertaking Brisbane’s towage, the new company declared that developing excursion traffic would be a priority.[2]

   The new company’s three tugs were not purpose-built tug boats such as we know today, but vessels also capable of being used as excursion steamers. The ss Beaver (222 tons) was certified by the Marine Board to carry 400 persons on Moreton Bay or 700 in the Brisbane River, the ps Boko (203 tons) could carry 253 persons on the Bay and 506 in the river and the ss Greyhound  255 on the Bay and 450 in the river. As there was generally only enough work for two tugs at Brisbane it was clearly good business sense to use any spare vessels on excursion traffic.[3]

   The ss Greyhound was the preferred excursion steamer and little time was lost in diversifying its use. One unusual trip was for the Eight-hours’ Day holiday at the end of April 1904. At this time Bribie Island was bereft of a jetty or landing and very few people lived there. The Greyhound ran a ‘camping excursion’ to Bribie on Saturday 30 April and returned to pick up the campers and picnickers on the Monday. [4]  Transfer to the beach was done by boats. In July the Beaver became the first of the company’s vessels to receive its new colour scheme, “a green colour [Aberdeen green] . . . with a red band around the funnel”.

Enlargement of the land end of the temporary staging, showing a small heap
 of gravel, with skips above. Height to rail level is about 13ft; the sea end being 
some five feet higher. For full picture, see Light Railways No.251.  
Photo source: State Library of Queensland image APA-114-0002-0007
   In October 1904, the company announced that the Greyhound or Beaver would institute weekly excursions to “Redcliffe, Bribie Island, South Passage, Pile Light and other favourite resorts”; not that Pile Light, about eight km north-east of the Brisbane River entrance, in Moreton Bay, could be considered a favourite resort! All vessels had their passenger facilities upgraded around this time whilst the Boko had its funnel reduced in height and mast cut so it could get under the Victoria Street bridge in Brisbane, for up-river excursions. Electric lights were installed throughout and Moonlight trips proved popular in addition to the normal Day return trips. The ‘Tug Company’ had clearly tapped a latent market; holiday traffic, especially, was proving extremely popular.

   Towards the end of 1905 the company obtained a 21-year lease on an acre of land at South Passage, on the southern tip of Moreton Island, and proceeded to erect a jetty (261ft long, no tram) for the landing of passengers. Again, this proved very popular as the spot allowed access to a much sought-after ocean surf beach on one side or, on the eastern side of the point, a shallow tidal pool suitable for children. Other events that proved popular included special trips with cheap tickets for children and parents, company picnics, fishing excursions, inspection trips whenever visiting naval warships (Commonwealth, British, Japanese etc) were in the Bay, visiting military encampments at Lytton and the free use of vessels for charitable events such as raising funds for hospitals.

   In February 1911, in a business restructure, the Brisbane Tug Company was acquired by a new company, the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company Limited. The company’s issued capital was increased. George Campbell was appointed manager and secretary of the new company.[5] A key intention of the new company was to buy a fast, purpose-built pleasure steamer of large proportions, specifically for the Moreton Bay trade – in fact they had already been in consultations with a Scottish shipbuilder (Ramage and Ferguson, who had also built the Beaver in 1886) for many months. At the time, Brisbane’s population was about 150,000 and both railway and water excursions were big events, eagerly anticipated by all in the early years of the new century and a newly federated country. As much of the shoreline nearest Brisbane was tidal mud flats or mangroves, there was a growing demand for sandy ocean beaches and they could only be reached by steamer. This made trips to the various seaside resorts much sought-after by excursionists.

   Later in the year came the news that the new vessel, the ss Koopa (“Flying Fish”), had departed Leith, Scotland, on 17 October, and would arrive in Brisbane by the end of December. Such proved to be true, the Koopa arriving on Christmas Eve. The twin-screw steamer Koopa (416 tons) was built by Ramage and Ferguson Ltd, had a length of 192ft 6in, breadth of 28ft and draught of 6ft 6in.  She had two sets of triple expansion engines; cylinders 13, 21 and 34in diameter x 18in stroke, with steam supplied from two Scotch marine boilers. Top speed was 16 knots. Two decks for passenger accommodation were provided, the top, promenade, deck extending almost the whole length of the vessel. The lower, enclosed, deck had two main saloons. A kitchen, bar and confectionery kiosk were also included. The two funnels and the full-length covered promenade deck gave her a distinctive appearance.[6]

   After arrival, she was immediately put into service, running two well-patronised return trips to Redcliffe, a favourite beach resort, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. On New Year’s Day, 1912, even larger crowds were carried; on three legs of the two return trips to Redcliffe over 1200 people were on board for each journey. One month later, the Queensland government granted Special Lease No.1628 over 12 acres on Bribie Island to the company. Effectively, this was another continuation of the 1902 five-year lease which had been extended in 1907 for another five years, to 1912. A key difference this time was that SL 1628 was for 21 years (at £2 per annum) and required a “good and substantial wharf” to be built.[7] The purchase of the Koopa and the expansion to Bribie Island were clearly two key parts of the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company’s future plans.
Arriving at the Bongaree jetty; taken from the promenade deck of the ss Doomba, March  or April 1924. The temporary staging, to facilitate the import of stone and gravel for construction of the company’s private road, is clearly seen – with one skip visible – beyond
the passenger jetty. The ss Porpoise is largely hidden behind the jetty shelter shed. Three men  and the top of the skip being filled, can just be seen above the roofline. Compare with next photo.  The row of huts in the background were built by the Brisbane Tug Company and often referred to as the ‘Twelve Apostles’.  
Photo source: State Library Queensland image APA-114-0002-0003

The ss Porpoise at the temporary construction staging, at Bongaree in 1924, taken from the foredeck of the ss Doomba. The Porpoise is known to have been at that jetty in late March and early April when George Hallett got his fingers jammed in some machinery[1]. The Porpoise (125 tons) was built in Sydney in 1875. She was 103ft 8in long, 17ft 9in wide and 6ft 9in draught and had a 2-cylinder compound engine rated at 12hp. Purchased by John Burke Limited in 1908 for use as a coastal trader. Note the scoop fitted to the derrick, being used to transfer stone or gravel from her hold to the skip on the elevated staging.  A similar photo, but with the lighter Pirra (owned by T F Moxon), may be seen in the SLQ’s image APA-114-0002-0008.  

[1] Daily Mail, Bris. 29 Mar 1924; Telegraph, Bris. 4 Apl 1924
Photo source: State Library of Queensland image APA_114_0002_0004
   In mid-January the ss Koopa made the first of many trips to Bribie Island (it would serve the island until May 1953), though it could not land passengers as the company’s jetty had yet to be completed. By early May that deficiency had been rectified; Sunday the 12th is thought to be the first time the Koopa berthed at the new jetty at Bongaree. Bribie Island had arrived as a tourist destination, even if it was somewhat rural and rustic! It was good for picnics and camping, had a beach on the bay side of the island whilst an hour’s walk enabled one to reach the ocean surf beach. In early June the Koopa carried company shareholders and friends on a special trip to Bribie Island to view what had been accomplished. Luncheon was partaken on board whilst berthed at the new jetty and a band provided entertainment.[8] The jetty, constructed by Taylor Bros., well-known bridge, wharf and pier contractors of Bulimba, was 200 feet in length by 10ft wide, leading to a T-head 75ft x 16ft.[9] Previous to the Koopa entering the Tug Company’s fleet, excursions were usually suspended for the winter months but, with a purpose-built vessel now available, trips were run every weekend, even in the off-season and Bribie was usually the destination.

   In November 1912 the government declared the new ‘Town of Bongaree’ adjacent to the company’s jetty, conducted a survey and placed 100 blocks, each of one rood,[10] up for auction. These were eagerly sought after and most lots were sold at between £5 and £31 each, well above the upset price. Another sale followed in December 1913; prices ranged from £20 to £42. The price increases clearly showing where Bribie was heading. Further sales followed in subsequent years.

   Over the years the company made various other improvements at Bongaree – in 1913 they laid a narrow gauge tramway along the jetty and supplied a trolley for conveyance of luggage and stores, erected jetty railings, and a stylish shelter shed at the jetty head.[11]  Changing sheds and lavatories were erected at the beach for use of excursionists. Private enterprise provided a store and boarding houses and the company built a row of twelve huts along the foreshore, north of its jetty. These were quickly dubbed the ‘Twelve Apostles’ and appear in many early photos of Bongaree.

   In  early January 1914, the Queensland government granted the Tug Company’s secretary, George Peter Campbell, Special Lease No. 1862, for 21 years over a narrow strip of land across Bribie Island for the purpose of building a tramway.[12] The area, stretching from the jetty to the ocean beach, together with blocks at each end for termini, equalled about 58¼ acres. The rent was £2 per annum, for the first six years and subject to review thereafter.[13] It seems Campbell was embarking on a private venture. Unfortunately, the Great War intervened.

   In 1920, at the rent review hearing, Campbell advised that the original lease was obtained [signed?] on 31 March 1914. It was then found that the Minister for Railways had to give permission, a rather slow process. Then a London agent was needed to purchase the plant with Burns, Philp and Company eventually being appointed. They were arranging for the plant and material to be purchased from Belgium when war was declared, and advised Campbell to await the end of hostilities. The war was now over but the price of material was said to now be five [sic] times what it was in 1914. Campbell stated that he had had a survey made at a cost of £100 whilst also keeping a walking track open along the easement. He hoped plant would soon be available at a reasonable price so work may proceed. He was granted the same rent as that existing, £2 per annum for another six years.[14]

   Still events moved slowly. In early December 1922 tenders were called for the clearing and grubbing of the two-chain-wide easement.[15] By March 1923 this was subject to some industrial troubles over hours worked and the matter ended up in the Arbitration Court in Brisbane. The dispute was between the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU) and the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company (confirming that, ultimately, the company was behind the tramway scheme), jointly with Queensland Employers’ Federation. Around ten men were engaged in the clearing work under foreman William Shirley. Though clearing work was completed by mid-May, the Tug Company had a reality check and decided to construct a roadway, rather than proceed with the tramway.[16] Railway material was proving expensive whilst road vehicles seemed to offer a less costly and more flexible alternative, considering the small distance to be traversed. Road work was well underway by September 1923, a visitor reporting a ‘lively scene’ with bullock team, grader and scoop at work.[17]  
Bongaree 1924. Temporary elevated staging. Passenger jetty on right with luggage
trolley just visible. Two skips are at the far end of the staging with Blake Bros’
International truck nearby. The Tug Company’s road stretches into the distance.
 What a great view the kids had from the swings outside the caretaker’s cottage!   
Photo source: VC8_118 Vera Campbell
photos / Ted Clayton collection, BIHS Historical database.

   As stone for the road (or railway had it gone ahead) was unavailable on sandy Bribie, it had to be imported. To this end, Blake Brothers, carriers from suburban Windsor, were engaged to provide gravel and stone. This came from Bowser & Lever’s quarry at Windsor and was trucked by Blakes to a wharf in Brisbane whence it was shipped to Bongaree by various ships and lighters. An elevated staging was erected using the rather slim paperbark piles visible in the photos. This staging was about 120 yards in length and had double track at the jetty head. Road metal and gravel was unloaded by the various vessels’ steam-powered derrick and a grab, into standard 2ft-gauge side-tipping skips. Photos show at least two, that being the reason for the double track at the head; whilst one truck was being loaded, the other could be wheeled ashore. There, the material could either be tipped to a heap or emptied directly into Blakes’ motor trucks for movement to the required site. If dumped, it was later reloaded via another couple of skips operating up a short ramp and emptied into motor trucks – the below photo shows the arrangement.
Adjacent to the gravel heaps at the base of the elevated staging (and hidden
in the other photos) was this reload ramp. A couple of skips would be filled
with gravel and hauled up a short ramp using a block and tackle, with a horse
(out of sight to the left) providing the motive power. One of Blake Bros’ motor
trucks will then be backed under the structure and filled. 
Photo source: WO9_888012 Blake Bros.
photos / Warwick Outram collection, BIHS Historical database.

   The ‘first-class macadamised motor road’ was virtually finished by the end of September 1924. Indeed, from late August (and even earlier – i.e. Easter, along much of the way) the Tug Company had been running a motor omnibus along their road at ‘one shilling per return journey’.[18] A month later the company hosted an invited party including the Acting Premier, William Gillies; various ministers and MLAs. After luncheon on the ss Koopa, the party drove over the new road to the ocean beach at Woorim.[19] With the road’s completion the temporary elevated staging was dismantled. It was said that the Tug Company had spent around £8000 on the entire venture. One journalist claimed it was the best road around Brisbane![20] Within a few months the company had three buses available along their private toll road. In December the Queensland government declared a new town – Woorim – at the ocean beach-end of ‘Campbell road’, and started selling lots.

   The Tug Company continued to improve and build additions on the island. In September 1922, at their instigation, the telephone was connected. Later in the same year they donated land for tennis courts to be constructed. On 24 November 1923, the company’s newest vessel, the ss Doomba – even larger than the Koopa, came to Bribie for the first time. In 1926, with the Bongaree jetty barely able to cope with the crush of passengers, two additional jetty approaches were constructed out to the T-head which was, itself, widened to 40 feet. Only the centre jetty (the old one) carried a tramway. Shelter sheds were added at the ocean beach, plus a life-saving reel. A bowling green was constructed at Bongaree; a water tank was provided with clean drinking water and, in 1929, a kiosk for the sale of oysters and seafood built near the jetty. By 1933 the company had carried more than one million excursionists to Bongaree.[21] Bribie Island was now one of the premier beach resorts around Moreton Bay, principally due to the foresight and drive of the Brisbane Tug Company and, specifically, G P Campbell.

Acknowledgements and references
My grateful thanks to Donna Holmes at the Bribie Island Historical Society for answering my numerous questions and freely giving of her knowledge of G P Campbell’s activities pertaining to Bribie, and providing access to the society’s photographs. The society’s interesting blog may be found at and is well worth a visit.

[1] Queensland State Archives ID 24553
[2] The Telegraph, Brisbane 4 Sep 1903
[3] The Brisbane Courier, 3 Oct 1903
[4] The Brisbane Courier, 26 Apr 1904
[5] The Telegraph, Brisbane 4 Feb 1911
[6] The Brisbane Courier, 17 Oct 1911
[7] The Queenslander, 23 Dec 1911
[8] The Brisbane Courier, 5 Jun 1912
[9] The Brisbane Courier, 23 Apr 1912
[10] One Rood = ¼ acre [1012sq m]
[11] The Brisbane Courier, 31 Jul 1913
[12] Queensland State Archives ID 333167
[13] The Brisbane Courier, 10 Jan 1914
[14] The Daily Mail, Brisbane 18 Aug 1920
[15] The Brisbane Courier, 8 Dec 1922
[16] The Daily Mail, Brisbane 25 Jun 1924
[17] The Daily Mail, Brisbane 2 Oct 1923
[18] The Daily Mail, Brisbane 21 Aug 1924
[19] The Brisbane Courier, 1 Nov 1924
[20] The Brisbane Courier, 12 Sep 1924
[21] The Telegraph, Brisbane 4 Jul 1933