Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Apr 2017 speaker

Arthur Morley and Elsie Bates
Lynne Hooper, BIHS president
Guest speaker at BIHS meeting April 2017

At our April meeting BIHS president Lynne Hooper gave a fascinating account of the vaudeville careers of Arthur Morley (Albert Morley Welch) and Elsie Bates (Elsie Tottey).  Arthur and Elsie purchased a retirement home on Bribie in 1934.

Elsie Bates
Biography [online] Australian Variety Theatre Archive
Image Source: Australian Variety 23 May (1915) Cover
By means of a PowerPoint presentation she gave a brief history of Vaudeville in Australia and then moved through the highlights of their careers on stage throughout Australia.  Elsie was a serio-comic and dancer while Arthur was a basso singer.  They met when they worked together at the Gaiety Theatre in Melbourne in 1905, marrying in Sydney in 1907.  Though still singing and taking part in the Vaudeville shows Arthur went on to write and produce songs for revusicals and pantomimes.  His songs were so popular they were published for the music stores. 

By the 1930s they were living in Brisbane and Arthur was working in radio for 4BC.  His first character was Bob Breezy but the one that had new and old fans flocking to listen was the ’Old Timer’. The ‘Old Timer’ recaptured the romance of the stage, he spoke of men and women he knew and worked with, particularly those who graced the vaudeville stage in the days when he himself was a front-rank vaudevillian.

It was during this time they visited Bribie Island decided to buy their retirement house.  Arthur was 65 in 1934 when they bought 2 block of lands where the IGA now stands in Welsby Parade.  They build a high-set house and it was purchased in Elsie’s name.  The annual leave rental was 15s.

In 1935 Arthur passed away and Elsie retired to Bribie Island.  Their youngest son Valentine was registered at the Bribie Island State School and it was at Bribie she met her second husband, John Sabey, and they were married in 1941 – Elsie was 58 as was Sabey. They had to leave Bribie during the war and lived in Brisbane but they moved back to Bribie Island at the end of the War.

In 1947 Elsie sold the lease of the property to Terry Vines who ran his grocery shop “The Duck-Inn” as it had a very low entry doorway.

Elsie and John moved to Mt. Nebo where Elsie died on 28 October 1953.

Elsie Bates biography [online] Australian Variety Theatre Archive

Mar 2017 speaker

Early Maps of Moreton Bay
Donna Holmes, past BIHS president
Guest speaker at BIHS meeting March 2017

At our March meeting past BIHS president Donna Holmes, through a PowerPoint presentation, gave us a glimpse of early maps of Moreton Bay, identifying the change of the spelling of Morton to Moreton and the "moving" of Moreton Bay from the western side of Moreton Island to the bay encircled by Moreton and Stradbroke Islands.

Donna presented some rare maps advising she had purchased them (in digital format) from UK and Australian archives. Donna advised that in a lot of cases she buys maps sight unseen only going by the references made – unfortunately some images are not what she has hoped they would be, but luckily some are gems.

Maps shown were from expeditions by Captains Cook, Flinders, Grant and the 1823 Oxley expedition. An interesting map from 1803, by Eber Bunker, a captain of a whaling vessel was shown.

Donna finished the presentation by showing the earliest images of Australia appearing on Dutch and French maps.

These latter maps can be viewed on the website of the Queensland Lands Museum:
1550 - LaTerre Australle (Desceliers) [French]
1753 - Terres Australes (Bellin) [French/Dutch]

Early exploration maps – available online Queensland Lands Museum
Blair, David (2009) Moreton Bay – the Bay that moved.
Placenames Australia: newsletter of the Australian National Placenames Survey, June 2009, p. 1, 3, 7. [available online at ]
Steele, J.G. (1972) The Explorers of the Moreton Bay District 1770-1830. Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1972.

Bribie Lions Club time capsule

History in the making for the Bribie Island Lions Club
Recently the Bribie Island Lions Club members were excited to open a time capsule from 1991.  The following item from old issue of The Bribie Star show excitement was also on show when the Bribie Island Lions Club was formed in 1970.

Bribie Island Lions receive Charter [1970] 
The Bribie Star v.8(24) 12 Jun 1970, p. 1
Bribie Island was the scene of much excitement on the occasion of the newly formed Lions Club holding their Charter Night Dinner at the Blue Pacific Hotel Motel. Much time and effort had been put into the arranging of this function.

Notice of meeting to discuss forming a
Lions Club on Bribie Island.

Source: The Bribie Star v8(16) 20 Feb 1970 p.6
Distinguished Lions District Governor (Dist. 201K), Mort Stevens and Lady Kath; Deputy District Governors, Syd McDonald and Lady, John Crossley and Lady, and Howard Waterman and Lady Shirley; Zone Chairman Kev Maunder and Lady Phyl; District Governor Elect, Roy Miller and Lady Phyl; Regional Extension Chairman, Ted Kilenan and Lady Clare, Extension Chairman of Regions 1 and 2, Lance Lovett and Lady Sylvia and President of Lions Club of Redcliffe Peninsula (sponsoring club), John Rey and Lady Dorothy, gathered at the Blue Pacific, Bribie Island on the occasion of the Charter Night Dinner and Presentation of Charter to Bribie Lions Club, Saturday night, June 6.

Official guests for the most important occasion included Mr. D.E. Nicholson, M.L.A. and Mrs. Nicholson, Caboolture Shire Councillor, Phil Balmer and Mrs Balmer, and Caboolture Rotary Club President, Mr. Keith Renton and Mrs. Renton. . . .

Mr. Nicholson expressed his privilege at being asked to propose the toast to Lions International. He gave a brief history of the Lions Movement, . . . Bribie club, the newest to be formed in the world is the 634th club in Australia. . . .

District Governor Stevens presented a district award for extension to President, Joe Rey of Redcliffe club for its effort in sponsoring the Bribie club and an award to Extension Chairman, L. Lovett of Kingaroy, before making the presentation of the evening that of the Charter to Bribie Club President, Ed Bellamy.  He said that Bribie with the one-time reputation of being the land of the ‘tired and retired’ had now proved a fertile spot for sowing the seeds of Lionism. In advising members that service breeds support and reiterating the Lions Theme for the Year, ‘Unite mankind through Lionism’, he wished Bribie every success for the future. . . .

Sponsoring Chairman, Joe Rey presented Bribie club with a bell as a memento of the occasion, whilst Kev Maunder presented a flag set on behalf of the Zone Chairman.
Lions Lady Yvonne Wright of Redcliffe Peninsula, on behalf of visitors, extended thanks to hostess Jean Piva and the Lady Lions of Bribie for the warm hospitality received.
Bribie Lion, E. Schrag read telegrams and messages, including a warm letter of congratulations and best wishes from International President, W.R. Bryan.

The evening was a triumph for the Bribie Lions and Bluey and Jean Piva. Prior to assembling for the magnificent buffet dinner, elegantly gowned ladies gathered with their immaculate escorts to enjoy pre-dinner drinks in the famed Chrystal Room.  The Diplomats provided excellent background music during dinner, which was livened up on the occasion by the singing of lusty Lions songs, the latter provided music for dancing to suit all tastes. . . .

Charter Night Chairman, Bribie Lion, Otto Fluck performed his duties in a most professional manner and did much to make the evening an outstanding success.

[Bribie Star Ed. Comment – For the benefit of those who are not fully acquainted with the Lions Movement, the initial letters denote Living In Our Neighbour’s Service and the movement fosters an offshoot for the 15 to 21 age group, the Leo Clubs (Leadership, Experience and Opportunity).]

Notice of meeting to discuss forming a Lions Club on Bribie Island. The Bribie Star v8(16) 20 Feb 1970 p.6
Bribie Island Lions receive Charter. The Bribie Star v.8(24) 12 Jun 1970, p. 1
Bribie Lions get ready to dig up the past. By Paston Roth.

Further reading:
Bribie Island Lions Club – the first 25 years 1970-1995. 91 pages.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Historic Campbellville

Historic Campbellville and Campbellville Cemetery Site

by Donna Holmes, 
Past president, Bribie Island Historical Society

In November 2012 a group of BIHS members visited the Campbellville Cemetery Site. 
Campbellville Cemetery Site sign, November 2012.
Photo: Barry Clark

The visit was arranged by Barry Clark, founding president of BIHS and other sites around the Rocky Creek / Roys Road area were visited.

The sign was located near the historic cemetery site and the following is a transcript of the information on the sign.

The photograph in the sign is of a group of mill workers at Campbellville in the 1880s.

Transcription of the Campbellville Cemetery Site sign
To complement the description of the paddle-steamer Mavis arriving at the wharf at Campbellville is the following account by Mr. W.P.H. Harden published in 1940.

Mr. Harden's Story.
"On the night of Sunday, November 4th, 1888, my mother, my eldest brother Ernest, and myself, walked from Clay Street, New Farm, to board Messrs. James Campbell and Sons' steamer "Mavis," which then conveyed us by way of Bribie Passage to their sawmill at Campbellville on Coochin Creek. We left from Campbell's Wharf, known to-day as the Brisbane Tug Company's wharf. As we passed through Bribie Passage, the sun was rising and, shining on the top of Beerwah Mountain, produced a very beautiful effect. We passed the s.s. "Bribie" near the mouth of Coochin Creek. Further along we met a sailing boat on which was Mr. George Campbell who had come to join his father, Mr. James Campbell, Senior, on the "Mavis." The Coochin Creek wharf was reached about noon, the journey having taken about nine hours. My mother and myself remained at Campbellville for two days, and then after having loaded up our furniture and belongings on a bullock team, arrived duly at what was then known as the Peach Trees. . . . "
Source: Harden, W.P.H. (1940) The history of Peachester and Crohamhurst district. Read at a meeting of the Historical Society of Queensland on November 28th, 1939, by Mr. Inigo Jones. The Historical Society of Queensland Journal v.3(2):123-134, 1940. [Can be viewed on University of Queensland Library UQ eSpace]

In April 1966 while clearing a road and firebreak on the eastern side of Mellum Creek, Forestry employees found some old hardwood posts and discovered they had located the old Campbellville cemetery more than seventy years after the final burial took place there.

The discovery of the site aroused an interest in having the area of the graves neatly bordered with white painted rocks and marked with a sign "CAMPBELLVILLE CEMETERY 1880-1893" which was erected in September 1967 and Forestry employees kept the site clear for many years.

Nuggets of information about the history of Campbellville began to flow when the late local historian Stan Tutt wrote a series of heritage articles for the Sunshine Coast Daily and books published by the Caboolture Historical Society.  An initial history was written by A.C. (Craig) Gubby in 1975 published by the Qld. Dept. of Forestry, which was followed by a comprehensive revision published in 1994 by the Qld. Dept. of Primary Industries entitled Campbellville and Cedar Days: a compiled history of the former south-east Queensland sawmilling township of Campbellville and pioneers of the associated timber industry during the latter part of the 19th century.

In Gubby, 1994, p. 40, is noted the names of four people who it is believed were buried in the cemetery:  Mrs. Harry Blake (wife of the saw sharpener and engineer at the mill); Mr. Petersen, probably Mr. W. Petersen; Mr. Frank Lovsey (or Lovesie) and child of Frank Assen, yardman at the mill.

Subsequent research indicates infant child Francis Assen may have been buried on 13 Feb 1867 at Campbellville cemetery.  Newspaper reports indicate Andrew Lovesy died March 1884 at Campbell's sawmill, Coochin Creek "while step-dancing" and infant child George Campbell died 6 March 1886 at Campbellville.

Reference book:
Gubby, Craig (1994) Campbellville and Cedar Days: a compiled history of the former south-east Queensland sawmilling township of Campbellville and pioneers of the associated timber industry during the latter part of the 19th century. Brisbane: Queensland Dept. of Primary Industries, 1994. 42p. ISBN 0 7242 5206 1

Other information on the web:
Backward Glance: Coochin Creek and its history by Sunshine Coast Council's Heritage Library Officers

Wikipedia entry for Coochin Creek

Location of Campbellville as per Queensland place names search

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Bribie's first newspapers

Bribie Island's First Newspapers

by Barry Clark

Masthead of the Bribie Star newspaper
2 November 1962.
Source: BIHS database
The Bribie Bridge was incorporated in
the masthead of the Bribie Star
in 1964.
Source: BIHS database
The first newspaper that was specific to Bribie Island was the "Bribie Star" and was first published in June 1962.  

This was a year or so before the Bribie Bridge construction was completed, and the opportunities for promotion and advertising of Bribie businesses was sent to increase. The newspaper was very popular and was always full of news and views about local issues, community activities and the involvement of Caboolture Council in a wide range of community projects and needs. In those days, the Bribie Island Councillor represented just the growing population of the island, although there were only about 650 residents at that time.

That newspaper was published weekly and ran for 9 years until it closed down in June 1971.  The newspaper continued to be published under the name of simply "The Star", but it covered a much greater geographical area of the Shire, with little if any news about Bribie.  

Cover of The Bribie Islander
Sep 1984 vol. 1, no. 2
Source: BIHS Database
Cover of The Bribie Islander
April 1985 vol. 2, no. 4
Source: BIHS Database
There was no Bribie newspaper for 13 years after that, until a monthly magazine style newspaper publication called "The Bribie Islander" started up in August 1984.  

This monthly publication ran for 6 years until June 1990 when it too stopped. Since then there have been other local newspapers including the "Island & Mainland News" which ran for a few years till early 2000s, and the "Bribie Weekly" that has changed ownership but continues to this day.

Cover of The Bribie Islander
Jan 1988 vol. 5, no. 1
Source: BIHS Database
Cover of The Bribie Islander
Jan 1986 vol. 3, no. 1
Source: BIHS Database
The Bribie Island Historical Society have built a significant Database of historical records over recent years that contains all copies of the 9 years of the Bribie Star, and all but the very first edition of the 6 years of The Bribie Islander. If you have a copy of the first August 1984 edition of The Bribie Islander, we would be delighted to hear from you - our email is 

Cover of The Bribie Islander
Nov 1988 vol. 5, no. 11
Source: BIHS Database
Do you have a copy of the very first issue of The Bribie Islander August 1984? If so, please contact Bribie Island Historical Society 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Reminiscence of Bribie in WW2

In the 2017 edition (#43) of Bribie magazine Holiday Guide & Business Directory (pages 32-33) is an interesting article written by Historian Ron Donald about serviceman Frederick Sydney Sharp's reminiscences of Bribie Island in World War 2.

Syd Sharp continued his association with Bribie Island after his military service when he became the proprietor of the Ocean Beach Guest House for a few years.

The following article is reprinted with permission, from 2017 Bribie Holiday Guide & Business Directory published by the Bribie Island Chamber of Commerce.

The long life of a sailor comes to an end. . . 
By Historian Ron Donald

"The last remaining military link with Bribie Island in World War 2 has been severed with the death of former naval lieutenant and wartime Darwin bombing survivor Frederick Sydney Sharp on June 9 [2016] at the age of 99 years.
Lieut. Syd Sharp, as the youthful officer-in-charge of
RAN No. 4 Indicator loop station at Woorim on the east
 coast of Bribie Island. He was also a highly responsible
 officer in the wartime Brisbane seaward defences structure
 Although now protected by sandbagging, the station was
seriously threatened by beach erosion several years ago and
 is still intact, as are its two diesel electric power huts a little further inland.
Caption: Ron Donald

But his experiences in the long service of his country remain for posterity through his detailed written reminiscences of some of the most critical episodes in Australia's wartime history.

Syd Sharp, as he became popularly known in adult life, was born into a family living on the Parramatta River and it was only natural that his main sporting activities would soon become swimming, sailing and rowing, with the waters of Sydney Harbour an irresistible magnet.
There were ominous beginnings to his life - at the age of only four years he contracted typhoid fever and spent three months in the isolation ward of a private hospital in Ashfield, Sydney.  The illness was cured and he became a student at Sydney Grammar, joining the school cadets and leaving in 1934 at the age of 17 to take a job in the insurance industry.

Subsequently he joined the peacetime Militia (Army) - becoming a sergeant - but the call of the sea was insistent and he transferred to the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve in February, 1939 - the same year in which Britain and Germany became adversaries in World War 2.  Newly-married, Syd was mobilised in the naval reserve in December, 1939, being stationed at the port war signal station and anti-submarine unit at South Head, Sydney.  His training included an ASDIC (anti-submarine detection) course with service in a submarine being part of the regime which was to stand him in good stead at Bribie Island and Moreton Bay later in the war. As a RANVR sub-lieutenant, he was posted to Darwin to serve in the northern capital's port war signal and loop station, arriving there on February 10, 1941.  His duties included reconnaissance flights, as naval observer, in Allied aircraft seeking to monitor possible Japanese military activity to the north. The Japanese began to strafe and bomb Darwin and its defence installations on February 19, 1942, and Syd Sharp survived a total of 26 devastating air raids before being posted south, hitching a ride to Sydney in a US Air Force Flying Fortresses.

Still standing is the old control post of the wartime RAN No. 4 station at Woorim. The building was manned around the clock and, with equipment connected to an under-sea electrical cable, was able to detect any enemy submarine activity in Moreton Bay.  Since this photograph was taken, about 20 years ago, beach erosion has removed the foredunes to within only a few metres of the building.
Caption: Ron Donald
In late 1942, he was appointed to command the newly-established RAN No. 4 indicator loop station close to the eastern beach of Bribie Island, near the township of Woorim.
No. 4 was the senior RAN establishment - the others were No. 2 (northern Bribie Island), port war signal station at Caloundra and RAN No. 3 at Tangalooma.  Built of concrete, No. 4 had seven rooms and, aided by electrically-operated cables on the seabed, was equipped to monitor all shipping movements in and out of Moreton Bay.

The RAN No. 4 station at Woorim, 2016.
Although now protected by sandbagging, the station was seriously
 threatened by beach erosion several years ago and is still intact,
 as are its two diesel electric power huts a little further inland.
Caption and photo: Ron Donald

The RAN No. 4 station at Woorim, 2016.
Caption and photo: Ron Donald

Any enemy ships, including submarines, would run the risk of being blown up by suspended mines in the bay while four six-inch (155mm) artillery guns on Bribie's ocean beach would be an added deterrent.

No. 4 station had a crew of about 35, including Royal Navy seamen who had survived battles against German ships in the European theatre of the war.

At times, Lieut. Sharp acted in his capacity as RAN deputy extended defences officer for Moreton Bay - a highly-responsible position considering that the North-West passage of the bay was the main route to and from the port of Brisbane for convoys of Allied shipping.

With the Japanese retreating in the islands north of Australia, the RAN installations in Moreton Bay were closed in 1944 and Syd Sharp was posted first to Darwin and then to Cairns for his final duties in WW2.

Proudly wearing his naval service medals,
Syd Sharp regarded the annual Anzac Day
observations in Sydney as a 'must' to attend - so much so that
 in 2012, at the age of 95, he was the oldest in the navy contingent
and opted to complete the march on foot!
Caption: Ron Donald
Always a keen yachtsman, he became a member (ultimately commodore) of the Royal Australian Navy Sailing Association and, as either skipper or crew member, took part in ocean races between Sydney Harbour and Noumea.  These achievements earned him membership of the London-based Ocean Cruising Club.

In 1980, he sold his insurance brokerage business and retired while still owning a cruising yacht for leisurely trips to Fiji and other destinations. A modest and gentlemanly person, he was proud of his service medals and of being able to participate on foot each year in the Anzac Day march in Sydney until the time when very few WW2 naval veterans were still alive.

Lieut. Syd Sharp is survived by Linda, his wife of the past 39 years, and three daughters (Rosemary, Suzanne and Alison) from his first marriage, as well as their families. He and Linda has lived on the Gold Coast for the past 28 years. His funeral service was held with naval honours in Somerville Chapel at Nerang Cemetery on the Gold Coast on June 17, 2016.

An additional - an rare - tribute was the sending of a signal from RAN headquarters to all serving ships and shore installations, acknowledging Lieut. Sharp's service to his country over a period of four decades.  He had requested that his ashes be scattered at sea from a serving RAN ship."

Historian Ron Donald
2017 edition (#43) of Bribie magazine Holiday Guide & Business Directory (pages 32-33)
Bribie Island Chamber of Commerce 

Dr Richard Walding's site Indicator Loops of the Royal Australian Navy at Bribie Island - lists Officers and Ratings who served at RAN4, 1942-1943.  This site also contains a copy of the Tribute acknowledging Lieut. Sharp's service sent from RAN headquarters in June 2016.

Final salvo for Naval officer by Dr Tom Lewis. Navy Daily 22 June 2016 [online]
This article mentions Syd Sharp's service in Darwin.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dec 2016 speaker

RMS Quetta, sank 28 February 1890
Lynne Hooper, BIHS president
Guest speaker at BIHS meeting December 2016

At our December meeting BIHS president Lynne Hooper, through a PowerPoint presentation, gave us a glimpse of the fascinating story of the RMS Quetta, which sank off Thursday Island on 28 February 1890.

Amongst the passengers who didn’t survive were two gentlemen (and their wives) who were well known in the Caboolture Shire: Alexander Archer and Claudius Whish. 

Alexander Archer was that delightful man who wrote a letter to his niece describing a trip by boat to Bribie. Alexander at the time of the voyage the General Manager of the Bank of NSW and was one of the famous Archer brothers of Durundur.  Claudius Whish at one time owned the Oaklands sugar plantation on the Caboolture River and the Captain Whish bridge is named for him. When the Quetta sailed he was working for the Government as the Surveyor of Roads in the Lands Department.

10 days after leaving Brisbane and steaming to its next port, Thursday Island, the RMS Quetta hit an uncharted rock at 9pm in Torres Strait and sank in 3 minutes.

133 people drowned with 158 surviving.  Out of 34 women and 30 children only 2 teenage girls and 1 baby girl were amongst the survivors.

                                                     TOTAL LOST SAVED
Saloon passengers                                    33 27 6
Steerage passengers                                 65 56 9
Deck passengers (Javanese cane cutters)  71 15 56
European Officers                                    29 14 15
Asian Crew                                              93 21 72
                                                          291 133 158

The Australian/European passengers who survived:
Saloon Class: Alice Nicklin (Brisbane – parents died), Emily Lacy (Mackay- sister & uncle died), Mr. S.T. Debney (Brisbane), Henry Corser (Maryborough –wife and child died), Mr. Clarke (Tasmania) and Mr. A.H. Renton (England). 

Steerage: Messrs: Wrathall (Townsville – wife & 2 children died), Davidson (Melbourne), Cameron (Brisbane), Ashford (Brisbane), Dunn (Brisbane), Train (Rockhampton), Gregory (Townsville), Murphy (Port Douglas) and a baby girl who was either the child of Mrs Copeland or Mrs Davidson – who both had 3 children with them.

The loss of the Quetta devastated both city and country-town alike. The Quetta had sailed its London – Brisbane – London voyage 11 times bringing with it many emigrants to Brisbane.  One of our members, Monica Nunn’s, great-grandparents and grandmother arrived on the Quetta in 1886.

Using newspaper interviews and statements made at the inquiry, Lynne spoke about the ship’s final minutes and how the passengers survived when the Quetta sank at night in crocodile and shark infested waters.