Wednesday, 30 December 2015

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Margo Whitney

50 years on Bribie Island - Margo Whitney

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Margo Whitney
Madeline (Margo) Whitney came to Bribie Island from Kingaroy with her family in 1918 at the age of six.  Her father George Smith was involved in road construction works including the road from Bongaree to the ocean at Woorim, using cinders from the steamship Koopa.  Her mother Louisa and the three daughters lived for a while in one of the “Twelve Apostle” huts and Margo was one of the first pupils enrolled at the new Bribie School.  Her daughter, granddaughter and great grandchildren have since attended the same school.
 
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Margo Whitney
Photo: Barry Clark
During the war, Margo remained on the island providing essential services at local stores and the temporary hotel, which was relocated during the war from Woorim to Bongaree.  After the war, she opened her own shop at Mac’s Corner on Third Avenue selling fruit, vegetables, poultry and fabric.  In 1962 she opened the “Pretty Girl” frock salon in Toorbul Street and then in 1970 “Coast Casuals” in the new shopping block on First Avenue.

Margo lived for a time in the one isolated house on the left side of the road to Woorim. She was an active community member and was involved in many fund raising ventures.  Margo was a founding member of the Bongaree Ladies Bowls Club in 1952.  At the age of 92 in 2005, Margo had contributed much to the character and commercial development of Bribie Island over 87 years.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Ivan and Clare Tesch

50 years on Bribie Island - Ivan and Clare Tesch

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Ivan and Clare Tesch
Ivan's parents Ben and Myrtle Tesch had lived in Caloundra and Caboolture in the 1930s where they established the Rex Cinema.  Ivan became the projectionist.  During the war years, it was a round-the-clock operation to meet the needs of the many troops stationed in the area. 

After the war, the family moved to Bribie Island and Ivan married Clare.  In 1950 they built a unique round house at Banya Street and soon began a cinema operation, initially in the Anglican Church Hall.  Local artist Ian Fairweather was a regular visitor to these early film shows. 
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Ivan and Clare Tesch
Photo: Barry Clark

Clare began playing the organ in the Anglican Church in 1950 and was still doing so in 2005.  Ben and Ivan also ran the barge ferry service to the island from Toorbul Point and were involved in many business ventures including building and construction, ice and cold storage and electrical repairs.  The cinema moved to its own premises in Cotterill Avenue, and remained very popular until 1973 when the increasing impact of television forced its closure.  The cinema building was then sold to the Baptist Church. 


In 1967, the University of Queensland established an Ionospheric Research Centre on the island to monitor signals in the upper atmosphere.  Because of his diverse experience, Ivan was offered a job in the electrical workshop as a laboratory manager, a position he occupied for the next 18 years until he retired in 1988.  The entire Tesch family has made a significant contribution to Bribie Island for almost 60 years and continues to do so today.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Stella Ray

50 years on Bribie Island - Stella Ray

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Stella Ray
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Stella Ray
Photo: Barry Clark
Stella Ray (nee Aroney) was born in Brisbane in 1919 and came to Bribie Island when she married her ex-soldier husband Percival after the War in 1946. They brought two small second hand ex-army huts by ship to the Island and erected them on land purchased at Spowers Street for £25.  Stella and Percival were among only a few hundred permanent Island residents at that time and lived in these huts without electricity, water or sewerage for 33 years until they built a modest new home on the same block in 1980. The army huts were only demolished in 2004.


They caught yabbies and ran a boat hire business for the tourists as their daughter Glenda grew up.  Stella worked over the next 40 years in the boarding houses, caf├ęs and take-away shops, which opened for the growing tourist trade.  The Rays never owned a motor car, but Stella was a familiar sight riding her bicycle around the Island for over 30 years before she was badly injured when hit by a car at age 75.  Percival Ray died in 2004.  Stella Ray recovered from her accident and still lives an active life after more than 59 years continuous residence on Bribie Island.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Betty Lougheed

50 years on Bribie Island - Betty Lougheed

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Betty Lougheed
Betty came to Bribie Island at the age of 33 with her husband Horace in 1953 and moved into “Avalon” on Welsby Parade where she has lived ever since.  Although the house today has direct views to Pumicestone Passage, back in those days she could not see the water for the many trees and swamp growth.
 
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Betty Lougheed
Photo: Barry Clark
Betty was born in England in 1920 and served in the Air Force during the War. Her younger sister married an Australian soldier after the War and came to live in Caboolture.  Betty and her mother followed soon after, coming out to Brisbane in 1951.

In 1953 Betty married Horace and he brought his new bride to live on Bribie Island.  Horace was a keen fisherman and was involved in property and building. The only local shop in those days, on the site of the current Cornetts store, was known as the “Duck Inn” as it had a very low entry door below the road level.

Horace died in 1979 but Betty has continued to live her very private life enjoying her garden and the amazing development of Bribie Island.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Frank Lee

50 years on Bribie Island - Frank Lee

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Frank Lee
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Frank Lee
Photo: Barry Clark
Frank came to the Island as a young boy with his family in 1953.  He has had a long association with the commercial fishing industry in the area.  His father was a soft drink manufacturer and was one of only two people known to have been buried on Bribie Island.  His father’s grave was later exhumed and relocated to the mainland.


Frank grew up among the Bribie Island fishing community and became a commercial fisherman.  As a young man, he developed a considerable knowledge and experience of environmental and conservation practices.  He now runs his own training company passing on these skills through industry training courses for sustainable fishing practices and accreditation.  During 50 years of residency, Frank Lee and his family have been actively involved with both the community and fishing industry of Bribie Island.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - The Kling family

50 years on Bribie Island - The Kling family

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

The Kling family
Mavis Ormiston was born on Bribie Island in 1920 and in 1937 married Fred Kling who had come to Bribie to work in a bakery.  In 1931 Tom Read established a bakery on the Island and this business was later taken over by Fred and Mavis Kling when World War II caused all but essential services people to be evacuated from Bribie Island.  The bakery on Banya Street remained open to serve the few remaining residents and the many troops stationed on Bribie and at Toorbul Point.
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - The Kling family
Photo: Barry Clark

After the War Fred was a founding member of the Bongaree Bowls Club in 1949.  The Kling family have continued to make significant contributions to the community over many years.  The bakery operated in Banya Street for over 55 years until it relocated to the new Cornett’s Arcade on Welsby Parade, after son Peter soon over the business.


Two children left the Island in their teens and son Richard went away to become a doctor and has spent many years practicing on the Island.  Peter has remained a Bribie resident for over 60 years and continued to operate the family bakery until he retired in 2001.  In 2005, the combined Kling family record of continuous Bribie residence (Mavis 85 years, Fred 70 years, Peter 60 years) together with over 74 years operation of the family bakery, is an almost unbeatable community contribution.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Ted and Patricia Clayton

50 years on Bribie Island - Ted and Patricia Clayton

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Ted and Patricia Clayton
Ted Clayton’s parents Ernie and Marion met on Bribie Island in the 1920's. They owned 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 1940s.
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Ted and Patricia Clayton
Photo: Barry Clark

In 1954, Ted married Patricia and they came to live on Bribie in a house Ted built on 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 became General Foreman.  Ted Clayton was also one of the Island’s most renowned fishermen and in 1970 started to write articles about fishing.  He 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.


The Clayton family collected a large number of Aboriginal artefacts over more than 50 years residence on the Island.  These have been gifted to the Queensland Museum.  In 1990 Ted and Pat moved from South Esplanade, Bongaree to live a quieter life at Whitepatch.

50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Sally Brennan

50 years on Bribie Island -Sally Brennan

The Bongaree Heritage Trail signs record those few residents who, in 2005, were still living on Bribie Island after 50 years or more continuous residence. Each, in their own way, has made a lasting contribution to the island's community.  Sally Brennan nee Herbert, Ted and Patricia Clayton, The Kling Family, Frank Lee, Betty Lougheed, Stella Ray, Ivan and Clare Tesch and Margo Whitney.

The following excerpt is from the Program for the Official unveiling "50 years on Bribie" Heritage Trail Sign, Wednesday 7 November 2007, Brennan Park, Bongaree.

Sally Brennan
50 years on Bribie - 2005 - Sally Brennan
Photo: Barry Clark
In 1910, Sally’s father Fred Herbert worked on the oyster cutters, ferrying bags of oysters for Tripcony around Bribie Island.  Sarah (Sally) Herbert was born in a hotel at Sandgate in 1920 where the family were the publicans.  They later moved to other hotels in South East Queensland.  They moved to Bribie in 1932 and then to Mt Mee in 1934.  Sally married Bernie Brennan at Goondiwindi in 1940 and they settled on Bribie in 1941.

After the War in 1945, they opened “Brennan’s Store”, converting a small wooden house they purchased in Toorbul Street.  This general store served the basic needs of the few residents and thousands of tourists and campers who came to the Island by boat at weekends and holidays.  The foreshore at Bongaree was always covered with white canvas tents and the smell of campfires.  The shop sold a wide variety of goods and produce and in 1958 became the Island’s first Golden Casket Lottery agency.  In 1965 Brennan’s Store sold the winning first prize ticket to a local Bribie resident.

The three Brennan sons grew up on the Island but it was Sally and her late husband Bernie, who were involved in running the shop for a total of 33 years until 1978.


When camping was stopped on the foreshore in front of the shop, the beautiful tree lined area was named “Brennan Park” as a tribute to their many years of community service.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Bribie Island's Most Historic House is 100 years old

BRIBIE ISLAND'S MOST HISTORIC HOUSE 100 YEARS OLD
Barry Clark- Founder Bribie Island Historical Society

Bribie Island Historical Society aims to raise awareness and interest in the rich history of Bribie Island.  Historians recognise that Bribie Island contains more history, written and unwritten, than any other place in Queensland.

Coungeau House 2015
The still grand Coungeau House today, raised up,
enclosed and wheelchair friendly.
Photo: Barry Clark
October 31st marked the Centenary of Bribie most Historic House, one of the first houses built in Bongaree, in Banya Street in 1915.  Although 216 years have passed since Mathew Flinders set the first white foot on Bribie Island, it is little more than 100 years since the Island became a destination for holiday makers and pioneer residents.

Building the Jetty, bringing Steamship excursions and making land available at Bongaree in 1912 was the start of it all.  Norm and Emily Coungeau were among the first to buy and build a house in Banya Street in 1915. They had both led interesting lives and ran a popular "Continental" Cafe in Brisbane for many years, visiting Bribie regularly, prior to moving to their retirement home here in 1919.
Coungeau House c1920-1930
Coungeau House, built 1915, when
Banya Street was just an overgrown sand track.
Photo: E. Gobolos

Their commercial success enabled them to become patrons of the Arts and donors to many charitable causes during their 20 years living in their Bribie Home.  As old age and ill health came upon them by 1936 during the great Depression, they decided to gift their magnificent home to the Church of England, and it was then used it as a retreat for Clergy and families for more than 40 years.

During the War years, when most Bribie residents were evacuated, the house was occupied by the American and later the Australian Commander of the Toorbul Point Military Training Camp,located on the site of the new Sandstone Point Hotel.

In the 1970s the House was sold to the Toc-H organisation who have since then made the house available to people in need and with disabilities to stay, and many local groups to use the hall underneath. Toc-H was itself established 100 years ago in 1915, in the heat of WW1 battles in Belgium, by an Australian Chaplain "Tubby" Clayton.  On the last weekend in October 2015 the Bribie Historical Society hosted a significant event to celebrate and recognise 100 years years of both Coungeau House, and the Toc-H movement.

REFLECTING 100 YEARS ON BRIBIE

Attended by 120 invited guests, including many long term Bribie residents and people with personal connections to Banya Street, plus representatives of many   Community and Service Groups and supporters or users of the Toc-H facilities. Many of the guests dressed in period costume which added greatly to the atmosphere of the event, taking people on a fascinating journey through 100 years of local history.

The commemorative programme for the event had been designed to capture the spirit of this special "home" used by a variety of people over the years.  Barry Clark, founder of the Historical Society, welcome the assembled crowd, many of whom had taken a tour of the old house in their splendid costumes.  During the course of the afternoon he introduced many special guests in the context of their historical connection with the House and the Street.

The original owner Emily Coungeau had been a prolific Poet and Libretist and Jenda Jacobs Voices Choral Group began the entertainment by singing one of Emilys songs titled "Aurelle" to convey the style of her writing. The long term caretaker of the Coungeau House, Jan Cleaver, recited one of Emily's 1919 poems, written in the house, titled "Evening at Bribie Island".
Centenary Celebration Team
Rear L-R: Jenda Jacobs, Ray Geise, Lynne Hooper.
Front: Barry and Faye Clark
Photo: Barry Clark

Recently elected Historical Society President Lynne Hooper gave a comprehensive presentation on the life of the Coungeau's, showing many historic photos and documents that captured the remarkable life of these significant, but little recognised, Bribie Islanders and the community in which they lived..

Barry Clark reflected on the War years on Bribie with stories of its military occupation by both American and Australian officers, when there had been a large Training Camp on the site that is now the new Sandstone Point Hotel.  He then introduced a very special guest, Gretel (nee Gehrmann) Quin, who had been a tiny new born baby living at Coungeau House in 1944 with her mother Gabrielle and father Lt.Col. August (Gus) Gehrmann.

PIONEER BRIBIE FAMILIES REPRESENTED

Another special guest was Mike Harris who had contacted the Historical Society with a wonderful story of his Grandmother, Nan Bowles who had lived at Poverty Point on an Oyster lease with her family as a small girl in the 1890s.  Other long term Bribie families from the 1940s and 1950s included the Kling family who ran the Bakery, Tesch who operated the Cinema, Winston who had the Store and grew Tobacco, Sked who had been Postmaster, Hammond who built an Ice works, and Mullen who was the pharmacist.

A few very special people from the 1920s and 1930s had been invited, but due to ill health were unable to attend. These included Dorothy Shirley, Joyce Voysey, Jaquie Hammond and Jean Britnell, whose mother Bobby Britnell was a founding member of Toc-H on Bribie, and her father was manager of the Bribie Island Bowls Club after the war. Other important residents from the 1960s and 1970s unable to attend were Ted Clayton, and historian author Warwick Outram.

During the course of the afternoon the audience enjoyed a moving experience covering 100 years of island history.  The event concluded with an informative presentation by Ray Geise OAM ,Director of Toc-H Australia, outlining the history the movement from its founding in 1915, and the significance of Coungeau House as the only property owned by Toc-H in Queeensland.

The afternoon ended with everyone singing a unique Coungeau House version of "This Old House" led by the Voices Choral Group.  Food and drink was sponsored by Busy Fingers and MBRC and there was much excited conversation as new and old friends reflected on what they had heard.

Organisers were very pleased with the event, recognising the importance of showcasing local history and paying tribute to some important "characters" who made Bribie what it is today, and whose contribution is often forgotten.  Historical Society founder Barry Clark said "There is clearly a growing interest in Bribie's rich history, and to appreciate the people, places and events that took place here just a generation ago. Only a few of these special people are still with us today, so we must respect their contribution and capture their stories before they are lost forever. The commercial future of Bribie Island may well lie in effectively showcasing this history as one of our main attractions".


Bribie's Coungeau House 100 years old

BRIBIE'S COUNGEAU HOUSE -100 YEARS OLD.
Barry Clark- Founder Bribie Island Historical Society

October 31st marked the Centenary of Bribie Island's most historic building, which once again created an opportunity for the Bribie Island Historical Society to showcase the rich history of the Island.

Coungeau House 2015
Coungeau House today, raised up, enclosed and wheelchair friendly.
Photo: Barry Clark
Coungeau House at No. 36 Banya Street was one of the first houses built in Bongaree in 1915 when the island had just become a destination for holiday makers and pioneer residents.  Building the Jetty, bringing Steamship excursions and making land available at Bongaree in 1912 was the start of it all.
Coungeau House c1920-1930
Coungeau House built in Banya Street in 1915.
Photo: E. Gobolos

Emily and Norm Coungeau had both led interesting lives and ran a popular "Continental" Cafe in Brisbane for many years, visiting Bribie frequently by steamship before to moving to their magnificent retirement home here in 1919.  Business success had enabled them to become patrons of the Arts and donors to many charitable causes. Emily was a prolific writer of poems and songs, many of which were published around the world. Indeed she wrote the words of Australia's first Opera.

UNIQUE LIFESTYLE ON BRIBIE ISLAND

They lived a relaxed social life here for 20 years as participants in many aspects of the small community, when the resident population was only about 50 and the holiday visitors numbered in the thousands.  Holiday makers camped in canvas tents along the foreshore, but several Guest houses started up on the island, especially in Banya Street.  Today it is a divided and tree lined road, but in those early days it was just an overgrown sand track, and a long hard walk carrying a suitcase from the Jetty.  Life on Bribie was very special, far away from city life and creating a unique and close knit community.

As old age and ill health caught up with them by 1936, during the great Depression, they decided to gift their magnificent home to the Church of England, when it became a holiday retreat for Clergy and families for the next 40 years.

During the 1940s War years most Bribie residents were evacuated, and the house was occupied by American and Australian Commanders of the Toorbul Point Military Training Camp, located on the site of the new Sandstone Point Hotel.

In the 1970's the House was sold to the Toc-H movement who make it available for people in need and with disabilities to stay, and many local groups to use the hall underneath.  The Toc-H movement was itself established 100 years ago in 1915, in the heat of WW1 battles in Belgium, by an Australian Chaplain "Tubby" Clayton.

On October 31st 2015, the Bribie Historical Society hosted a significant event to celebrate and recognise 100 years years of both Coungeau House, and the Toc-H movement.


TWO CENTENARY EVENTS CELEBRATED

Centenary Team
Rear L to R: Jenda Jacobs, Ray Geise, Lynne Hooper.
Front: Barry and Faye Clark
Photo: Barry Clark
Many long term Bribie residents, with personal connections to Banya Street, and representatives of local Community and Service Groups were invited to celebrate the Centenary. Over 120 invited guests, many dressed in period costume adding greatly to the atmosphere of the event, were taken on a fascinating journey through 100 years of local history.  The  programme for the event had been designed to capture the spirit of this special "home" used by a variety of people over the years.

Barry Clark, founder of the Historical Society, welcome the assembled crowd, many of whom had taken a tour of the old house in their splendid costumes. Jenda Jacobs and her Voices Choral Group began the afternoon singing one of Emilys songs titled "Aurelle" to convey the style of her writing. The long term caretaker of Coungeau House, Jan Cleaver, recited one of Emily's poems written in the house in 1919, titled "Evening at Bribie Island". Guests were surprised to learn of such rich culture existing on little old Bribie island.

Historical Society President Lynne Hooper gave a very well researched presentation on the life of the Coungeau's, showing historic photos and documents capturing the remarkable life of these important, but little recognised early residents, and the community in which they lived.

Barry Clark reflected on the War years on Bribie with stories of its military occupation by both American and Australian officers and the challenges faced during those dark days of WW2.  He then introduced a very special guest, Gretel (nee Gehrmann) Quin, who had been a tiny new born baby living at Coungeau House in 1944 with her mother Gabrielle and father Lt.Col. August (Gus) Gehrmann who was the Training Camp Commander. She had not been back since those days.

SPECIAL GUESTS INVITED

Another special guest was Mike Harris whose wonderful story about his Grandmother, Nan Bowles, living on Bribie as a small girl in the 1890s was published in last month's Bribie Islander.

Barry, Theresa and Mike Harris
Barry Clark with Theresa and Mike Harris,
whose Grandmother's story was published last month.
Photo: Barry Clark
Other long term Bribie families representing the early days were the Kling's who ran the Bakery, Tesch who operated the Cinema, Winston who had the Store, Sked who had been Postmaster, and Mullen who had the pharmacy.  Apologies had been received from much respected early residents and community leaders including Dorothy Shirley, Joyce Voysey, Jaquie Hammond, Jean Britnell, Ted Clayton, and historian author Warwick Outram.

The event concluded with an informative presentation by Ray Geise OAM, Director of Toc-H Australia, outlining the history the movement from its founding in 1915, and the significance of Coungeau House as the only property owned by Toc-H in Queeensland.

A commemorative bronze plaque was presented by the Bribie Island Rotary Club to record the Centenary, and 110 years of Rotary International. The plaque will be mounted on the outside of the building as a visible reminder of its history.

Rotary Plaque Commemorating 100 years
Rotary President Mary Grant presents plaque
to Toc-H Director Ray Geise
Photo: Barry Clark
The Bribi Island Historical Society presented a framed photo of Coungeau House in the 1920s, to be hung in the house as a reminder to visitors of its historic significance.

The crowd enjoyed fine food and drink afterwards sponsored by Busy Fingers and old and new friends enjoyed lively conversation.  Historical Society founder Barry Clark reflected on the successful event and said "There is clearly a growing interest in Bribie's rich history, and to appreciate the people, places and events that took place here just a generation ago. Only a few of these special people are still with us today, so we must respect their contribution and capture their stories before they are lost forever. The commercial future of Bribie Island may well lie in effectively showcasing this history as one of our main attractions".

Monday, 30 November 2015

Oct 2013 - 50th anniversary of the Opening of the Bribie Island Bridge

19 Oct 2013 - 50th anniversary celebrations of the opening of the Bribie Island Bridge on 19 Oct 1963
[For information on the plaques that were unveiled on 19 October 2013 please visit
Saturday 19th October 2013
50th Anniversary of the Opening of the Bribie Bridge
INFORMATION LEAFLET
Introduction
Today, Saturday 19th October 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Bribie Island Bridge.  The building of the bridge allowed easy motor vehicle access resulting in Bribie Island’s rapid transformation. 
While Bribie Island had long been a popular holiday destination the construction of the bridge allowed many people to choose to move here permanently.
Today is an opportunity to celebrate the history of the bridge: its design, its construction, the opening day and the anniversary celebrations that have occurred since.  

Bribie before the Bridge
The earliest regular visitors to Bribie Island came by boat following the construction of the first jetty in May 1912 at Bongaree.
A number of steamships including the Koopa and Doomba transported holiday-makers from Brisbane to Bribie Island.
As car travel became more popular after World War II, Mr. Gordon Shields began a vehicular-passenger service between Bribie and Toorbul Point.  Over the years the barge service was operated by a number of different people, with the last operator being Mr. “Snowy” Drenan.  The ability to transport motor vehicles to the Island resulted in considerable home building and community infrastructure activity. 

Constructing the Bridge
The idea of a bridge to Bribie Island had been discussed for many years and on 17 November 1959 came an official announcement that the bridge would be built.  It was obvious that the bridge should be located near Toorbul Point where the passage narrows but the exact position was chosen after consideration of such additional factors as the depth of the channel bed, the length of the bridge and approach from each side, and the requirement for driven pile foundations.
On 29 March 1961 it was announced that the contract for the construction of the bridge was let to K.D. Morris & Sons Pty Ltd.  The bridge was built from the mainland across to Bribie Island.  The sequence of each span of the bridge involved pre-cast piles being driven, the reinforced concrete headstocks cast, pre-cast beams lifted into place and the reinforced concrete deck poured in-situ and finally the handrails erected.  The pre-cast concrete elements were supplied by Concrete Industries Pty Ltd.
The construction of the bridge presented a number of unique challenges, one of the biggest being the driving of the long concrete piles.  These piles were up to 85 feet in length and weighed over 12 tons each.  It was necessary for the piles to be driven from a floating platform that remained perfectly stationary, using a ten ton hammer to drive the piles.  As there was no plant capable of achieving this readily available in Australia, a special pile driving frame was mounted on a floating steel barge.
Construction of the bridge gave employment to a work force of up to forty men.  There were no fatalities though several accidents did occur, the most common being men falling into the passage from their lofty footholds.

Opening Day Celebrations
The opening celebrations for the bridge took place on Saturday 19 October 1963.  The events for the day included:
·       A formal opening ceremony with dignitaries and invited guests
The bridge was officially opened by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Frank Nicklin.  Speeches were given by Mr. Frank Nicklin and Mr. David Nicholson, the State Parliamentary Speaker and Member for Murrumba.  Two memorial plaques on the mainland side were unveiled by Premier Nicklin and Sir James Holt, Co-ordinator General.
·       An afternoon tea
The newly built Bellara Motel Restaurant was the venue for afternoon tea for the official party.  A review platform was set up on the front lawn for the Premier and official party to watch the procession.
·       A procession 
The procession included: vintage and veteran cars, a horse guard, marching girls, buses, scouts and other local groups crossed the bridge into Benabrow avenue.
·       A Debutante Ball in the evening.
In the evening the Bribie Ambulance Ladies’ Appeal Committee held a Debutante Ball at the Church of England Hall in Banya street.  The debutantes were Yvonne Williams, Brenda Gould and Teresa Clarke.  The flower girls were Michele and Terese Kendall.

Bridge Anniversaries
Over the years there have been several anniversary celebrations held for the Bribie Island Bridge, including 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th and 40th year anniversaries.  While some of the anniversaries coincided with other Bribie festivals others were more low key events. 
1973 – 10th anniversary
The 10th anniversary celebrations were held on Saturday 20th October 1973.  The toll was lifted for the day and bridge was closed to traffic while the procession was in progress.
1983 – 20th anniversary
The 20th Anniversary celebrations were held on Saturday 22 October 1983 and coincided with the annual Bribie Island Festival.  The bridge celebrations included a parade, an afternoon tea and a commemorative publication.
1988 – 25th anniversary
The silver anniversary was celebrated with the Bribie Bridge Carnival which was held in October 1988 over five days.  As part of the celebrations there were three commemorative publications, a carnival t-shirt and a display of artwork.
1993 – 30th anniversary
The Anniversary celebration was part of the Bribie Island Aquatic Festival which ran from 15 to 17 October 1993.
 2003 – 40th anniversary
For the 40th anniversary a walk was held by the Rotary Club of Bribie Island to raise funds.  Each person of a 10-person team walked four times over the bridge.

Toll
When the bridge first opened there was a toll of ten shillings.  The popularity of Bribie as a holiday destination for people from Brisbane can be gauged by how quickly the toll paid off the loan for the bridge – it took just under 12 years! 
The first toll ticket was purchased by Premier Nicklin and the last toll ticket was purchased by Bribie resident Mr. Stan Balmer on 22 March 1975. 
The Toll Master for the duration of the toll, 20 October 1963 to 22 March 1975, was Mr. Jack Greenhalgh.

Bridge Facts
At the time it was constructed the Bribie Island Bridge was the longest pre-stressed, pre-cast concrete bridge in Australia.
The Bridge spans 2742 feet (835 metres).
At the centre of the bridge there is a clearance of 24ft (7.3m) at low tide to cater for small craft.
There are 104 beams each weighing 18 tons.  The beams of pre-stressed concrete are each 72ft (21.9 m) long and 4ft 6in (1.4 m) deep.
The bridge cost £350,000, a little over $700,000.
The bridge now has 13 lights and walkway hand railing which were additions to the original design.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

BIHS Brochure

Bribie Island Historical Society
Brochure
Meetings of the Bribie Island Historical Society are held at 6:30 pm the second Wednesday of each month (except January) in the ANZAC Room, Level 1, RSL Club, Toorbul Street,
Bongaaree, Bribie Island.  All Welcome.

For a pdf version of the BIHS Brochure visit https://sites.google.com/site/bribiehistoricalsociety/brochure


Bribie Island Heritage and Interesting Local History - Visit Sites - Enjoy Walks - Learn More

Talking Monument - Matthew Flinders
(Northern end of Col Fischer Park)
Celebrating Matthew Flinders' landing on Bribie Island.

Community Arts Centre
Local Arts and Craft Centre with a Talking Monument located at the front of the Centre relating the history of the local Aboriginal people.

First Settlers Talking Monument
(located in the park beside the Volunteer Marine Rescue jetty)
Celebrating the Island's early pioneers.

Castaway Convicts and Oxley Memorial
(Oxley Place off Bestmann Road East)
The story of Lt. John Oxley's discoveries in the Moreton Bay region.

Settlement Tribute
Stone memorial near the Bongaree Jetty records both the Jetty and Bongaree township's Centenary in 2012.  A sign in Brennan Park pays tribute to long term residents of Bribie Island.

Turner's Camp Memorial
Tribute to Fred and Alma (Kal-Ma-Kuta, the last Bribie Island Aborigine) who lived and worked here from the 1870s.

Seaside Museum
(South Esplanade)
New modern museum showcasing aspects of local history and travelling exhibitions.  Matthew Flinders memorial in the grounds.

WW2 Bunker
(in Rotary Park, Woorim)
A military installation for protecting Brisbane from enemy submarine attack during the Second World War.

Heritage Plaques - Waterfront Walk
Walk back in time reading the sixteen heritage plaques located along the waterfront at Bongaree.  Pick up the brochure at the Visitor Information Centre, Bribie Library or Seaside Museum.
A copy of the Bongaree Waterfront Walk can be viewed at
http://bribieislandhistory.blogspot.com.au/2016/01/bribie-heritage-plaques-walk.html

Bongaree Self-Guided 'Walkabout'
Take the brochure and enjoy a walk around the historical areas in the Bongaree precinct.
Pick up the brochure at the Visitor Information Centre, Bribie Library or Seaside Museum.

Fairweather Park
(corner First Avenue and Hunter Street)
Former site of the grass hut home of world-renowned and reclusive artist Ian Fairweather.

Old Aquarium Site
Remains of a 1960s tourist attraction at northern end of Red Beach carpark.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Wow, that's me in that old photo! Ron Jennings, then and now.


WOW....THAT'S ME IN THAT OLD PHOTO !

Ron Jennings and Family, 2015.
Ron Jennings shows his old photo to his family
(L to R) Libby, Andrew and daughter-in-law Sherryl.
Photo source: Barry Clark
This is a delightful story of a man being surprised to see a photo of himself taken 72 years ago, and being reminded of a memorable Christmas past.

Ron Jennings grew up in country Victoria and as a young man was keen to join the Army and serve his country. He joined the Army in 1942 at age 17 spent a short time at the Military Training Camp at Toorbul Point, the site of what is now the new Sandstone Point Hotel.

Last week he was taken to the Hotel by his family and looked at the many historic photos on display....when he suddenly spotted himself in one of the photos.




Toorbul Point Hospital, 1943.
Photo taken Christmas 1943 in the Field Hospital.
Ron Jennings is fourth along on the left.
Photo source: MBRC Library P2167
It was taken in a 12 bed Military Field Hospital in December 1943, which had stood right where the main bar of the new Hotel is today, and where Ron Jennings saw it for the first time on his visit to Bribie last week ......73 years later.

Vivid memories filled his head as he recalled the events that led to his being in the Military Field Hospital at Christmas-time all those years ago.

In an interview with Barry Clark of the Bribie Island Historical Society, who had supplied the photo for display at the Hotel, he said ....

  "It was a rather strange occurrence that happened. We were camped on the flat below the hospital, close to the spot  where the old Boat Shed and Jetty still stand today. A few days before Christmas six of us got leave to go to a dance at Cooroy on the weekend.

We went on the Saturday morning and were booked at the local Hotel for the night. We had a good time at the dance, but in the morning one of the boys, Bluey Copeland, who had red hair and lots of freckles, was really ill. I was able to arrange a truck from camp to pick myself and Bluey up at the Railway station. It was at Landsborough I think.

Anyway, Bluey was delivered to the camp hospital and for some reason I was invited to join some of the other patients for a very nice lunch. You can even see Christmas decorations strung up in the photo, and bottles of beer on the table.  They suspected that Bluey had Dengue fever, but I don't know what happened to him because I didn't stay much longer.

Within a couple of days we had all our Beach Landing Craft ready, and we sailed away to fight the war in the islands. It was Christmas day when we set off north, and I never heard what happened to Bluey. 

I am amazed to see myself in that photos after all these years. I am the fourth one along on the left, just half a face, but I don't know who could have taken it.  I don't recognise anyone else in the photo, but it is just possible that Bluey is the guy in the bed in the background on the left.  I do remember enjoying their company that day, before I set off to the war with the Japanese in PNG.  I am sorry my memory is not so good these days."

Seeing the photo brought memories flooding back to Ron's head of how he had tried several times to join the Army, against his father's wishes. He had worked with the Post Office and eventually joined an Ordinance Corp. and after initial training in Wagga Wagga he found himself briefly at Toorbul Point Camp in 1943 before going to the islands with his Beach Landing Craft unit.

"We even had carrier pigeons in small cages on board our vessels for getting messages to each other, and we rubbed Kerosene on ourselves to protect from the fleas and mozzies. I had a bout of Malaria while we were up there, and experienced some very difficult situations landing people under fire on beaches near Milne Bay. I remember having my 21st birthday in Borneo. It just seems like so long ago now, but I was blessed with a great life after that, and a wonderful family."

Ron lost his wife of 66 years just a couple of years ago. Their five children, four boys and a girl, now live all around Australia but it is the family connection with Bribie Island that has led to this lovely story being uncovered.

Son Andrew and wife Libby had lived on Bribie some years ago, and another son Paul and his wife Sherryl live here today. It was their visit to the new Sandstone Point Hotel and connection with Barry Clark of the Bribie Island Historical Society that led to this fascinating discovery of a young soldier's face in a long forgotten photo.

If you have interesting old photos or special memories of Bribie Island contact them on bribiehistoricalsociety@gmail.com

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Coungeau House, Bribie's most historic house, Celebrating 100 years

. . . . .


An article on the current caretakers of Coungeau House, Jan and Bob Cleaver, by Brad Penfold, entitled A house of sanctuary for those in need, was published on the Toowoomba Chronicle webpages on 26 Dec 2104.  

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Nan's Story by Mike Harris

'Nan's' childhood on Bribie Island circa 1900

Reproduced from The Bribie Islander, October 2015, pages 34-35.

Inspired by the memories of his late Grandmother, Mike Harris contacted the Bribie Island Historical Society and has written the following account of his families time on Bribie as virtually the only residents between 1898 and 1908. 

These are Mike Harris's memories of his grandmother Florence Anne Gregg (nee Bowles) who he refers to as “Nan” in this story.

Mike Harris holds a photo of "Nan" who spent
her childhood on Bribie almost 120 years ago.

Photo source: Barry Clark
NAN'S STORY  by Mike Harris

Nan was born on 1st November 1894 and passed away on 9th February 1990, aged 95.

Her father William Bowles was born at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane on 25th June 1859, some months before the “Colony of Queensland” separated from New South Wales to become a State in its own right.

On 22 June 1889, Nan's father married her mother Anne Sigley, and they had 10 children. Soon afterwards, Nan's father who was a Fisherman and Oysterman, was offered the job of managing the Bribie Island oyster leases owned by James Clark, also known as “The Pearl King".

In 1898, when Florence (Nan) was just 4 years old, the whole family joined their father on Bribie Island, when his occupation was officially listed as “Oysterman”,  and when Oystering at Bribie Island was Queensland’s largest industry.

Nan and her family lived in a timber homestead somewhere in the vicinity of Poverty Point near the creek there.  At that time, there was only one other permanent settler living on the Island.

In spite of their isolation, it was still a very good life because Nan often spoke of the wonderful freedom and happiness, which she and her family enjoyed on the Island. They were all very happy, even though it may seem quite difficult by today’s standards.

The men toiled hard, working on the Clark Company’s oyster leases from dawn till dusk, six days a week, and the women cooked on wood stoves, washed the clothes by hand, and after dark, used Hurricane (kerosene) Lamps and Carbide (gas) Lamps as their only means of lighting.

Nevertheless, Nan and her sibling’s days were filled with wonder and great adventure as they explored the vast lonely beaches and dense bushland on the Island.   Nan boasted of the great fishing and how they caught large “Muddies” (Mud Crabs) in their dillies, and not the “nuisance Sandies” (Sand Crabs), which they tossed back.   What a wonderful privilege it must have been to have lived on the Island in those days, experiencing all of its natural beauty, untouched landscapes, pristine environments and eating the fresh and ever abundant seafood.

This photo from John Oxley Library, taken at Whitepatch,
shows the site of Bribie Town in 1910
.
Source of photo: John Oxley Library JOL_QSA_C59_732322
 A small group of Aborigines existed on Bribie Island in those days and Nan said they got on reasonably well with the new settlers.

I believe they were of the Djundubari Tribe, and the government had established an Reserve for them in 1877 at Whitepatch, but it did not last very long.

The boat that picked up the harvested oysters travelled up from Brisbane every fortnight.   Prior to the boat’s arrival, the workers would have the job of removing the oysters (left sealed in their shells) from the rocks, and storing them temporarily on a large movable platform that was lowered below the tide level to keep them alive, until they were ready to be packed for shipment.

 At packing time, the oysters were loaded into wooden boxes with wet sawdust around them to keep them moist, cool and fresh for the trip.   Packed in this manner, Nan said that the oysters would keep for at least 2 weeks for a trip to Melbourne.   The oysters were sent expressly for wealthy Dinner Tables and the “Well-to-do Restaurants” of the 1890’s in Melbourne.   In those days Melbourne was a rich and vibrant city made affluent by the enormous wealth derived from the Victorian Goldfields.   Nan said that the James Clark Oyster Company was a hive of activity just before the boat’s arrival, as they would raise the movable platform, remove the oysters, pack them into the boxes, and then cart them to the jetty, ready for shipment to Brisbane before being sent south.

Nan’s father died of a heart attack in 1908, which would make him only 49 years old at the time.   Nan believed his early death was caused by all the hard and exhausting work he did as a Fisherman and an Oysterman.   After his death, the whole family moved to Brisbane, into a house they purchased on River Terrace at Kangaroo Point.

Nan married my Grandfather Leo Thomas Gregg on 9th December 1916 at St Joseph’s Church, Kangaroo Point.  Following Leo’s death after 36 years of marriage in 1952, Nan and her younger sister Eileen returned annually to Bribie Island with other family members on “sentimental’ holidays”.  They rented a cottage at Number 6 Third Avenue, Bongaree.

On one such holiday in 1958, Nan and Eileen visited the location of the old James Clark Oyster Company leases, only to discover that their old timber homestead had collapsed and rotted away.   All that was left were the rusted remains of the wood stove that her mother had cooked on.   I remember Nan showing me those rusted scraps of cast-iron, which they brought back as souvenirs to Brisbane.   Such were their loving and happy memories of past times on Bribie Island that they brought home these little treasured keepsakes.

Over the years, Bribie Island has seen many changes.  I can still remember it way back in 1953, well before the bridge was built, whilst on holidays with Nan and other family members.  We caught the “SS Koopa” steamship to Bribie Island run from the Custom’s House Wharf in Queen Street, Brisbane.

Now, whenever I visit Bribie Island, I think of my Nan who lived there as a girl so happily but in such isolation over 117 years ago.   Every visit seems like a pilgrimage to a much Hallowed Place, to remember the past lives of Nan and her family and recall their wonderful and happy experiences as new settlers to the Island.
Mike Harris. Morningside. Queensland. 

What about your own family links to old Bribie Island ? If you have any interesting family connections or old photos of Bribie Island please contact the Historical Society on bribiehistoricalsociety@gmail.com  

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Welcome to the Bribie History Blog

At the September 2015 meeting of the Bribie Island Historical Society committee, it was agreed to set up the Bribie History Blog.

We will be bringing you fascinating articles of Bribie's history as well as providing information about upcoming events and access to our brochures and newsletters.

Our historical database thesaurus can be used to request information from the Society's database.

Welcome to our blog.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Bribie Library celebrates 50 years in 2014



Bribie Library celebrates 50 years’ service 

By Barry Clark, Bribie Island Historical Society   
   
Reproduced from the BRIBIE ISLANDER November 2014, p. 13.

Bribie Island Public Library is arguably the most used public facility in our community.  The building these days is modern spacious and well utilised but it started from very humble beginnings.   

The site where the library stands today was originally known as “The Hill”, being an elevated sand dune that ran beside swampy ground through what is now the bowling club and caravan park.  It was a popular vantage point in the early days of tourism through the 1920s and 1930s, where campers pitched their tents and crowds of visitors enjoyed picnics and games.  During the Second World War the site was used for fuel and water storage tanks and pumps.

The small shed that held the fledgling Bribie Island Library.
Photo source: State Library of Queensland, neg. no. 99974
After the war, a small wooden building on the site was used as an amenities and changing shed by visitors.  This shed was used in the period from 1956 to 1959 as a snack bar and fish & chip shop by Jim Looke, and then remained empty and largely unused for several years after that.

With a resident population of just a few hundred people at the time, nobody had seen the need for a public library on Bribie Island.

In 1963, just before the new Bribie Bridge opened, a large new hall was built in Cotterill Avenue as a roller skating rink and dance hall.  This building has had an interesting history over its fifty-year life, becoming a cinema for several years in the 1970s before television became popular, then as the Busy Fingers Op Shop for over twenty years, until it eventually became the Baptist Church as it is today.

It was in this brand new hall in 1961 that a group of local business people held the first meeting for the formation of a Bribie Island Chamber of Commerce.

The small but very active Bribie community was hopeful of establishing a civic centre with meeting rooms and a library.  This idea coincided with the return to Bribie Island in 1963 of a lady who would play a very significant role in the establishment and development of a public library.

Marguerite “Lou” Young had spent some time on Bribie Island during the war years at their family cottage named “Tolga”, when the military were in occupation and just a few civilian residents remained here.  In 1963 she came back to live on Bribie with her husband Ken and three children.  They established and ran “Bribie Welding Works” which continued for 28 years.

Lou Young soon became involved with the Bribie Island State School P&C where she reorganised the school library.  Lou had always been a self-confessed “Book Worm” but this task involved her first and only book burning, of old and battered books, and a request for funds to obtain new books for current students’ needs.  Although having few formal qualifications, Young was then asked by the local Police Sergeant to set up a public library, which she promptly did in the old wooden shed on The Hill.

This very basic library opened in the shed in 1964, with just 200 fiction books and 100 non-fiction books.  Lou’s mother, Mrs Farleigh was the very first member to sign up.  However, book borrowing was not very popular on Bribie in those days as only 19 members joined in the first three years.  Interestingly, records reveal that the island’s most famous resident and International recluse artist Ian Fairweather became library member number 23.

The many thousands of visitors and holiday-makers were keen readers and a second-hand book exchange was also available in the shed for those who were not eligible to be members of the official Caboolture Council Library.

The library continued to operate in this small shed for the next 16 years until 1976, when the Caboolture Council built a brand new modern brick library, just south of the shed.  Lou Young served as the librarian from inception, initially part time and then becoming the full time Council Librarian.

Bribie Island Library, circa 1976.
Photo source:  Don Mullen
The 1976 building is today’s southern end of the library complex housing the large Hector Holthouse room, used for exhibitions and functions, and the small John Bateman meeting room. 

Soon after the new library had opened an interesting weather event was captured in a photo taken by local Pharmacist Don Mullen, showing a white covering of hailstones on the ground and a rainbow arching over the new building.

In the first 20 years to 1984, membership of the Library grew to some 3800 members and over the following 30 years membership and usage grew to over 14,000 members today.  This dramatic increase in library services led to a major new extension to the library building in 2004.


The original old shed remained on the hill until 1992 when it was finally declared unsafe and demolished by the Council.  The granddaughter of Jim Looke, the fish & chip shop operator in the 1950s, sought to retain the shed as an item of Bribie history.  However, it was demolished. 

However, in recognition a small plaque was placed in a garden in front of the library entrance, which can still be seen today, paying tribute to Jim Looke’s business in the shed from 1956 to 1959.

Small plaque in front of Bribie Island Library, 2014.
The plaque is paying tribute to Jim Looke's business 1956-1959.
Photo source: Barry Clark.
The humble shed played a significant role in the development of the Bribie community, and its demolition in 1992 coincided with the retirement of Lou Young as librarian after 27 years of dedicated service.  Just prior to her retirement Lou Young compiled a document titled Bribie Island: a collection of information for students capturing many aspects of Bribie Island history.  She sought to document answers to the many thousands of questions she had been asked about Bribie Island over her many years of service.

The library building was significantly enlarged in 2004 with an extension on the northern end, which today houses all of the books and technology of the modern library services.

The current Librarian Bronwyn Ash and her exceptional staff invited the public to commemorate 50 years of service by the Bribie Island Library in December 2014.