Saturday, 24 June 2017

Jun 2017 speaker

Shipwrecks of Northern Moreton Bay
David Jones
Guest speaker at BIHS meeting 14 June 2017

David Jones is a life-long resident of Brisbane with a keen interest in local history, particularly nautical and aviation history. David is a member of the Queensland Maritime Museum and Queensland Air Museum and his books and papers (some co-authored) reflect this interest

David commenced his talk by showing the channels in northern Moreton Bay and explaining why the route, for entering the Brisbane River, changed from the South Passage to the northern route past Cape Moreton.  

Beginning with the Norfolk, Lt. Flinder’s sloop David explained that though she wasn’t wrecked, she was laid up near White Patch (Bribie Island) for necessary repairs, caused by a bad leak during his expedition in July 1799.  Flinder's journal gave details of the sandbanks and shoals in the Pumicestone Passage and the difficulties of navigating into Moreton Bay because of strong winds and squalls. 

The history of the wrecks Avon, Cormorant, Koopa and Gayundah were detailed and photos shown of them as wrecks as well as in their prime.  The makeup of the largest group of wrecks near Tangalooma was described with David advising that the first 6 hulks were scuttled in 1963 (Maryborough, Remora, Bream, Dolphin, Kookaburra and Iceberg followed by 10 more over the next 20 years, the last being the Echeneis in 1984. The reason for their dumping and why in 2015 the wrecks were cut down to water level, which changed the silhouette of the wrecks, was explained.

David then showed some early photos of dumped WW2 landing barges on Bribie Island and a discussion ensued on where they were positioned from the background in the photos.

The story of the grounding of the Anro Asia, a 16,336 ton roll-on/roll-off container ship off the northern tip of Bribie in 1981 was told as was the Kanimbla which in 1952 was grounded off Caloundra because of blinding rain squalls and blasts of wind. The account of the Eastern’s mishap in 1911 was then presented with David advising how she ran aground on the Salamander Bank which flanks the western side of the channel. After being 10 days aground strong winds and seas carried her over and across the Salamander Bank into the deeper water of the north-west channel. Though damaged she was repaired in Sydney.

David then detailed some early shipping catastrophes commencing with the wrecking of the Sovereign, a 119-ton paddle-steamer which plied the coast before being wrecked in the South Passage with heavy loss of life on 11th March 1847.  The Young Australia, an emigrant clipper, who broke her back on the rocks of North Point on 31st May 1872. The St Magnus a 300-ton barque that went missing after arriving off Cape Moreton, from Adelaide, on 17th March 1875, in particularly stormy weather, took a pilot on board but failed to arrive in Brisbane. Five days later a passing steamer came upon a capsized hulk, bottom-up drifting 30 miles north of Cape Moreton, she fitted the description of the St Magnus.  David spoke also about the Danish barque Aarhus which struck Smith Rock on 24th February 1894 and sank in 15 minutes with no loss of life and the Waipara a passenger ship which also struck Smith Rock, but though needing extensive repairs, survived her encounter. The St Paul, a French steamer, similarly struck Smith Rock but foundered within four minutes with a loss of life of  18.  The Marietta Dal arrived on a fine day on 15th May 1950 but ran onto Smith Rock and was firmly wedged. She broke in two and is now completely submerged and a popular, though challenging, dive site.

David closed his presentation with the story of the Kaptajn Nielsen a 1,600 ton Danish dredge brought to Moreton Bay to deepen the north-west channel.  On the evening of 18th September 1964 she was in the channel near Tangalooma when at 11.30pm she suddenly capsized trapping men inside the upturned hull.  David described how crew member Erik Poulsen raised the alarm and the harrowing race-against-time rescue by divers Joe Engwirda and Ivan Adams  as they pulled survivors out one-by-one. Captain Karl Flindt being the last survivor rescued. The three heroes were all awarded the George Medal.

Further information
David Jones' books available from Boolarong Press

The Lady of the Water: the story of the SS Koopa 1911 to 1953
by David Jones and Colin Jones

Saving war relics

War Relic was Holiday Home on Bribie
Barry Clark, Bribie Island Historical Society

We have recently been contacted by a lady from Brisbane with wonderful childhood memories of living in one of the Fort Skirmish Military buildings at Woorim.

It is one of only 2 remaining buildings in the area of Rotary Park, which is soon to have informative signs erected and improvements carried out. The structure is known as RAN 4 and was the Control Room for submarine detection cable laid on the sea floor, across to Moreton Island to detect and destroy enemy ships. 

There were several defensive installations throughout Moreton Bay which are shown on diagram 1. After the war the military equipment was removed but the structures remained.
1. Diagram of Defence installation
during WW2.

There were 5 rooms in the Control room building, for various equipment and wartime observation activities, plus a toilet for the Officers and another for the ratings. The layout and use of the rooms during the war years is shown on diagram 3.  Further back from the sea was the accommodation camp for about 30 servicemen plus various other military structures. The only other building that has survived is one of the Generator rooms which is still visible in Rotary Park.

Soon after the war the submarine cables were recovered and most buildings were removed or lost in the shifting sand dunes. By 1953 the RAN 4 Control Room was almost out of sight under the sand.
2. In 1953 it was almost buried,
before the Olsen family moved in.

Between 1948 and 1953 the Control room structure was used as a "weekender" by Brisbane butchers Bertha and Ern Koppe under a special lease. They installed double bunks and turned the Loop, Wireless and Observation rooms into bedrooms, and the Artificers Workshop became the kitchen.
The lease was taken over by Ray and Joan Craft who continued to use it as a weekender until 1958.

They installed a wood stove, but were unable to leave anything at all in the building when they were not there as it had no windows and was not secure.
3. Military use of rooms during WW2.
4. Rooms as Holiday home for
Olsen family 1958 to 1969.

Bribie Island was still quite remote in those days with only a car ferry from the mainland to the island, and a population of about 400 people.

The road across the island was rough and basic and there was only a sandy track from the Hotel north to the Control room.

Other families also leased Gun Emplacement structures opposite Fourth Avenue. Viv Daddo and family had use of the tiny Generator room still standing in Rotary Park.
Everything required for the holiday visits had to be carried in and taken back home afterwards.

On 12th March 1958 Frank and Oral Olsen took over the lease of RAN4 Control room and continued to use it as a holiday home for the next eleven years until end January 1969.
By 1970 the building was so broken down and unsafe that it could no longer be used.
Helga Newmann (nee Olsen) recently wrote the following letter to the Historical Society with her memories of those days, and provided a diagram of how they used the rooms as a home.

My memories of holidaying at "The Fort" Bribie Island 
by Helga Newmann (nee Olsen) April 2017
Between March 1958 and January 1969 my family (parents and five children) holidayed at various times (school holidays) at Bribie Island staying in "The Fort" leased by my Uncle Francis Lloyd Olsen (Frank Olsen). We would catch the barge  over from Toorbul Point to Bribie Island then drive across the island towards the ocean beach.

The road in to the fort was only a poorly maintained sandy track through the bush. First thing when we arrived Dad started the windmill so we could have water and got the kerosene refrigerator going. There was no electricity so we used primus lanterns for lights, a kerosene refrigerator and a wood stove. I don't remember stockpiles of wood for the stove so maybe we had some other means of cooking but I don't recall. Maybe a primus stove.

The windows would have had bars but I don't recall whether there was glass in them. The sand dunes actually came right up under the windows (within a foot of the windows) on the beach side. People used to wander along the beach and stop to look in the window. Many a time you'd surprise somebody looking in at you.

We used to swim and fish in the surf right in front of the fort. We also did lots of walking going to some of the inland lagoons. It was wonderful at night to lie in bed and listen to the only sound - the ocean breaking on the shore - and shadowy figures walking past the doorway when Mum and Dad passed with a lantern.

Saving Our War History
After 1970 the Control building continued to deteriorate and became extensively vandalised over the next 25 years, until in 1996 the newly formed Rotary Club of Bribie Island initiated a project to refurbish the building. Volunteers worked for many months inputting thousands of volunteer hours to uncover the building, clean and paint the interior rooms and external structure.
5. Control room before Rotary Restoration in 1996.
6. Restoration work by Rotary volunteers in 1996/7.

When completed it was almost as good as new and was positioned just above the high water mark. Despite the efforts of Rotary there was no interest by State or Council to provide adequate protection or signage.
7. After Rotary restoration vandals struck again in 2000.
In subsequent years king tides and storm surges eroded the protective sand dune in front of the Control Room, and vandals continued to break into the building and deface the restoration work.
8. Storm erosion in 2011 almost claims Control room.
9. Protective Sandbags after storms of 2011.

A major storm surge in 2011 removed large quantities of sand and seriously undermined the structure until it was almost lost.

Council were then required to construct a large sand bag protective wall around the building, which now sticks out over the beach and is washed by the daily tide.

10. What it looks like inside today.
Bribie Island Rotary Club have urged Council for many years to recognise the significance of these structures and to improve the facilities in Rotary Park and erect their informative signage. This work is scheduled to take place soon and it must be hoped that this will raise public awareness and respect for these important historical relics.

For more than a decade the Historical Society have urged State Government to recognise the almost complete loss of World War 2 structures at Fort Bribie on the north of the island. There are now very few remaining structures remaining intact. I have recently taken 40 people, as one of Council's Public programs, to see the inside of the Control Room and appreciate the role of Bribie Island in WW2. The interior is rapidly deteriorating due to extensive concrete cancer, and its ultimate collapse seems inevitable. Such a pity.

It was lovely to hear from Helga (nee Olsen) with her memories of many exciting holidays with her family, living in an empty concrete bunker on the water's edge ... a million dollar location.

We should all be reflecting on just how close Australia came to being invaded during the war, and the strategic role of the buildings and those who served on Bribie Island during those challenging years.

Thank you to Helga Newmann (nee Olsen) for her kind permission to reproduce her memories of "The Fort" Bribie Island.

The above article was published in the June 2017 issue (pages 14-15) of 
The Bribie Islander

Further Information
Dr Richard Walding's webpages on Fort Bribie - has Loop Hut Floor Plan

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Peter Ludlow's Blog

Local historian Peter Ludlow has maintained a Blog since March 2015 and recently posted several items related to Bribie Island.

Below is a link to each post and a brief description of its contents.

Peter Ludlow's Moreton Bay History blog

Koopa Memories [10 Dec 2016]
features recollections by Marilyn Carr and photo of "Koopa" at Bribie Jetty 1920s (photo courtesy of Ian Hall).

Bullets and Beans [3 Dec 2016]
features recollections by Marilyn Carr and photo of Pebble Beach Memorial, Toorbul Point.

The People of the Passage (Bribie in its Golden Era of the 1930s) [17 Sep 2016]
Peter Ludlow's story of life on Bribie Island featuring Dave King and son Eric King, Lottie Tripcony, Freddie Crouch, arrival of the Koopa, Wally Campbell, Mr Freeman, departure of the Koopa and photo of 1) Camping at Bribie in the 1920s and 2) Sunset across the Passage from Bribie Island.

Stories from Bribie Island - 2 [3 Sep 2016]
Peter Ludlow's writing of early Bribie. Also features recollections from Jack Wheeler and Lyne Marshall with photo of 1) a Postcard from Bribie Island - Koopa Jetty, tents, from Marian Young;  2) Koopa approaching Bribie Island from Yvonne D'Arcy and 3) Hauling in the mullet from Lyne Marshall.

Stories from Bribie Island - 1 [27 Aug 2016]
features recollections from Les Bax, Jim Ormiston and Lisa West. Also photo of s.s. Cormorant (hulk at Bongaree) and photo of Ian Fairweather and hut from Ron Powell.

"Moreton Bay People - The Complete Collection" by Peter Ludlow.
A Healthy Neglect – Kathleen McArthur
Settling The Still Water Side – Ian Hall
That Bribie Feeling  – Adrian Dalgarno
A Sylvan Sketch – Lisa West
The House By The Sea – Ian Fairweather
The Road To Bribie  – Dorothy Schulte
Starting From Scratch – Jim Ormiston
Shellgrit And Cargo – Audrey Abrahams [nee Maloney]
The People Of The Passage
The Shields Of Bribie Passage – Don Shields
The Bell Family – Bribie Island 1915 – 1979 – June Berry
Doctor At The Fort – Doctor Noel Ure
Fort Bribie – Stan Muller
Fort Bribie Revisited – John McKenna/Doctor Noel Ure

Nostalgia by Neil Groom

Cover "The Sunday Mail
- Nostalgia Book" 1986
The following article by Neil Groom is a wonderful description of a trip through Moreton Bay on the steamship Koopa.  What an exciting prospect it would have been for Brisbanites - young and old alike! 

A super day on the bay aboard the Koopa
Neil Groom
Nostalgia column, The Sunday Mail, circa 1983.
From "The Sunday Mail - Nostalgia Book, 1986, p. 26-28.

The first tremor of the deck sparked a surge of excitement that sent shivers up the back.  

To confirm the wondrous feeling, eddies swirled from the ship's stern to wash with a splashing sound around the barnacle-crusted piles of the Petrie Bight wharf.  This tingling start of the trip was the joyful start of a day in the bay for the boys and girls of Brisbane — adults, too, when the good ship Koopa steamed to Redcliffe and Bribie Island.

To the young'uns particularly, a Koopa trip held as much wonder as a space age launch of today. The Koopa, in her prime days, was termed "the queen of Moreton Bay".

Her reign began in 1912 when the 416-tonne ship, specially built in Scotland for the Moreton Bay excursion trade, arrived in Brisbane after a lumpy trip from Leigh.  Koopa — Aboriginal for "flying fish"— had a rousing welcome from Brisbane, and the owners, the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company, established a Brisbane-Redcliffe-Bribie Island run. The ship could accommodate 1600 people, and the joys of a Koopa day on the bay would still be remembered by the senior citizens.

The Koopa left from Petrie Bight. It called at Redcliffe jetty, and then cut across to Bribie Island. It was a regular attraction for the Redcliffe and Bribie folk who invariably turned out in hundreds to watch the ship berth.

Being the sole link with Bribie, the Koopa usually carried a homely collection of holidaying families and their luggage.

One of my clearest recollections about the Koopa was leading the family dog — a noted brawler up the gangplank, and being detailed to tether him in a starboard corner, well away from other aggressive hounds.

The first shivers of excitement for the young'uns would come when Captain J.S. Johnston would take station on deck, supervising the casting off procedure.  Lines would drop into the water as they slipped the bollards, the gangplank would be shipped with a rumble, Captain Johnston, in white uniform and a peaked cap of authority, would disappear to the wheelhouse.  There would be a distant jangle of engine room telegraph bells. Smoke would stream from the funnels. Then that breathtaking tremor of the deck, and the swirl from the stern.
ship Koopa
Source: Groom, 1986, p. 27
And Look! The ship is actually moving! Boy! Here we go on the grand bay adventure. The Koopa was off and away.

Mums would hurriedly stock take on kids, making sure none were still on the wharf, or in the wake of the ship. Some dads would make a navigational estimate of when the ship would pass the Hamilton Cold Stores, for at this point the bar would open.

Then the Koopa would steam downriver, past New Farm and Bulimba, down the Hamilton Reach. A bit of a pong at the abattoirs at Colmslie, and past Luggage Point everyone would gasp "Whew!" and ladies would apply the cologne-dabbed hanky to noses.

Out in the bay it was the high seas. Shrieks as spray spattered over the bows and the folk clustered at the sharp end. Maybe the ship would roll a trifle as a sea lifted the stern. More shrieks.

Timetable for Koopa
Exhibition Week 1947

Source: WMHS newsletter
no. 62 May 2014 p. 4-5
At Redcliffe, there were more jangling bells from the engine room. The ship shuddered as the screw went astern, a surge of foam fanning out and jellyfish turning over in the whiteness.

On to Bribie where the jetty had a great, heavy trolley on rails for baggage. People, hanging desperately on to straining dogs, would be towed down the gangplank, sometimes headlong. Dads and mums would stagger on their way to holiday houses, suitcases dragging at their arms.  Day trippers would fan out for their couple of hours of fun.

This was the Koopa picture from 1912 until 1942 when the old lady of the bay was called up for World War II service.  She served as a mother ship for patrol boats along the northern coasts of Papua New Guinea. While being fitted out for this task, Brisbane was agog with rumors that the old lady was being prepared as General MacArthur's secret weapon in a fearsome assault on the Japanese.

The old Koopa returned to civvy life in 1945, but her time was running out. She made her last bay trip in May, 1953, and the old girl finished as scrap iron on a Myrtletown mud flat.

She brought a lot of pleasure to Brisbane in her long career. Trips, staff picnics, all fun occasions. To small boys and girls she was a wonder ... a real, live, noisy, exciting engine room for all to see. And an impressive real, live captain on the bridge.  Waves, jellyfish, seagulls, the thud of waves on the bow, the boiling wake. Wow! What a day!

Groom, Neil (1986) A super day on the bay aboard the Koopa. In: "The Sunday Mail - Nostalgia Book" by Neil Groom, with contributions by Ken Blanch. 1986. p.26-28.
ISBN 0 949381 07 1

Wynnum Manly Historical Society Inc. (WMHS) Newsletter no. 62 May 2014 pages 4-5

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.