Victor Drury - Around Moreton Bay

At Easter, 1881, I had my first trip to Southport with Mr. E. B. Forrest in his yacht the Isabel.

The party consisted of Mr. J. F. Garrick, Q.C., and his son, J. Cadell Garrick, now a prominent member of the Queensland Turf Club, Mr. Alexis Matvieff, Superintendent of Electric Telegraphs, Brisbane, Mr. J. C. Lynn, and Mr. George Forrest.

We were towed down to Lytton by the steam launch belonging to Mr. George Harris of J. and G. Harris, merchants. We sailed through the Boat Passage, to Coochiemudlo that night, and on to Southport on Good Friday. We moored at Stradbroke Island opposite Hanlon’s Hotel. There was excellent whiting fishing off the island, and just across from the beach, there was a large fresh water lagoon, which has now disappeared.

Stradbroke Island has quite changed since those days, principally through the break through at Jumping Pin, where the Cambus Wallace was wrecked in previous years. The sailing ship Scottish Prince also went ashore on Stradbroke Island opposite Hanlon’s Hotel, and was a total wreck.

Broadwater was an excellent place for sailing regattas, and I had already referred to the regatta held on Easter Sunday. At Cooran and Curridgee, there were small settlements of the men employed by the Moreton Bay Oyster Company who had a large number of oyster beds in that part of the bay. There was a large oyster trade in those days, and the sailing boats Artemus Ward, Charles Dickens, and Rip, were all engaged in bringing the oysters from the banks to Brisbane, and many hundreds of bags went to Sydney and Melbourne.

The 1891 floods in the Logan as well as in other districts almost destroyed the oyster trade, because the fresh water and debris from the Logan River and creek killed the oysters. They also suffered from a worm that attacked them and it took years for the trade to recover from the disastrous effects of the flood. After a most enjoyable trip, we returned on Easter Monday, and I well remember how badly Mr. Garrick suffered from sun burnt legs and feet.

In 1883 I had a wonderful bay trip in a boat called the Sabrina, built by Peter Woods. The crew comprised Charles and Harold Lilley, Peter Woods, and myself. We were away four weeks, and spent the first evening at Lytton, where we met Mr. Ted. Cullen then engaged as an engineer of the Harbours and Rivers Department on deepening the channel into the river. Mr. Kavanagh kept the old Hotel near the Lytton wharf, and his daughters being good musicians, we often had a concert party there on our way to the bay.

The Sabrina was a very comfortable boat, but had no bunks or motor. Two people slept on either side of the centre board case and were very comfortable and happy. We first went up to Caloundra through Bribie Passage, and were several days there. One evening we spent with the late Mr. William Landsborough, the explorer. Mr. R. Bulcock was the principal resident at that time, and there were very few houses anywhere.

The fishing was splendid. Leaving Caloundra, we made towards Southport, calling at Amity Point, where we met Captain Rolls, who lived there, and who entertained us of an evening with his yarns of his early days. He had been an A.D.C. to Governor Blackall. He had a wonderful collection of knives all displayed on a table and he could do anything with a pack of cards.

We sailed from Amity to Canaipa where we camped and spent an evening with the Wills family. All boating men knew this hospitable home and Mr. and Mrs. Wills were always pleased to see us. We had music and singing and a good supper and were sorry to leave such good friends. Then we went on through Swan Bay in the Broadwater and Southport and came home past Redland Bay, which was then a great banana growing district, the fruit being taken to Brisbane by bay steamers. We called at Cleveland, and finally home after one of the best trips I ever had.

While writing of bay trips, I recall when a schoolboy I would get a holiday to accompany my father down to St. Helena and Dunwich.

The visiting justice was Sir Ralph Gore (centre)and my father and I would walk over from our home, the Retreat, Petrie’s Bight, to Kingsholme, where Sir Ralph Gore resided. He had married a daughter of Mr. E. I. C. Browne, who lived at Kingsholme. The Government steamer, Kate, under the command of Captain Page, would send a boat ashore for us and our first call would be at Cannon Hill to pick up Dr. Challinor, medical officer.

We then proceeded down to Lytton where we would board the old hulk where reformatory boys were kept in those days. Superintendent J. W. Wassell was in charge of the hulk and later when the old hulk was abandoned, he was located at the Redoubt on Lytton Hill. The boys were well looked after by that kind official who had a hard row to hoe in such cramped conditions.

The Kate then went on to St. Helena where we often had to anchor some distance from the jetty if the tide was low. We were rowed towards the shore and then when the boat could proceed no further, we got into a dray and were driven to the beach.

The officials were conveyed in a waggonette to the stockade, and later on, a train track was built to the jetty which was extended to deeper water. A trolley called the Kangaroo was used for transport. Mr. McDonald was the superintendent and he had a beautiful garden surrounding his residence.

Sugar cane was grown on the island and they had a sugar mill. I saw sugar being manufactured there for the first time. I often thought of the old sugar mill at St. Helena when going over the modern sugar mills now in North Queensland.

The Kate used to visit St. Helena once a week, and took down all stores for the establishment.From St. Helena we steamed to Dunwich where Mr. Hamilton was superintendent. There we went alongside the stone jetty and walked up to the residence.

There were very few inmates there in those days compared with the present day. Sometimes the Kate called at Peel Island, then the quarantine station. There were no lepers there then. I remember when the R.M.S. Dorunda was quarantined at Peel Island on account of cholera.

Peel Island was always a favourite place for boating men. We got good fishing there and good bathing. Mr. Hamilton also had charge of Peel Island.

Dunwich is fortunate in having a good water supply. At one time, there was a suggestion of drawing a water supply for Brisbane from Stradbroke Island.