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Victor Drury - Sandgate the Holiday Destination

In my young days, the watering places for Brisbane were Sandgate and Cleveland. Generally, our family went to Sandgate for the Christmas holidays. We traveled down in a hired landau and the luggage was taken down by a furniture van. After passing Newstead, we drove over the Albion Hill, down the old Sandgate Road the German station where Mrs. Schattling kept what we called the Half Way House. There the horses had a spell and a bucket of water, and we youngsters a sandwich and ginger beer.

There were some nice homes along the old Sandgate Road. Among them, I remember were those of Messrs. P. A. Kob, accountant in the Colonial Secretary’s Office; W. H. Ryder, chief clerk in the same office; and Mr. George Hutton. The land between the old Sandgate Road and the present Sandgate railway line was not built on as at present. The Maida Hill Estate above the Wooloowin railway station was soon to be subdivided and all sold and quickly built upon.

There were few homes between the old Sandgate Road and the German Station. After leaving that place, we drove over the big hill on towards Sandgate. This hill was very slippery in wet weather, and we youngsters often had to get out of the cab and walk.

The first residence after getting over the big hill and coming towards Cabbage Tree Creek was occupied by an ex-officer of the Police Department, Mr. Stephenson. He had bunya pine trees in the avenue leading up to the house, and these are still to be seen there. The old house has lately been moved and fruit gardens are springing up on each side of the road.

We then crossed Cabbage Tree Creek Bridge and on to Sandgate. On the east at Sandgate we came to the Osborne Hotel, Dover Cottage, Bayswater Terrace and then the Post Office in charge of Mr. Charles Slaughter. Mr. Deagon had two cottages, Barnstable and Devonshire Cottage. He also had a large Hotel, the Sandgate, facing the upper Esplanade where Cobb and Co., coaches put up.

Morven in those days belonged to Mr. McConnell, and on one occasion was leased by the then Governor, the Marquis of Normanby. Later Mr. D. L. Brown purchased Morven and added considerably to it. Mr. Chancellor, of the Customs, had a cottage at the corner opposite where the pier now is, and Mr. Thompson, of the Union Bank, occupied the other corner.

Messrs. Graham Hart and E. R. Drury built Saltwood on the Shorncliffe end of the town, and adjoining on the upper end of the town, and adjoining in the upper Esplanade were the well known Shorncliffe cottages of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Kift. Sir James Cockle, Chief Justice, and family, had the four Shorncliffe cottages every Christmas and later Sir Charles Lilley’s family occupied them.

Going down to Cabbage Tree Creek you came to John Baxter’s oyster saloon. John Baxter was there for years and supplied the township with oysters and fish. The leading townspeople of Sandgate at that time were groceries, Messrs Buck, George Walker, and George Mockridge, who was also a butcher.

Mrs. Tempest was the draper. Later, Mr. Griggs, a draper, built a two storied shop and dwelling. The hotels were the Osborne kept by Mr. L. Drouyn, and Sandgate by Mr. Tom Coward, who was formerly in the Native Police. Sandgate was a Municipality in the early 1880s, and the Mayor was Alderman W. Deagon.

When I first remember Sandgate, Captain Townsend occupied Brighton House, the grounds running down to what is now Flinders Parade. It was a beautiful property planted with fruit trees and flowering shrubs. When Captain Townsend left Brighton to reside in Sandgate the old house became a hotel, Mr. Samuel Hamilton being the licensee. Mr. Hamilton for years had the Hamilton Hotel at the corner of the River and Racecourse Roads, Brisbane. I am now residing at the Brighton, excellently kept by a namesake, Mr. M. Drury.

Mr. William Cairns, afterwards Sir William, once stayed at the Osbourne Hotel, when Governor of Queensland and was very fond of driving out to the Pine River and Bald Hills. These roads were a little different from what they are today.

Cobb and Co’s coaches ran between Brisbane and Sandgate, meeting at the German station, and often you would see some of our professional men on the box of the afternoon coach going for a drive to the German Station, returning that evening. Mr. Slaughter, father of the postmaster, had a very comfortable waggonette he ran daily to Brisbane. George. W. Locke was the rector at the Church of England.

Houses at Sandgate had their own bathing boxes and the enclosure was railed in with saplings, which had continually to be repaired. The Sandgate Pier was built about 1884, but as there was not sufficient water at low tide, it was lengthened as at present. It was used by some small steamers plying by Woody Point and Sandgate.

After the railway was opened to Sandgate, the town advanced rapidly. The population was then a little over 1,000, and there were only about 150 ratepayers. Old Mr. Robert Kift was an alderman, and I have often heard him discussing municipal affairs with my father and others. Mr. E. B. Southerden was a prominent townsman and at one time mayor of the town. Other aldermen of Sandgate I remember were Messrs. Bott, Cooksley and Wakefield. I think Mr. Wakefield was afterwards member for Moreton.

In later years, Mr. Robert J. Gray, Under Secretary of the Colonial Secretary’s Department, and later Commissioner for Railways, lived near Cabbage Tree Creek. Mr. Gray was an enthusiastic fisherman and many a night I spent with him rowing up the creek and drifting down with the tide. We made some good catches, but the mosquitoes were awful.

A builder, Mr. Young, near Cabbage Tree Creek, prepared a wonderful mixture called “Young’s Mineral Oil,” which we used for cuts and scratches.

Mr. Tom Persse, of the Lands Department, had a house next to Mr. Gray’s and resided there for years. Mr. George Wilkie Gray (Quinlan Gray and Co), also had a house near Saltwood. William Street, of white-ant fame, also lived in Sandgate, and was a builder and contractor. Dr. John Thompson built Clutha at Shorncliffe, the scene of many a happy gathering.

The public bathing places were not fenced in. Stakes directed the bathers from the rocks. I remember one Sunday when bathing in one of these between Saltwood and Morven, a well known licensed victualler, Mr. Peter Gaffney, had a seizure when in the water.

He just had time to reach one of the saplings when he collapsed. We carried him to the beach and got medical assistance, but he passed away. I was only a lad at the time, and never forgot the shock it gave us all.

Another well-known family I must not omit to mention was the Bests. One had a butcher’s shop and the other had a bus. John Best used to drive us to the train in later days, and was a genial sort. He had a brother Llewellyn, who also lived in Sandgate. Mr. W. Bebbington was the headmaster of the Sandgate School.

I remember an encampment held at Sandgate when all the troops camped on the reserve, now Moora Park. I was not in the Volunteers then, but was greatly interested in the artillery practice across the Nudgee Beach. There was no Cribb Island township or residences that I remember in those parts; now the seaside is dotted with habitations.

The lagoon was always an attraction at Sandgate, and is still kept as a reserve. I do hope it will never be filled in as has been suggested. It is the home of wild ducks, water fowl, and other birds, which always attract the tourist. Today, you see motor cars pull up and watch the wild fowls on the Lagoon.