Travels in East Moreton, 1859 (#7): Boggo to Wolston

(From the Moreton Bay Courier, 12 March 1859)

'Having, in my last article, left off my sketch of the south-western suburbs somewhere in the neighborhood of the farmsteads about Yeerongpilly, I will, with your permission, renew my rambles, and detain your readers, for a brief period, upon those auriferous looking quartz ridges overlooking the valley of the Brisbane, in the direction of Boggo, and as we rest ourselves beneath the wide spreading branches of some forest monarch, under whose shade in-all probability the Arab of the wilderness in generations past loitered and held coroboree, ere Cook or Tasman sighted the shores of New Holland. Let us endeavor to derive some information about this particular locality, and the varied scenes we have visited together in our journeying through the district.

The banks of the Brisbane, comprising a portion of the parish of Yeerongpilly, is rather densely filled in with scrub; and in years past large quantities of pine timber was obtained therefrom, but the increasing demand of that useful description of timber, has denuded these, and similar scrubs of most of that article, driving the sawyers and splitters to a greater distance from water-carriage, to obtain the needful supply for building purposes.

Although the present high rate of wages given to laboring men employed in farm husbandry, in a great measure impedes agricultural operations, and the clearing of heavily timbered lands, yet the rich and productive nature of the soils situated upon these and other navigable waters, amply repay those who have had pluck enough in their composition to set to work and clear the land of these impediments. The only regret one feels in looking over the various cleared land in this neighborhood is, that the proprietors of these clearings should be content, or rather compelled, from their limited resources, to adopt, the one unvarying principle of cultivating only maize and potatoes; the demand for which from our limited population is not at all times equal to the expectations of the growers.

I must admit the temptation to cultivate these products is very great, because our small farmers calculate upon getting two crops a year from potatoes and maize, whilst in cultivating cotton for instance, want of experience in the general system of management, deters all or most of our small landholders from making the attempt to produce cotton wool. Yet one would hope that the fact the cotton uncleaned was sold at Mort’s auction mart, in Sydney, at 5d. per lb., this return will be found upon making calculation, far beyond what may be expected from the present price of corn and potatoes.

Let your correspondent here throw out a suggestion for the earnest consideration of those employed in agricultural operations, or desirous of seeing this important branch of home industry encouraged. The suggestion I am about to offer occurs to my mind in consequence of seeing in my peregrination through the district, the sad deterioration of late years in our horticultural productions; for instance, we find, in many places, the pine dwindled away to a fruit so small and irregular in its growth as to be valueless; - the banana also pithey and tasteless. Large quantities of these trash are forwarded to Sydney for sale which, when contrasted with the very fine pine apples and bananas grown nigher the metropolis, creates a prejudice against the consumption of these articles.

Wurtemburg Farm, 1880s. Watercolour by C.G.S. Hirst (SLQ). 

To remedy this growing evil the suggestion I have to offer is, to revive the Moreton Bay Agricultural Society; which, to the lasting shame of many of us, was allowed to fall through want of support. Let everyone interested in the future prosperity of these districts take an active interest in its progress! Let every effort be made to induce the holders of small farms to cultivate the proper description of cotton, arrowroot, sugar plants, pines, bananas, and the thousand and one other semi-tropical productions, which we have sought to grow, but which, except in a very few instances, has never been successfully tried. To encourage our farmers in their desires to improve their growing crops we have a Botanical Garden, conducted by a skilful man, over ready, I believe, to convey every information in his power to those who will ask his assistance. The gentleman entrusted by the Government with the superintendence of these grounds, I am sure will do much to encourage a thoughtful and judicious mode of culture amongst the community in which they have cast their lot. Let me, through the medium of this article, urge upon those interested, to call an early meeting of the friends of progress, to once more have that useful institution an Agricultural Association established amongst us.

Beyond Oxley Creek, a distance of some eight or nine miles from Brisbane, the land on the south bank of the river remains in a state of nature until you reach Wolston, the grounds and residence of S. Simpson, Esq., late Commissioner of Crown Lands for these districts. Wolston is some two miles on the Brisbane side of Woogaroo, bounded on one side by that river, the whole freehold comprising, I should think, something like one thousand acres of open forest land, all securely fenced in and laid out in convenient paddocks, mostly used for horse stock, of which the proprietor has a goodly number. The gardens and grounds are neatly laid out, the former possessing some really good trees, shrubs, &c.

Wolston House, a stone and brick farmhouse built in 1852. (SLQ) 

The country lying between Wolston and Oxley’s Creek must eventually, particularly the land bordering the river, become available to the small farmer and cultivator. The scrub land is of the richest description, and the patch of open forest lying at intervals, and at the back of the scrubs is also well worthy of a poor man’s purchase. The daily passing and repassing of our river steam fleet, adds another valuable feature to these river side localities; and one cannot doubt but that so soon as our land regulations are placed in the hands of the Moreton Bay Government, the sale of those waste lands will be both rapid and profitable to the colony and the purchaser.

Let me draw your readers’ attention, particularly those dwelling in other lands, to the following facts and particulars. The rivers Brisbane, Pine, Logan, and Cabulture empty themselves into the waters of our magnificent Bay, within an area of say 25 miles. These rivers are navigable for some distance from their mouths, particularly the two former. Upon all these rivers millions of acres of productive land is unsurveyed and unsold, affording ample space for the industrial exertions of thousands of our fellow creatures, coming from whatever part of God’s creation they may.

If we are therefore led to view the future occupation of these lands by a people desirous of improving their present condition, let us hope every endeavour will be used by our legislators to bring them into the market upon terms favorable to the occupiers of them. Every friend to the future progress and prosperity of Moreton Bay, might then anticipate to see those views realized, which were ably set forth in the Hall of the Brisbane School of Arts, in the year 1857, by Mr. William Brookes, in a lecture delivered 'Upon the cultivation of cotton,' and as the lecturer observed, some future historian may, in speaking of Moreton Bay, use terms something like these: 'Around the Bay and stretching away for miles, are clusters of farms supporting a large population, who are principally engaged in the cultivation of cotton. They are not only a well-to-do, but a contented and prosperous community. In the far inland districts there is a vast extent of country which supports millions of sheep, thousands of cattle, and droves of horses. Thus is the country divided between the pastoral and the agricultural interests, and the best understanding exists between them. The time has been when this colony was spoken of as a pastoral country only; but now it is a flourishing territory, giving ample support to both interests.'

As we sit under this gum-tree, and cast our eyes along the valley through which the Brisbane flows, can we doubt the realization of some portion at all events of this graphic picture? Surely not! There are those amongst us who will live to see the thousands of acres of unbroken forest, stretching away in the distance without any sign of habitation, peopled up by the starving thousands at present congregated together in vast masses in the streets, alleys, and by-ways of the cities and towns of the old country. Did time and space permit me, I fain would pursue this subject further; but for the present must leave the question of cotton growing to another opportunity, or I should say to more abler hands than mine.

Oxley Creek, circa 1922. (State Library of Queensland) 

A Moreton Bay Agricultural and Horticultural Society, when again formed, would find ample materials within their reach to place the matter before the members; and I doubt not the results of their experience and practical working will soon establish the fact that the cultivation of cotton wool would rank in equal importance with that of our staple export wool.

The country lying between Woogaroo and the Teviot, and the head of Oxley’s Creek, is occupied by small proprietors of stock, principally cattle, all of whom appear to be gathering round them a valuable property in that particular, rude plenty is apparent with them all, the wayfarer being sure of a good feed and a shake down, should his journeyings lead them into their society.

A very excellent road is in the course of formation between Ipswich and the metropolis of Brisbane; the distance between the two townships being by this route, about twenty three miles. The traveller at no distant period proceeding to or from either of those localities, may in all probability be enabled to choose the river or the road, by which to proceed on his journey. The steam-boats conveying by one and the mail-coach by the other. The latter route with an ordinary four-horsed coach could no doubt be passed over in something like a couple of hours, whilst the river route, a distance of 55 miles, occupies by the steamers at present from four to six hours, a difference in time of much importance to men of business. At present I am sorry to say, we are not in Moreton Bay quite fast enough to pay much attention to a few hours waste time, in a journey of 20 odd miles. I calculate, if ever we get Separation, the old slow coaches on the road-way of life at present down here, will soon get knocked out of time, and pushed off the road, by young England fraternising with, young Australia for the purpose of going a-head, and doing their duty as citizens of a great nation.

Having, in my previous sketches, endeavored to portray (though I feel very faintly) some of those places visited in my rambles through East Moreton, I will bring my pleasant task to a close by observing, for the attention and guidance of those in lands far away, that upon the rivers mentioned in the previous portion of this article, and their numerous tributaries falling into their waters, immense tracts of maiden soil lie upon their margins only awaiting the occupation and labors of man to convert them into productive wealth; and that speaking of East Moreton only it must be borne in mind that the western portions of this magnificent province are every way equal, if not in some measure superior, to the districts I passed over; and for many many years there will be ample scope and space available for the settling down of, I may say, millions of the human family; and that the present residents and part occupiers of the settled lands are barely conversant with the productive capabilities of the land they live in. In fact, we have the land, but we want labor, and gold to make the province of North Australia the most valuable of her Majesty’s Australian possessions.

We may not, and perhaps it will ultimately be found better if we do not, find those auriferous treasures so widely dispersed in the mother colony and Victoria; but whether we do or do not discover a gold field, we may with confidence assert, and without fear of contradiction, that Moreton Bay possesses a soil if not literally auriferous, is a golden land to the fortunate possessor of it, as witness the exports for 1858, us per last return published in the columns of the Courier gave a total of £550,000, and which is considered by parties acquainted with those matters, as much under the real amount. However, be that as it may, we have much to be proud of in this respect when we take into consideration the very limited number of inhabitants in the northern districts, and the wide field we have for future improvement.

In conclusion, should I have been so fortunate in these sketches to have given an hours amusement to your numerous readers, or induce one soul to think well of the land of our adoption, your public correspondent will consider himself amply repaid, and well pleased to find his wish to benefit his fellow man has been accomplished.'

Travels in East Moreton, 1859 (#6): South Brisbane

(Extracted from the Moreton Bay Courier, 5 March 1859)

The Western Suburbs of South Brisbane, in common with other up-river localities, are well worthy a place in your journal amongst our other Sketches of East Moreton; and a lover of the picturesque and beautiful would find a day had been well spent were he to take a stroll amongst the cultivated grounds lying on the south-west bank of the Brisbane River, in the direction of Boggo, and the interesting parish of Yeerongpilly.

In sketching some particulars relating to the south bank of this charming river, I with premise my remarks by observing, that South Brisbane, or rather that portion of it lying opposite to the hospital and ferry approaches was, in the penal period of this colony, cultivated by the convict population of the settlement; and large quantities of maize and sweet potatoes were taken off the land, for the sustenance of the people employed thereon. But in the year 1842, after his Excellency Sir George Gipps had visited this portion of his government, the settlement of Moreton Bay was thrown open to private enterprise; and the convict population gradually withdrawn.

In that year, and for a considerable period afterwards, the attentive observer would have frequently to witness the marked peculiarities pertaining to those revolting exhibitions connected with the convict discipline of those days. Frequently, at the hour of noon, after the Court had closed its sittings, the suppressed shriek and groans of the felon would be heard by the occasional passer-by, issuing from beneath the archway in Queen-street.

South Brisbane c.1867. (John Oxley Library)

At the same time the new chum, landing for the first time upon these beautiful but fearfully polluted shores, would very probably have presented to his gaze other associations that at once would recall to memory the tales of other days, heard of this terrible Pandemonium. The armed sentinels, the convict constable, dressed in brief authority, walking with unwilling step the doubly convicted felon to the presence of the Commandant, there and then to answer for some act of disobedience, or previous nights’ irregularity, committed very likely when in company of some old pal who, arriving overland with some Jackaroo squatter, had come down to the Bay to spend in drunken recklessness the earning of previous months, perhaps years.

Turning from the sad reflections engendered by these reminiscences of the olden time, what hopeful thoughts of the future progress of this infant township must have entered the minds of many wayfarers to this portion of the Australian island continent. Walking from the old wharf to the hill above the Commissariat stores, what a scene of enchantment met the astonished gaze. The public buildings, (then in a good state of preservation) grouped or scattered around; the Commandant’s and Government gardens laid out with tasteful elegance, abundantly filled with trees, shrubs, and botanical specimens, brought from many and varied climes, and kept in a high state of preservation by labor exacted from unwilling hands, all spoke, trumpet tongued, to the contemplative mind, of the productive capabilities of this sunny land. But, alas, those who have lived since that day, “When young Hope filled the mind with youthful joys,” have had to regret the passing away of those bright anticipations; and marvel, after 17 years passed in the strife and battle of life, to see so little of their early hopes realised. However, “such is life,” ever hoping, ever striving, unwilling to be deceived.

But my brains have evidently gone wool gathering in my attempt to commence this sketch. Instead of taking your readers over the water, here I have been standing under the “old flag staff!” Ah, that was a flag staff! None of your barber’s pole sort of thing whereon to display the flag of the greatest nation, as Jonathan says, on earth. Yes! a regular star-gazer; set all ataut-o, with topmast, yard, cross-trees, and gear that a sailor loves so well to expatiate upon; the apology for which, at present stuck up against the office of the Resident, makes me sometimes almost wish that some of the fast young men of 42 were here, just to absquatolate with it and stick it up in front of Newstead. Where am I now? Gossiping under the old flag staff! Well, whilst we wait for the boat to take us over the river, let us for a few moments take a retrospective glance of things that were upon the bank upon the opposite side. We catch sight of a very extraordinary piece of naval architecture, built for all the world like an immense spittoon, which upon due enquiry we shall find is intended for the river traffic: and which subsequently enjoyed the sobriquet of “the kill time punt,” trading between Limestone and Brisbane. In close proximity stood the proprietor’s house of accommodation for travellers, and those thirsty souls, at frequent times assembled around their drays on the south side, while beyond and around was the deserted clearing, the decaying stalks of the last maize crops rattling in the breeze like the musical bones of an ethiopian serenader. Just for a moment let me detain you whilst I describe my first Sunday afternoon’s visit to this memorable spot, accompanied by Messrs. Harris and Underwood (then keeping a general store in a wing of the convicts’ barracks.) We were ferried by “Davie,” the boatman, with some four or five others, in a little cockle shell of a dingy, from the north to the south side. Passing up the road leading from the water side, in the direction of the accommodation house, we were at once in the midst, pel mell, of bullock bows and yokes wielded and hurled in fearful proximity to our persons. Yells of fiendish blasphemy were uttered on every side, whilst a woman, with her front teeth knocked out from the blow of a bullock yoke, stood shrieking for help in the midst of this rum maddened throng. The Chief Constable, poor old White, in vain assayed to stop the murderous affray, assisted by his meagre staff of convict constables; and it was not until the military guard from the barracks reached the spot that the riot could be suppressed. These matters were far from unfrequent occurrences. Only a short time previous, I was informed a man had been found killed on the South side, by whom, I believe, was never ascertained. Such was the advent of my first visit to South Brisbane. The change, outwardly, since that day appears marked; but the Christian man sorrows that even at the present the curse of these colonies reigns like a spirit fiend supreme in our midst, and daily laughs over the dying and the dead, around whom he has thrown his deadly coils.

South Brisbane in the 1860's, with part of Botanic Gardens
in foreground. 
(John Oxley Library)

But come away from those memories of the past, and let us saunter like two old fast familiar friends, with that congeniality of soul between us which permits us to admire the beautiful works of God, and ponder over man’s mission during his sojourn in their midst.

Passing from the Ferry steps towards Mrs. Greenwood’s, South Brisbane Hotel, we turn to the right before reaching that well-known hostelry, and wend our way towards the town boundary; passing in the hollow the first weather-boarded house built in Brisbane, the property of the late Mr. David Buntin, a passenger per Edward, schooner, John Chambers, master, in Sept., 1842.

What a train of recollections glide through the memory with a railway pace as we pass that well-remembered spot, close to which I your correspondent pitched his tent in the winter of 42. Poor Davie! Early and late did I see thee, with praiseworthy self-reliance, toiling to erect that home; and then, in after years to die the death thou didst, makes one shudder to think that thou art only one of many thousands who have fallen beneath that fell destroyer, strong drink.

Let me for a minute recall to memory the first Saturday night passed beneath that roof tree, when the labors of the day were o’er, and a few of us, for the first time, assembled to congratulate the proprietor upon the accomplishment of his ambitious desires. Can I forget the hope expressed by each, and all of that little gathering, when we spoke of the future, anticipating as we did, a prosperous one, but, oh, can I forget the closing scene of life’s sad history connected with that little band? No!
I stand alone in the banquet hall deserted;
These light all fled their garlands shed,
All but me departed.
But, dear me, how I have wandered about and from the subject of this sketch. I appear to have started on my journey to Boggo and before I reach the town boundary, have come to an anchor upon some old stump; and whilst I have from that quiet resting place cast a look around the clearing, fallen into a brown study; and instead of describing to your readers what I saw only a few weeks ago, I drop into a gossiping yarn of what I saw or remember, perchance, before many of them were born. Well, well, I know old age is garrulous and very tiresome, and that twaddle of all kinds should be strictly confined to the Upper House. Not having the slightest chance of ever filling the dignified position of Government nominee, it becomes me not to interfere with their prerogative. I will, therefore, try once more to make a fair start in the direction pointed out at the beginning of this article.

View of South Brisbane, c.1869. (John Oxley Library)

The whole of the clearing upon which the township of South Brisbane is situated, is commanded a short distance from the river bank by a gradual ascending ridge, presenting beautiful sites for the future erection of villa residencies; the scenery from several commanding positions in this neighbourhood is very charming. The valley of the Brisbane stretching out on either hand conveys at once to the vision of a spectator the various improvements carried out upon the opposite bank of the river. The substantial and imposing wharf and stores of Messrs. John & George Harris, the Steam Saw Mills of Mr. William Pettigrew, and the cluster of buildings in the vicinity, the Episcopalian Church of St. John, with its adjoining parsonage, the Government Resident’s office, Immigration Barracks, Survey Office, Hospital, Supreme Court House, and Crown Law Offices; and the varied buildings belonging to private individuals scattered over a large space of ground; whilst almost immediately beneath, the eye for a moment rests upon the capacious wharves and stores of the Steam Navigation Company, and Messrs. Robert Towns & Co., at which the busy scene of maritime activity is presented to view.

Pettigrew Saw Mills, William Street, 1861. (J. Oxley Library)

Passing along the high ground at the rear of the suburbs we overlook the cottage and grounds of Mr. Taylor Winship, the builder of two of our river steam fleet; and which were launched from the building premises adjoining. A small craft has been for some time on the stock, designed, I believe, for a steam ferry boat; a description of conveyance much needed in our traffic across the river. And as we may anticipate under the Municipalities’ Act the formation of a market upon the reserve at North Brisbane, set aside years ago for that purpose, I trust the time is rapidly approaching when the authorities under the Act will devise means to make the ferry between the two localities easy, safe, and expeditious, to the utmost extent of our most sanguine anticipations. However much we may cavil about the presumed benefits to be derived from this measure this one thing is certain, that the ferries, wharves, markets, water supply, and other important matters, will be placed under the control of the residents themselves; and though they may at first feel rather strange in devising measures for the successful carrying out of these progressive go ahead demands, the fact of the people themselves having a voice in the matters will go far towards setting them thinking; and this will, no doubt, be the means of accomplishing this and many other equally important operations.

I rest for a moment, and let us take a retrospective glance of this ferry question. It is now some sixteen years since the Government commenced leasing the ferry to the highest bidder. I find, by reference to some memorandums in my possession, that during the period they have been so disposed of, the ferry rent accruing from that between North and South Brisbane has conveyed into the Treasury Exchequer, the sum of nearly £3000; the dues averaging something like £190 per annum. The yearly increasing traffic between the North and South sides, imperatively demands some more extensive arrangements than the present very questionable mode of crossing; and so soon as the market place on the North side is opened, as a public mart for the buying and selling of our agricultural productions, the same must be carried out, or the community will have just and reasonable matter of complaint against the Municipality. It will be the people’s own fault, if this, with other matters, are not then speedily attended to.

Ad featuring gardening tools,
Hockings, Queen Street (JOL)

A few minutes’ walk from the town boundary brings us to the Rosaville Nursery grounds of Mr. A. J. Hockings; and though but a very short period has elapsed since that person commenced operations in the horticultural field the results evidenced in the productions of the Nursery are very creditable to him, and the parties employed in carrying out the arrangements. As a matter of course, the fruit and other trees are, comparatively speaking, of but an infant growth, yet the number of young grafts and stocks promise an abundant supply for those parties who, at a future period, may require their gardens and allotments of land to possess something more pleasing to their sight than rows of cabbages, patches of potatoes and other things, which though very useful and necessary in themselves, do not at all times give a favorable impression to visitors of our botanical abilities. To those who really have the desire, and the means at their disposal, to improve their freehold properties, I should certainly suggest to them a visit to this locality.

Beyond Mr. Hockings’ grounds the bank of the river is laid out and cultivated by the proprietors thereof to a very profitable extent. At Hill End, the turning point of the long reach of water above Brisbane, the spectator, in the ridge at the back of this property, obtains a very charming view of the river reaches. Above and below this very pretty spot, part of the Hill End property is cultivated by Mr. Way, another of our Moreton Bay nursery gardeners and able horticulturists. Having no desire to make invidious comparisons between the parties employed in this field of industry, I must refrain from pointing out the many beautiful productions I saw in that place; but again advise your renders, who have a love for the beautiful, and can admire the interesting specimens of forest, lawn, shrubbery, and fruit trees, to stroll out in the direction of Messrs. Hockings and Way’s grounds; and I feel satisfied, they will return home well pleased with their inspection, and with a far better idea of the capabilities of Moreton Bay in producing so many useful and really beautiful specimens of tropical and the more homely trees and flowers of the temperate zone.

Above Hill End we get on to the Boggo road, running parallel to the river, and in the immediate neighborhood of a busy farming population. The dense scrub bordering the river is fast disappearing beneath the sturdy stroke of the axe; and the patches of cleared grounds that meets the eye in this direction promise a speedy transformation in the hitherto monotonous aspect of our upriver scenery.

The parish of Yeerongpilly is being fast taken up, and placed to your account in the future productiveness of this district; and though many a toilsome hour has to be spent by the sturdy occupiers of this and neighboring localities in their praiseworthy determination to make for themselves and families a home, yet the good time is coming when they will in a correct feeling of pride look at their goodly possessions, and tell their children how the field was won from the bush lawyers, scrub-creepers, figtree fixings, gum-tree stickers, and other forest incumbrances that, until their removal was accomplished, marred the husbandman’s efforts to bring his bit of land under crop for their use and benefit.

But, as I have run this gossiping sketch out to the extent of my stock of paper, I must crave your permission to finish my Random Sketches of East Moreton in a future issue of your journal, trusting that the finishing article will be found by many of your distant subscribers and readers worthy of their perusal and attentive consideration, should they feel disposed to visit the new colony of North Australia for the purpose of looking out for a home, in this favored land, as I will therein endeavor to point out. I feel satisfied from my long experience, and the benefits I have witnessed secured by others in their sojourn here, that amongst the many inducements held out to immigrants in the other colonies of Australasia, this northern portion of the great island continent has equal if not far superior claims to their attention, some of which I will point out, I hope satisfactorily, in my next and last sketch of East Moreton.

Travels in East Moreton, 1859 (#5): Cleveland

(From the Moreton Bay Courier, 26 February 1859)

'WELL, that designation does certainly sound with a more aristocratic twang than the old familiar one of Pumpkin Point. Yet, what a host of recollections occurs to memory when the mind, as if by magic, is brought back at full swing, some 16 or 17 years, when, at a period of our early history, I made one of a small party to proceed by land from Brisbane to Pumpkin Point. What a mighty change has taken place in the aspect of Moreton Bay affairs since that day when, full of wondering curiosity, we made our way by the surveyor’s marked tree line, on foot, to the Bay. The lordly squatter of the present day was then the unpretending Jackaroo, full of pluck and indomitable energy; but sans the snobbish exclusiveness of the present race of drawing-room squattocracy. In fact, the old stock, the pioneer squatters of the Moreton Bay country, were gentlemen; they made no boast of their aristocratic acquaintances in the old country, and drank their tin pot of tea, with a bit of beef and damper, in social familiarity with those hardy bushmen who helped them to open out and secure those runs and stations, or rather principalities, which the Plutocracy of Sydney have, unfortunately for these districts, managed to engulph within their ever craving and capacious maws.

But let us leave the past, and enjoy some portion of the good, within our reach at the present. The embryo town of Cleveland is beautifully situated as regards scenery, upon the southern portion of the Bay, between the embouchures of the rivers Brisbane and Logan. From the former township the distance by land is some l8 or 20 miles; from Ipswich about 30 miles; the country between Cleveland and Brisbane, being of the ordinary description of open forest land, with occasional tracks of poor sandy soil A portion of it about Doughboy Creek, has been purchased; and a few improvements, in the shape of fencing and a house or two, meets the eye of the traveller in that neighborhood. None of the land appears to have been brought under cultivation; the principal occupation of the residents hereabouts being connected with stock and dairy produce. As you approach the vicinity of the Bay, the land assumes a more park-like appearance, the previous broken country giving place to fine open ridges, luxuriantly clothed with vegetation, and other evidences of the productive nature of the soil. I felt convinced in my own mind, as I passed over this interesting portion of the Bay district, that should cotton growing ever find encouragement by our future government placing a bounty upon that valuable textile, the growth of these Northern districts, a large and valuable section of country will be occupied by planters, who will make Cleveland the mart and emporium for their cotton wool.

ln my second sketch, descriptive of the sea-view obtained at Sandgate, I made mention of the varied beautiful views presented to the eye of the gazer from “Cabbage-tree head;” but I must confess, that as the eye glances across the Bay at “Cleveland,” the palm must be conceded to the latter headland for its rich scenes of grandeur and loveliness. I felt sadly disappointed upon reaching “Cassim’s Family Hotel and Boarding House” to find, from the worthy host, that he had not had a single visitor to stop for any length of time at his hostelry for some two months past.

Sketch of Cleveland as viewed from the Brighton (Grand
View) Hotel, 1892. (Queenslander, 31 December 1892)

Sauntering in the direction of the Point, by a very excellent road, one cannot help continually stopping by the way to take another look of the magnificent scenery spread out on either hand. On the southern side of the point, the observer beholds some of those beautiful islands that lie scattered about the south passage in the direction of Point Danger bight, and a longing desire seems to enter one’s soul, to be enabled to follow the curlew’s flight, in their visits to this charming, peaceful, and fairy-like scenery.

In front of the point, lies Peel and Stradbroke Islands; the former of small extent, but of great adaptability for future occupation; the latter of many miles extent, in fact forming with Moreton and Bribie Islands, that apparent coast line lying between Point Danger and their sea fronts, protecting the harbour or Bay within them from the fierce assaults of the waves of the not very Pacific Ocean.

Upon reaching the “Point,” I found all dull and cheerless. The capacious brick built stores, with the adjoining dwelling houses unoccupied, if I except the wife of one solitary lime-burner, who made themselves “at home” in a comfortable four roomed cottage near the jetty. As I wandered about this deserted village I could not disburthen my mind from the ever recurring thought, “What causes this apathy in the occupation of Cleveland?” The situation is excellent, the soil productive, the immense back country of the Logan and its tributaries close at hand, with its occupiers gradually but surely advancing in the true Australian wealth of sheep and cattle; yet, with all these advantages, “Cleveland,” the property of private individuals, is left almost uninhabited.

As I mused over the fallen expectations of certain speculators, I tried to assign myself a reason for this change in the prospects of “Cleveland;” and the conclusion I arrived at was that the movement made some seven years since by certain influential squatters, to build up Cleveland and open it out as a shipping port, was not undertaken prematurely, but upon too grand and exclusive a scale. They forgot ‘tis the common herd that fills up the channels of the busy stream of human life and industry. They forgot how but a few years previous, they had by a very simple process, concentrated a population at their pet town of Ipswich; and for the benefit of the uninitiated I will explain how that was done. In 1842, the Jackaroo squatters, then but a short time in the occupation of their runs, found their way with their wool teams to the bay, or rather Brisbane. As the shipping port, Limestone of that day, then in the occupation of the Government as a penal establishment, was speedily found by them to possess the advantage of the head of the navigation in that direction, and their wool could be sent down, and their stores be brought up by means of a punt, more expeditiously than by the bush road or track, a blacksmith and wheelwright (poor Tom Moore), alas, now no more, was induced to build a smithy and shanty in the vicinity of the Government Overseer’s residence. Sparks from the anvil, glittered in the distance, like lulling stars, far into the hours of the night; so pressing were the daily demands made upon poor Tom’s physical powers. The requirements of the carpenter were soon found wanting, to erect the dwellings of the shoemaker, the saddler, the shopkeeper, and then as a matter of course, the large house, wherein the occupier is licensed to accommodate and kill any number of her Majesty’s liege subjects he can induce to enter his portals. After these visitations, behold Limestone became Ipswich; and, in a few years, boasts of its North Australian Club House, and other squatting associations.

LWK Wirth, Saltwater lagoon 1911 (Queensland Art Gallery).

A similar result might have reasonably been anticipated, as respected the progress of Cleveland, had the same judicious policy been pursued by its first originators, and at this day, instead of silent forest glades, busy thoroughfares would have marked its whereabouts, and the deserted stores and jetty echoed to the hum of human industry, and perchance to the whirring sound of the fast revolving wheels of the steam saw-mill.

In this latter respect let me for a moment glance at the position of Cleveland for the speculative erection of a saw-mill. The cedar scrubs of the Logan, the Tweed, the Arrowsmith, and their numerous tributaries, lay not exactly in close proximity, but within a reasonable and safe distance of the point. Hardwood, and other timber fit for every description of building purposes, is nigh at hand. The sawyer could, with great facility, raft his timber to Cleveland, without having to encounter the perils of crossing the Bay to get it to Brisbane, there to be cut up for market, and thus materially reducing the first cost of the article. Should the foregoing suggestion convey a wrinkle to some cute old coon in search of a grand idea, I would advise him seriously to give the subject a thought; and when he had fortunately hit the nail on the head, so as to drive it into his prolific brain, thereby securing future pecuniary advantages. All I ask in return is, to make me a present of as much sawn stuff as will make me a comfortable coffin. A grave present, I must confess, but then I don’t like to be too greedy in these matters.

In the neighborhood of the Point, Louis Hope, Esq., one of the fortunate class of Moreton Bay squattocracy, has secured for himself, by purchase, a beautiful block of rich pasture and agricultural land, situated upon the shore at the head of Raby Bay, and bounded by Wogan Creek, to which property the appropriate name of woojanness has, I understand, been given.

In my previous visits to this locality I thought I had formed a pretty correct opinion of the growing capabilities of the land in the direction of Cleveland; but I must confess after a look round the recently formed cultivation paddock of Mr. Hope, it went far beyond my previous conceptions. The growth of every foreign shrub and tree therein planted was indeed most luxuriant; and the careful attention of a very few years will, no doubt, add a thousand charms to the many present beauties of woojanness.

A walk round the paddocks amidst grass reaching above the knee, made me fancy myself in some old English park. The stately trees sparely scattered about - a few quiet milkers contentedly chewing their cud beneath the shade of their wide spreading boughs, brought the almost lost remembrance of Home back to recollection.

The proprietor of woojanness is preparing a beautiful site, overlooking the waters of our magnificent bay, whereupon to erect his Country seat; and from Mr. Hope’s known taste in these matters, we cannot doubt but the building will not only be an ornament to the grounds, but a bountiful feature in our Bay scenery. Messrs. T. B. Stephens and T. L. M. Prior have also large landed properties purchased in this neighborhood. The former gentleman has, for some time past, upon a portion of his purchases formed a fell mongering establishment.

Although every unprejudiced person must commend the foresight of these and other gentlemen, who have secured to themselves these compact freeholds, which at no distant day must become desirable holdings, yet, I confess, I for one do wish that this pretty bit of country had fallen into the hands of a few practical “farmers” with their families; knowing how necessary it is this community should, in the course of a little time, be enabled to grow sufficient cereals for home consumption. However there is plenty more of the right sort to tempt the hardy husbandmen to settle down here in contented happiness, and gather round his roof tree the substantial comforts of Home.

I must not omit to mention that amongst other improvements going on in the vicinity of Cleveland, the salt works in the course of construction at Wooganness, by Mr. Hope, that gentleman having already two capacious reservoirs excavated and puddled. Brine tank, and evaporating pans are the works already in the progress of completion, covering an acre of land. As an article of colonial production we hope to see the salt from these works extensively used, should the article manufactured be of an average quality.

The superintendent of the works and improvements upon this property (a Mr. Fryar) although, I believe, not practically acquainted with these matters, evidently understands how things should be done; and doubts not that all will be brought to a successful completion.

Ormiston House, home of Louis Hope, Cleveland, circa 1871.
(John Oxley Library)

Since the total destruction by fire of the fine brig Courier in January, 1854, whilst loading with wool, &c, for London, off the point, Cleveland, as a township, has been retrogressing, until it has become a town almost destitute of inhabitants, and after absorbing a large amount of cash, brings no present returns into the pockets of its proprietors and speculators; yet, I believe a little energy, combined with a little speculative pluck, on the part of the extensive proprietary, would start this very pretty sea side locality ahead, and in the right direction. Could a little of the Yankee character be diffused amongst our Moreton Bay community, more generally, I feel positive, that Cleveland would not escape the progressive impulse of some wide-awake customer, who would see at a glance what might be made out of the raw material lying ready to hand, to be turned into the all-mighty dollar. Perhaps the coming advent of Separation may bring amongst its many other supposed advantages, the introduction of, and to be amalgamated with this easy going people, some of that restless, ever-devising go-ahead spirit of brother Jonathan. Then we may hope to see the wind blowing over, and the water flowing through these lands, made available for many purposes, now totally unattainable through the scarcity or rather high rate of out-door labor.

Well, having taken your readers to and round about Cleveland, and gossiped a bit relative to the past, present, and future prospects of that town and silent streets, let us, in making our back tracks to Brisbane, take another route; and instead of again trespassing upon the hospitality of Mr. Alfred Slaughter on the Doughboy Creek, take the marked tree line, in the direction of Cooper’s Plains. Emerging from our bush track we come out upon the Logan road, and running that down a short distance come to a pretty commodious cottage lately erected by Mr. Pratten, of the Moreton Bay Surveying Staff, but now in the occupation of his father, Mr. Job Pratten, one of those genuine samples of English farming men, hardworking, pains-taking, never stand still sort of men, that appears to exercise an almost magic influence wherever they set their hands to work. A farm of seventy acres that Pratten has lately quitted on the other side of the plain, amply testifies what one pair of hands, with a strong fixedness of purpose, may accomplish in these beautiful sunny lands. At this new farm so lately occupied, and consisting, I believe, of some 100 acres of thinly timbered forest land, the eye already runs over long lines of strong substantial three-railed fences, whilst kitchen, stables, and various other out-buildings erected by the farmer himself, assisted by an occasional helping hand; gives the observant traveller a pretty fair idea what the future yeomanry of Australia should consist of to rightly develop and bring forth to the world the productions of this fertile soil and climate. And I would have it remembered, and borne in the mind of our present farmers, that some two years ago Mr. Pratten afforded unmistakeable evidence of the possibility of growing wheat below the Main Range; for I myself, and many others saw, at that time, a field of 20 acres under a wheat crop, ripe, and ready for the sickle in the month of November; the seed having been only put in the earth the previous June and July thus giving, in a period of about four months, a return of from 25 to 30 bushels to the acre. The season being dry at the spring, but worse towards the summer, not much dissimilar to the past year. I may further mention the natural grasses which thickly clothe the sward upon the plains is very nutritious for feeding stock. The cows running on these pastures give more than the usual quantity of oleaginous fluid than the generality of the bush milking stock. This fact, to an intelligent mind, should convey this conviction: that cattle running upon the commonage right of this locality, being assisted by artificial feeding in the shape of sweet potatoes, or sorghum, would yield a rich reward to that person, who should be first in that neighborhood to establish a dairy farm. For it does seem strange, nay passing strange, that many of our small agriculturalists, who cry out for want of a market whereat to dispose of their surplus corn and potatoes, should not have long since found out the advantage of more frequently feeding their cattle with the super-abundant food at their disposal; and by so doing save the young stock from dwindling into wretched objects, totally unfit as they increase in years, either for the butcher, yoke, or milking yard. And I may further remark that at none of the places visited by me in my rambles through East Moreton, have I observed more favorable advantages for the creation of dairy farms than Cooper’s Plains and Cleveland. It is a pretty well understood fact, that butter, cheese, pork, bacon, and other dairy produce will find a ready market, when perhaps, potatoes, maize, and garden produce, cannot find a purchaser.

Several very excellent properties are being cultivated upon the Oxley Creek side of the Plains. That of the Messrs. Bakers, formerly Prattens, standing prominent for its economical and thrifty mode of culture. The whole farm of 70 acres is wholly cleared, stumped, fenced in and under crop.

Adjoining this farm a section of land (640 acres) has been purchased, and the whole fenced in at a very large outlay, by Mr. Thomas Grenier, formerly an innkeeper at Brisbane. Marked improvements are rapidly being carried into effect by Mr. G., and no doubt we shall shortly find this proprietor, (who has a considerable quantity of stock) entering into the dairy business, much to his own advantage and profit, and benefit to this community.

Cooper’s Plains was, in the olden times, a stock station belonging to the penal colony of Moreton Bay; and the only drawback to its profitable occupation by small settlers, is the want of permanent water on the Plains. But there is every reason to believe that good and permanent water could be obtained by sinking wells, or constructing reservoirs for the retention of those showers which at times fall so copiously in that neighborhood. In concluding my sketch of Cleveland and Cooper’s Plains, I perhaps may not be out of place in remarking that, whenever in this age of railway travelling, an iron road be laid down from the interior, connecting the upper portion of these districts with the port, (whether that port be at Brisbane, or further down the river) this latter locality must become greatly enhanced in value to those who at the time may be the fortunate possessors of a freehold upon Cooper’s Plains.

My rambles in the furtherance of the object I was directed to carry out, having taken me up the river amongst the Boggo and Yerongpilly farmers, nursery gardeners and others, I will endeavor in my next Sketch to convey to the minds of your readers some of those scenes of rural felicity, and homely independence I witnessed in those quarters, perhaps extending my gossiping and desultory remarks to Woogaroo, and that part of the district.'

Travels in East Moreton, 1859 (#4): Bulimba

(From the Moreton Bay Courier, 16 February 1859)

'In my present endeavors to give your readers a sketch of the several very interesting localities situated down the river, I fear I shall fail in conveying to their minds any adequate impression of their varied beauties, or portray them with that graphic distinctness and vivid delineation the subject demands. However, they are sketches literally taken at random without any previous attempt at arrangements or premeditation, and therefore presented to the public for what they are worth.

Bulimba, Toogoolawa, Tingalpa, and other soft-sounding names, convey, no doubt, in the aborigines dialect very significant meanings of these waterside localities; and one is led to regret that the surveyors, in laying out these sections of country, do not more generally confine themselves to the native name of the several localities they map out for sale. In a recent instance “Lytton” has been substituted for “Tingalpa;” a change, in my opinion, far from agreeable or euphonious, although no doubt, done in snobbish compliment to the great novelist, who at present holds the Colonial seals of Office. However let that pass, for after all what’s in a name? Tingalpa cannot (if the minister’s name in full was added,) command purchasers, if this embryo village is brought into market prematurely.

But, before I describe to your readers any particulars about Bulimba and its neighborhood, let us start fair upon our journey, taking, as usual, Brisbane for our starting point. With this view let us at once proceed to the ferry at Kangaroo Point, and endeavor to get the crusty old charon at that place to ferry ourselves and nags over to the South bank of the river. Here, as Jonathan says, we encounter a difficulty. Money nor fair words cannot prevail upon the obstinate old coon to place the punt at our disposal; and hearing the previous pleadings of a Pring, and the impetuosity of a Walker were contemptuously treated I deemed it advisable to Dowse my expectations of making a short cut, and go round by the way of South Brisbane.

This matter accomplished, we, that is you and I, my dear reader, will, in a social, friendly, manner have a pleasing gossip as we jog along the road. There, just pull up for a moment, whilst our senses drink in this scene of beauty lying stretched out before us. This road leads us to Kangaroo Point; and from this opening we obtain a magnificent view of North and South Brisbane. See, what a noble expanse of river greets the eye upon either hand? whilst immediately beneath our vision lies the Botanical Gardens, rapidly developing the scientific arrangements of the superintendent (Mr. Hill), - and conferring a lasting debt of gratitude upon the inhabitants of Brisbane. Beyond the gardens see how beautiful the township appears to swell upwards - to the windmill ridge; - the old mill standing in the back ground, like an old familiar friend, watching the gradual advance of this young metropolis, to the honorable distinction of a city and future seat of Government.

Kangaroo Point, 1860s (John Oxley Library)
Kangaroo Point, 1860s (John Oxley Library)

As we proceed along the road towards the Point, one cannot refrain from stopping occasionally to take another passing glance at the panorama spread before us. At our left hand, upon the opposite bank of the river, we catch a view of the extensive stores and wharf of Messrs. G. Raff & Co.; as also those of John Richardson & Co., and the Custom House; whilst below us stretches the Point, the river sweeping round to our right hand in the direction of our journey. Before we proceed along the road leading us towards the new bridge crossing Norman’s Creek, let us mark the advantageous position of the Point for the future development of our manufacturing resources. With abundance of pure water to be obtained at a few feet below the surface, and an immense extent of deep water river frontage, we cannot conceive the possibility of these facts being overlooked by the speculative man of capital, on the look out, at no distant day, for a fitting site whereon to erect his factory, for the production of those articles in every day use and consumption, and only now procurable by foreign importation.

Here we pass the neat and beautifully situated residence of W. Thornton, Esq., Tide Surveyor, and Captain Thomas Collins, the latter an old salt of many years colonial experience, and who, like many other old tars, upon becoming tired of a roving sea life, took to the profitable occupation of some square miles of the Crown lands in these districts and became a grazier; or, in more vulgar parlance, a squatter.

Turning to the right, the road to Bulimba runs parallel to the river, presenting as we proceed onward a very pleasing feature in the landscape. At Norman’s Creek a very substantial bridge has recently been thrown across near its mouth, thereby shortening the distance to Bulimba very materially. Some difficulty was encountered in getting this bridge erected, through the misrepresentations of a certain squatting lord, who having purchased land upon the bank of the creek, did not want the vulgar herd to pass through it. Fortunately the Hope he entertained of barring the way was frustrated; and the approaches to the bridge, consequently, does pass through Louis’ land. Emerging from a bit of scrub land bordering the creek the wayfarer begins to ascend a rather steep incline, upon the summit of which a most enchanting view meets the enraptured gaze. The long stretch of water upon either hand glittering in the sun’s rays like burnished silver, and its margin fringed with the dark green hue of the mangrove trees, backed up by the cultivated grounds around; the elegant mansions of R. R. Mackenzie, Esq., and Captain O’Connel, forming part of the New Farm property; - the somber hue of Taylor’s Range contrasting vividly with the lighter colorings of the country spread out beneath it.

Some couple or three miles further we reach Toogoolawa Point; passing in our route a small number of homesteads occupied by the Bulimba farmers. Here again, as at Moggil, we come in contact with some families of Dr. Lang’s importation; a lot of industrious, plain, plodding men, the right sort for a new settlement, and if we speak the truth, have not apparently lost anything by their sojourn in Moreton Bay.

A large portion of the river bank was upon its first occupation by the present possessors marked by a dense scrub, all of which has nearly disappeared under the vigorous arm of the sturdy farmers; and the productiveness of the soil, thus freed from its dark covering, is abundantly evidenced by the crops of maize, oats, potatoes, and other vegetable productions obtained from it.

Most of the small settlers living at Bulimba I found were the freehold possessors of the land and had, in addition, a goodly number of milking cows and cattle; from which they derived no inconsiderable revenue – particularly in the production of the article, butter. The advantages those and other industrious men possess of grazing their cattle upon the unoccupied lands around them, help materially to forward their progressive views. But I cannot help here remarking, that at this place, and many other similar localities I visited in my journeying through the district, I was struck with the suicidal policy practiced by these small stockholders; namely, that of permitting an incestuous intercourse of their cattle, or breeding as it is termed, in and in, whereby the stock is rapidly decreasing not only in size, but in their supplies of milk. Yet, how easy I thought it would be, if a few neighbors were each to unite in the purchase of a well bred bull, for common use, and thus save their stock from deteriorating in value.

A short distance before you reach Toogoolawa Point, the road turns off on the left hand to the waterside, following which, we reach a ferry established by Samuel Buckley, for the convenience of the Bulimba people in their intercourse with the Brisbane side of the river. But, strange to say, I ascertained from the ferryman, that the Government surveyors in laying out the land for sale on the west or Brisbane side of the river, had omitted, with their usual want of forethought, to leave a public approach to the river. The consequence is, that although on the east or Bulimba side, the market carts of the farmers might be punted over to the opposite shore with facility, there is no outlet in that direction to the main road, without passing through private property; the inconvenience of which is already felt by the people using the ferry, from the disinclination of the proprietor to permit of this trespass over his land. I have no doubt the government could remedy this defect, by proclaiming the ferry to be a public one, and making a road-way (the right of which is specially reserved in the Crown grants) through the property lying opposite Bulimba.

The view of the river scenery near the point is very charming. The open cultivated lands on both sides of the river affords a pleasing prospect to the eye. The well kept grounds of Newstead, the seat of Captain Wickham, R.N., Government Resident, the farm homestead of Mr. T. Childs, in close proximity to the former, Kingholme, the residence of James Gibbon, Esq., give the west side of the river a very pretty appearance. At the point of Toogoolawa we find ourselves at the mansion of D. Coutts, Esq., one of our successful graziers, who having made I trust a competency, is farming the lands of his freehold at this place, in a spirited manner; and although I hear he has met with some drawbacks - through unpropitious seasons yet, upon the whole, I think he does not regret having entered into his present occupation. Around Toogoolawa the land is occupied, and very successfully cultivated, by a number of industrious families, who have shewed their just appreciation of the value of their several clearings by the efforts they are making to clear their land of timber, &c. The dwelling places of the Bulimba farmers I must say do not add much to the natural beauties of the place; for with true Australian carelessness, so marked in the country districts of our new settlements, no attempt at adornment is made, but in a few exceptional instances, to take away the heavy repulsive appearance of the hardwood slabs forming the exterior of their houses. When the eye of the traveller does rest upon a snug though homely cottage, buried beneath the green foliage of the honeysuckle or other pretty creepers, how it delights to dwell upon its natural beauty. Fancy, at once, invests the possessors with those social virtues of which the love of flowers very often are the sure tokens. When I see a house standing in its naked deformity, without the slightest attempt at embellishment, although the land around may be highly cultivated and the wealth of the owner evidenced by the sleek cattle and horses, I at once put the owner down as a mere money-grubber, toiling from early morning till dewy eve to accumulate money, or perchance, add acre to acre, until, when in possession of a property far exceeding the most sanguine expectations of his early career, he finds himself incapable of enjoying the gifts God has given him, and repents when too late of his folly.

Conrad Martens’ 1851 sketch of Bulimba House, home of David Coutts in 1859 (John Oxley Library).
Conrad Martens’ 1851 sketch of Bulimba House, home of
David Coutts in 1859 (John Oxley Library). Also known
as Toogoolawa, this residence is still standing.

Bulimba, in common with those properties situated upon and near the mouth of the River Brisbane, possess many valuable advantages over other less favored localities in this respect. And, further, when the contemplated improvements at the river bar are carried into effect, so as to permit shipping of large tonnage to enter the river and anchor below the Eagle Farm Flats, these farms and freeholds, with those on the Eagle Farm side of the river, will necessarily become of great value.

Passing down the river by a bush track, running at the rear of the farms at the river side, we approach the neighborhood of the Quarries, lying immediately abreast of the two islands, marking the whereabouts of the flats. A short distance before reaching the Quarries, we arrive at the residence of Charles Coxen, Esq., another of our Moreton Bay stockholders who, whilst enjoying his fortune and position at this beautiful part of the river bank, loses no opportunity of enjoying himself, in company very frequently with his wife, with boating excursions amongst the magnificent scenery of our beautiful bay, An example which will, no doubt, ere long be followed by many of his brother squatters; for what higher amount of enjoyment could these enterprising gentlemen secure for themselves and families, after perhaps eight or nine months close attention to their flocks and herds, than locating themselves for the remaining portion of the year at Brisbane, or rather its neighborhood, to enjoy the luxury of sea-bathing, and yachting, and boating excursion in the Bay.
The commanding position of Mr. Coxen’s residence gives a charming prospect up and down the river, and the view in that respect is scarcely to be equalled by any other situation I have seen. At the foot of the ridge upon which the house stands, coal of good quality has been found cropping out near the water’s edge, and a drift has been run into the hill side with the hope of coming upon a payable seam, but without success; although, I believe the worthy proprietor knows where coal is to be obtained in the neighborhood, when the time arrives that coal mining will become profitable.

The Quarry previously mentioned consists of freestone of durable quality, well adapted for building purposes; but stone of equal if not superior quality having been found nigher Brisbane, this place has not been worked for some time. No doubt when our wealthy graziers locate themselves in the vicinity of the harbour mouth, this Quarry will again become of much value to its possessor. Near the Quarries a shaft has been sunk to a considerable depth with the view of discovering “Coal;” but I understand without complete success. Whether deeper sinking will discover the treasure is problematical, although I hear the chances are very favorable. What a magical influence one is led to conclude will be the result of an extended mercantile trade with this province, by enlarged steam communication with other colonies; and then opening out the Torres Straits route to India and China for ocean steamers. The port of Moreton Bay may then, if right means are used, take rank with the finest of the Australian confederacy.

Below the Quarries, and crossing Doughboy Creek, (no very easy task for want of a bridge) we reach Tingalpa, and an open piece of low land known as Clunie’s Flats, and named after a well known military commandant of the penal times. A site has been fixed upon for the erection of a Custom House officers residence and look out place; and near which I believe the village of Lytton has been marked out into allotments for sale.

Tingalpa will at an early day become a valuable locality, and inhabited by those people whose avocations lay in the vicinity of the Bay. It possesses another advantage in being in the neighbourhood of that part of the Bay frequented by the “Dugong” fishermen; and will, when the ferry is established between Bulimba and East Brisbane, and a passable road made to the village at Tingalpa, (I can’t call it Lytton) be brought within the distance of some six or eight miles of the metropolis.

Immediately opposite the Quarries, the eye rests upon the cleared land of Eagle Farm. As we have to get a little information from the people residing in that quarter, let us for a short time cross the river, and have a look round this spot so full of painful associations of days gone; and we trust never to be again witnessed in this Island continent.

Below the cleared lands of the old farm the land continues at the same low level, only being a few feet above the ordinary rise of the tides; consequently, in a wet season, swampy. The Government, contemplating the future value of this particular locality for railway purposes have, I understand, reserved a portion of the land below the “Eagle Farm Flats,” as a railway termini; shipping lying in the secure and landlocked basin forming the entrance of the river, will, no doubt, at some future day receive their cargoes from wharves constructed upon the banks of the stream adjacent to the anchorage. Some good land lying upon the elevated ridges in the, vicinity of the bay will some day be found valuable, and made available for building and other purposes.

Between Breakfast Creek and Eagle Farm the land has been partially cleared of the scrub bordering the river; but there still remains some dense patches that requires the axe of the bushman to clear away; it being at present the rendezvous of the aboriginal tribes that occasionally come up from the coast to have a “corobbaree” or “pullen pullen,” with the half-civilized tribes about Brisbane. At these times they became a dangerous pest to the small farmers dwelling in that neighborhood. Again crossing the river, and passing through the bush in a southerly direction, we come upon the road leading to Cleveland; but as 1 have occupied the columns of your broad sheet I fear already beyond due limits, I must defer the description of that sea side locality for my next sketch; hoping that, if permitted to do so, I shall be able to give some pleasing particulars of this highly favored, though I believe, scarcely appreciated, watering place.'

Travels in East Moreton, 1859 (#3): Moggill

(Moreton Bay Courier, 5 February 1859)

'No doubt many of the readers of the Courier have thought, as they progressed up or down the river Brisbane, per steamer, or otherwise, and taken a partial survey of that primitive looking structure, known as the Moggil coal wharf, that little could be particularized about that locality, beyond the fact, that one John Williams, some eight or ten years since, discovered a seam of coal cropping out near the water’s edge in that neighborhood; and after extracting some hundreds of tons of black diamond from this fortunate find, leaving a fair marginal profit upon his working capital, sold a company all his right, title, and freehold interest therein. Such however is not the sole fact; and as I did not proceed to Moggil for the special purpose of investigating and reporting upon those carboniferous formations, or with the view of drawing speculative attention to any such deposits, I perhaps may be pardoned, if I endeavor to amuse your readers with other attractive qualities of this pretty, and may I add valuable, village site. Before I do so, or commence my gossiping remarks about Moggil, permit me first to take your readers along the road leading from Brisbane in that direction.

As I am not in any respect a fast man, let us jog on in that sociable manner one sometimes witnesses upon the meeting of two old ladies, after having been separated some eight-and-forty-hours, and have a world of gossip to impart to each other. Having, therefore, fixed upon this quiet way of getting along the road, let us, as an old tar would say, take our departure for some well-known spot; and none presents itself to the mind’s eye so peaceably as this old fence, enclosing the mortal remains of those who have died, and perchance have long since been forgotten by those they left in lands far away. Yes! within this limited patch of mother earth, what relics of frail mortality lie therein buried, until the last trump summon them to the judgment seat of God ? What a host of recollections rise up in memory as an old Traveller like me, through this changeful world, moralizes upon the varied characters that here mix their poor dust together. Side by side lies the gallant soldier, and the thrice convicted felon; the guard and the guarded unmindful of each other, and quietly resting until the last great day. Here, perchance, the frail form of Innocence lies in peaceful security; and in close proximity to the housebreaker and man of blood. I give no fancy sketch here; the records of the past in this last sad resting place amply illustrates how Death levels all distinction when the spirit leaves its tenement of clay. Happily for this generation these records are all we at present possess, wherefrom to draw a moral, or “adorn a tale.” The presence of the felon and the debasing influence of a convict population has been spared us for many years past, and we trust our families may be long spared from those evils communications, that so rapidly corrupt the manners of a people. Yet, as we turn our horse’s head from the fence to proceed upon our journey a sadness comes o’er our spirits, as we contemplate that busy hive of human industry upon our right hand; because we know that at a cost of some £26,000 of the public money, they are there with building a Jail. Sad reflection to the philanthropist, that the first public building erected in Moreton Bay should be a prison.

Petrie Terrace Gaol, c.1862 (John Oxley Library)

However, let us pass over this ridge and leave these sad moralising reflections behind us; at the foot of the ridge we cross the town boundary, and enter the suburbs, comprising the west, or aristocratic end of Moreton Bay’s embryo metropolitan city. At present, the western suburbs can boast but little of its architectural adornments, and unlike the eastern or down river suburbs, has not increased in a similar ratio the number of its inhabitants, yet it requires not the voice of prophecy to proclaim the future of this locality. Passing to the side of the river we obtain a view of “Milton,” the town residence of J. P. McDougall, Esq., one of the Moreton Bay squattocracy, and who sets the laudable example of spending his income within the province wherein it is derived. The grounds about Milton, I may remark en passant, are being brought under judicious cultivation, and will very speedily form a very pleasant feature in our river scenery.

Crossing a small creek, by a very durable and creditable looking wooden bridge, we pass a quaint looking building in the course of erection, which might be very appropriately named “The House with the Three Gables,” having a centre ornament overtopping all, looking for all the world like a miniature castle of Blue Beard’s, with a lookout turret for dear sister Anne. It is here that indefatigable old die-hard, Honest Bob Cribb, I understand, intends to pass the evening of his days; and from his look-out, take an occasional view of the progressive improvements of the land we live in.

Crossing a second bridge of similar construction as the first, we pass the modest cottage orneĆ© of the Moreton Bay Stultz (Mr. John Markwell) and take a glance at the beautiful vista presented to view, up and down the three miles reach, the cleared lands on the south bank of the river showing at the present season to much advantage. A short distance beyond the second bridge, the road inclines to the right hand, skirting the back fences of a beautiful clearing known as “Lang Farm,” and named after the worthy Doctor of that ilk. As my duties compel me to visit the various tenements and holdings in my route to Moggil, let us have a gossip and a look round the nursery garden of friend Payne, the present occupier of the farm. To enable us to do so, we will let our horse nibble the grass in the outside paddock, and, taking our course across the creek by the aid of the fallen tree, we enter the nursery through a magnificent grove of bananas, the pendant fruit issuing from which bespeak the richness of the soil from which their roots derive sustenance. In the open portion of the grounds some hundreds of orange grafts evidence the supply of those valuable and nutritious fruit trees, to be obtained here. The easy distance “Lang Farm” is from the metropolis, places it in an excellent position for the inspection of visitors, should the Brisbane folk feel desirous of spending an idle hour in the inspection of this very pretty spot. As my duties impel me to proceed further along the river bank, I must leave a more detailed description of Payne’s nursery garden to some future visit; and take your readers with me through this bit of scrubland bordering the Brisbane river; bearing in mind as you force your way through the pendant vines, or runners, interlacing and almost obstructing one’s progress in every direction, that great caution need be exercised to escape the tormenting fangs of the bush lawyer, a very formidable looking customer I assure you to come in contact with in passing through a piece of scrub land. To give your readers some faint idea of a scrub, let them conjure up in imagination a wood or forest in the old country, with the underwood left untouched; to which they may add any quantity of briers or thorns they may deem desirable to make the description perfect. I have often, in my young days, thought what a cunning old fox Robinson Crusoe was in planting the trees around his cave so thickly and impenetrably; but, I certainly think, the poor solitary would have gained a wrinkle, if he had dropped across a bush lawyer, to warn off trespassers; for I found out this much in passing through the same, pilley, scrub, that this indigenous grab-all, like those gentlemen who in towns do congregate, have very little mercy upon those persons who foolishly place themselves within their clutches. In this respect, the passage of an Australian scrub strongly reminds me of the progress of a Chancery suit through the law courts. In either case the luckless wight that finally gets clear of the obstructions in the way, will find himself denuded of all superfluous toggery. What an immense variety of shrubs, creeper and botanical specimens meet the eye in every direction; and the mind of the inquisitive is speedily filled with wonder and amazement at the bountiful productions of native wild. At last we reach a clearing:- a spot of some half dozen acres from which the trees and brushwood have been but recently removed. In this patch we behold a splendid growth of early maize, the well cobbed stacks of which give the hard working proprietor a sure token that his 30, or perhaps 50 acre farm, is amply worth all the labor he can bestow upon its clearing and cultivation. From 70 to 80 bushels to the acre may safely be set down as the produce of the crop, now almost ready for gathering. I found in this neighborhood several other farms, recent purchases from the Crown, and like the one described, giving unmistakeable evidence of what crops may be raised. From the scrub and forest lands bordering the rivers and creeks of this district, splendid potatoes, gigantic pumpkins, huge melons, and other vegetable productions, call up incessant observations for the uninitiated in these matters. However we will, for the present, leave our gossip upon the productiveness of East Moreton until a future paper, and in the meantime, resume our journey along the road to Moggil.

Footbridge, Moggill Creek at Brookfield, c.1887. (JOL)

Like all the roads stretching away northerly from Brisbane, the one to Moggil is very hilly; and certainly but little adapted for wheeled vehicles, except the cumbrous bullock dray. But the river renders a ‘road’ in this direction at present almost unnecessary except for equestrians. About nine miles from town we reach “Pullen Pullen” Creek, only navigable a short distance up for small boats. At the crossing place we arrive at the sheep station of Mr. John McGrath, who for some years past has done well, with a few sheep depasturing upon the country about the Pine Mountain Range. An immense quantity of fine pine timber has been procured from the scrubs, lying in dense masses at the foot of these picturesque mountains. Bullock teams convey the logs to the “Creek,” from which place they are rafted and brought to Brisbane. The timber cut from this locality possess a harder and therefore more durable texture than the pine previously obtained in the low lying scrubs on the river bank. I am sorry to say, the paucity of building operations at present in progress in these districts have diminished the demand for all descriptions of building materials. The sawyers in this neighborhood, in common with other workinghands, find some difficulty in clearing expenses, yet they put a good face upon present prospects, from the fact that they fully expect to see “a good time coming.”

Shortly after leaving McGrath’s the traveller begins to ascend a spur branching from the Pine Ranges towards the river; reaching the top of which, the admirer of the grand and beautiful will be amply repaid for his toilsome ascent. The view obtainable of the country lying to the eastward, and in the vicinity of these productive mountains, is very fine, whilst to the westward, their towering peaks, lifting their lofty heads in grand sublimity towards the clouds, mark the whereabouts of the splendid plains of Normandy, back up in the distance of the blue outline of the vast Australian Cordilleras; a couple of miles further brings us down upon Moggil Creek, and the cultivated farms of the residents in that quarter. The valley of the Brisbane in this direction does not embrace a very considerable tract of country, the land away from the river breaking off into rather poor ridgey forest upland although the cultivators of the soil at Moggil, have no reason, I understand, to complain of its fertility, very fair average crop of the usual Moreton Bay assortment of farm produce recompensing the exertions and outlay of the husbandmen. The Moggil district has much to look forward to in the future reasonable progress of Moreton Bay. Its underlying stratum of Carboniferous formation, from which coal of a very excellent quality has been obtained in large quantities, and which, I believe, only requires capital to develop their abundance and richness more fully, carries the mind of the speculator to that period when the steam traffic of this vast province will employ, and demand an enormous quantity of this description of fuel; for which the coal fields of Moggil and other localities will then reap a rich recompense. Moggil is further surrounded with mountains, clothed to their very summits with gigantic pine trees, thus possessing a mine of wealth below and above its surface. The removal of the 17 mile rocks, and other obstructions in the River Brisbane below Moggil, must necessarily add much to the importance of that locality; however, I will not pursue this interesting subject further, leaving the reader to make his own calculation in this “sketch,” of what may be made out of the future as regards the progress of “Moggil.”

Tree-fellers cutting timber and preparing logs for rafting at 
Moggill Creek, Brisbane, c.1898. (John Oxley Library)

Before I finally quit this scone of rural industry let me make one observation, which I, for one, deem worthy of a passing remark. The first occupiers of the farms laid out by the Government Surveyor at Moggil, were immigrants brought out under the auspices of Dr. Lang; and, although only two or three families of that importation remain at present upon the original clearing, one memento yet stands upon the road side, that proves that the worthy Doctor’s selection of these people were not only creditable to himself, but reflect credit upon the land of their. The memento I allude to is the erection, by those “Lima” men, of a modest mansion, dedicated to the worship therein of the Almighty God. Yes! these travellers to distant lands felt, I have no doubt, when they sat down upon their several freeholds how much they were indebted to Him, for thus placing them in safety upon the sea shores; and their first fitting acknowledgement of His goodness was the voluntary erection of this house of prayer. Contrast this proceeding my dear readers, with that too often practised in other, and similar bush localities, instead of dedicating a house to the Father of all, we see them dedicating one to the Father of evil, and therefrom supplying those liquid fires that burn out and obliterate all that is good here, and destroys every hope of the good promised hereafter.

A beautiful morning’s sunrise greeted the vision of those who, like myself, had to be up and doing in this battle of life early. How peacefully, how refreshed and refreshing, every thing looked the eye rested upon. The dew drops flashed and sparkled as the gentle breeze waved the leaflets, and wafted up the aroma from the fragrant blossoms around. The cows as they quietly stood in the yard, patiently waiting their turn to be released of their milky burthen; and for a few moments to be, permitted to greet their young sucklings had, to my fancy, something of that mute eloquence poets often speak about, and which testifies a grateful heart.

A stroll down to the coal pit after breakfast, put me into possession of this fact, that the present supply of coal from the Moggil mine is not very extensive. The working scam (I found, upon making enquiry of a young lad who was using very striking efforts to induce an old horse to take his everlasting round at the mill crank, that put a force pump in motion) was at present nearly exhausted, only one man being then employed to get out coal for the steamers Hawk and Bremer. The entrance to the workings is by a cut made into the hill side. A shaft has I believe been sunk, but with what success as regard the finding of coal I did not hear; but lower down the Moggil Creek, I was informed a Mr. Lamsden had sunk a shaft to the depth of about 100 feet, and was very sanguine of dropping upon an extensive coal formation very speedily.

Quitting the farms and crossing the creek we came to a cluster gunyahs occupied by the families of those men who are, and have been some time, employed in the timber trade in this neighborhood. I was pleased to find, that in several instances, these generally unprovided bush operators, had not knocked down all their hard won earnings at the grog shops in Brisbane; but wisely laid a portion of them out in the purchase of land, which I was further pleased to see was fenced in with good substantial three railed fences; and above all a comfortable looking house built upon each of these freeholds. May their example be followed by many of their fellow workmen, whenever their timber trade takes a turn for the better! Upon asking one of their numbers, who is among them known as Little Dick, how it was he had not, after so many years toiling, got a bit of land in his right, he made answer, “sure sir, if I hav’nt bought any land, I have helped to build a good many houses.” Very significant this, and certainly strengthens me in my previous opinion, that it will be the very opposite of a blessing should this neighborhood reckon amongst its conveniences a Public House, or liquor store. A bush track made by the passing drays proceeding to and from the Pine Ranges, takes one through a very interesting region of hill and dale, the route being well marked by these dense scrubs fringing the steep acclivities of the mountains.

A ride of some five or six miles brought me to an extensive natural clearing, or opening in the hills, named by the timber-getters the paddock. A large quantity of valuable timber has within the last few years been cut from the scrub in that direction, and I found a number of men still busy falling and cross-cutting pine logs for market; the drays conveying them to Pullen Pullen Creek, and from thence they are rafted to Brisbane, where the steam saw-mills speedily convert them into boards and scantling for the home and foreign markets.

A large quantity of good agricultural land is to be found between the heads of the two creeks, (Pullen Pullen and Moggil), a portion in close proximity to the river, has been surveyed, and some portion purchased; but some excellent farms must some day be formed at the foot of these partially explored pine ranges.

My wanderings in the direction of Moggil being brought to a close at this point of my journey, in consequence of the service I had to perform being completed in that quarter, I must wind up my present “Sketch” with again hoping, that in the perusal of my sketches of East Moreton, some pleasing information may be obtained by those who reside therein, and some profitable hints gathered by those who dwell in the land beyond the sea; and who feel the wants of a young and increasing family bear too heavily upon their resources, and look with great anxiety to the future provision of their households. To them I would conscientiously say, emigrate, and whilst you make the necessary inquiries that may rule your future movements, don’t forget to learn every particular about Moreton Bay - now speedily about to be made a separate colony, and ruled and governed by laws of its own construction.

My next sketch will, with your permission, be dedicated to Bulimba, and other down river localities.'