A Northern Pilgrimage #2: In Townsville

In 1893 a reporter travelled north to Townsville by steamer before visiting the towns of Hughenden, Charters Towers and Cairns. He wrote a 15-part article series about this journey under the title of 'A Northern Pilgrimage', which was printed in both the Brisbane Courier and Queenslander newspapers.

In this second installment he described scenes, people and the political situation in Townsville.

Brisbane Courier, 2 October 1893

'Townsville during these early summer months presents a tawny dry appearance. The face of Castle Hill has been robbed of its timbers, and the rocks now stand out garish and gray and oppressively sterile. Naked precipitous cliffs rise from the shore, and from them all green clothing has been torn, and here the heat throbs and quivers all the long summer day. The town is tortuous in the extreme, and it is a mystery how it ever found a dwelling place on the slopes and ledges of ill-favoured rocks and among the dunes stretching back from the seashore. The main street winds along the banks of Ross Creek, and with much skill manages to hold its own between the tidal waters of the creek and the encroachments of the spurs of Castle Hill. Indeed, considerable and expensive excavations have had to be made to provide a footing for business premises, and not a few are driven into the rocks, while others overlap and shadow the waters of the creek. A large portion of Townsville has gathered on an island, and the flat sandy land of Ross Island is covered with houses and shops and graced with industrial establishments. In the city houses are built in all sorts of curious nooks and crannies, and perched on pinnacles, which appear to be eminently dangerous even for the sure-footed goat.

Out from the creek into the translucent waters of the bay stretch the two protecting arms of the breakwater, and the fortifications at the extreme ends of the crescent-shaped beach mark the boundaries of the ambitious city of North Queensland. Although the city is ill-shaped, crooked, and devious, Townsville possesses fascinations of no mean character. Take the beautiful seascape, for instance, which unfolds itself from the shore. Rolling in at the spectator's feet are the white-crested waves of the Pacific, breaking themselves on a longrunning soft beach and wantonly sporting with the sun and the wind; the waters of the bay are dancing prettily, and white gleaming sails stud the surface; in the middle distance is Magnetic Island, with its magnificent proportions and softness of colouring, and which guards the portals of Townsville, a faithful steadfast sentinel. Away to the left beyond Kissing Point lies pretty Rose Bay, where Townsville should have been, and Cape Marlow juts far out into Cleveland Bay. Set in the sea are the Palm Islands and Bay Rock, while out from the far-away haze looms Hinchinbrook Island, and on the wavetops near the roadstead can be seen glimpses of small boats and the long trail of the steamer's smoke as it spreads over the sun-glinted waters. To the right are the breakwaters, within the confines of which steamers and vessels lie at rest and take in produce for the great world beyond; Magazine Island is sharp and clear, and the numerous houses on the Ross resemble a flock of huge seagulls settled on a sandy promontory; the lighthouses are clearly defined, and on the edge of the horizon the white-columned signal at Cape Cleveland is plainly visible against the blue sky. It is altogether a lovely scene, and the wind and the waves are ever humming soft lullabies, singing merry songs, or filling the evening air with solemn anthems and divine hymns.

Townsville below Castle Hill, circa 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

Townsville is growing rapidly, not only in dimensions but in dignity and importance. Nine years ago I first saw the place, and since then its progress has been marked. In 1884 and for many following years Townsville sat on the great Northern fence and crowed with a boastfulness born of overweening confidence. Charters Towers, Cairns, Cooktown, and other more or less important places were merely dowdy hens in the eyes of strutting Townsville. Loud cock-a-doodle-doos were sent out, wings were spread, crests elevated, and challenges hurled at the South. It all had a bad effect, and jealousy prevented the neighbouring birds from taking shelter under the wings of the Townsville rooster.

Much of that spirit has died out I have observed, and is being replaced by a quiet thoughtfulness and a steady desire for progress. Bounce has departed and patriotism is steadily growing. The active, selfish corner-allotment agitation for separation is a thing of the past, and out of the ashes of that speculative syndicated movement there has arisen a purified passion, which has for its object the building up of a great nation in the Northern land. During the talks I have recently had with prominent men here I have been surprised at the moderate opinions expressed and the generosity of sentiments given utterance to. That separation must come there is a unanimous opinion and a whole-hearted desire that it may be speedily obtained. And Townsville is quietly prepared for self-sacrifice in the matter. "If the Northern people think there is a more suitable place for the capital than Townsville, then we are prepared to fall in with them," said a prominent merchant to me.
"Separation we must and shall have in the near future, and the people of the North are gradually coming into closer touch with each other, and recognising that it is useless to create divisions by absurd jealousies. The South only laughs when we quarrel, and for the future there is to be no fighting. Depend upon it when the North actively takes up the separation fight, and is unanimous on the question of boundaries, our position will be unassailable, and the South will be obliged to bow to the inevitable. Townsville is quiescent just now owing to various reasons, principally financial. When Townsville was active we raised the jealousy of our neighbours; now we have invited them to take up the work, and are quietly watching the development of events. It is a pity our politicians have been so plastic, and it is a sad blow to the cause that such a wholesale purchase of them should have been made. Four of our best men have been captured, but these are matters which will duly right themselves. We are being educated, and I am not sure but that the reverses which we have had will eventually turn out to be blessings. It is no use carping at the South. The people there are naturally averse to the disintegration of the colony, feeling that some of their trade would pass into other hands. I am bound to say, however, that the selfishness of the North is a shallow thing in comparison with the selfishness of the South. We may desire to benefit our purses, but at the same time we are anxious to develop the resources of the North, and we purpose living here and bringing up our families under the skies of this Northern land. We are no speculators or absentee traders, nor are we ignorant of the land we desire to govern. Progress and development is what we desire, and if wealth marches in company along the same path who shall say it nay?" 
The result of the division in the House the other night was received with some disappointment, but no bitterness or acerbity of spirit. Indeed the Separation League here is at present so many dry bones. It funds are exhausted, and its officers are stricken with languor. What they require to stimulate them into action is the sharp lash of strong opposition, and the division on Mr. Burns's motion may have that effect. If it has not, then Northern separation will cease from troubling for some time to come. Given unanimity in the North and a moderate amount of cash, separation would be an accomplished fact in three years, but present indications point to lassitude and a feeling of feebleness among those who once waxed strong in the fight.

Very clearly indeed does the finger-post point to returning prosperity in the North. The shadow of commercial depression has almost passed away, and business men here are in excellent humour, and speak hopefully of the future. The many commercial travellers I have met state most emphatically that business is sounder than it has been for many months, and that they are booking orders with freedom. Wool is coming down from the West daily, and substantial supplies are being forwarded to the stations. Reports from all the sugar plantations are painted in the brightest colours, and there is a decided inquiry for sugar lands, while town lots are again becoming marketable commodities. The small traders say that debts are now collectable, and there is little disposition to obtain long and annoying credit. Large parties of men are out prospecting, and "tucker finds" are reported daily. All these things point to better times, and as the wild, reckless speculative fever has given place to cautious, honest dealing, there can be no manner of doubt that peaceful prosperity has once more become a dweller in the land. Flinders-street, Townsville, is humming with life, and although there are several empty shops and offices, these are more the outcome of over-building in boom time than indicative of hard times. Indeed Townsville looks particularly happy. Very few men indeed are out of work, and there is an entire absence of that genteel poverty which for months past has been such a feature in the Southern metropolis. An empty house is a rarity, while in the suburbs there have recently been erected several very charming villa residences. The meatworks are all in full swing, and the foundries, although not crushed with work, have their fires burning merrily, and the sound of the steam hammer is heard all day. There are scores of indications that in Townsville at least the people will enjoy to the utter-most "A Merry Christmas." Grim poverty has slackened his clutch, and is gradually being driven out of the window by smiling prosperity.'

A Northern Pilgrimage #1: Brisbane to Townsville

In 1893 a reporter travelled north to Townsville by steamer before visiting the towns of Hughenden, Charters Towers and Cairns. He wrote a 15-part article series about this journey under the title of 'A Northern Pilgrimage', which was published in both the Brisbane Courier and Queenslander newspapers.

In this first installment he described the steamer trip, giving a nice idea of what was still at the time the preferred mode of transport for journeys between northern and southern Queensland.

The Queenslander, 30 September 1893

'The heat of a warm spring day was silent departing, the fringe of the sable mantle night was just visible, and the patience of tending passengers was becoming a rapid diminishing quantity before the order was given to let go the headlines. A few minutes after wards the steamer Buninyong was slowly steaming down the river bound for the North. For two long hours after the advertised time of departure had she lain at the wharf, absorbing cases, packages, bundles, kegs, and heterogeneous- collection of stuff; A winch had been crazily straining itself in a justifiable attempt to commit suicide, and so to end an existence made miserable by hard work and unreasonable hours; the captain had been pestered in the plaintive inquiry, "When will she leave captain?" until he turned testy and growled something to the effect that a greater than himself alone knew; the steward had examined tickets twice; good-byes had been said so often that the tears were petrified and handkerchiefs were as dry as a chip; and altogether for so many minutes there had existed an air of expectancy which had something in it of torture.

It was therefore with a feeling of relief that the click of the telegraph instrument was heard and when the order was given "Go ahead", he realised the blessedness of having a hope fulfilled. When all things come to be reckoned up, and a just balance struck, it may be discovered why steamers never leave at advertised time, and the anathemas of the passengers will be visited upon all shipping companies with compound interest. The cup of the iniquity is not yet full, it appears.

Every feeling of irritation and irritation vanished, however, when the steamer was fairly under way. Luggage was soon unpacked, necessaries laid at hand, and loose coal slippers, and caps took the place of the conventional city costumes. To any one with social instincts life on board a steamer a never be dull, presuming, of course, that something is an absence of sea-sickness. The steamer itself is an interesting study, with all its wonderful modern appliances for securing speed, strength, and comfort. The Buninyong is one of Howard Smith's most powerful steamers, and although she does not possess many of the conveniences and elegance say, of the Peregrine, nor is her steaming power so great, yet she has substantial comforts which make her a most desirable boat to travel in. There is abundance of room, for instance, and the cabins are remarkably spacious and well ventilated. The promenade deck is one the best, and one can enjoy a constitutional without fear of jostling or incommoding fellow passengers. 

And I may be permitted to say a good word for the officers. Captain Richardson is one of the most genial skippers I ever travelled with. A clever, careful, skilful navigator, proud of his ship, jealous of her good name, and watchful of the interests of the company, of which he is so efficient an officer. Not only is he an able skipper, but he is a capital host, and a thoughtful regarding the comfort of the passengers as if they were members of his own family. His bright wit, musical talents, and power of organisation in the matter of entertainments helped to most pleasantly fill the dreamy, delicious days spent on board the "Buninyong". Captain Richardson is a gallant man, and has been the hero of not so few sea adventures. His perfect conduct in connection with the wreck of the Cheviot is yet green in our memory, and his skill during the awful gale in January last, when the Buninyong was coming down the coast, was eloquently testified to by Mr. Wragge. May he long have command in Queensland waters. All his officers are capable men, and, like their superior, courteous and affable to passengers. Regarding the attendance and civility of the stewards there can only be unstinted praise. Only a hypocritical cross-grained traveller could find fault. Personally I have much to thank them for, and nothing whatever to complain of.

A more perfect trip than the one to Townsville, I never remember experiencing. The weather in every respect was delightful. Overhead the sky was of dazzling blue, a clear refreshing wind was blowing, and the great deep was covered with countless dimples, Day succeeded day, and the glory of the surroundings was marked with ineffable beauty. Not a soul was troubled with sea-sickness, and the enjoyment of the voyage was unmarred. There are those who praise the sea but remain on land; there are those who love the open, blue, fresh, free sea. I confess to being one of the latter, and I love to feel the deck swaying beneath my feet, to listen to the rhythmical throb of the great engines, to watch the white-crested waves dancing in absolute liberty, and to feel the salt spray tingling on the cheek. There is no such thing to my mind as a lonely sea. The great blue stretch of water is full of eloquence, and ever speaks to the human heart in mighty tones pregnant with thoughts as vast and potential as its own illimitable mysterious depths.

My brother and sister pilgrims were most companionable, and on the morning after departure from Brisbane the promenade deck was the scene of many a kindly greeting. Not a few Southerners were on board, and it was somewhat refreshing to hear their opinions respecting Queensland rashly formed during a short stay in Brisbane. The recent floods were a prolific source of conversation, but as usual the Labour element in politics gave rise to animated discussion. In the afternoon, when the wind became soft and warm, some of the passengers played quoits, while the young men played with hearts, and the older ones stretched themselves on deck and luxuriated in the soft sunshine, and the cardroom was filled with lovers of the kingly game of whist. It was a time of delightful indolence, and as the sun went down in a western sky filled with a soft effulgence, and the Southern Cross came out sharp yet luminous, and the stars twinkled in the dark blue dome, then we leaned over the bulwarks to watch the phosphorescent gems in the water, and to trace with interest the curious frolics of the porpoises as they flashed along-side the great steamer and kept us company for many a mile.

It was early morning when the steamer dropped anchor in Keppel Bay. The sky in the East was flushing into a thousand tints, the sun was covering the sandy beaches with a golden gown, and the waters of the Bay and the peaks of the mountains were catching and holding the radiant gifts of the morning. Sea Hill looked very picturesque, with its light-house, residences, and clumps of trees and palms. A sailing boat was running freely over the rippling waters, and the tender Dolphin was lying off waiting for our arrival. She had a crowd of passengers for us, thirty-five in all, the Montague-Turner Company being bound for the North. With such a crowd on board matters on the Buninyong became lively, and the run to Flat-top (180 miles) was marked by musical merriment. 

At 5 o'clock on the following morning the anchor went down with a rattle, and in front was the pretty Island of Flat-top with its beautiful surroundings. The morning was divine, and we could see in the distance the houses of Mackay and the slopes of the hills rich with the green colouring of the sugarcane. Several boats were in the offing, including the labour vessel William Manson, and her red painted surf boats were being pulled rapidly through the waters by a coloured crew. Crowds of white gulls circled round and round the steamer, and occasionally the flash of the fin of a shark could be observed.

Flat Top Island outside Mackay, circa 1874.
Flat Top Island outside Mackay, circa 1874. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

As the morning advanced the wind became soft and warm, a gray heat haze crept over land and sea, and the smoke from Mackay could be seen rising very slowly and gradually working seaward. There was considerable cargo to receive and despatch, and the Buninyong lay off Flat-top several hours until the tropical heat became oppressive. The delay at Mackay lost for us a trip through the Inner Molle passage, a route which Captain Richardson purposed taking, but time and tide wait for no man. This was a keen disappointment to many of the passengers, more especially to those from the South. The Inner Molle is the most enchanting portion of the whole of the glorious Queensland coast, and bewilderingly beautiful. As we left Mackay the sky was a dazzling blue, and a faint breeze came from the west, tempering the heat, and creating a merry ripple on the waters. Now and again a flying fish raised itself and sunned its wings for a few moments, flashing in the light like a gem. And the Buninyong lazily steamed along, her black smoke trailing over the sea in sinuous shape until it resembled a huge snake, and was a blot on the fairness and purity of the scene. Island upon island appeared on the waters, and glimpses of white and yellow sand and pine-clad slopes became more and more frequent. We were soon threading our way past the Sir James Smith group, and Anvil, Pincer, Silversmith, Forge, Goldsmith, .Hammer, Blacksmith. Tinsmith, and various other pretty islands stood out in clear relief in their lovely setting. Still the panorama opened before us, and the passengers enjoyed the fascinating, subtle influence which it exercised.

The Whitsunday Passage was very charming, and we slowed down as Dent Island was passed, waving greetings to the group at the light-house, who responded cheerily. The light-house and bungalow residences were particularly pleasing, bathed as they were in a soft white light. A group of aboriginals were gathered on a hill, and they sent us a message of welcome. The slender pine trees looked like silver rods, tipped with emeralds, and through and around them flocks of white cockatoos were flying, screeching with animation. At the end of the island the wavewashed rocks, with their irregular formation and gray-brown appearance, rose abruptly out of the blue waters, and were saved from desolation by the stunted pines which grew on the summit, the sober colouring of which harmonised with the cliffs below. That little bit was a touch of Alpine Scenery in a tropical sea. Then we left Whitsunday Island in our wake, and away past Cid Island, and the course lay north-west as during the long watches of the night we continued our pilgrimage to the North. Faint streaks of light were coming over from the East next morning when Cape Cleveland was abreast, and we could see Magnetic Island looming up in majesty. At 8.30 the anchor fell in Cleveland Bay, and the familiar Castle Hill stood out clear and sharp, the town nestling under its mighty shadow. Not a cloud flecked the blue sky, and the waters of the bay were in perfect repose. Townsville appeared to be quietly sleeping, and the air was honeyed with subtle warmth and sweetness. There was soon a stir on the waters, however, and the tenders were speedily alongside. Good-byes were regretfully said, and before 10 o'clock arrived we had landed on the Townsville wharf and were once more facing the great Northern territory of this magnificent colony of Queensland.'

Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay, 1841 (Part Two)

There was a convict settlement at Moreton Bay during 1825-42, centred in what is now the centre of Brisbane, but the first permanent European settlement in the area was established at Nundah in 1838. This was a Moravian mission run by German missionaries with the aim of converting local Aboriginal people to Lutheran Christianity, and was supervised by Reverend Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and later Reverend Christoph Eipper. The mission was named Zion Hill's and in later years the local area became known as German Station.

The settlement had limited success, probably because it was too close to Brisbane to engage with surrounding Aboriginal groups, and it was closed in 1846 and four years later the area was surveyed for land sales. Several of the missionaries and their families were laid to rest in the heritage-listed Nundah cemetery.

Occasional updates on the progress of the mission appeared in the pages of colonial newspapers back in Sydney, including the following extract written in 1841. These pieces give a good idea of everyday life at Zion's Hill.

Extract from Carl F. Gerler's sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion's Hill, 1846. John Oxley Library.

Colonial Observer (Sydney), Thursday 18 November 1841.

Extract from the Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay from the end of July to the l7th of September. 1841. (Concluded from our last.)

Week From the 28th of August to the 3rd of September. - Thirty-two children at school; twenty-three natives employed for the mission; On Saturday Mr.. E. went to the Commandant at Brisbane Town, to represent to him that we had but a small quantity of potatoes to pay the natives for the work they do at Girkun, for their own benefit, and that as it would be desirable to continue this plan; he would be pleased to furnish us with some corn-meal for the purpose of paying them for their work. In answer to this request the Commandant. immediately ordered twenty bushels of maize to be issued from the stores for this purpose.

Monday 30. The brethren Wigne and Hartenstein returned to-day rather unexpectedly from the Ninge Ninge where they had intended to stay for a month or two. The tribes had so much quarrelling with one another, and shed so much blood, that they thought it no longer advisable to stay amongst them. The hostile tribes had begun to throw womerams early in the morning, and at night, so that it became quite unsafe to reside there, and the friendly natives themselves advised them to return, promising that after the fight they would come to our station. The stockman from Eagle farm has found the oxen, and brought them back to-day ; he had to be rewarded with tea and sugar for his trouble.

Week from the 4th to the 10th of Sept. - Thirteen children at school; thirty-one natives at work. Dommi, Biralli, Debir Kallen. and the brothers Wogan, returned from Ninge Ninges, but not in good health, so much rain having fallen which always makes them look miserable; their fights, moreover, did not permit them to spend much time in procuring food, they were, therefore, half starved. Wet weather is peculiarly dangerous for them, because they are too indolent to take the trouble of making a comfortable shelter. As soon as it threatens to rain they want to go to make their huts, or they will rather carry every day a sheet of bark of ours to their camp than once for all strip bark for a good roof over their heads. We were in hope that they would now take up their abode in their huts at Girkun, but they say that that place is rendered unsafe through the devil on account of the deaths which lately occurred there; but when the flesh of the deceased has gone into corruption, and their bones are put into a dilly, then they consider the devil has no more power over them. Such dillies, with bones, skins, scarfs, and pipes, we have some times found hanging in hollow trees.

Friday, September 17. - Last week no children have been here, and only two or three natives made a short stay in passing our place. They have again changed their place of abode, as a boy named Turpy, whose leg had been ulcerated for a long time, and who at last became also dropsical had died in their camp behind our houses which, in addition to the deaths that happened before induces them to avoid our place for the present altogether. The new bridge was finished to-day, when the news arrived that two vessels from Sydney had come into the bay; As an extract of this diary will be sent to Sydney, it may be proper to observe that many other trivial things have been put down for no other purpose than to show in what way the greater part of our time has been spent at the same time it cannot be expected that a minute account should be given how every one of the brethren has employed his time. This account every one must be left to give before the tribunal of his own conscience as in the sight of God.

We think it also necessity to add the following remarks:- It will appear from this diary that much time has been spent in seeking the bullocks when lost, as well as in keeping them when feeding, that they may not run away. This time might be spent in a more useful way for the furtherance of our great object, if we had a servant to do such work. Such a suggestion does not arise from a want of devotedness to the cause but simply from a desire, on the part of the brethren, to be as nearly as possible employed in their proper sphere, that of living, working, spending, and being spent, for the benefit of the brethren, with which they humbly conceive bullock driving has so distant a relation, that another person, who knows nothing else, might with propriety be employed in it. Yet, as a team of bullocks is indispensably necessity, and the Governor having granted permission to purchase the requisite number from the government stock when it shall be sold by auction we would submit to the committee, to consider the propriety of our engaging a bullock driver who might either be hired here or sent from Sydney; and as labour is continually increasing with us, while it is necessary to direct our efforts more exclusively to the main object of our mission, we should be glad if we had also one farm servant who, with help of the bullock driver, might do the rough work, that the comfort of the brethren might be more attended to. Their rations would soon be felt to be no expense, as they would be able to cultivate so much ground as to provide our whole establishment with flour, maize, and potatoes. Our soil does not appear to be suitable for wheat, at least on the hill, and we cannot calculate that the crop will supply us with flour for one month. The flour we received from Sydney lately will last until October, at the ration of five pounds for one person per week. Under these circumstances, we shall require a supply of flour towards the end of November. If salt pork were cheap, we should prefer a supply of this article to going twice every week to Brisbanetown, and receiving the meat with which they supply us there, and for which we have to pay four pence per pound.

We would also again point out the great encouragement which it would afford our natives if we had it in our power not only to pay them for their work with food, but also to give them blankets for covering themselves. We cannot suppose that the government would refuse to put a quantity at our disposal, as they distribute blankets to the natives in the colony, if application were made in the proper season. We are happy to state that we are making progress in the language of the Aborigines. On the late journeys a great many words have been collected, and it will be Mr. E.'s business to arrange them. Finally we entreat all who may read or hear this to intercede and wrestle with God on behalf of these benighted heathen, than whom there is not a more miserable race on earth, and to pray for a blessing upon our work from the Master at whose command we have gone forth - not counting our lives dear - into his vineyard among these savages. The difficulties are great on every side, and there would not be one ray of .hope were it not the work of Him who says: "To me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall swear by the name of the Lord of Sabaoth."

Read Part One of this series here.

Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay, 1841 (Part One)

There was a convict settlement at Moreton Bay during 1825-42, centred in what is now the centre of Brisbane, but the first permanent European settlement in the area was established at Nundah in 1838. This was a Moravian mission run by German missionaries with the aim of converting local Aboriginal people to Lutheran Christianity, and was supervised by Reverend Carl Wilhelm Schmidt and later Reverend Christoph Eipper. The mission was named Zion Hill's and in later years the local area became known as German Station.

The settlement had limited success, probably because it was too close to Brisbane to engage with surrounding Aboriginal groups, and it was closed in 1846 and four years later the area was surveyed for land sales. Several of the missionaries and their families were laid to rest in the heritage-listed Nundah cemetery.

Occasional updates on the progress of the mission appeared in the pages of colonial newspapers back in Sydney, including the following extract written in 1841. These pieces give a good idea of everyday life at Zion's Hill.

Extract from Carl F. Gerler's sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion's Hill, 1846. John Oxley Library.

Colonial Observer (Sydney), 11 November 1841


Extracts from the Diary of the German Mission at Moreton Bay, from the end of July to the 17th of September, 1841.

July 30 Through the kindness of Mr. Wagner, we have had the loan of a team of bullocks, and of a bullock driver, through that of Mr. Kent, since Friday last, to plough the swamp; which work will soon be completed, when the man will return to the settlement, but the bullocks are at our service 'for an unlimited period.' Mr. Tillmann and some of the brethren were engaged in making a long chain, and a harrow; they also set up the dray which had been taken to pieces, when shipped in Sydney. On the piece of ground on the opposite side of the swamp, appropriated for the use of the natives, where many trees are already cleared; away, the ground is broken up, and three huts have been completed, and will be ready to be inhabited as soon as the plastering will have dried. They belong to Parry., Biralli, and Wogan. This .place will henceforth, for brevity's sake, be called by a native term, "Girkum."

Since Friday last, there were occupied in building, clearing ground, and working it with the hoe - on Friday 6, Saturday 3, Monday 5, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 2, Thursday 3. and to-day 4 ; altogether 26 natives, who were daily fed with rice, and paid at the close of each day with potatoes. Besides these, other 26 were engaged during this week in shearing our swamp from grass and cornstalks, previous to its being ploughed, who were fed and paid in a similar way; and if to these are added 15, who were employed in jobs about the dwellings of the several members of the Mission, it will appear that 67 natives were occupied and fed in the course of this week. As there were only two or three infants present no school was kept. 

Monday, August 2. - Mr. E.* left the station with Mr. Wagner, in order to visit the Aborigines at Umpie Boonga Ninge Ninge, they were accompanied by three natives, Wunkermany, Boringayo, and Wogan. During their absence, working continued by the rest of the brethren with the natives, partly for their grounds, partly for the use of the mission. Thus; on Saturday 31st of July, four natives were engaged at Girkum, and nine for the mission generally. On Sabbath, the natives, who had been working during the week, received some food for dinner. On Monday, August 2, nine natives were employed for the mission, and Mr. Rode kept school with ten native children. 

Tuesday 3. - Twelve natives were employed for the mission, and eleven children at school. Altogether there were employed during this week 51 natives for the mission, and four ditto at Girkum, and 37 children at school.

Week from.the 7th to the 14th. - Children in attendance 95 - 48 natives employed at Girkum and 6 for the mission. Remarks. - Monday 9. - Two natives and two of the brethren were working at Girkum, to prepare the ground for potatoes; and as necessity shall require, the brethren will continue to do so, although there be no natives at work with them. The oxen had been lost since Tuesday last, and much time has been spent in seeking for them; the ploughing was consequently stopped; this evening the stockman from Eagle farm brought them back; but as the bullock driver has returned to the settlement, our brethren have now to drive them themselves. 

Week from the 14th to the 20th or August. - Children at school, 59; 49 natives were employed for the mission. Remarks. - Messrs. Eipper and Wagner returned this evening from their tour; Four tomahawks were made for the natives who had conducted them back. 

Monday 16. Logs and trees were drawn in for a new bridge, the old one having been almost washed away by the floods. Yesterday the native children were taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer, and the ten commandments, and to sing psalms. The natives could not be induced to work to-day because one of them (Pretty boy) died this morning, on account of which they made their usual howl, and cut their heads in a dreadful manner with tomahawks or sharp stones. Soon afterwards they buried him near the river. Another man, from Family Island, has also died; but we could not learn how their death was occasioned, the natives say that the Noppes, a tribe to the south, near the Logan River, had bewitched them, and so caused their death. 

Tuesday 17. - Mr. Tillman went with a native to Brisbane Town for meat.. On the road he met the widow of Presytry, who had cut her thigh dreadfully, so that even with the help of a stick she could scarcely walk; and her voice had become so hoarse with crying that she could only whisper. The brethren planted corn in the swamp. 

Thursday, 19. - Another native, Gawanbill, has left this world; he had been suffering from a consumption for a considerable time back, but latterly he appeared to be stronger again. The natives had left their camp at Girkum from fear of the devil; and he had been left behind alone, having no relations, and thus died without any one bewailing him. Messrs. Nigue and Harteristein left with Wunkermany, Jemmy Millboong, and other natives, for the Ninge Ninge. They sent word to-day (Thursday) that they had spent two nights and one day at the Pine river; and desire to have an alphabet sent for keeping school with the native children. 

Week from the 21st to the 27th August. Children at school 2; 15 natives at work for the mission. The bullocks were lost again on the 20th; Mr. Rode went in search of them on the 23rd and the 26th, but without success. The natives have left us entirely; they have partly gone to the Ninge Ninge's; but it is the fear of the devil chiefly that has induced them to change their place of abode for a season. Mr. Zillmann was lately present when a boy asserted at Girkum that the devil was in one of the newly erected huts, upon which two or three old men were immediately horror struck, none of whom could be induced to approach the hut, which Mr. Z. wished to examine, that they might point out where the devil was; but they said that the white man could not see him. On Saturday last, on his return from Brisbane Town, Mr. Z. observed an old man and some women attentively listening and looking stealthily around as they were pursuing their path; now and then they stood still, and the old man climbed upon some tree or stump and looked about in the same manner. At first they would not return any answer to his questions; but when he persisted, they said they had perceived the devil in the neighbourhood. He then wished to see him; but they told him that he would not stand his sight, but flee from him. Mr. Rode also related that his brother, Dabianioonie, had promised to stay one day with him to finish some work, but that the next morning he came in a great hurry to say that he must immediately set out for his place, for he had seen the devil's track in the sand, which was a sure sign that his wife had died. They are thus kept in terrible bondage and fear of death by this prince of darkness, who doubtless has a strong sway in a place where his dominion has not been disputed. (To he concluded in our next.)

'Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal, August 1841' (Part Two)

The Zion Hill Mission was founded as a Lutheran/Presbyterian/Pietist mission during 1838 in what would later become Nundah, Brisbane. This was the first free European settlement in the region, which was still the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. The missionaries had limited success in converting the local Aboriginal people to Christianity.

In August 1841, the Rev. Christopher Eipper and Gottfried Wagner went north to an Aboriginal initiation ceremony at Toorbul. On this journey they were guided by Wunkermany and two other Aboriginal men from the Mission. The journal of this trip gives a valuable insight into the social landscape of the time, with some amusing incidents demonstrating a sense of humour on both sides. This is Part Two:

Old missionary cottages on Zion's Hill, Nundah, ca. 1895. John Oxley Library.

Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal, August 1841 (Part One)

Colonial Observer (Sydney), 21 October 1841

'Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal, Aug. 2, 1841.

By the Rev. Christopher Eipper, of the German Mission to the Aborigines at Moreton Bay.

(concluded from our last.)

Monday, August 9. - We went to have a view of the neighbouring island, Yarun*, to which its inhabitants had invited us. For this purpose we had to cross two arms of the bay in a canoe of the natives, which was just large enough to hold us both and two young men to row it. These canoes consist of one piece or sheet of bark, each end of which is gathered up into a bundle, a stick forced through it to form it into the shape of a bow. The edges of the sheet are strengthened with strong pieces of split cane, which are fastened on with small cords of cane wound over them and carried through small holes of the bark; two or three ties are fastened across these edges at different places; lest the sides should bend so low as to let the water in. Our vessels were thus certainly not very convenient, as we had to sit almost immoveable and could not stretch our feet; yet it was comparatively safe, at least, the natives, who love life as well as any one, consider it to be so; they know well that their vessel cannot stand against wind and waves, therefore they would not venture to cross if the sea were ruffled but slightly.

The natives of Toorbal had all along expressed a desire that we should cultivate ground at their own places of abode, and especially Naimany, the Lord of Yarun, wished us to do so on his island, but we found the soil very sandy, so that we could think of acceding to his wishes. We went across the island to the sea coast, when we found that we were about seven miles outside Moreton Bay, Moreton Island lying to the southwest from us. Our two natives had not taken the least provision with them; they had only tasted a little dangum on our arrival on the island in the morning, which some old women had given them ; they would therefore fain have stayed on the beach to gather nugire, a small shell-fish in a blue shell (in taste it resembles that of the oyster) and dig dangum in the neighbouring swamps. The sky was, however, threatening rain, and as we heard that on the beach opposite the mainland, large huts would be found, we crossed the island again, and spent the night in one of those huts. They were certainly the best constructed and largest huts we ever have seen, some about twenty feet in length and all well covered; the sticks which formed the frame-work were so nicely joined that they might remind one of a gothic archway. As a small fire could not be kept up inside without being incommoded by the smoke, we were very warm and comfortable, for without, the wind and waves were howling dreadfully, so that we had scarcely any hope to be able to cross Deception Bay the next morning. Here we took our last provisions for supper; of which our hungry boatmen also partook.

The next morning the wind blew very fresh, but fell off about ten o'clock; we had fortunately espied a canoe on the beach, in which we could at once cross over to the main land; otherwise we should have. been obliged to return by the same way by which we came over yesterday, and have lost therewith the whole day. Here we saw also the junction of Moreton and Deception Bay. Having crossed the latter, we went for some time along the beach, and then turned westward, but our guides took first their breakfast out of the swamps, and being young men th'y were very particular to dress themselves carefully before they made their appearance again in the camp, significantly replying to our enquiry, why they did so, the ladies will see us. 

In the afternoon our attention was suddenly arrested by a great noise, caused by beating sticks together, and as we saw all the women run with their long and pointed sticks, which are used in digging dangum; we ran also to ascertain what this meant. But what a scene did we behold! The whole of the women were engaged in a regular battle; it was quite overwhelming to look at this fight of women, than which no contest of men could be fiercer; some had actually froth before their mouth. Each had her antagonist, who parried her blow by holding, her stick between her fingers over head; and then immediately returned the stroke, which was parried in the same way; when they got close together, they took hold of one another, each endeavouring to throw the other down. Some had their fingers and elbows bleeding when we arrived; but unable to look at it any longer, we rushed betwixt them, and at last succeeded in separating them at the peril of getting a few blows; They then settled the matter seemingly with words. It was a love affair that had brought the whole sex to arms. Some old women, however, were very much displeased, and pointed their spears at ours; yea, one threw it at Mr. E.

The late execution of the supposed murderers of Mr. Stapylton has had thus far a salutary effect upon them, as they have a great fear of being brought before the Commandant at Brisbane Town; thus, when we wishing to know the cause of this quarrel used a word similar in sound to Brisbane Town, whether they were immediately frightened, and enquired if I would tell the Commandant of this quarrel they would be pulled up; on other occasions they begged we would not tell. the Commandant anything, because it was only a trivial thing. They seem nevertheless to have well understood the nature of the punishment and of the crime for which it was inflicted; for some said that next their king must be pulled up, who killed not less than ten black men.

Of the women, that soft sex, we could thus form no good opinion, especially when the next morning two were again found fighting, whose husbands were quietly looking on as the wives beat each other; we separated them, threatening we should tell the Commandant of their quarrels. The men were certainly upon the whole as bad in their way, with the exception of a few, who by their conduct gave us great joy; one, whose wife was sick, desired us to pray for her recovery, who. appeared to be really concerned for his partner, to whom with another sick woman we sometimes gave some rice and tea. Wunkermany used to kneel down with us to prayer. In the night the young men had a dance, for which they had painted upon their bodies stripes with clay; the women and girls beat time by clapping their hands against their laps as they were sitting upon the ground; they sang also, or rather repeated a few words in a singing tone. Their dancing does not exactly consist in jumping or moving about, but in a measured movement of arms and limbs to the right and left. We did not really expect to see so much propriety on such an occasion; we were much more disgusted with the appearance of. young girls and women, their nakedness appeared more offending than ever before.

When the Toorbal and Bonyer natives heard that we had not found the soil of Yarun eligible for cultivation, they seemed to rejoice in it, and invited us to inspect their own ground tomorrow. Accordingly we went on.

Wednesday, Aug. 11. - Went with a great number of the Bonya natives to their own ground - the distance is not very great, but as they were hunting kangaroo it was late in the evening when we arrived at the place where we were to spend the night. For the chase of kangaroo they have nets which they place across an open plain, wherever they have seen the walks of their prey. They prefer, and if possible, select a place which is enclosed by water, so that the kangaroos when driven and frightened by their shouting, are sure to come against the nets, where some men are stationed to despatch them with the spear or club. Whoever spears a kangaroo has the right to take the skin, to choose the best part for himself, and, to divide it as he likes, which is generally done neatly, but sometimes strife ensues through their greediness. Otherwise, without nets and driving it is a mere accident if they catch a kangaroo; We started two large kangaroos before the nets were put up, which the natives suffered to escape without troubling themselves to spear them.

On several occasions, and particularly in the following instance, we found the natives labouring under the mistake or rather superstition, that out of a book we could know what had happened at a distance or who had stolen any article. The party had separated itself into two divisions, one of which was joined by Mr. W. to continue the chase, whilst Mr. E., whose foot was sore, went with the other slowly, when at last they stopped by a fire to wait for the others. There they roasted some snakes, which they had killed, and a sucking kangaroo; but all at once they desired Mr.' E. to look into his book, and to find out if Mr, W. with the other party, had killed a kangaroo; and when Mr. E., knowing what they meant, told them that he had no book with him, one of them untied Mr. W.'s bundle, and taking out his New Testament, opened it, saying, Mr. Wagner, large kangaroo, after which he shut and replaced it. This superstition has arisen from a very unpleasant circumstance: one of our brethren had his axe stolen by the natives, which another of the brethren mentioned to a third, who had a book in his hand, and was reading in the hearing of some natives, and as this person knew already the name of the thief, he mentioned it to the one who had addressed him, which led the natives to conclude that he had this knowledge out of his book. Thus we were applied to by Wunkermany to look into our book who bad stolen his pipe.

The ground over which we went this day was very good, and the natives were very particular in asking us for our opinion of it, and took great delight in pointing out to us their respective property. We spent the night on the edge of a large swamp, to which late in the evening our kangaroo hunters resorted. They had not been very successful, having killed only one small kangaroo, of which they gave us a bit of the tail and part of the leg; expressing at the same time their regret that we had so little to eat. Of the rest of the kangaroo more than ten men were participating; but some made up their meal with other animals they had met with on the chase; for one had an oppossum, another a snake, a third a guana, &c. When it was night we held our evening worship; most of them had never heard us sing, and they showed great delight at it, requesting to hear more, for it did them good in their belly.

Thursday, August 12. - The next morning it was resolved, that they would first go to the sea and catch fish, and gather oysters, and from thence they would conduct us to the mountains. But as our guides, when leaving Zions-hill, had only spoken of a weeks absence, and as our brethren might begin to be concerned for our safety; Mr. E. thought better to go back to Toorbal, and from thence to return home, whilst Mr. W. would make a longer stay in order to. visit the mountains. One of the natives was appointed to conduct Mr. E. back to Toorbal, where he arrived about noon. From thence Wunkermany and Jemmy Millboong conducted him to Twinshills. They took partly a different road from that by which we had come to Toorbal; the Deception River was crossed at its mouth by swimming across, but the place, where we had deposited wine and provisions, on the way to Toorbal, we were not able to reach that day, as my foot was still sore, and Wunkermany had run a thorn into his heel, since Monday last we had entirely been subsisting upon the natives' food, viz, pounded dangum and Kangaroo flesh, which we boiled with a little salt. This day I had eat nothing except a small bit of Kangaroo flesh; and drank the water in which it had been boiled, I felt consequently very hungry, especially after travelling more than twenty miles and swimming across three Rivers; The night. also was the worst I have spent on this journey; as my clothes had got wet when swimming through the rivers, so that I had no cover for the night.

Friday, August 13. - On the morning, we continued our journey until we came to the spot where our provisions lay, where we made a hearty meal. In the afternoon we crossed the Pine River, and on approaching the second arm thereof were not a little surprised, to be overtaken by Mr. Wagner and two natives, who had this day come all the way from Toorbal. The natives had, after my departure changed their mind, and would not' go to the mountains, because they had not their wives with them; Mr. W. therefore had returned with them to Toorbal the evening before, and early in the morning his brother Anbaybury had conducted him with two other natives to the Deception River by the road, which we had come to Toorbal; but when Anbaybury did not find there my footsteps, he insisted that I had not yet returned, but had gone fishing with the Toorbal natives, and declared his intention to return, whereby the two others became also wavering.,Mr. W. however, took up his bundle, saying he would go on, although he was sure to lose his way; this moved thereby these two so much, that they sprang up and took his things, saying they would go with him, When he joined me he had not tasted anything this day, but taking a crust of bread with his two companions, he went on at so brisk a rate that I with my sore foot and tired guides could not follow him; he reached Zion's Hill a good while before me, having travelled this one day upwards of fifty miles.

This Anbaybury is a shrewd little man, as the following anecdote will show. He said one day to Mr W; that when he (A.) was at Zion's Hill, he did everything for Mr. W., fetch wood and water, bark, prepare clay, chop wood, work the ground with the hoe, &c. Now, as Mr. W. had come to his abode, he ought to do the same for him ( A.) Mr. W. told him it was quite right that he had done so, for he had paid him well; but he ought to consider that he (Mr. W.) was a missionary and Anbaybury black fellow. Now, as he had come to him to Toorbal to visit him, it was a shame that he, as his brother, had never come to fetch wood or water for him, nor had he built a hut to live in it. When he heard this, he changed his tone, and said, he would have done all for Mr. W. if he had come to the place where his tribe had their camp.

Mr. W. crossed after my departure from him over a creek, on the other side of which the territory of the Bonya natives begins, to which his brother. Anbaybury belongs; the soil here is very eligible for cultivation, and more so, the farther we went. At this the natives evinced great joy, saying, if we would bring hoes and axes with us their women should work, and they should hunt for us, and when the crops were ripe, they would not sleep but watch them. But it was necessary to have fire-arms, lest strange natives should rob them. They quite exhausted themselves in making promises of good behaviour and industry; but their joy was not quite pure, for we had before observed the whole of them moved by jealousy which tribe should have tho benefit of cultivation amongst them; every tribe striving to lower the other in our opinion; the Toorbal natives had said that the Bonya natives were liars, they would starve us if we went to them, &c. And when Anbaybury had silenced them in this respect sufficiently, they said, as we were leaving Toorbal, that the Bonya tribes would kill us. It was therefore the interest of the Bonya tribes to make a good impression upon our minds in their favour.

Concluding remarks.
This journey has inspired us with new hopes, that if we have but mastered the language of these aborigines, much may be done for them under the Divine blessing; we trust we have advanced one step further to this desired end by this journey, and if the brethren who are to follow us do a little more, the mount of this difficulty will, with the help of the spirit from on high, by degrees be surmounted. With regard to residing among the natives we think it quite safe; and we found no difficulty to to live upon such food which the natives eat, as dangum, oysters, fish, kangaroo, but not every stomach is able to bear it; once a day it may be required to have an European meal, rice, peas, pork, &c. In the morning we went about begging some pounded dangum for breakfast, which we never were refused; but fish and kangaroo, are not so easily obtained from the natives. It will not do, however, for any long time, to be left at the mercy of many, it is much better to attach oneself to one family, who will provide as well as they can for their guest; my brother Dunkely's wife was ever ready to pound dangum for me when I told her I was hungry, though she would have to borrow it.

We had opportunities to observe the manners and habits of the natives very closely, and found that the children are for the greatest part of the day idle at home, and that it would be proper to keep school with them, which we have recommended to the brethren who will have to go after us. Thus a sort of wandering school will in future be established among them. Of the wretched condition and degraded state of these heathens we have had additional experience; and our hearts have been stirred up within us to renew our exertions for their benefit, and to be more fervent in our intercessions at the throne of God for the outpouring of his spirit upon them. During the time of our absence our brethren at home have daily met for prayer; and since our return these exercises have been continued greatly to our refreshment, and we firmly believe to penultimate benefit, of these benighted heathen, God in his mercy and loving kindness will vouchsafe us an answer of peace to our supplications. May the day soon' dawn when they will be visited by the day-spring from on high by the tender mercy of God; and when praise will wait for him, not only in Zion, but also in the wilderness, and from the mouths of the redeemed natives at Moreton Bay.'

* Bribie Island

'Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal, August 1841' (Part One)

The Zion Hill Mission was founded as a Lutheran/Presbyterian/Pietist mission during 1838 in what would later become Nundah, Brisbane. This was the first free European settlement in the region, which was still the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement. The missionaries had limited success in converting the local Aboriginal people to Christianity.

In August 1841, the Rev. Christopher Eipper and Gottfried Wagner went north to an Aboriginal initiation ceremony at Toorbul. On this journey they were guided by Wunkermany and two other Aboriginal men from the Mission. The journal of this trip gives a valuable insight into the social landscape of the time, with some amusing incidents demonstrating a sense of humour on both sides. This is Part One:

Colonial Observer (Sydney), 14 October 1841

'Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal, Aug. 2, 1841.

(By the Rev. Christopher Eipper, of the German Mission to the Aborigines at Moreton Bay.)

MR. EIPPER left with Mr. Wagner, Zion's-hill, about noon, under the guidance of three natives, Wunkermany and the two brothers, Wogan, who carried their provisions on their heads. The direction in which we went was nearly north. Our way led us this day over a soil similar to that which is found near our own place. Towards evening we reached a small creek, which we had to cross - as it was ebb-tide we could get over without being obliged to take off our garments. On the opposite side our natives made a little stay, because they had found a tree emerging out of the water, which was eaten through with worms called Coppra; and these worms appeared to afford them a delicious repast. Every worm had made his own channel; they are of a milk-white colour, with a brown stripe along the back; they taste not bad, although to a European palate they are not very inviting.

Carl F. Gerler's sketch of the German Mission Station at Zion's Hill, 1846. John Oxley Library.

It is remarkable in what a variety of ways these natives find their support ; and it would be interesting to know how they first discovered the various objects which are now the constituent parts of their sustenance. The value of a tomahawk can only be estimated when all these ways are known. Here, for instance, they might have got some Coppras, without such an implement, by breaking as many branches off the trees as their strength would permit; but with the assistance of my tomahawk they cut the tree into pieces, and by clearing the same obtained every worm it contained. 

We were to encamp for the night near this river, but as the place where fresh water is generally found was dry, we were obliged to go three miles farther, until we came to the border of a swamp, where we halted. It is the custom of the natives to encamp in the neighbourhood of fresh water, although they do not always seem to consider their convenience, for sometimes they have to go a great length to fetch water. We had expected that our guides would have made huts for us, as they did for our brethren, who had made this journey before, but we were disappointed; they thought, probably, that in addition to our clothes we might be content to enjoy the same comfort which they had, viz.: that of a large fire. Mr. W. however knowing, from experience, that we should find it very cold to sleep without a shelter at this time of the year, set himself to the construction of a hut with sticks and grass, which we made the natives pull out of the ground. 

We soon found the comfort thereof; and were taking some cold food, when our attention was arrested by a very loud calling of our black friends. It was soon evident that no mortal foe disturbed them, for then they would have armed themselves, or called for our assistance. On enquiring about the cause, we were first told to be silent, for Wunkermany was speaking to the Devil; but when we persisted in asking, they replied, that the Devil was taking hold of the moon with his two arms, to eat it up, and would not let it go. They then began to call the name of every one of their tribes three times, fearful lest they should forget any one; which they did for two reasons - first, in order to frighten the Devil by naming all their mighty men and boys, and then to secure themselves against his power over them in death. For it is the Devil who would swallow up every soul, which rises into the air after its separation from the body; and nothing but their great lamentations for the dead, accompanied with cutting their bodies and beating their heads with sharp instruments, will move him at last to let the departed soul fly off to England. Their manner of treating with the Devil was, however, in this in-stance by no means reverential. From single expressions, which we could catch, it appeared that they scolded him, calling him every bad name their language afforded, and frequently cursed him, so that it is a wonder he is moved at all, by their thus speaking to him to let them off, and not rather provoked to destroy them. Deplorable as the condition of these wretched men is rendered by such superstitions, we could not keep our gravity when beholding and hearing them thus engaged to contend with Satan, as they were doing for nearly the two hours which this total eclipse of the moon lasted. Every where we were told this ceremony was performed by the natives on this occurrence. So great had been their fear and anxiety, that they would neither move nor eat anything while it lasted; but when it was over, they laughed themselves at the Devil. It was, however, in vain to endeavour to convince them of their error by a rational explanation of the phenomenon; this was, they said, what the white man believed, but it was not for the black man. 

Afterwards they requested us to speak very loud to some strange natives, whom they said they heard approach our encampment, for it was not now a proper time to come. When we told them that they were mistaken, they replied, that they had distinctly heard the noise of some men's steps at a distance. We had our evening worship during this eclipse, and told them to be silent while we spake to God, which was much better than to scold the Devil, who had no power over those who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ; nor were such afraid that he would eat up the moon. Our rest was not interrupted; but when towards daybreak, the fire got low, we awoke with cold limbs, and had to search for wood to renew the fire. By this we were taught to provide for the future in the evening the wood for keeping up the fire at night, as we observed the natives themselves do. 

TUESDAY, AUGUST 3. - Early in the morning we continued our journey towards the second river, which we had to cross; it is called the Pine River, although there are but few pines on its banks; (we ascertained afterwards that this river empties itself into the Bay under the name Eden River, given to it by Mr. Petrie, who traced it from the Bay in his boat; and this river and the one we crossed yesterday are two arms of the Eden, which unite before they reach the sea.) 

After a tedious walk through high and wet grass, and crossing the river about nine o'clock, we stopped to take breakfast at a camp of the natives, some of whom were present. As we had yet a good supply of potatoes, we parted with a few, chiefly to make the burdens of our guides lighter. In these intervals of rest we were chiefly engaged in collecting words of the different tribes. Our path led us now through a more mountainous part, whilst hitherto we had gone over a rich alluvial soil. In the afternoon we beheld the Bay, and to the right the path to Umpie Boang or Old Settlement, was pointed out; but as there was no smoke visible, our guides concluded that the natives of that place had gone to Toorbal, which is the native name for Ninga Ninga. 

Towards evening, our direction being still the same, we came to the banks of another river or creek of the same breadth as the Pine River; it was however pretty deep, as it was flood tide. Having crossed it, we went over a tract of rich soil, followed by a marshy plain, until we arrived at the last river on our journey. Its native name is Kaboltur; among the whites it is called Deception River; its breadth is considerable; and it had risen to such a height that one of our guides, by whom we had been forsaken on account of a piece of pork, and who had wished to hasten on before us, had not ventured to cross the river alone, and thus we found him here again. 

The night was coming on, and the sky threatened rain, but we had no choice left, as we could not spend the night on the marsh on this side of the river, so we were obliged to cross it, and reached safely the opposite shore, although we had to go up to our chins into the water. When we had reached dry land, we encamped for the night; the natives joked again about the Devil's eating the moon last night. In the middle of the day, when going down a hill, one of our guides missed a girl, which had been given to him as his future wife; all were thrown into the greatest consternation, for they said that the relations of the girl would beat them if they had permitted her to be stolen by strange natives. These poor creatures appear never to enjoy security; they would immediately have returned to the Pine River, or even to Zion's Hill, if the girl, who had only missed the path, had not been fortunately found. This girl is now already fulfilling the duties of a wife to her future husband; and we have had occasion to observe what a useful commodity their women are to the natives, as they are chiefly expected to procure the necessary food, which it always more certain than that which the men are engaged to find. Single men, who would of course think it beneath their dignity to go in search of roots, we observed, were regularly supplied every day with a bundle of roots by one or other of the women, when returning from the swamps. 

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4. - The next morning we found that we had not been far from the coast; for after about one mile's walk we saw the bay again, and were told that now our way would lead along the sandy beach to Toorbal. The bay assumes, with the promontory of the old settlement to Toorbal, a semi-circular shape. Moreton Island is seen at a distance running from south to north. Our guides took a little time here to gather the flowers of the honeysuckle tree, which they sucked. The stamina of this flower, or rather cob, are moistened with a clear and sweet juice, but as in sucking it so much of the pollen becomes mixed with it, it loses much of its good taste. About noon, after reaching the north corner of the bay, we turned west-ward, and soon met the lady of his Majesty the King of Toorbal employed in digging dangum, which is the native name of the root hitherto called bangwall. Here we stopped to take dinner; for our guides had told us we should not let our provisions be seen, as the natives were so greedy; it became, however, evident, by what we afterwards experienced, that none were more greedy than these worthies themselves. 

We then went still west-ward, and were saluted by a number of women, engaged in digging dangum, after having crossed a very disagreeable swamp well nigh a milelong. We were received very cordially, but were struck with the coldness and indifference which the natives evinced at meeting each other; we observed the same indifference on arriving at the camp, about four o'clock ; it was just the time when another division of women returned from gathering oysters, who freely gave us a good deal as they passed us. The first thing we had to do was to erect a good hut of sticks and grass, which by the approach of night was nearly finished, and then we left it alternately to pay our particular brothers our first visit. Our hosts gave us what their houses could afford, viz., oysters and pounded dangum; they would immediately have us sit down and chat with them. But we had soon occasion to witness some of the natives own ways: the king had stolen an axe belonging to one of our guides, which he had left in the keeping of his mother; he had all the way been talking that he would beat the king for it, but we gave no great heed to it; as soon, however, as the pounding of dangum had ceased, he arose, took his two waddies, and, standing at the side of our hut, commenced his charge with a loud voice, ending with a challenge to the king to fight him. All was immediately deep silence, and from a great distance an answer was returned; the words grew hotter on both sides, and one or two others added now and then a few remarks. Our guide now ran forward, but came soon back, saying that the king was a coward. Here the matter ended. Afterwards, the king paid us several visits when passing by without any sign of hostility on either side. Several evenings during our stay there such occurrence took place, but by our interfering between the contending parties, which they did not seem to dislike, the quarrels were settled without blows. Such was the eagerness of all to listen to what was spoken on such occasions, that whenever any one was heard to speak in that way after the evening meal had been taken, we scarcely could get any information from our neighbours or guides of the cause of the quarrel.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 5. - The next morning we went to the sea-coast, to the place where the natives gather oysters and catch fish; it was a part of the bay, apparently quite enclosed with land, but we afterwards ascertained that it has an outlet into the sea to the northward - Mr. Petrie calls it Deception Bay. Thus Moreton Bay has four openings, the south passage, which is only passable for boats; the passage at Amity Point, which is now used; the north passage, between Moreton Island and Yarun, and the passage through Deception Bay, ending at Head Petre. Opposite the main land, on a protruding point of which we stood, is a large island running from south to north, called Yarun by the natives; and another not so large lies westward, in which direction is the Glasshouse mountains; nine in number of very striking appearance and conical shape were visible. Some smaller islands, or rather groups of trees, are seen between Yarun and the mainland, where the oysters are found in the mud at low water. 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 6. - This morning we went with some of the natives to see the spot where the solemnity of making kippers is to take place; its distance from the camp is about one mile and a-half; no woman or child is permitted to come near. On the way, the natives killed a snake, but as it had no fat they did not eat it. This place is called Bool, and has the figure of a large basin twenty-one feet in diameter, surrounded by an earthen wall about two feet high ; the whole place is cleared of the grass, which is pulled up by the, roots; it has also an outlet to the southward, by a ditch about three feet wide and half a mile long. There the kippers are led to their huts, which during the time of their trial are separate from the rest. At one place along this trench are found the rude figure of a kangaroo and a seahog, by which it is intended the young fellows should be frightened when passing along. It appeared that the clearing of this ground was allotted to certain individuals in equal parts so the natives told us, adding, that some who were lazy had not yet done their work. 

The rest of the day we spent in visiting and conversing with the natives, as opportunities were offered. Daily some had gone to catch Kangaroos, but had not been successful; and from what we afterwards observed we may justly say that by the mode of life, which these natives lead, not only their whole time every day is taken up in procuring their food, but that even then they are not always rewarded for their toil. Besides the women's time, is also entirely taken up in digging roots and gathering oysters but; what they general contribute to the sustenance, is surer to be obtained, and constitutes their main support. The men may be said to provide the meat, but the women the bread. As regularly as the former go a hunting, or fishing, so regularly do the latter go for oysters or dangum. But although it is certain that the men derive greater pleasure from the chase and from fishing than the women when drudging in the swamps, yet it is doubtful from their natural indolence, whether they would either hunt or fish, if they were not compelled to it by hunger. 

SATURDAY, AUGUST 7th. - Mr W - went to see the mode of the women in gathering oysters; they were at the same place, where we had been the day before. There was a canoe, in which they rowed to one of the small Islands above mentioned, where they gathered the oysters out of the mud into the boat. When they had thus gathered a great quantity, they went back to the shore, and made a fire, into which all the oysters were put, to cleanse them from the mud, and being thus stewed at the same time, they are eaten, and taste very well. The natives had been boasting, when inviting us to their places

The next day was Sabbath, the 8th... which we spent as quietly as we could. We cannot, however, refrain from saying, that as long as these natives have no other mode of life, they will never be able to keep a Christian Sabbath, though they were Christians; they cannot be expected to fast, yet they get scarcely sufficient for each day; it is true that at times they may have abundance of fish, but taking it altogether, it may with truth be stated that they have barely sufficient food for every day, and having no regular meals they are always hungry. This observation gives us, in one point of view, some satisfaction, as it is a confirmation, that the plan upon which our Mission is conducted, is fully adapted to their peculiar situation; for while endeavouring to impart unto them a knowledge of divine things, we are also teaching and assisting them to procure their livelihood in a laborious and surer way; and should the Divine Spirit move their hearts to believe the Gospel, their former mode of life will be no obstacle in the way of its acceptation. (To be concluded in our next)'

'Observations made on a journey to the natives at Toorbal, August 1841' (Part Two)

Pre-1893 Floods in Brisbane and Ipswich

For Brisbanites, the floods of 1893 have gone down in history as being the most destructive to hit their city. There were, however, many different flood events to hit Brisbane and Ipswich before that time. The following article was written by JJ Knight in the aftermath of the 1893 floods as a reminder of those earlier deluges, all of them still within living memory.

Charlotte Street (from the corner of George Street) during the flood of March 1864. SLQ.

Queenslander, 18 March 1893

'Some Early Day Floods.

The recent floods afforded an excellent opportunity for a controversy as to the extent of former day inundations as compared with the trio which visited Brisbane last month. Thus, while some affirmed that at least one flood of bygone days (1841) equalled in magnitude the latest visitation, by far the majority have declared that the disaster of 1893 occupies the premier position. Of course, what are now high lands were in 1841 depressions subject to the action of ordinary high tides (thanks to the creeks which at that time crossed some of the present principal thoroughfares), while a large volume of water which now finds its way through dredged channels would in days gone by have been almost sufficient to cover parts of what were described by Dr. Lang as "the alluvial flats of Brisbane." There can, however, be no question as to the fact that the floods of 1893 were the highest in the recollection of the white inhabitant.

It is interesting, too, to note how while one section has systematically abused the Stanley and other tributaries of the Brisbane River another has laid the blame at the doors of those who ignored the just claims of Nature and fixed the site of the city on what has practically been proved to be part of the river bed. As a matter of fact, when the site of Brisbane was selected its liability to flooding did suggest itself to the mind of the discoverer (Oxley), but it was quickly dismissed as improbable. Oxley found the country looking its best, and "there being no appearance of its being flooded, no mark being found higher than 7ft. above the level, which is little more than would be caused by the floodtide at high water forcing back any unusual accumulation of waters in rainy seasons," the gallant lieutenant may be exonerated from all blame in the matter. Besides, Oxley had been sent out to search for a site not for a city but for a penal settlement, one of the chief recommendations for which would be the presence of fine agricultural country. Oxley never dreamt of a Stanley or a Lockyer (though he had found and named the Bremer), as is shown by his own words:
"I felt justified in entertaining a strong belief that the sources of the river will not be found in a mountainous country but rather that it flows from some lake which will prove to be the receptacle of those interior streams crossed by me during an expedition of discovery in 1818!" 
From the remarks of Oxley just quoted it is apparent that for some years prior to 1823 no flood had occurred in the Brisbane. In 1825, however, the penal settlement was visited by an inundation, and the fortunate circumstance that Major Lockyer was examining the upper reaches of the river at the time served to dispel Oxley's illusion about an interior lake. Lockyer had on the 21st September camped at a place "which, from the colour of the soil, was named Redbank," when the first effects of the flood were felt. For a day or two previous heavy rain had fallen, but on the day in question it had cleared up. In the early morning Lockyer had noticed that the water level had risen 1ft. within an hour, and its discoloured appearance indicated that a flood was coming down. "The rapidity of the current increased every hour, and the river had risen upwards of 8ft. by 11 o'clock" - three and a half hours after the first rise had been noted. 

Lockyer was compelled to camp for a day or two. He then made another start, but travelling by boat was extremely difficult, and after four days' exertion a narrow escape from losing his boat and provisions caused him to decide to pursue his investigations on foot. The tributaries of the Brisbane must have been doing their best to sweep out of existence the one dark spot in Northern Australia known as Moreton Bay if we may judge of the experience of Lockyer on his memorable trip. Lockyer's idea as to where these tributaries were is as amusing as Oxley's opinion as to the source of the river. He says: 
"I think it very probable that the large swamp into which the river at Bathurst loses itself occasionally overflows, and is the cause of the tremendous floods that at times take place on the Brisbane River!"
It would thus appear that inundations here were known to Lockyer if they were not to Oxley, and his remark that "on our way we had many proofs of a small flood; a large one must be terrific," plainly demonstrates that Lockyer was possessed of information concerning the place which in later years would have been extremely useful had it been available. 

The next flood I can trace was that of January, 1841. Unfortunately no complete records were kept, but Mr. John Kent, who died many years ago, took the level of the Bremer and found the rise to be 55ft. What the rise in the Brisbane was I am unable to discover, but the late Mr. John Petrie in my many interviews with him often alluded to "the great flood of 1841." The rainfall here was nearly 20in., and if we add to this the 55ft. rise in the Bremer and the water from the Stanley, which was heavy, we can readily understand that the inundation was a serious one. There is an anecdote about a coloured man named Cassim (who died a few years ago at Cleveland, where he kept a hotel) coming down from Ipswich on a pumpkin to report that the place was out of provisions, but in the absence of reliable records I take the story with the proverbial grain of salt. 

Heavy floods followed in January, 1844, and December, 1845, and the intervening years to 1852 were marked by minor deluges. Even the opponents of Dr. Lang gave him the credit of being a far-seeing man, and that he was not misjudged in this respect is shown by his views as to the eligibility of the site, which I am led to quote even at the risk of offending property owners on the south side. The doctor had experienced difficulty in crossing the river, and complains thusly:
"So late as the month of December, 1846, I had to wait from 9 o'clock in the morning to nearly 4 in the after-noon till I could get my horse ferried over from Brisbane town in the miserable apparatus even then available for the purpose. In this way a local interest was established on the south side of the river, where the Government was moved to lay off and sell building allotments at a somewhat lower minimum price - in a perfect swamp, however, liable to fearful inundations."
The veteran then goes on to designate South Brisbane as "unsafe" and "insalubrious," and urges the Government to place on the river a good punt, and thus aid in the concentration of the population on a spot in the immediate neighbourhood in the highest degree salubrious and beyond the reach of inundations. 

The flood or, to be more correct, the floods of 1852 were in many respects similar to our latest experience. Rain set in on the 16th March and continued until the 20th, when extreme wet gave place to extreme heat. This rain caused a considerable fresh in the river, and Stanley-street, among other low-lying places, was covered. The Courier in its weather report on the occasion remarked that "Stanley-street might be more appropriately called Stanley Creek!" Anyone standing on the roadway at McGhie, Luya's, and looking at the level of the ground on each side of the street, will be struck with the slight difference that exists between the river level and that of the bank. However, the flood subsided, only to be followed a fortnight later by one of greater dimensions. Rain recommenced falling on the 8th April (Thursday), and was accompanied by heavy squalls. This sort of thing continued until Saturday, when there was a lull, and it was expected that the worst had been seen. Doubts were dispelled on Sunday when the rain again tumbled down, and the Stanley and Bremer waters came down, bringing with them casks of tallow from John Smith's boiling down works, wool, produce of all kinds, trees, and other debris. 

Only the other day a resident of the forties gave to a well-known gentleman in this city his recollections of the '52 inundation. These were committed to paper and kindly handed to me. The narrative reads:
"On the occasion of the 1852 flood the water came up Albert-street above Elizabeth-street. It covered the late Mr. William Sheehan's property in Queen-street, long known as the site of St. Patrick's Tavern, and crossing Queen-street it went into Adelaide-street at the Albert street corner, now known as the saleyards. From Sheehan's property down to the north side of Edward-street was under water, as well as the bulk of the land fronting Queen-street and lying between Edward, Adelaide, and Creek Streets. On the river bank the water entered the old building known as the Colonial Stores, and the flood mark was fixed at the foot of the arch, which in those days existed over the steps leading from near the present Queen's wharf up to St. John's Church, between the Colonial Stores and the present Museum Building. South Brisbane was all under water, the only part visible being two ridges, which looked like whalebacks standing out of the water." 
As a matter of fact, however, the '52 flood was not nearly so high as that of eleven years before, and it is possible that the old colonist errs when he says the water crossing Queen-street from St. Patrick's Tavern (which, by the way, stood where the People's Cash Store is now located) went into Adelaide-street. Other old residents assert that the water never crossed Queen-street at the point in question, and I incline to the belief that the water at the Albert-street corner of Adelaide street got there up the creek which flowed from the river at Creek-street, thence by a serpentine course under Alfred Shaw and Co.'s premises, along Adelaide-street, and terminated in a chain of waterholes between the present Town Hall Reserve and the old Reservoir. 

Be this as it may, the fact remains that the 1852 experience was a mere flea-bite, though there is no denying it did a deal of damage to property. The Condamine was in heavy flood about the same time, and - strange coincidence - a similar state of affairs existed in the South. In view of a suggestion which has been made by a correspondent the following proclamation issued in 1852 may not prove uninteresting:
"The Governor-General directs it to be notified that, in consideration of the distressing circumstances attending the recent inundation of the village of Gundagai, his Excellency, with the advice of the Executive Council, has been pleased to sanction an arrangement by which holders of allotments in that village which are liable to inundation will be permitted to obtain land in some other situation and of a like value as nearly as may be estimated."
This concession was not extended to Moreton Bay, probably because we were not in such a plight as our Southern neighbours. On the occasion referred to the valley of the Murrumbidgee was converted into an inland sea; the town of Gundagai was swept away, only seven buildings remaining out of seventy-eight, and eighty-nine persons out of a population of 250 perished. 

May of 1857 saw a big rise in the Brisbane and the consequent flooding of streets, but this was a mere circumstance to that which occurred in February of 1863. On this occasion the inundation was heralded by a terrific cyclone which played great havoc along the coast, and caused the captains of the immigrant ships Everton and Wanata to choose the open sea rather than remain at anchor in the Bay. Two days later (the 15th) the waters from the Upper Brisbane came down, and sent the Brisbane up to the 1841 level. 

Another flood followed in 1864, but this was scarcely equal to the one of the previous year; 1869 and 1875 also witnessed floods, but it was not until 1887 that we really began to realise the area drained by the river and its tributaries. If any doubts existed with respect to this the occurrence of 1890 would set them at rest, and I make bold to say that not one out of every hundred persons would even then have thought the Brisbane capable of such a surprise as was furnished by the three floods of last month. It is of course a moot point what the next will be like, but it is a painful fact that high as the last floods were they did not reach the boundary shown on the geological map which marks the original bed of the Brisbane River. Indeed from a study of the map in question it would seem that Nature is slowly bat surely taking revenge for the encroachments made on her preserves by the civilising agency of man. 

Drifting away from floods in the Brisbane it may be remarked that other towns in the colony have at various times had awful experiences, and it is not a little remarkable that these have been coincident with our own. To go into them fully, however, would take more time and space than can at present be devoted to them, but in passing it may be mentioned that the Fitzroy has shown an especial aptitude for breaking out of bounds. The largest of the earlier floods there, I believe, happened in 1862, '63, and '64. In the first year the trouble was caused by a phenomenal rainfall (22½ in. in thirty-nine hours), which sent the river up on the 1st April 20ft. above spring tides, and enabled the Messrs. Archer to sail seven miles across country on a rescue expedition.'

Mount Coot-tha (1929)

Brisbane Courier 1 July 1929 



Mount Coot-tha has been appropriately termed the "Mount of Beauty." All who have stood on its crest have been impressed with the grandeur of the panorama that it gives of city, river, bay, and mountain ranges. Contrasting with the natural scenery. Mount Coot-tha itself Is beautiful. Even in the long-gone days, When the place that was to be Brisbane was an unbroken vista of trees; when nothing but virgin bush was to be seen from the eminence where thousands have since looked on to and beyond the city; when smoke from aboriginal fires was the only intrusion in the picture of nature. Mount Coot-tha must have presented a wildly beautiful scene.

Mt Coot-tha, 1910. Queensland Historical Atlas.

Mount Coot-tha was once a favourite ground of the blacks, who hunted marsupials and birds, and very often found hives of native honey there. From such discoveries the mountain owes the origin of its present name. "Coot-tha," in the native dialect, meant "dark native honey." This meaning is applied to the word in "Tom Petrie's Reminiscences," where the author gives its pronunciation as "Ku-ta"; other translations interpret it merely as "honey." The name by which the mount was known to early settlers, and by which it Is popularly called to-day, was "One Tree Hill." This was derived from the fact that an arboreal monarch once stood on the summit in solitary splendour. In the early '40's a dense forest of large trees grew on the top of the hill, and with their thinning-out, the giant tree became more conspicuous year by year because of its isolation and great size. So the ridge became "One Tree Hill." The big tree was killed by careless picnickers lighting fires at its base. Frequent blazes scorched its trunk, and sapped its life, and one day the stark old tree had to be felled.

The attractions of "One Tree Hill" as a recreation and picnic ground were recognised from the days when civilisation began to penetrate the country around Moreton Bay. Many of the first residents found it a delightful retreat. But the mountain's timbers were exploited for some years before Mount Coot-tha was definitely made a park reserve. According to the Assistant Under Secretary for Public Lands (Mr. C.W. Holland), the land was originally set apart under the Crown Lands Alienation Act of 1868 as a reserve for timber for railway purposes. A survey was made in 1874, and the reserve was found to contain an area of 1476 acres. In 1880 the reservation for timber for railway purposes was cancelled, and an area of 1500 acres was permanently reserved for a public park. A deed of grant upon trust, "for the appropriation thereof as a public park for the recreation, convenience, health, and amusement of the inhabitants of the city of Brisbane in our said colony, and for no other use and purpose whatsoever,” was issued to Sir Charles Lilley, Sir A.H. Palmer, Sir Samuel Griffith, and the Hon. H. E. King.

Subsequent changes' placed the following gentlemen on the trust, in succession: - Sir Thos. Mcilwraith, Mr. John Stevenson, Sir Hugh Nelson, Sir Alfred Cowley, Hon. Albert Norton, Mr. E.H. Macartney (Queensland's Agent General-elect), Dr. E.S. Jackson, and Sir Robert Philp. Mr. H. W. Radford, Clerk of the Legislative Council, acted as hon. secretary to the board of trustees, and took a keen interest in the reserve. Afterwards Messrs. C. W. Costin and C. R. Gregory, each in turn Clerk of the Legislative Council, acted as hon. secretary. Grants were made by the Government to the trustees for roads, erection of shelter shed, fencing, salary of caretaker, &c. The name was changed from "One Tree Hill" to "Mount Coot-tha." by notice published in the "Government Gazette" of August 10, 1883. In 1919 the trustees surrendered their trust in favour of the Brisbane City Council, which was then appointed as trustee.

With the growth of the city Mount Coot-tha reserve also has expanded. The area has grown, by additions from time to time, to a little over 2567 acres. The Brisbane City Council is about to apply to the Land Administration Board for the grant of an additional area of 35 acres of Crown land, formerly held as a quarantine reserve, in the direction of Indooroopilly, and, if it is obtained, the acquisition of another 10 acres of privately-owned land that lies between will make the total area of the Mount Coot-tha reserve 2612 acres. But the reserve has grown in other respects. Roads have been improved, a fine new kiosk at the peak of the hill has replaced the rustic structure that formerly stood there, and a pretty look-out tower has been built. Indicative of the number of vehicles that now run to the city's favourite observation point is the fact that one-way traffic is about to be introduced between the Summit and Simpson's road, Paddington.

One of the Moreton Bay fig trees that stand at the top of Mount Coot-tha was planted by King George V. (then Prince George), and his brother, the late Duke of Clarence (then Prince Albert), during their visit to Brisbane in 1882. On that occasion the late Sir Thomas Mcllwraith and Earl Clanwilliam also planted trees. To-day the historic fig trees spread a kindly shade for visitors, and add to the quiet beauty of the surroundings. Mount Coot-tha's altitude of 746ft., and its proximity to the city - it is about four miles from the General Post Office - makes it a very valuable asset to "Brisbane. But other features - the Summit and the Devil's Slide, the broken dams, and the stony gullies, where water used to run, the cool shady slopes, and the bubbling streams, the stately trees, and pretty shrubs, have endeared the whole reserve to those who love to commune with Nature. In all parts of Australia, and, Indeed, abroad, there are people who are glad' that, owing to the prevision of public-minded men. "Brisbane has Its Mount Coat-tha."