Bribie History – How it was in the 1920’s

By Barry Clark Bribie Island Historical Society


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Tags: History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s


This article looks into life on Bribie Island in 1920 and is an invitation to come on a free HERITAGE WALK with me in March or May.

The attached poster shows the dates of our next four Heritage Walks, which are free but with limited numbers, and you MUST book online at the web site

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (13)These guided walks give an insight into the history and lifestyle of early Bribie, and an appreciation of some pioneer residents and buildings. Here are some edited extracts from various Brisbane newspapers of 1924, 1926, 1929 and 1930, with some Photos inserted from our Historical database. This is my favourite Photo from our Database of Bongaree foreshore in 1920.

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
Bongaree Foreshore 1920


The Daily Mail- 29 March 1924. By Phoebe Kirwan.

For years, I intended going to Bribie and always put off the visit, but recently seeing the charming island, I confess that for years I have deprived myself of a very pleasurable visit. The delightful quaintness, the wild beauty of her bush, and the charm of her long white-sanded beach, I have taken her unto my affection for all time. Numbers of folk of all shades and colours from the pure aboriginal to the scarlet sunburnt holidaying townsfolk, added variety to the scene whilst the vendors of the fine fish, vegetables, fruit, meat, etc., plied their trade.

Behind us lay the thick, fragrant treed bush, and the long road in course of construction, leading to the main beach three miles from the wharf, a road which will give access to the finest beach in Australia, facing Cape Moreton, and which for surfing and pleasurable facilities is unexcelled.

A slow, plodding team of bullocks ploughed through the heavy, broken tracks, bearing the materials for the road making, adding their quota to picturesque interest to the scene. For 30 miles, the island offers delightful possibilities, and in her virgin wildness, for there are few houses erected, there is an atmosphere of peace and quiet, very grateful to those seeking tranquillity. May she come into her heritage.

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
Temporary Road Building Jetty


The Brisbane Courier -23 November 1926

For generations, Bribie has fascinated Queenslanders, just as for centuries it threw a spell over the aborigines, who believed that the island was the haunt of good spirits, who used their magic to aid their sick or ailing descendants. The pretty settlement, which has grown up near the wharf where the steamers from Brisbane berth, is generally called Bribie, but its real name is Bongaree. Over 50 houses have been erected at Bongaree during the last 12 months, and on the ocean beach a large number of houses have been built within the same period, and about 15 more are being constructed. The last-named are the property of the Government.

They were formerly at Beerburrum Settlement, but when the soldiers were placed elsewhere the cottages were dismantled, and the timber in some of them was brought to the island. This village on the beach is called Woorim. It is a picturesque spot, and one feels that he could be happy here for an indefinite period.

There are now 170 houses on Bribie, and the community feels that the time has arrived for it to direct its own affairs. There is dissatisfaction that it has not even a representative in the Caboolture Council and that it has no knowledge how its civic affairs stand. The residents believe that the money raised in rates on a property on the island should be spent on improvements there.


The Brisbane Courier – 30 October 1929, By Chas Wise of Wamuran

The first thing I noticed on landing was a newly erected, tiled-roofed building at the end of the jetty, which has been built by the Tug Company for use as a fish and oyster shop by Mr J. Campbell. Facing the Esplanade were some good boarding houses, several new residences and weekend cottages, while the Amateur Fishermen’s Association had excellent accommodation for its members.

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
Oyster Kiosk Jetty

Returning along the seafront, we passed the kiosk and dining rooms, the property of the Tug Company, where good fish and oyster lunches were obtainable. Facing the beach stood the 12 huts built by the Tug Company for letting purposes. On the right were two splendid new tennis courts and an inviting bowling green.

Beyond the Bowling Green was the pavilion erected for the use of visitors as a dance hall and general place of amusement. Retracing my steps across the Tug Company’s Reserve we passed Arthur Bestmann’s general store where necessities for campers, visitors, and residents could be obtained. A fine building also had been erected for Church of England services at a cost I was informed, of more than 1000 Pounds.


Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
Bestmanns Store

The next items of interest were the novelty gardens, created by Mr R. J. Davies. There were to be seen many handsome and some grotesque figures, grown and formed out of cypress pines. Behind Mr Davies’ house were seen some rough-leaved pineapples, which compared favourably with mainland crops.


A run to the outer beach, three miles distant, was made by motor bus. Facing the ocean was a fine roomy kiosk where lunches and teas could be procured at all times. Several shelters for the public had been erected on the crest of the sandhills by the Tug Company.

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)On the day of the visit to Woorim township, as the outer beach is officially named, a strong northwesterly wind was blowing straight from the open ocean at the north end of Moreton Island, causing heavy rollers to break upon the beautiful white beach which extends northwards for some miles. Surf bathers here enjoy themselves to the full, and at holiday times, members of lifesaving clubs were always on the lookout.


Brisbane Courier 21 June 1930. By Thos. J. Mcmahon. Bribie Island

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
Woorum Surf Club

Apart from being a popular seaside resort, has agricultural possibilities, especially regarding the propagation of cypress pine trees, which thrive well all over the island. The first settlement of Bribie Island may be traced to the earliest days of Brisbane, when Bribie Passage, the deep and narrow stretch of water between the island and the mainland, had become notable as one of the best fishing grounds of Moreton Bay.

Eventually, several fishermen took up their residence on the island and forwarded supplies of fish to the Brisbane markets. To some extent, this fishing is still important, large quantities of fish being sent to Brisbane every week. For many years Bribie has been popular with campers, and particularly with amateur fishermen. Visitors to Bribie know that it is one of the few seaside resorts where fish can be purchased in all seasons, fresh and cheap.


Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (8)A little more than 15 years ago, an old settler states, scarcely a dozen persons were permanent residents of the island. But today there is the cosy little township of Bongaree, the settlement facing the mainland and Bribie Passage, with a large number of permanent settlers, stores, a newsagency, two churches, a State School with 25 children, a hall, a sports club, at least half-a-dozen boarding-houses, many cottages, including a row of small cottages along the Passage beach, popularly known as “The Twelve Apostles,” a bowling green, and tennis courts.


Bill Shirley runs a fleet of five comfortable motor buses between the settlements at the Passage and on the Main Beach and has carried as many as 2000 passengers in a day. He also runs pleasant trips along the beaches and claims that the trips are the cheapest motor trips in the world. Bribie is holding its own well and there is not the least doubt that it will always be popular with large numbers of persons many of whom consistently visit the island at weekends and on holidays.


Almost from the earliest days of its settlement, Bribie has been used for the grazing of cattle, and at one time the island carried many hundreds of sheep. While the natural pastures would scarcely be considered of fattening value, the fact remains that cattle can be seen that are in really good condition… At any rate, Mr Cotterill is enterprisingly carrying on dairy farming and is supplying the island settlers with milk


Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
12 Apostle Huts

No account of Bribie would be complete without reference to the energy and enterprise of the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Co., Ltd., which has been responsible for much of the progress on the island. The company maintains a regular service with the two popular steamers, which are speedy and comfortable, and the run from Brisbane to Bribie is one of the most pleasant and cheapest in the Commonwealth…

The future of Bribie appears to be rosy, and if progress is maintained at the rate of the past few years, it will not be long before it will be one of the most prosperous settlements within easy reach of the metropolis.

Tags History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia 1920s (1)
Bowling Green & Tennis Court


If you would like to experience more of this come on one of the guided Heritage Walks. The Historical Society also has monthly public meetings at the RSL Club on the second Wednesday of each month commencing at 6; 30pm. with interesting guest speakers on a wide range of topics. You can see many more photos and articles on our Blog Site at or contact us on [email protected]

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