Bribie History – “BRIBIE COUNCILLORS” …long ago!!

By Barry Clark, Bribie Island, Historical Society

History. Historical buildings. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australian.-1

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The very first Councillor for Bribie Island was an honorary position created in 1933 when the permanent resident population of the island was less than 200 people. This was a man named Bill Shirley who had come to Bribie to supervise the clearing of the first road on the island, from the Jetty to the Ocean Beach in 1923, by the Brisbane Tug and Steamship Company.

In those days Bribie was largely a “Company Town” being the private enterprise of the Tug Company who leased land on the island and developed the basic infrastructure to make the island a successful tourist destination. Their regular Steamships made excursion trips from Brisbane via Redcliffe to Bribie, bringing thousands of tourists and visitors to this island paradise.

Bill Shirley and his family recognised the potential and he converted construction trucks to basic buses to transport visitors across to the surf beach, and even up the beach if the tide was low. His family then ran a large Guest House at the Ocean Beach, he acquired several properties and became a prominent member of the small but growing resident community.

He was appointed as the first “Honorary Councillor” of Bribie Island on the Caboolture Shire Council in 1933. To attend a brief monthly Council meeting in Caboolture was at least a two-day trip for Bill. By steamship to Brisbane, then a train to Caboolture, overnight stay in Brisbane or Caboolture, then steamship back to Bribie the next day.

He did this in an honorary capacity, with no payment other than his travel costs. He is remembered in the name of “Shirley Creek” near the Caravan Park, and the original small wooden bridge over that creek was the very first item of Council infrastructure on the island. The 1930s was the decade of mass “Excursion” tourism by Steam Ships from Brisbane to Bribie when thousands of people came at weekends and holidays to enjoy the simple pleasures of the island.

As the resident population of Bribie grew over the years, all sorts of Clubs, Groups, Societies, and Associations were formed as a focus for the many sporting, creative and social interest groups. The whole community of Bribie, both residents, and visitors were very committed to doing whatever they could to improve the unique “experience” of Bribie Island.

They achieved so much with the encouragement and support of Council, doing their own fundraising and just getting things done themselves. After the Bribie Bridge was built in 1963 the population grew slowly, and by the 1980’s it was still only about 7000 people. By then Bribie Island had three Councillors representing their interests on the Caboolture Shire Council, who personally understood and were involved in the concern for local issues.

Councillors regularly attended many of the different community organisations monthly meetings. The Bribie Island Ratepayers & Progress Association was one of the most active of these community groups at that time, holding a monthly meeting and keeping comprehensive minutes. Bribie Historical Society were recently gifted the “Minute Book” for the association for the year 1980/81, and it contained some fascinating “issues” related to that time almost 40 years ago.

I have extracted just a few short examples of the sort issues that were being discussed and minutes recorded at these meetings.• Proposal to construct a “Water Fun Park” using seawater pumped from Dux Creek for water slides, toddlers Pool, Pirate Ship and maybe a roller skating rink. (Note…A Fun Land Water Park was later built on the corner of Goodwin Drive and Cotterill Ave.)

• A proposal by the Council to have entry to Welsby Parade from the Bridge as a NO RIGHT TURN in the future.

• The Council to make a calculated judgment on all proposed development, as the original Town Plan did not require provision for High Rise, and the revised Town Plan of 1977 divided the area into Low, Medium and High Density. Huge areas of land on Forestry lease have sought to “Develop” this land after harvesting of timber. Caboolture Shire seeks to obstruct this to ensure the land is returned to the people at the termination of the leases.

• Strongly held personal objection to the manner in which the new light Industry area had been totally bulldozed on First Ave.

• Concern expressed about Councillors statement that “Council matters were a matter of confidentiality, not the right of ratepayers to be made aware of Council business”

• Concern about decreasing subsurface water in Banksia Beach area, to the detriment of local flora, since the development of the deep “Lakes” in the Solander development.

• Could the usage and destruction of the beach by 4WD vehicles could be limited. Permits were issued by Council who recognise that traffic must affect the beach Ecosystem. The council could stop this abuse, but it would be most difficult.

• A letter is written to Queensland Premier and various Ministers objecting to the proposed development of a Pulp Mill on Bribie Island.

• Consideration is given to lowering the existing 100 Km/Hr speed limit between the Bridge and the Caravan Park.

• A suggestion that a charge is placed on visiting vehicles using the Boat Ramp Picnic and Parking areas.

• Possible conversion of the Caravan Park in Welsby Parade to public Parkland.

• A recent survey of the permanent population of Bribie Island shows a total of 6,619, of which 1,368 are Pensioners.

• It was thought that Bribie should now have more than the current 3 Councillors representing them on Caboolture Shire Council.

I must make it clear that the above dot points are just a small selection of items discussed and minutes recorded at the meetings. They did not necessarily eventuate or even have credibility at the time.

However, it is interesting to read these items, to appreciate just how involved the Councill and community were in a variety of issues, that were openly discussed and considered by the Councillors who represented them.


The Historical Society has monthly public meetings at the RSL Club on the second Wednesday of each month commencing at 6:30 pm with interesting guest speakers on a wide range of topics. Come along. You can see many more photos and articles on our Blog Site at or contact us on [email protected]

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