Bribie island has a remarkable history, with so many aspects of it about which I can write. Most people just enjoy the wonderful lifestyle here, without much thought of the amazing things that happened here just a few years ago. This article provides a few facts about some things that may surprise you.
MORETON BAY – During the last glacial period there was no Moreton Bay or any islands, the sea and beach was more than 50 klms from here, east of Moreton Island, and the entire Bay was dry land.. The sea level rose more than 120 metres over a period of some 12,000 years, the Bay flooded and the islands progressively formed. The sea level was actually a few metres higher than it is now 5000 years ago.
ABORIGINAL SITES – there are numerous archaeological Aboriginal sites gazetted on the Island, indicating occupation of this land over many thousands of years. The Water Tower in Bongaree Caravan Park is the site of a large Aboriginal shell midden, known as The Hill, before it was levelled to fill the Bowling Greens and Caravan Park. The main photo that heads this article was taken from the top of the Water Tower back in 1963.
TOWN of BRIBIE – the area surveyed by the Government in 1887 as the initial offering of land on Bribie Island was called Town of Bribie, at what is now Whitepatch. This area had been a reserve back in 1877, for the few remaining indigenous people of the area. The planned Town of Bribie did not eventuate when the private Tug Company started to develop Bongaree a few years later.
RED BEACH – the area known as Red Beach is a name carried over from the Second World War when Australian and American troops practiced beach landing craft training at various beaches around the island, given colour-coded names. Red beach was the only name that stuck after the War, being close to the settlement of Bongaree.
AUSTRALIAN OPERA –the first Opera written and performed in Australia titled Auster was written by Emily Coungeau in her grand home on Banya Street, Bribie Island in 1916. The house still stands today and is known as Toc H.
ANZAC DAY – the initial concept of an ANZAC day commemoration for those lost in WW1 was initiated through the Mayor of Brisbane by a few prominent Brisbane businessmen on a fishing trip to Bongaree in January 1916.
ATOMIC CLOCK -In the 1960’s, Queensland University established an Ionospheric Research Centre on Bribie Island to study the behaviour of Radio signals in the upper atmosphere. For this ground breaking research an Atomic Clock was installed to monitor precise timing.
TAX EVASION – In 1968, after a long and complicated Tax evasion case, the last operator of the Bribie car ferry, before the Bridge opened, was required to pay $500,000 in back taxes. In today’s money that’s equivalent to well over $20 million.
BRIBIE SUCCESSION – Over the years, residents of Bribie Island have made three different, but unsuccessful, attempts to break away from Caboolture Shire Council and establish Bribie Island’s own Council. These attempts at secession were in 1914, 1932 and 1967, reflecting various periods of significant growth and change.
POPULATION – In 1911, the resident population of Bribie was just 61 people. In 1986, it was 5,261 and in 2011 was 17,045. Do you know what the population is now..…and what might it be in 2030?
RAINFALL -the average annual rainfall on Bribie Island is 1,320mm. In 2009 we had a total of 2,484 mm for the year. However, the greatest daily rainfall ever recorded in Australia in one day was 907mm, in 1893 by the Government weatherman Inigo Jones, just across the Pumicestone Passage near Peachester.
Brisbane was badly flooded, but nobody lived on Bribie back then. The 1974 heavy rainfall that flooded Brisbane was even heavier on Bribie, but caused no serious flooding.
MOTOR CAR– the first Motor car was floated to Bribie Island on a pontoon from Godwin beach in 1919. The first road was not built on the island until 1924. At that time, the speed limit for the few cars on all roads in Caboolture Shire was 8 miles per hour.
CEMETERIES – only two people have ever been buried on Bribie. A cemetery site was surveyed in 1920 near Red Beach, and Albert Sweeting was the only person ever buried there in 1935. That cemetery was declassified in 1954 and a new one established in the bush off First Avenue, where Victory Press stands today. Frank Lee was the only person buried there in 1967, before it too was declassified to make way for the development of an Industrial subdivision. His body was exhumed and relocated to Gympie, and there is no longer a cemetery on Bribie Island.
AQUARIUM & MARINA – A private seawater aquarium was constructed at Red Beach in 1961 as a tourist attraction. It was a failure, but the remains of the concrete tanks are still visible in the bush today. In the 1970’s there was a proposal to construct a large Boat Marina, also at Red Beach, beside Buckley’s Hole, which fortunately was not built.