History – Back To Bribie 90 YEARS Later

By Barry Clark, Bribie Island, Historical Society

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

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Tags: History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australia.

The new settlement of Bongaree opened to residents 107 years ago in 1912. Descendants of one of the pioneers and business family have recently returned to live on Bribie. The Bribie Island Historical Society is delighted to welcome Trevor Sutton as a new member of the Committee, as he has family links back to those early days. This article tells his story.

In 1926 John Moyle and his wife Georgina moved from Roma to start a new life on Bribie Island running the “Carlton House” guest house in Banya Street. The Moyle family stayed on Bribie for more than 25 years’ running accommodation and later the café kiosk beside the Jetty.


In 1926, just 14 years after the construction of the Jetty at Bongaree, John Mathew Moyle together with his wife Georgina made a break from their farm near Roma to start a new life on Bribie Island. The following advertisement appeared in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, on Saturday 10th April 1926 soon after the Moyles arrived on Bribie.

BRIBIE “CARLTON HOUSE” the oldest and most up-to-date boarding house on the island, visitors are assured of the best attention, combined with cleanliness and good table. Mrs J. Moyle, ‘Proprietor.”

In those early days, there were only five guesthouses on Bribie offering basic accommodation for a maximum of 85 people, when the resident population was only about twice that. Most of the thousands of regular visitors from Brisbane camped in canvas tents they brought with them and erected along the foreshore at Bongaree.


Leasing a Café Kiosk at the Jetty, the Moyle’s were heavily involved in early tourism. Cooking “Hot Fish Dinners” beside the Jetty they serviced the hundreds of visitors in the kiosk, dining room and guesthouse at the Jetty, as the regular Steamships Koopa and Doomba unloaded passengers after the three-hour trip from Brisbane. Their great-grandson Trevor Sutton and his wife Lilian have recently moved from Tasmania to retire on Bribie and bring valuable historical connections to the early pioneer days when Bribie had just a few residents, but many hundreds of regular visitors.

As a young boy, on holiday with his parents from Roma, Trevor Sutton remembers visiting his very old Great Grandfather. Trevor recalls some of these memories… “He was preparing for the arrival of his customers of the Steamship by firing up a couple of water boilers to make hot tea in four-gallon kerosene tins, then sitting back in an armchair with his penknife and plug of tobacco for his pipe”. The Moyle’s had a great reputation for their fish dinners and were exceptionally busy when the boats arrived at the Jetty.

Members of the family often helped out, including daughters, Alice, May, Doris, Cate, Amy, and sons John and Edwin. There were amazing numbers of very large groupers caught from the jetty and the Moyles witnessed many strung up close to their kiosk. Edwin Moyle married Mavis Shields, another pioneer Bribie family, and were the first people married in the new Methodist Church on Bribie in 1928. The church had been a school at Narangba and Deception Bay, before being transported to Bribie and reerected in Banya Street.

It still stands in Banya Street today but is now the Freemasons Hall, painted light blue. Their son Charlie Moyle, born on Bribie in 1931, now resides at Gatton and has just celebrated his 87th birthday! Mavis Shields was the youngest daughter of Alfred Shields whose house was on Toorbul Street, next to where Brennans Store was later built. Alfred and his sons, Eddie and Gordon, often provided deep sea fishing services for parties staying on Bribie Island. His wife Trixie had a kiosk originally, owned by the Campbells, on the Jetty that sold fresh oysters, fish, and fruit to day-trippers.

When they retired, John and Georgina Moyle remained in Banya Street while their daughter Doris and her husband Colin Phillips and his brother Syd looked after the business. Their youngest daughter Alice married Cliff Rigbye, and Alice worked with her parents throughout the war years when he served in RAAF. Another remarkable coincidence, many years later for Cliff Rigbye, was when he sold his general store in Crow’s Nest to Joyce Voysey’s family. Years later Joyce was the author of the book ‘A Girl from Bribie,’ launched by the Bribie Island Historical Society in 2009.

The book launch was attended by my mother Rae Sutton, granddaughter of Mathew and Georgina Moyle and grandsons Rex and Ray Rigbye. “For most of her early life, my mother Rae was a regular visitor to Bribie Island often staying to help her grandparents.” During one visit as a young lady, she raised eyebrows by wearing the latest style two-piece bathing costume. This two-piece bathing suit was a revolutionary outfit for the period and caused quite a stir! When her father later saw the photo, he asked for the bathing suit, so that he could later destroy it saying …. “No daughter of mine will be seen running around in such a skimpy outfit.”

“My mother’s first visit to Bribie was as a 12-year-old after her mother put her on a train in Roma and sent her unaccompanied to Bribie Island, to help grandmother Moyle for a few weeks and have a holiday. “On arrival in Brisbane, her Aunt Doris’ boyfriend met her at Roma Street Station prior to being taken down to catch the ‘Koopa’ across to Bribie.” “Aunt Doris was planning her wedding and decided that her fiancé should have his teeth seen by a dentist in Brisbane. He had work carried out and this required an anesthetic procedure.

There were fatal complications with the anesthetic and he did not recover.” The Moyle family were shocked by his death and it took a long time before Aunt Doris recovered… One of Mum’s friends from Bribie was Kitty Freeman, the daughter of the man whose family ran the Bribie Post Office. I think she was only 13 when Kitty called at the kiosk to see if she could come and help her father to take a seriously injured man across to Redcliffe for urgent medical treatment?

Mr. Freeman was called to help in emergencies, as there was limited first aid on the Island. The injured man was brought to the jetty with a gaping wound where he had been impaled on a spike! “They set off in the small boat thinking that he may die.” It was a long trip in the little motorboat to get him to medical treatment in Redcliffe, and they did not get back to Bribie until very late that night. My mother recalled the incident quite vividly because she neglected to tell Grandmother that she was going off to Redcliffe, in the panic to help. She was in big trouble!

History. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australia (1)
Doomba crowds head to Moyles 1930s


“We are delighted that Trevor Sutton has joined the Historical Society Committee, and shared with us these fascinating family photos and stories of early Bribie.” Trevor Sutton’s wife Lilian was not aware of his historic connection with Bribie Island until they moved here. As a schoolgirl in Miles, 60 years ago… Lilian welcomed the then Minister for Public Education Les Diplock, to her school.

She has since learned that this was the same man that had been the very first teacher in the Bribie State School when it opened in 1924 and he had been a guest at the wedding of Trevor’s Great Aunt Catherine Moyle on Bribie in 1928. “It is a very small world!!”


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, you can see many more photos and articles on our Blog Site at: http://bribieislandhistory.blogspot.com or contact us on [email protected]

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