By Barry Clark, Bribie Island, Historical Society

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

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


a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Barry Clark

I write this regular History Page to introduce readers to a few fascinating facts about this place where we live. For those who are recent arrivals, and those who have lived here for some time, I know they are often surprised and entertained by things they learn. I conduct regular free heritage walks on Bribie as part of the Councils “Healthy & Active” program and there are several coming up in the months of August and October.

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)The Poster on this page gives dates and details. The guided walks are free but you are required to register on the web site (moretonbay.qld.gov.au/healthy-active) to come along as numbers are limited. WALK WITH ME THRO’ OLD BRIBIE By Barry Clark, Bribie Island, Historical Society


These are slow and easy guided walks to introduce you to fascinating facts, events and buildings that formed part of the unique lifestyle that Bribie had years ago. People are always surprised to learn the history and heritage of building and places that have driven past a thousand times but had no idea what they originally were, or the role they played in shaping the unique character of Bribie Island.

Featured Image(above): Horses roam on Bribie

How long has Bribie been an island is a question I am often asked. I can’t give you an exact date but we do know that just a few thousand years ago the whole of Moreton Bay was dry land, and the shoreline was on the other side of Moreton Island. The sea level has risen over the last 6000 years and was certainly once much higher than it is now, as we can see from distinctive land formations. It may not have been an island when the first European explorers came here when the indigenous people had numerous camping and ritual sites throughout the area.

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Camping on Bribie 1922

It was certainly plentiful for fish and seafood, plants and berries and extensive wildlife. When Bribie was opened up to Steamship excursions from Brisbane from 1912 people came in their thousands to camp and fish here. Most of the Bongaree foreshore was covered with thousands of white canvas tents prior to construction of a few cottages and guest houses in the 1920s.

Early visitors referred to Bribie as “A Zoo without a Fence” because there was so much natural wildlife here. With settlement came domestic animals such as cattle and horses and these roamed wild around the island for many years. Collecting cow dung in the early morning was a regular task for people to burn on open fires to reduce the mosquito problem. And it was a very big problem back then!!

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Lady standing on Turtle

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Ormiston’s Store Toorbul Street


As the population slowly grew to a few hundred permanent residents it became known as “The three D’s” because it had a reputation for Drunks, Dogs and De Facto relationships!! Yes, there were certainly some unusual charters who made their way to Bribie in the early days. After the first World War, there were many veterans with less than the full complement of arms or legs. One such was Jimmy “No-Legs” Hagan whose original cottage still stands beside Shirley Creek today.

To serve the growing number of campers and residents a few small shops and services started up around Bongaree, and evidence of this is still visible if you know where to look. Electricity eventually came to Bribie in the 1950s but prior to that, a private electricity generator was installed in Banya Street to service a few grand homes that had been built. A School, Churches and Community dance hall and Cinema were built, and the core of a self-sufficient community soon developed.

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

First Car Bribie

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Glan Y Mor Boarding House Banya St. the 1920s

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Pier Kiosk & Guest House Advert 1936

When the first car was brought to Bribie there were no roads here, or indeed any roads anywhere near Bribie. It took two days to drive this car from Brisbane over bush tracks and beaches, and it was finally floated over to Bribie from the mainland.


It was several years later that the first dirt road was constructed from Bongaree to Woorim, which was the start of a Surf Club and construction of the first houses at Woorim. In the 1930’s Woorim was the closest surf beach to Brisbane, long before there were roads or developments at what is now the Gold Coast.

Perhaps the grandest road on Bribie is Banya Street which was developed with the amazing vision of a dual carriageway, even when there were no cars or vehicles other than horse-drawn carts on the island. Some of the original buildings still remain to be seen in Banya street, but several of the large Guest Houses at the core of Bribie tourism in the 1920s and 30s have gone.

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Oyster Stall at Jetty 1926

The Bribie Jetty was the focal point of island life and everyone came down to see the many steamships come and go laden with people looking for the unique day trip or holiday experience. Various families ran a guest house, dining room and shop beside the Jetty for over 30 years. Oysters and Fish dinners were always available for the visitors and there was much competition to entice customers to the various offerings. An Oyster stall on the Jetty offered large Oysters at 6 pence a dozen.

Those were the days!! During World War 2 most residents were evacuated and many homes were occupied by the military. After the War when building materials were scarce several old buildings were brought to Bribie and re-erected for various purposes. Savige’s Fish shop was once a military Hospital in Brisbane before it was brought to Bribie.

a-History. Historical. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Queensland. Australia (1)

Aquarium Tanks – Built Redbeach 1962


With progress and development, the population increased, and by the early 1960s, there were about 700 residents on Bribie. Eventually, a Bridge was constructed in 1963 and in the expected boost to visitor numbers several new commercial businesses started up. A large recreation hall was built in Cotterill Avenue which operated as a Skating Rink and Dance Hall, and eventually became a Cinema.

Today it is the Baptist Church. Movies were the main focus of public entertainment for many years before TV was available. Another business venture at the time of the Bridge was a mini “Sea World” seawater aquarium constructed at Red Beach. Created by people who developed new techniques to display seawater fish in large concrete and glass tanks constructed in the bush at Red Beach.

It was never a business success but the remains of some of these aquarium tanks can still be seen in the bush at Red Beach. With the Bridge came many more cars, no longer having to come by Barge from the mainland, and several Petrol stations were opened on Bribie. Where “Scoopy’s” Cafe stands today was once a Petrol station. Why not join me for an interesting hour strolling the streets of Bongaree and learn much more about this place where you live. Aquarium Tanks – Built Redbeach 1962

More BRIBIE History

Next Historical Society meeting at the RSL Club on Wednesday 14th August at 6: 30 pm will be Lynne Hooper’s presentation of fascinating photos of Bribie in the 1920s and ’30s from our extensive Database collection. View our Blog Site http://bribieislandhistory.blogspot.com or contact us on [email protected]

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A highly successful sales and leadership career working in a number of different and very competitive industries. Engaging with decision makers at all levels in business and government. Three decades employed by corporations, SME businesses in senior roles and almost twelve years operating as a freelance contractor has equipped me well for all aspects of business. Whether leading and mentoring sales teams, or in a direct sales role I enjoy the challenge to meet and exceed expectations. Making a real and tangible difference in either a team environment or as an individual is an important personal goal I have consistently achieved throughout my career. In all of my business and personal dealings over the years there is one issue that stands out above all others - communication. Excellent communication skills creates trust, helps with mutually beneficial outcomes and above all cements long lasting positive relationships. I strive everyday to communicate effectively with the people I encounter.