One of Bribie’s true characters Ron Powell, better known as Uncle Ron, paid a visit to our Bongaree office. Ron is seeking our help to discover if anyone out there knows any more about the resting place of the vessel Cowslip or Caloundra as it was later renamed.
Featured Image(above): Possible Glasshouse Creek remains of the “Cowslip”
Here is Ron’s story as told to us…
I was recently reading a book about Queensland shipwrecks when I was drawn to an article on a small vessel “Caloundra”. She was destroyed by fire on the 9th January 1937 in Pumicestone Passage.
I found she was originally called the “Cowslip”. This excited me for I knew that name. I could not remember where I had read about it. After going through several maritime books the penny finally dropped. It was not in a book but in a newspaper cutting article from the Sunday Mail August 14, 1977, that I kept. She was one of three vessels built to transport meat and other produce from Oxley to South Brisbane via the Oxley Creek for Foggitt Jones & Co which was later to become Huttons Meats and Hams. These little boats were named “Rex”, “Cowslip” and “Eclipse”.
Uncle Ron proudly showing the model of the “MV Caloundra” that he made.
They were squat and shallow with no superstructure as they had to pass under Oxley Creek bridge at low tide. Each boat was 13 metres in length, had a beam of 4 metres and a one-metre draught. Powered by Wilson marine engines they attained a cruising speed of eight knots. Our “Cowslip/Caloundra” departed on her maiden voyage from Oxley with skipper Dick Watts in command and Rod Hook as Number 1 deckhand. She deserves her place in the pages of the Queensland Maritime history.
The service continued until 1932. It was the end of an era when the then Queensland government fired a heavy broadside with a “River Tax”. These vessels had to be sold. From the book, Oxley Meat Factory (page 3) “Lorna Grantham May 1998 “Cowslip” sold but only used for a short time, then left high and dry to deteriorate.” According to Lance Patterson’s book “Wreck Collections, Vol 4” page 9 reveals that the “Cowslip” was used on the Bremer and Brisbane rivers before transferring to the Brisbane Caloundra run. It was then renamed “Caloundra” but later destroyed by fire on the 9th January 1937.
Foggitt Jones building South Brisbane where the “Cowslip” delivered meats and butter from the Oxley meatworks
The book mentions Percy Manders purchased “Eclipse” may be “Cowslip” and “Rex” as well? We know “Rex” was purchased by Mr Kleinschmidt, renamed her “Regina” and was used between Brisbane and Southport to carry cargo. She was later used as a pleasure boat on The Brisbane River and Moreton Bay excursions possibly visiting Bribie Island? Here on Bribie Island, we do not know where “Cowslip” remains are. Wrights Creek was once called “Wreck Creek” and what boat’s remains are there we do not know? But wreckage of a boat similar to the size of “Cowslip” was exposed on a nearby beach.
An article written by Wes Thomas was published in The Bribie Times Friday, November 21st 1986. A relic had been discovered by photographer and staff member Terry Scarborough. I wish I had photographed and measured it as well. From memory, it was about 14 feet long. It was a curved piece of timber with other pieces hopefully now buried under the sand where it will be preserved. There is a photograph of “Cowslip” being beached high and dry as Lorna described it the background could be Wrights Creek.
Uncle Ron’s painting of the MV Caloundra
Another possibility is that a barge went down between where the Seaside Museum and the jetty are today. Yet another possibility could be Glass House Creek where I photographed the remains of a possible barge with only a few ribs left and the remains of a jetty nearby. This was on 13th September 1990. I am wondering if any reader has any information on our little “Cowslip/Caloundra”? More research needs to be done on the boat that served our community along the passage. You can contact Uncle Ron on 3408 1571.