top of page

William Hobbs Homestead, Reef Point Estate Scarborough

William Hobbs was born on 23rd March 1822 in London.

He married Anna Louisa Barton, (sister of Sir Edmund Barton - Australia's first Prime Minister 1901-03), in Brisbane on 29th January 1853 in Brisbane.

He was a medical practitioner, son of James Hobbs and his wife Anne, née Phillips. He was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London on 15 May 1843. Accompanied by his aged mother, he arrived at Moreton Bay on 1 May 1849 as surgeon of the Chaseley, the second of John Dunmore Lang's migrant ships. After a brief period at Drayton on the Darling Downs, he commenced practice in Brisbane in September. Apart from a few months in 1850 when he relieved as resident surgeon of the Brisbane Hospital on the death of David Ballow, he remained in private practice in Brisbane throughout his professional life. At various times he held appointments on the honorary staffs of the Brisbane Hospital, the Lying-in Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. He was for many years medical officer to the immigration depot and the gaol. He was health officer for Brisbane in 1854-88 and a member of the Medical Board of Queensland in 1860-88. Professionally he was well regarded and is credited with having administered in 1854 the first chloroform anaesthetic in Brisbane.

Hobbs had many nonprofessional interests and appears to have been active in various local cultural organizations and in the Aborigines' Friends Society. He was prominent in local agitation against Earl Grey's proposed resumption of transportation in the 1850s. Like some other colonial medicos he had an inquiring mind and an interest in experiment. He became a protagonist of the medicinal use of dugong oil, a form of therapy for which he coined the name 'Elaiopathy'; samples of his oil were sent to the Paris Exhibition in 1855 but he failed in an attempt to produce and market it commercially. At his property at Humpybong (Redcliffe) he discovered a spring with alleged anti-anaemic virtues. He grew cotton and is said to have sent samples to the editor of the Economist but again lost money through backing the Caboolture Cotton Co.

In 1861 Hobbs was nominated to the Legislative Council and, in fact if not in name, as minister without portfolio and leader of the government in that chamber was appointed to the Executive Council. Early in 1862 he resigned from the executive but remained a member of the Legislative Council until October 1880. Politically his most fertile period was in the early years; he played a major part in the passage of the Contagious Diseases Prevention Act, 1868, and the first Health Act, 1872. Apart from the medical area, he was especially active in questions of land tenure. He was a member of the Immigration Board, the Board of Education and the Central Board of Health. His later years were clouded by the findings of the 1876 royal commission on lunatic asylums which reported evidence of neglect in the reception house at Petrie Terrace where he was visiting surgeon. This led to an acrimonious debate in the House with his fellow member, Dr Kevin O'Doherty.

The home which was built for him by Andrew Petrie in 1853 became the temporary residence of Governor Sir George Bowen and still stands as the deanery of St John's Cathedral.

William passed away on the 8th December 1890 aged 68 years, at 'Bayview', Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.

Dr William Hobb's Reef Point Villa in Redcliffe constructed in 1880's and demolished in 1926.

The 2nd Reef Point Villa in Redcliffe constructed in 1926 by Mrs Hansine Jocumsen - demolished in 1958.

Reef Point Villa for sale at 220(20) Fortune St Scarborough in May 1949:

The location of the Reef Point Villa at 20 Fortune St Scarborough in August 1956:

William Hobbs purchased portions of land in Scarborough in 1870s, west of what would eventually become Scarborough Road.

He paid 27 pounds (27 acres) for portion 234 on 12th January 1867.

Then on December 9th 1867 he again paid 1 pound per acre for portion 221, 222 and 232.

A year later he purchased portions 244, 245 248, 249, 253 on 1st January 1869.

On 15th February 1876 he purchased portion 321,322 and 323 for 37 pounds.

His largest purchase was on October 17th 1876 he purchased a large portion 517 (362 acres) for 90 pounds. This area was made up of mainly swamp, and is now where Newport was built in the 1980s.

By 1885 he has also purchased portions 262 to 265 and then purchased portion 258 at the top of the Peninsula from John Warburton (who had purchased this land on the very tip of Scarborough in 1865 a pound an acre for the 22 acres) , Hobbs owned almost all land east of Oxley north from from portions 220.

Hobbs Homestead Estate land sale map from Easter Monday 26th April 1886. "To be sold by auction on the ground. Easter Monday, April 26th 1886 at 1.30. Luncheon at 1 O'Clock sharp"

Featuring First Ave (now North Quay) Second Ave, Third Ave, Fouth Ave, Fifth Ave, Sixth Ave (now Fortune St) Seventh Ave (Scarborough Rd) Eighth Ave (Seaville Ave)  Ninth Ave (Jeays St) Reef Point and a Road (now Oak Ave)

Local sketch shows Reef Point, Scarborough Point, Scarborough Hotel, Landsborough Point, Osbourne Point, Landing Place, Deep Water Point, Redcliffe Jetty , House, Hotel, Post Office, Scotts Point, Picnic Point, Woody Point Jetty.

A framed copy of this map is available to purchase at the following link

An animated colourised lithograph from 1888 Picturesque Atlas Of Australia

The Glasshouse Mountains from Scarborough - by George Seymour Owen 1889

1883 map showing the first 3 houses and the Scarborough Hotel:

View Of Scarborough - by Oscar Fristom 1899

Hobbs Homestead Estate Scarborough Land sale auction map:

"Monday 6th May 1889 at 11am sharp" "Comprising 102 Splendid allotments"

"Being Subs of Portion 258 - Parish Of Redcliffe - Block 24 acres subdivided not 138 allotments and 4 magnificent block".

Local sketch includes: Scarborough Hotel (portion 257), Sir S.W.Griffith (portion 242) Osbourne Estate (Portion 257) , North Redcliffe Estate, Ilfracombe Estate, J.R. Dickson, Fewings Esq Landsborough (portion 230), Sports Ground Estate,

"Mr W.H.Wilson (portion 229) Railway as surveyed, proposed railway station, Redcliffe Jetty,

Redcliffe Hotel, J. Henzell"

Reef Point Estate Redcliffe

"Where the sea breezes blow. Fishing, Bathing and boating.Overlooking the Bay and Islands. 10 Large Blocks each with Beach Frontage."

"Elevated positions for ideal seaside homes. Practically the last chance to secure a beach frontage - by auction"

Novembert 1942 aerial:

14th August 1956 aerial:

Cairns Post - Queensland Pioneers - 27th May 1938:


Dr. William Hobbs was the pioneer of the dugong oil industry, if there can be said to be such an industry. He came put from England in 1849, landing on May 1, from the good ship Chaseley, in which young David McConnell returned with his English bride. He had been appointed medical superintendent of the settlement. According to General Spencer Browne, the doctor was one of the prominent men in Queensland history, when the former arrived in this State. He was prominent also in the medical profession. The General thus describes him, "He was middle height, sturdily built and of a sanguine (sic) complexion:-clean shaved with the exception of very short reddish side lever whiskers. Dr. Hobbs was a very energetic citizen. Apparently the newcomer, was prepared to try anything once, as we find this account of a day's outing with him in one of Nemiah Bartley's books: "I first went there (Sandgate) in September, 1858, in company with Dr. Hobbs and Rev. George Wight. I remember how Lieutenant Williams, of the native police, and I threw spears over the fork of a high gum tree near the Ein Bunpin Lagoon in a style which Dr. Hobbs (who had never been in the bush) could not emulate. But, at this time, Dr. Hobbs had aroused considerable interest through his own interest in dugongoil as a substitute for codliver oil. In Tom Pétrie 's reminiscences, there is an account of the genesis of this idea in the doctor's mind: "In the early days of Brisbane, my father mentioned how he had seen this for himself to Dr. Hobbs, who was greatly interested and afterwards recommended the use of dugong oil as a remedy similar to codliver oil and this is how it came to be first used medicinally in Queensland." Dr. Hobbs came into frequent contact with the Petrie family, and Andrew Petrie, in his official capacity supervised the building of Dr. Hobbs' home, now the Deanery in Brisbane so much referred to in the previous article. This home later became the first Government House in Queensland. When Dr. Ballow died Dr. Hobbs became the resident surgeon at the Brisbane Hospital. It has been said that he was the first to use chloroform in Queensland. In 1861 he became a member of the Legislative Council and continued to occupy that position until 1883. At all times he was very interested in immigration and did all in his power to encourage it and to assist the immigrants. For a time he was a member of the old Immigration Board that gave way to the Commissionership of Parry Okeden. Other members of the-same board were W. L. G. Drew, C.M.G., who was chairman of the board; Sir Ralph Gore, who was Immigration Agent; J. McDonald, Commander Heath, and Dr. Prentice. Dr. Hobbs discharged his duties conscientiously and also took a prominent part in education reform.

At that time he owned land at Scarborough, near Redcliffe, which was farmed by a man named Snooks, on his behalf. On this property the doctor discovered certain spring water which contained medicinal qualities because of a high iron content and he thought that it held great remedial possibilities, but they were never fully exploited. He made some excavations in the course of his researches and it is said that the excavations are still visible.

He had his own road through a certain way, which, he claimed, cut off much of the distance. Incidentally he had some ideas about reaching Scarborough which must have been put into effect by the construction of Hornibrook Highway.

He attended to old Andrew Petrie on one of the latter's illnesses and a rather amusing story is told of his adventures with the redoubtable cocky kept by the Petrie family. This bird, which lived for 45 years in captivity, had picked up somewhere the-habit of calling out, "Hey!" and then ducking into hiding. It caught the doctor on many occasions. But, when Andrew Petrie fell ill, the cockatoo took up a stand beside the bed and would not shift but attempted to scare off any visitors. It seemed to have a particular spite on Dr. Hobbs and would make such a noise screeching and pecking at him that it became necessary in the end to shut it up whenever the doctor was coming.

When Adelaide-street, Brisbane, was built through on to Petrie Bight, it involved cutting away a large portion of the hill on which the.residence of the doctor 'stood, so that the house came within a few feet of a quite steep and high cliff above the street. Dr. Hobbs immediately took the City Council law over the matter, but that did not alter the fact that his house stands to this day poised on the brink of a cliff in the middle of the city.

He died in Brisbane in 1890, a we loved pioneer and an eminent medical man."


Willliam Hobbs is listed on the wall of the Redcliffe Wall of Fame:

A collection of portrait and information honouring the achievements of individuals who have influenced and shaped Redcliffe. The collection is in the Jetty Arcade at 139-141 Redcliffe Parade.

For a complete list of people who appear on the wall click on the following blog post:


bottom of page