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HUMPYBONG 1870-1883 (By D. H. Mitchell.)

Updated: Jan 17



The Daily Mail Saturday 15 May 1926 Page 16 :

(Original Newspaper article on Trove at the following LINK)

HUMPYBONG FROM 1870 TO 1883

(First Article - By D.H. Mitchell , Maroochydore)


"The authors father selected land on the peninsula in 1870 with a view to growing sugar-cane, as the erection of a mill there was promised."


"We left Brisbane about the middle of May 1870 in a small fore aft schooner named 'Flying Fox' and anchored of the shore in Bramble Bay, while our skipper went ashore to get directions from an old shell-back named Geo Wolfe, as to the navigation of Hayes Inlet."

"The arrangements are to land us and our goods at Tubb's wharf, being the nearest landing place to our original destination from the Bay. The only sign of habitation that we could see was Mr G. Wolfe's and a cane plantation on Tungulla Point, which was on the right hand when entering Hayes Inlet. A small house stood on the edge of the cliff."

"In 1870 there were no permanent residents on the Bayfront in the whole of Humpybong Peninsula, except Mr. Geo.Wolfe, who had a 40 acre homestead, fronting Bramble Bay, He also hod a cutter named 'Eliza', in which he traded to Brisbane, when inducement offered. In those days there were only 13 or14 resident selectors, and a fisherman, Fred Foster, who camped at Reef Point occasionally, and on Bribie Island. Prior to 1870, the whole of the coastline from Tungulla Point to the Kipper-ring marshes, on Deception Bay, had been selected, but so far, with the exception of the plantation before, mentioned, none of it had been cultivated. The patch of cane at the mouth of Hayes Inlet was evidence that it would grow to perfection, and this fact gave an impetus to others go in for cane growing."

"Adjoining Messrs. Tubb's property on the east, Mr. J. H, Dodds had two fine patches of cane planted, which when matured looked like a crop, which would give a fair return to the grower.

Mr. Dodds purchased the machinery for a small steam mill, and had it erected in time to crush this crop, and also crushed his neighbours, taking one third of the manufactured sugar to pay expenses. Mr Dodds - worked his mill three seasons and then sold mill and property to a school teacher called Noble. Both parties lost money over the venture. South from Mt Dodd's property near Hayes Inlet , a gentleman named Kislingbury grew a few acres of cane and imported a small mill from Scotland."

"The first crushing was not a success, the extraction must have been poor. The machinery was sold and dairying took the place of sugar growing. A neighbour Mr Board grew small areas of cane and sent it to Logan to be crushed but this procedure did not pay. This was the end of the sugar growing epoch of Humpybong. Mr Kislingbury bought a business in Gympie, while Mr Dodds accepted a government position. Dairying was carried on by some although it was antecedent to the cream separator. There was always good demand for butter in Brisbane and Sandgate."

"Early in the seventies there was a commodious house standing about halfway between, Redcliffe Point and what is now Scarborough which had been occupied by Captain D. Hamilton and his family. He selected Torbull Point and removed there. Another old slab house was standing on Scott's Point, which at one time had been the residence of the Scott family, but was much dilapidated at this time. Mr. Scott, snr. was a monumental mason in the Valley."

"There was a house overlooking Sutton's beach, which had been occupied by the Rev, T. Sutton, but. was nearly demolished by white ants. It was renovated some years later."

"There was the foundation of a house, near what is how Scarborough, said to belong to a man named Borrie, who had stockyards and a paddock at the back. I understand this property was abandoned when gold was discovered at Gympie. The fisherman located at Reef Point, and sometimes at Bribie was a veteran at the job, and know his business thoroughly. He set his nets across the openings in the reef. Dugong was fairly plentiful, and there was a ready sale for the oil, and it was considered by some better than cod liver oil for pulmonary troubles. The flesh of the dugong was not then used as food except by the blacks. Later, dugong bacon became known a luxury, but with advancement of steam communication to most of the rivers emptying into Moreton Bay, the dugong began, to be scared off or killed out, and dugong fishing was given up, but turtle fishing was continued, the turtle mostly sent south alive.

During this time many sharks were taken In these large nets, the fisherman would rather not have been troubled with them on account of the havoc they made of the net. They gave but little recompense for this trouble. The liver fielded a fair amount of oil, which was sold at a low price, but was not always saleable. Fred Foster had Abram as his aboriginal mate. The latter was very skilful with the harpoon. On a fine evening Fred Foster could be soon pulling the boat with muffled oars out and in through the reef, Abram standing In the bow of the boat with a harpoon posed ready to strike. If a dugong came up to blow, Abram's aim was unerring and roast dugong would be on the menu at Abram's camp that night. Fred Forster, after fishing many years, was nearly drowned. His boat was capsized in Deception Bay in bad weather. Abram swam with him to land, Abram's gin, Maria, landing with them. Fred, on recovering, left for North Queensland, where he said turtle and dugong were more plentiful than Moreton Bay."

"In the seventies, Humpybong was largely infested with black snakes of a vary venomous type, mostly red bellied and generally vicious. An old pioneer's wife, Mrs. C. Cutts, was bitten twice on the leg. Remedies were promptly applied, and she recovered, but her nervous system was so affected that it was many years before she quite recovered from the shock. One of my relatives was returning from the coast one morning, and met a blackfellow named Johnny Boat, and on taking a short cut through a paddock in his company, they got on a bridle track, the black being slightly ahead. Johnny raised his hand, and stopped abruptly; across the track was a large black snake, asleep. Johnny quietly took a step or two closer, and placed the head of his tomahawk on his snake's head. He then stooped down and placed his two forefingers under the snake's mouth, and his thumb above, then let go the tomahawk and caught the snake about three parts along its length, then lifted it level with his mouth, and turned it slightly on its side, and immediately caught it with his teeth and tore a hole in the snake's body. When the whole of the blood seemed to run out of its body. It at once became rigid. He then dropped it on the ground; it never moved. He then quietly cut a small sheet of bark and opened the snake and took out a large piece of white fat which be signified would be a delicious morsel, as well as a medicine. I have never heard of a similar dealing with a snake by an Aboriginal. A white man would have dropped the tomahawk on the snake's neck, as I have done more than once in my 60 years residence in Australia, but the reason for the blacks treatment of the snake seem to have been to keep the much prized fat clear of blood, as it may have spoiled its delectable flavour."


Note - George John Wolfe first purchased portion 136 of the Humpybong Agricultural Reserve on 5th June 1866 and paid 27 pounds for the 27 acres.

He then purchased portion135 on the 6th December 1866 and payed 18 pounds for the 18 acres.


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The Daily Mail Saturday 22 May 1926 Page 17

(Original Newspaper article on Trove at the following LINK)

"HUMPYBONG (By D. H. Mitchell.)

"In this article the writer concludes his reminiscences of the peninsula as he knew it between the years, 1870-1883.

AGNSW collection Tommy McRae Spearing the kangaroo circa 1880s-circa 1890s


"The aborigines in those days occasionally went in for a kangaroo drive or battue. Starting in the early afternoon about 30 of them, equipped with spears, nullas, tomahawks, etc., when the kangaroos were out in the open feeding, clear of the swamps, noiselessly crept between them and the swamps. Then, with numbers in the rear, the drive started in the direction of Reef Point. The kangaroos were hurried along until they were hemmed in by the bay on both sides. They were driven well out on to the reef and into deep water. Getting exhausted, they would then make for the shore. The blacks would conceal themselves behind rocks, trees, etc, and the real fight would begin. The natives showed a dexterity in handling their weapons, equal to the white man with his 'shooting irons', a waddy thrown, never missing its victim. In an afternoon's hunt,15 or 16 kangaroos would be killed. A feast would immediately start then a rest and sleep, and near sundown, gathering up the fragments that remained, a start would be made for camp."

"Reef Point was a noted signalling station for the blacks, Bribie Island, and Torbull Point being always visible. I have seen the blacks answering a smoke, signal at Bribie. They seemed to understand if their presence was required, at Brlbie, or those at Bribie were required at Humpy Bong. The white man looking would discern nothing except smoke rising from both places, but the blacks understood the import of the signal, and they never failed to get on the tramp, if necessary. Those signals could be passed along the east coast with nearly as much expedition as the white man's telegram, and perhaps with less expense."

"During a good mullet season, the blacks used to fare well. When the fish came anywhere near the beach one black was perched up issuing commands to his sable brothers as to their preparedness, etc., for a dash to the fish. They were very agile in circling a school of mullet with their half circular nets or tow-rows. When they caught more than efficient for themselves, some of them hawked the fish around amongst the white people, so as to secure a supply of flour, tobacco, etc. When a prolific bunya season came round, the blacks, made themselves scarce on the coast, and returned looking sleek and well. Some seasons were lean years then of course they hunted in other fields; but a black need not long go hungry, as there was always game of some sort or other. I remember one day hearing a tapping near the shore at Deception Bay. On going over to investigate I found a black, whom I know well, up a dry mangrove cutting out large white grubs. He was wearing a moleskin coat or jacket only, with large pockets, which he had nearly full of grubs, but in cutting them out some were injured. These he promptly put out of their pain by eating them. About half of the wounded ones he dropped down to his gin, who had a small fire going, in which she was roasting and eating her husband's labour. The supply of grubs seemed almost inexhaustible. They stated they were excellent eating, and when baked in the ashes had the flavour of a fowl's egg; but although they offered me some, I declined with thanks."

"Reef Point and adjacent land becoming the property of the late Dr. Hobbs, the hunting grounds of the blacks became curtailed. From time to time blacks were fenced in, and game was eradicated, so that the native food began to get less, and their principal benefactor, the late J.H. Hobbs, giving up sugar growing, their happy hunting days in Humpy bong seemed to be over, so they had to go further afield. Bribie Island, which they looked upon as their very own; seemed to be all that was left; but the white man's intrusion began to take its toll, and the blackfellow went into oblivion."

"I may mention one notable character named Johnny Campbell, who never molested, the coastal belt, but committed outrages further inland, and was hunted by the late Sergeant Campbell with a black tracker on the mountains at the head of the Stanley and Mary Rivers. Sergeant Campbell was at that time in charge of the police paddock situated between Hayes's Inlet and the Pine River, and was a valuable officer, having had a life of long service in Government employment. He had been at the Crimean war, and on coming to Australia, joined the water police and was some time on the reformatory hulk stationed at the mouth of the Brisbane River. Then he joined the land police. He was an officer who, if there was any hope of making peace between disputants, seemed to take an especial delight In trying to restore peace and goodwill amongst neighbours, and he generally met with success, and was held in very high esteem by those who knew him.

The blacks method of disposing, of their dead may be described. I have noticed their remains, bound up in tea-tree bark and tied a up a tree quite close to Deception Bay, but as the blacks numbers decreased and they became more civilised, this practice, must have been discontinued. In the Maroochy district the blacks deposited their dead in caves or cavities under rocks. I know of two or three of such places. In the early seventies there was neither post-office nor mail service to Humpybong, and the settlers got scanty news of the outside world, particularly of the war raging between France, and Prussia. The weekly papers were sometimes available at the Pine River. Letters were left there by Cobb and Company's coaches, and whoever expected letters went up for them, and brought down their neighbours correspondence; but It was a very unsatisfactory service, as letters were likely to be lost. Dr. Hobbs started a plantation of mulberry trees, with the view of going in for agriculture. The Queensland Government had offered a bonus of a large amount to any one who would I produce, a certain quantity of silk, of good quality. Dr. Hobbs failed. In connection with this venture, it became imperative that, there should be a reliable postal service with the city. A request was sent to the postal authorities for a weekly mail, and they let a contract to James Mitchell to carry the mail from the Pine River once a week and keep the receiving office.

This service was later increased to twice a week, and continued for eight years, until the great land boom set in, and many of the Inhabitants began to gravitate towards the coast. The mail was then carried via Sandgate by the late Charles Cutts. who established a ferry service twice a day, the post office being shifted to Woody Point. Mr. Cutts carried the mail till a steamer was put on.




I may say my brother and I landed the first sawn timber tor a house to be erected on the main front beach. In contemplating what Humpybong was like in the seventies and early eighties, one must contrast what it is now with its 2000 odd inhabitants, and its municipal government, to the time when there were only 14 or 15 families resident on the whole peninsula, and one on the coast."


1861 Redcliffe Agricultural Reserve:



The author David Henry Fenwick Mitchell was born on 7th July 1856 in Blairgowrie, Perthshire. Son of James Mitchell and Jessie Fenwick.


The family emigrated to Australia on the "City of Brisbane" departing 21st February 1862 from Gravesend, Scotland. Arriving in Moreton Bay on 26th June 1862.

He married Elizabeth Lawrie in 1885 in Queensland.

David passed away on 29th March 1939 in Brisbane, Queensland.



His father James Mitchell was born in Perth Scotland on 8th August 1820.

He married Jessie Fenwick on 13th November 1850 in Perth, Scotland.

The family emigrated to Australia on the "City of Brisbane" departing 21st February 1862 from Gravesend, Scotland. Arriving in Moreton Bay on 26th June 1862 with their 2 sons David Henry Fenwick Mitchell (1856-1939) and Marshall Dunleavy Mitchell (1858–1939).

James Mitchell purchased portions 210, 211, 216 and 217 in the Humpybong Agricultural Reserve in 1871, and it went on to become O'Connell Town and Kippa Ring East.

James passed away on 25th March 1890 in Nambour


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