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Redcliffe in the early 1880's

Updated: Oct 2, 2023

Sunday Mail Sun 9 Mar 1930 Page 21.


Many Memories of the First Settlers By U. E. Parry-Okeden, M.C.

Way back in the early '80's Redcliffe, today, the growing centre of the Humpybong Peninsula, which is all included and spoken of as Redcliffe, was a very scattered and sparsely populated place, much more unbeatable than it is today. The S.S. Garnet (Captain Bengston) ran from Brisbane three times a week to Woody Point, and on a calm day would come round to Redcliffe, but the main port of call was Woody.

I can only recall one instance when the little Garnet had to return to Brisbane without landing passengers and freight owing to rough weather. The jetty at Woody Point was then half its present length, and the old Redcliffe jetty, about out to where the present pavilion is. Mr. Jamieson, who kept the Belvedere boarding house (now the Belvedere Hotel), and Charles Cutts had sailing boats at Woody Point, and would often run passengers across to Sandgate. The only other way of getting down was by buggy from North Pine. Jimmy Calver ran a coach and Michael O'Shea a waggonette to railhead, but in wet weather the road at the Saltwater Creek was very bad. There was only one house (Mr. Wm. Cribb's orchard) from the Gympie road turn-off, near where the Marsden Boys' Home is now, to the Saltwater Creek bridge (Hayes' Inlet). The next place was R. Wright's, near the turn-off to Deception Bay, and then bush on to Barren's Corner, where the Salisburys and R. Barron had properties. The latter was Redcliffe's first butcher.


Turning off at Barron's Corner, and going via Clontarf to Woody Point, were many old families, whose children and grandchildren are still living about Redcliffe. Near where, the present cemetery is were the Haskins, Piketts, McMains, Longs, Deans, McKillops, Snooks, Copsons, Camerons, Cutts, Jenkins, and E. B. Southerden. The old State school, back in the bush, was close handy, as was the first church (Congregational), known as Tubbs' Church,

part of which is now built in with the existing Congregational Church on the Brisbane road at Redcliffe. Mr. Splain was the first school teacher.

Further along were the Stevensons, Silcocks, Dr. Ward, Adams, Mrs. Bell (mother of Mrs. Minto), Jacob Pearon, an old Gympie miner, whose two-storied house, with a little cottage built on top of the second storey, still stands, and A. W. Ham. Many of these old homes have long since gone. At Woody Point Mr. Nightingale kept the first store and post office on the peninsula. Mrs. Edds was at Cambridge House, and her niece, Mrs. Warhrick, still lives there. Mr. Pass kept the Great Western Hotel, on top of the cliff. After the fire it was rechristened the Palace. Mr. Duffield, who died recently, also kept a store there about that time.

The old Church of England still stands on the hill, and Wenaba, built by Mr. Nightingale, and afterwards the home of Mrs. Bell, a fine house on the heights near the Palace Hotel, was standing until a few years ago. Scotts Point, called after Mr. Robert Scott (afterwards Sir Robert Scott), Commonwealth Deputy Postmaster-General, who had a shack there, had only two other cottages on it, owned by the Woodroffes and Chisholms.

On to Margate lived 'Gentleman' Jackson, a partner in Finney, Isles, and Co. and above him, on the hill near the quarries, lived Messrs. Monteith and Sheilds. Miss Brown, of Sydney, and her three neices, the Misses Thompsons were near Jacksons. Then came Captain Barker (now Dr. Brockway's place, Thrums), and next door the Petrie's house (now Dilkush), the residence of N. J. Hodsdon. Vallely's Hut, where Dr. Kerr Scott now lives, came next,and Mr. St. Andrew Ward, a Gympie mining man, lived at the back of where Covey's store stands.


The next house, Ferny Lawn, was the show-place of the Peninsula. It was built by kind old Mrs. Robertson, affectionately known as 'Lady' Robertson, who had a most wonderful garden, and whose carriage and pair were as smartly turned out as anything in Brisbane. Next door lived Mr. Edmund McDonnell, partner in Plavelle's. His land extended right up to MacDonnell Road (called after him), and where the Parry-Okeden estate now is. Mrs. C. N. M'Kenny has occupied the old McDonnell house for very many years.

On Sutton's Beach was the 'Haunted house,' as the kiddies called it, owned by Lot Randle, which was later pulled down and rebuilt out west. Then came Orient House, burnt down last year, for long kept by H. I. Tubbs, who was the local doctor, and mostly everything else in those days. His brother, Fred, was a great fisherman, and gave many a youngster a happy day out in his boat. Rev. J. Sutton, a retired Church of England minister, lived at Hurley House,

a great social centre then; and behind Hurley House was Ellerslie, the old home of the Hayes family. It was known as Nardoo in later years, and destroyed by fire last year. Near here the old Church of England still stands. Further along the seafront lived Mr. J. H. Henzell, at Seabrae, now a well known boarding-house, and back of Seabrae, on the Brisbane-road was Geo. Jenkins, the blacksmith, and George Corscadden, who came from Cornwall direct to Redcliffe, 46 years ago, still lives in John street. Along the front from Seabrae was the Redcliffe Hotel, a small building kept by Mr. Deasley, and on this site now stands the Ambassador's. Charles Cutts kept a store next door, where Bush's store is, and then came The Terraces, owned by another Henzell, and the Klinger's old home on the site of the Redcliffe picture show.


Back in Sutton-street was M. O'Shea's grocery, the slaughter-house, and Sheehan's hall, where all public meetings, dances, etc., were held.

Towards the jetty on the front was W. Grant's bakery (where P. Frost's building is), and near the jetty, where the cash and carry building stands, was M'Gregor's store and timber yard. Then came the police station, with Sergeant Perry in charge, and the post office, Mr Oxenham being postmaster. There was no shire council building then, Redcliffe being in the Caboolture Divisional Board area.

From the post office to Scarborough there were only four houses. Two, opposite each other, were occupied by Messrs. Earle Smith and J. Stack, in what is now Queen-street. Smith's house is now Miss Carson's Girls' Grammar School, and Stack's is now known as The Laurels. On Queen's beach a Mr. Garsden had a cottage, and close by was Mr. Davidson's place, next door to where the new C.V.A. huts are. From there on to Walsh's Bay View Hotel, Scarborough, was unoccupied; then, at the point, was Dr. Hobbs' old place, Reef Point House, once the only house at Scarborough.


At Deception Bay were the A. B Websters, Dr. Bancroft (who afterwards erected a meatworks on his place), the Sparkes' and Duggans, Between Scarborough and Deception Bay is the Kippering Swamp, where splendid duck was to be had. I recall shooting there with Mr. J. O'Neil Brennan, and often with, the late Pring Roberts, and getting some good bags. The fishing was very fine at Reef Point; in fact everywhere in those days, but Billy Walsh, of the Bay View Hotel, who was an authority, always said that after the 1893 flood the fishing went off. Oysters were plentiful, the finest growing at Hayes' Inlet, which, was also a great place for mud crabs. There were between 20 and 30 blacks, camped mostly in Bett's paddock, half way between Woody Point and Clontarf, who would occasionally go 'walk about,' and do odd jobs for the residents, but, who mostly lived by fishing and oystering, the Government supplying them with boats. King Sandy was 'boss,' and there was a particularly fine specimen of manhood known as 'Big Fred,' who stood 6ft 4in ; nor must one forget Billy Tracker, Johnny Boat, Sam Bell, Old Maria, and Granny Catchpenny.

The Humpy Bong regatta, held at Woody Point, was a great event in those days. Crowds came down from Brisbane by steamers and sailing craft, and such well-known boats as the Bulletin, Carnechie, Boomerang, Harriet Ann, etc. competed, the skippers including Jack Whereat, Arthur Earle. Tom Welsby, Gilbert Forrest, and many others. Much excitement was caused after one carnival. When all the boats were close in, and Billy We, a fine swimmer, accidentally fell overboard, from an 18 footer anchored about 40 yards from the jetty. As he did not come up in a minute or so his mates became anxious, and after another minute all hands were overboard searching for him.

Meanwhile Billy had dived under his boat and come up underneath the jetty,well hidden by the piles. After about 10 minutes, when the excitement was at its highest, and dinghies from everywhere had joined in the search, he slipped down and dived back under his own boat, coming up on the side where he fell in. 'Cripes!' he said, 'the weeds are bad down there! They hooked me up. How long have I been down?' Tableau!


The cyclone of 1893 was the worst ever experienced at Redcliffe. It came across the bay and struck Scotts Point, travelling towards Clontarf. Mrs. Bell's house, between Woody Point and Clontarf was smashed to atoms, Mrs. Bell being rescued from under the piano. A horse was killed by flying iron, and a light-hooded buggy blown up into the fork of a big fig tree. Elliott's place, further on towards Clontarf , where a family of nine were having breakfast at the time— was lifted over a side fence, turned completely, round, and deposited between two Moreton Bay ash trees, and not even the kiddies' porridge plates broken! Other houses were unroofed, and a tidal wave swept across the road and washed fences away. It then continued across Hayes's Inlet, and finished up at Zillmere, cutting a track a chain wide through the bush. The old racecourse was adjoining Duffield road, where the Blackwood Estate is now, back of the Redcliffe school. Some great meetings were held on this track. Mrs. Tom Haskins (now 'Granny' Haskins) used to ride and win races on her famous white pony. The course was then shifted to O'Shea's paddock at Barron's Corner, but only two meetings were held there, when racing petered out in these parts. The country towards Saltwater Creek - arid from there, to the Pine is now covered with second- growth timber.

In those days it was much more open, and many a good 'go' we boys had after horses, amongst them being mobs of 'cleanskins.' Cattle ran 'bush,'and did well , rumours of 'duffing' occasionally floated about Redcliffe, and I remember one selector, who had all his country fenced, and bred a good class of stock, who bought, from a neighbour, half a beef carcase and salted it down in the cask. A few days later he missed one of his good bullocks!

The oldest resident at Redcliffe is Mrs. Tom Haskins, widely, known as 'Granny' Haskins, who has lived there 71 years. Her husband Tom, son Tom, grandson Tom, and great-grandson Tom, are all there, and going strong, which speaks well for the climate of good old Redcliffe, which has now come into its own.

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