North Stradbroke Island
North Stradbroke is the most popular tourist destination off the Queensland Coast yet it remains untouched due the diligence of the National Parks and the traditional owners of the Island – the Quandamooka people. North Stradbroke Island (Straddie) has European history dating back to 1770 when Captain Cook recorded the sighting of a rocky headland (which he named Point Lookout) in his log book. Dunwich, Amity Point and Point Lookout all have historical significance. Queensland Day Tours operates tours to North Stradbroke Island 6 times per week.
Dunwich was home to a large Aboriginal population. It was also the site of many and varied European Settlements for 120 years. The Europeans used Dunwich as a convict outstation, a Catholic Mission, then a Quarantine Station and, finally, a Benevolent Institution. Places to see include the convict causeway, privy pit, draughts boards, public hall, dormitory building, St Mark’s Church, museum, Benevolent Institution cottages, Dunwich cemetery, Polka Point Midden, the historical water pump and the fresh water Myora Springs, the site of a one day battle between the Aborigines and Soldiers.
Amity Point was also home to a large Aboriginal population. In 1825, a pilot station was established at Amity Point. It was the first European settlement on the island. Serious erosion problems caused by the Rainbow Channel have claimed much of Amity’s early history. Places of interest include Cabarita, the Pilot Station and South Passage Bar, Amity Racecourse and the Amity School.
Amity Point Pilot Station
In 1825, a convict outstation was settled at Amity Point. It was established both as a pilot station for ships using the South Passage Bar and as a depot to discharge cargo for Brisbane. The Pilot Station, the first of Moreton Bay penal settlement’s outstation on the island, continued to operate at Amity Point until the wreck of the Sovereign in 1848 when it was relocated to Moreton Island. Shipping then used the northern entrance to the bay via Cape Moreton.
As a sand bar across the mouth of the Brisbane River prevented large ships from entering it, cargo had to be double handled. It was off loaded at Amity Point into smaller vessels for transport to Brisbane. Amity Point was the first site of European settlement on North Stradbroke Island. Prey to erosion, most of its visual history has disappeared.
The ocean beach south of Point Lookout has a long Aboriginal history and was the site of many middens some of which were lost due to early sand mining methods during the 1940’s and 50’s, and 4wding on the beaches. Point Lookout is the first place in Queensland to be named by Europeans. Places of interest include North’s cattle dip, the Cylinder Beach hut, the Point Lookout lighthouse, Cook’s seat, the Prosperity wreck and Midden.
A Benevolent Institution was briefly established at Dunwich in 1864 in the existing quarantine station. Shortly afterwards a quarantine emergency forced shared facilities. In 1866 the Legislative Assembly recommended that a Benevolent Institution serving a whole colony of Queensland be established at Dunwich, and alterations were made to the buildings of the quarantine station. The Institution was opened officially in 1867. The closing of this Institution ended approximately 120 years of government institutions operating at Dunwich.
The island institution removed a social nuisance out of sight and therefore out of mind. The institution was declared to be a home for the old and infirm. In fact from the beginning it also housed younger people who were badly disabled, inebriates and, for a short time, lepers. The inmates were regarded as undeserving and any expenditure on the institution was given begrudgingly. In 1901 inmates numbered 1016 and conditions were poor and overcrowded.
Bummeira is called Brown Lake because of the colour of its water. The clear ‘tea’ colour comes from the surrounding trees and reeds and from the layer of organic matter, which forms the bed of the lake. Brown Lake is also special because it is a perched lake.
There are several suggestions to explain why the perched Brown Lake has formed on Stradbroke Island: firstly, a depression could have been sealed by an accumulation of organic matter through which water was unable to escape; secondly, the sand rock bed that existed below the layers of sand and organic matter could have formed a layer that contain the water in the lake. The natural bushland surrounding the lake is home to many delicate wildflowers, including small ground orchids.
Matthew Flinders, a passenger on a ship wrecked on Middle Reef in 1803, decided with some of the ship’s crew to row back to Sydney in a small cutter for help. Passing Stradbroke Island he sent some men ashore to fill the water barrels. They landed on Cylinder beach where some friendly Aborigines pointed to a spring in the corner of the headland and beach.
Cylinder Beach was first known as Hope Well, which confirms the location of the spring where Flinders’ men filled their water cask. The Aborigines associated the spring with the 1803 visit of the cutter Hope. The area was renamed Cylinder Beach in the 1930s when a shed was built near the spring to store the acetylene cylinders used to operate the newly constructed lighthouse. Its cement base, with indentations to hold the cylinders, is still there.
Frenchman’s Beach/Deadman’s Beach
Frenchman’s Beach is a secluded spot, nestled between the North Gorge and Cylinder Beach next to Deadman’s Beach. This beach is a great place to explore the rockpools, where you can see small fish, anemones, shells and crabs. There are no lifesaving patrols on this beach. These beaches are located south-east of Point Lookout, between the North Gorge and Cylinders Beach.
It is said that a 133 ton ship was wrecked during the night in poor weather in 1902 half a mile south-east of Point Lookout. The Prosperity was travelling from Sydney. She was carrying a cargo of sugar machinery. Pieces of rusted machinery can still be seen wedged in the crevices of South Rock. The captain and the four members of the crew managed to reach the shore and were cared for by Billy North who had a stockman’s hut at South Gorge – Point Lookout. Billy, who supplied meat to the Benevolent Institution, was able to notify the authorities of the wreck and because of his well stocked hut, was able to look after the survivors until help arrived. Unfortunately the cook and the mate were drowned. Some 50 years later in 1956 a skeleton and a leather boot were partially uncovered on Deadman’s beach. They were believed to be the remains of either the cook or the mate who perished as a result of the wreck.
The point where North and South Stradbroke Island once were connected. It is located at the southern point of North Stradbroke Island. In 1894, when North and South Stradbroke Island were still joined by an extremely narrow isthmus of dunes, the 1651 ton barque, Cambus Wallace, was wrecked on the ocean side of this strip of sand. The Braque had sailed from Glasgow with a load of cargo for Brisbane. When almost within sight of her destination, rain and gale force southerly winds drove her off course and into the Pacific breakers pounding Stradbroke’s ocean beach. To reach the safety of the beach, the crew had to swim through two hundred yards of highly dangerous seas. It is believed that salvage work and in particular the detonation of the Cambus Wallace’s cargo of explosives on the beach, caused gaping wounds in the dunes and made it easy for the sea to break through – thus making North and South Stradbroke Islands.
Whale Rock is a place to enjoy the raw beauty of nature. It is located on the North Gorge walk situated at the north eastern tip of Point Lookout.
Legend says that many years ago an aboriginal woman demented and senile, was abandoned by her people to a small rocky island at Point Lookout because she was very hard to control. When the people returned to the headland, they could not find the woman but her wailing cry could be heard as she called to her people. The headland where she was abandoned was then called Whale Rock by the Aboriginal people who could hear her wailing cries in the wind.
At the rocky point was a hole in the rocks where the water had gradually forced its way through the rock creating a water spout on high tide. As time went by, the point has become known as the “The Blowhole” as it resembled a whale breathing and with the arrival of tourists, the name changed to Whale Rock. The visitors not knowing the Aboriginal story thought that the rock must have been named after the whales which pass close by the headland from June to November.