Redcliffe Bathing Boxes

Girls in beach pyjamas at bathing boxes on Suttons Beach.

It might surprise some people to know that in times past bathing boxes were erected on Redcliffe’s beaches.  The idea of bathing boxes originated in the late 1800s when mixed bathing on popular beaches became fashionable. Victorian society dictated a modest approach to public bathing where areas of public beaches were set aside, one for women and children and the other for men.

In 1873 the residents of Sandgate passed a resolution at a public meeting to provide separate bathing places at Sandgate for each sex.  It was about this time that the excursion boats were just beginning to venture to the Redcliffe Peninsula with people eager to enjoy a beach outing and by 1888, separate bathing areas had been allocated at Redcliffe for men and women.

While the local hotels and boarding houses had erected bathing sheds for their visitors, and many private bathing sheds had been erected on most of the beaches, by 1912 there were still no public bathing houses on the peninsula.  A letter to the Brisbane Courier from a visitor about that time suggested that council should erect a bathing booth which would serve as both a changing room and kiosk.  A later letter in 1918 shows that some attempt has been made by council advising that a small building resembling a stable had been erected for the ladies.

Repeated attempts by local progress associations to lobby for improved conveniences in the 1920s resulted in the Mayor himself, James Johnston, investigating the situation and discovering that there were 251 sheds along the beach from Clontarf to Scarborough, many of which were in poor repair.

It wasn’t until Christmas 1933 that the Courier Mail reported that: “Sutton’s Beach has undergone a wonderful change. Two large concrete bathing boxes have been erected. The whole of the beach has been levelled and turfed.”

However private bathing sheds were still in use and remained so for many years with about 25 cluttering up the beach, according to the then Town Clerk, J C Pearson, in December 1950. Bathing boxes had finally disappeared by the 1960s.

Pat Gee for History Redcliffe

Redcliffe Jetty

The Redcliffe Jetty has been considered the heart of the Peninsula ever since ships carrying holiday makers started arriving in the late 1800s.

In those days, Brisbane residents who wanted to visit the popular seaside resort either had to embark on a four hour coach ride or a two or three hour journey by sea.

In 1881 Rev John Sutton and other landowners requested that a Jetty be built at Redcliffe Point. Ratepayers signed petitions which were presented to the Caboolture Divisional Board. At the time residents had to travel to the Woody Point Jetty to catch vessels to Brisbane.

By 1885 the Jetty Construction Committee reported that the Redcliffe Jetty was finally completed. In 1889 the Jetty was extended to a length of 700 feet.

In 1917 plans were drawn up for the construction of a sea wall, but this was not completed until 1919.

In the same year, it was considered that it would be more economical to build a new Jetty than repair the deteriorating old one. By 1921 the Jetty was declared unsafe and closed to the public.

In 1922 the new Redcliffe Jetty was completed. At the time the two jetties sat side-by-side.

Some of the ships that brought passengers to Redcliffe were the ‘Koopa’, the ‘Doomba’, the ‘Beaver’ and the ‘Marguerite’.

In 1924 the Council imposed a toll of one penny per person going onto the Jetty. Three months later it was abolished, only to have it reinstated nine months later

In 1928 electricity was switched on in Redcliffe and by 1930 six lights were installed on the Jetty.

In 1937 the Jetty pavilion was replaced with a brick structure, then in 1938 an entertainment parlour opened in the halfway house on the Jetty. By 1961 the jetty was deteriorating and needed repair. In 1976 the Jetty was severely battered by Cyclone David, then in 1983 the Jetty decking was repaired.

By 1995 plans went on display for the construction of a third Jetty, then by 1999 the third Redcliffe Jetty was finally opened.

Today the current Jetty features heritage lights, seats and drinking fountains in recognition of the two previous structures. Its concrete deck also has a railway track motif along its length. Railway tracks were an important feature of the first two jetties and were used to move cargo between the head of the jetty and Redcliffe’s main street.

Redcliffe Hotel

On December 24 1880 Patrick O’Leary of Fortitude Valley in Brisbane, purchased some land in Redcliffe Parade. During the next month, he began the erection of a hotel and a store. By 1881 the Redcliffe Hotel officially opened and is the present modernised Ambassador Hotel.

The Hotel was well patronised as hordes of people would arrive every weekend from Brisbane by steamer to enjoy the idyllic and refreshing lifestyle by the sea.

The Redcliffe Hotel changed hands several times, but by 1892 the new landlord was Mr Granville who had totally renovated the establishment.

In 1908 the Hotel changed hands again and the proprietor was Mrs Tappolet.

Laura MacDonald took over as licensee in May 1926 and commenced more alterations, which included re-modelling and re-furnishing the hotel to make it one of the most up to date seaside hotels in the whole of Queensland.

Within three years the hotel patronage increased, so a cabaret was demolished and two shops, a Chemist and a Dentist built in its place. A large dance hall with all amenities was built at the rear. Above the dance hall and the two shops, additional accommodation was built to cater for the increase in guests and a car-park was added at the rear.

Do you remember any other segments of history about this particular establishment? If so, we’d like to know more too.

Redcliffe Hotel at the bend of Redcliffe Parade in 1912

The Ambassador Hotel in 2006 (Prev. Redcliffe Hotel)

Redcliffe Botanical Gardens Cattleyards & Ramp

Historical Timeline

  • 1919 to 1949 – The area was used as a sanitary reserve
  • 1955 – A ‘Special Lease’ was granted for grazing purposes
  • 1957 – The Lease was forfeited
  • 1958 – A report recommended that ¼ of the area be set aside for a park and remainder subdivided into residential allotments
  • 1973 – An idea was put forward to set aside an area for adult educational purposes
  • 1976 – The Redcliffe Education Centre was built
  • 1986 – The Education Centre sought a grant of land for a nature trail. This was the forerunner of the botanic gardens
  • 1984 to1988 – The Wallum Project was extended into the cattle grazing area
  • 1995 to 1996 – The Redcliffe City Council purchased the land for a park and was used for recreation. They employed a groundsman
  • 2000 – The Redcliffe Botanical Gardens were officially opened

The restored Cattleyards and Ramp are the only replica of such a structure in Redcliffe.

Early Redcliffe residents associated with the butchering trade, speak of agisting cattle here prior to slaughter and sale to the public.

A plaque at the site indicates the Cattleyards were last used in 1969.

Another plaque near the newly completed reconstructed cattleyards was unveiled on 24 May, 2008 by Cr James Houghton, Paul Woodcock – Redcliffe Historical Society, Noel Powell – Redcliffe City Rotary, Jacquie Sandy – Friends of the Gardens and David Cullen, Manager – Works Moreton Bay Regional Council.

See the News item in the Redcliffe & Bayside Herald, June 4, 2008 below.

The Moreton Bay Hotel

The Moreton Bay Hotel was situated at 75 Redcliffe Parade, a few hundred metres from the Jetty. The land was originally purchased by Anna Underhill in 1897. Five years later in 1902, Ebenezar Underhill built the Hotel, a two-storey wooden building in the front with a single-storey at the rear, and he held the licence until 1907.

Various owners and licensees controlled the hotel until 1935, when the Carlton and United Brewery acquired the hotel.

In the 1950s the old building was demolished with part of it being retained and moved to the Redcliffe Showgrounds, where the Redcliffe Leagues Club used this section as club rooms.

A new Moreton Bay Hotel was built in 1959, this time in brick. It was later modernised then over the years, modernised again. It is now called The Bayview Hotel on Moreton.

The Moreton Bay Hotel during the 1960s

In 1967 when the Leagues Club moved premises, the old section of the Hotel was then bought by the Redcliffe Music and Arts Society, which was turned into their permanent home – “The Mousetrap Theatre”.

The Bayview on Moreton Hotel in 2005

Hornibrook Highway Bridge

Manuel Hornibrook’s words captured the excitement on Friday 4 October 1935 when the longest bridge in Australia spanned the 8,806 feet (2,686 metres) between Sandgate and Clontarf.

He said “The hour is come” as he drove over his creation that enabled Redcliffe, severely handicapped by lack of transport since the abandonment of the first white settlement in 1825, to be rediscovered for its natural beauty and as Brisbane’s most pleasant seaside suburb.

The Brisbane Courier Mail called it the longest viaduct in Australia. But locals proudly called it a bridge and a highway, and to them it was a miracle.

In the past Redcliffe had been isolated from Greater Brisbane, with the only access through a long, tiresome around-about trip by horse, motor car, bus or by steamer. It really took too much time.

The elaborate bridge pylons which were purely decorative showed that Hornibrook was not a profiteer, opportunist or mean. The use of timber rather than concrete for the superstructure was an economy measure, because concrete would have been more expensive, although it would have lasted much better in the salt air and a concrete Hornibrook Highway would still be open today.

The two concrete portals for the bridge gave it dignity and were a source of pride to locals. The portals justified the title the Hornibrook Highway, and made the crossing more like a real bridge rather than the economy-sounding ‘viaduct’ which was the technical engineering term for the structure.

Effective from 6 pm on 4th October 1935 Toll Charges were introduced. It cost 1/- (one shilling) for cars and utility trucks and if you carried more than 6 passengers an additional 3d for each person. Trucks up to 1 ton was also 1/-. Over 1 ton and up to 3 tons, it was 1/6. Over 3 tons, it was 2/6. Motor cycles cost 6d while Pedestrians and push bikes cost 3d. They were determined to make some money out of it.

With the opening of the bridge, the population grew rapidly and now it was much quicker to travel from Brisbane to Redcliffe by car. This meant that the steamship companies who were servicing the Peninsula began to lose business and the regular ‘day-trippers’ from Brisbane to Redcliffe slowly came to a close.

A boom followed the opening of the bridge, causing a surge in the population. This meant more traffic, and that meant a second bridge was needed. They hadn’t anticipated that the small seaside resort would turn into a city.

A few facts and figures

In 1931 Manuel Hornibrook persuaded the Queensland Government to pass legislation approving construction by M R Hornibrook Pty Ltd of a road toll bridge from Brighton to Clontarf. Hornibrook Highway Ltd was formed in March 1932 and within twelve months had raised thirty thousand pounds from investors who had confidence in the enterprise and in M R Hornibrook, whose first mentioned company had completed many years of successful construction work.

Premier Mr A E Moore turned the first sod of the project on 8 June 1932. Further fundraising for the project during the Great Depression proved difficult, but problems were overcome.

Hundreds of timbergetters were employed to obtain iron bark logs from Conondale and Mt Mee. A timber mill was bought and another was built in the Conondale district to help supply the 2½ million superfeet of timber needed for the job.

The bridge consists of 294 spans of which 290 were 30 feet (9.14m) long, two were 28 feet 6 inches (8.69m) and two were 24 feet 6 inches (7.47m).

Foundation piers (pylons) of the bridge consisted of 18 inch (45.7cm) and 15 inch (38.1cm) square reinforced concrete piles. Each pier consisted of three concrete piles surmounted by a reinforced concrete headstock to support the ironbark superstructure. This was constructed of six rows of 18 inch (45.7cm) and 16 inch (40.6cm) diameter dressed ironbark girders supported on similar corbels. 1752 girders were used, all 30 feet (9.14m) long, excepting twelve which were 28 feet 6 inches (8.69m) long.

Bridge decking consisted of ironbark and tallowwood planks 4.5 inches (11.4cm) and 5 inches (12.7cm) thick, 9 inches (22.86cm) wide and 26 feet (7.92m) long, totalling 11 696 pieces. Width of the bridge was 26 feet (7.92m) and it was covered with a bitumen surface averaging 2.5 inches (6.35cm) in thickness.

Low water clearance of the bridge over the Pine River channel was 21 feet (6.4m) and over the Hays Inlet channel it was 15 feet (4.57m) allowing small craft to navigate under it safely.

The Official Souvenir Book stated, “The bridge or viaduct from Sandgate to Clontarf spans by far a wider stretch of water than any (other) bridge in Australia and the quantity of first class hardwood timbers used in its construction is greater than (that of) any other bridge of its kind in the world, consisting in all of 2½ million superfeet of ironbark timber.”

The Governor of Queensland, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson, officially opened the Hornibrook Highway on 4 October 1935, at last giving Redcliffe people easy access to Brisbane by road.

The toll for cars was one shilling per vehicle, (1966=10 cents) with toll collectors issuing tickets for forty years.

The “Gayundah”

During the early 1880s Queensland had established its own Navy with a fleet of 10 ships, with the most well known being ‘Gayundah’.
It was built in Newcastle-on-Tyne, in England and was first launched on its journey to Australia on 13 May, 1884. After 10 months of sailing, the ‘Gayundah’ finally arrived in Brisbane and became the Navy’s flagship.
As it was a vessel with a shallow draft, the ‘Gayundah’ was to protect the coast line by operating in the many bays and estuaries along the coast.
The ‘Gayundah’ was 36 metres long, 7 metres across the beam, had a top speed of 10 knots and weighed 360 tons. She was heavily armed with weapons for a ship of her size. Although she was fully equipped to handle any circumstance, the ‘Gayundah’ never engaged in heated battle with the enemy.
In 1903 she became the first warship within Australia to use wireless telegraphy.
In later years, the ‘Gayundah’ became a tender sea ship and a mine sweeper. By 1919 her services were not required by the Navy and she was sold to civilians. She was stripped and converted into a gravel barge
After 40 years of transporting gravel, the ‘Gayundah’ was considered to be of no further service and was towed to the base of the Woody Point cliffs and left to act as a breakwater. Over the years the salt water has taken its toll and now the ‘Gayundah’ is a rusted shell.
There is a commemorative plaque erected at the top of the Woody Point Cliffs just above her resting place.
One may consider this is a sad end to a once proud Queensland naval ship. However we can be assured, that the ‘Gayundah’ still protects the Australian shoreline from erosion.
A News item about the ‘Gayundah’ was published in the Redcliffe & Bayside Herald on June 4, 2008. (see image on left)

Joy-Flights for just 10 shillings

Who can remember seeing the amphibian aircraft ‘Cutty Sark’ land at Suttons Beach? It was there for just one Winter during 1937.

Sir A. V. Roe and Mr S. E. Saunders formed a flying boat business called SARO based at Cowes, Isle of Wight, England in 1928. The A17 Cutty Sark was the new company’s first design, but only twelve Cutty Sarks were ever built. One was shipped to Australia in 1930 for Matthews Aviation Pty Ltd. It arrived in five large cases on the ‘SS Ballarat’and later assembled at the company’s workshops at Essendon Airport.

Initially it was used to fly between Melbourne, Launceston and Hobart on a bi-weekly basis. But by 1931 the Cutty Sark was only available for special flights from Williamstown.

In 1937 the Cutty Sark was bought by Keith Caldwell, a Sydney pilot with the intention of flying it to Cairns, to provide joy-flights during the winter months. On the way he stopped off at Suttons Beach, hoping to make some extra money. Caldwell offered people joy-flights taking off from Suttons Beach for 10/- ($1.00) a ride. That was a lot of money in those days.

Evidently there was little money to be made because shortly after on 15 October 1937, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd purchased the Cutty Sark from Caldwell for £750, ($1,500) to train air crew on the Brisbane River. Caldwell joined QEA and later became a Captain of an S23 Empire Flying Boat.

Unfortunately, the Cutty Sark came to a sad and untimely end on April 5 1938. It was being flown on a training exercise from Archerfield Airport to the Brisbane River at Pinkenba near Eagle Farm Airport. In command was Captain W. H. Crowther and flying the aircraft was First Officer L. J. Grey. It touched down on the water however its wheels were still extended causing it to nose dive vertically into the river,… fortunately no one was injured.

A salvage crew with a barge and crane was enlisted to lift it out of the water. However, they were unfamiliar with aircraft construction at the time and the hull was inadvertently crushed by the steel cable used to lift it.

Did you ever have a joy-flight in the Cutty Sark back in 1937?

We’d certainly love to hear about it.

By the way…

We have been very fortunate to receive a photo of a “Cutty Sark” Joy-Flight Ticket. This ticket was purchased by Eric Lonergan who kept it as a treasured souvenir until his recent death. His father was Fred Lonergan, who later retired to (live at) the top end of Oxley Avenue.

The photo shows the Pilot as Keith G Caldwell and the range of facilities offered by Ace Aerial Transport Services. Our grateful thanks go to Mrs Yeates, the daughter of Eric Lonergan.


The Dairyman of Redcliffe

One of the Peninsula’s most colourful characters was Edward (Ted) Walker, who in his later years claimed to be the oldest practising warm milk vendor in Australia. Born in 1906, the son of Samuel Walker, he grew up on his parent’s dairy farm in Oxley Avenue next door to the site where the Scarborough State School was built in 1925.

At 8 years of age, Ted would be up at 5 am each morning to commence his deliveries of warm milk on foot, carrying a billy can and measuring cup. He would work two hours in the morning before school and two hours after school. Later his father bought a horse and cart to speed the deliveries up.

In 1927 Ted purchased 104 acres of land on the corner of Klingner and Ashmole Road for 475 pounds ($950) where he ran a herd of 35 dairy cows and milked them all by hand. He delivered fresh milk in a 1927 Chevrolet truck to householders in Redcliffe and Scarborough for many years.

In 1954 at age 48, Ted married Violet aged 40, the daughter of a dairy-farmer from Lacey’s Creek. They enjoyed farm life and ran the dairy farm together. Ted refused to have any electricity on his property, so milking was still done by hand.

In 1960 he sold most of his property, but kept a small area which included the house and paddock. He kept five cows, a bull, a dog plus a collection of hens and cats. His was the last of about 30 dairy farms which had once existed on the Peninsula. Ted continued to deliver milk for over 65 years where many of his customers had been with him for over 50 years.

Even in retirement Ted and Violet would start their day at 4 am, feeding their animals and milking cows, then taking them to the nearby football ground to graze. Ted’s recipe for good health was an outdoor life with no smoking and two milk puddings a day.

Ted Walker died at the age of 80 in 1986. Violet eventually sold the farmhouse and moved to Ballycara Retirement Village. She later died in 1998.

Billy Goat Man

What do you remember about the Billy Goat Man from the 1930s and 1940s?

A gentleman by the name of Curtis, who lived on the corner of Dover Road and Chatham Street Margate, offered rides to children in a gig drawn by a goat on Suttons Beach. The rides would cost one shilling each (10 cents).

He also offered to take photographs for another shilling, and would then develop them on the spot while you waited – Usually taking about 15 minutes.

Did you ever have your photo taken in the Billy Goat Gig?

The Redcliffe Historical Society would like to know your recollections.