Southern Moreton Bay Islands
Russell, Lamb, Macleay and Karragara Islands Settlement to 2000
The timeline to 1950 was compiled by Redland Shire Council’s Local Historian from primary and secondary sources. The post-1950 section was compiled mainly from local newspapers unless otherwise indicated.
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Macleay Island - Convict Tim Shea was sent to Dunwich in the mid-1830s as part of a convict timber-cutting gang. In 1834, he escaped and lived on Macleay Island. The island was known informally as Tim Shea’s Island until it was renamed Macleay Island by government surveyor Thomas Dixon in 1840.
JD Lang proposed to the British Government that cotton be grown in Moreton Bay, especially on islands in Moreton Bay
Russell Island - Former convict John Clowes started a small oyster burning business on Russell Island. Lime burners were springing up all over the coastal areas as the demand for lime (used in cement) grew in the expanding colony. Clowes was one of the first lime burners to operate in the Redlands district. One of the main sources of oysters was the middens dotted all over the islands and many middens were destroyed during this time. As the lime burners ran out of middens and other deposits, they began collecting live oysters for their shells. This practice was banned in 1863 as the authorities recognised the value of the live oyster trade. From this time on, the live trade took over. In 1870, Clowes took up a 27-acre oyster lease on Russell Island.
Lamb Island – One of the earliest European settlers on the Bay Islands was Thomas Lucas, who was born near London in 1836 and came to Australia aboard The Queen of the South in 1865. He settled on Lamb Island at Corroboree Point and was a pioneer of the oyster farming industry in Moreton Bay. He married in 1886 at the age of 49, and died at age 58 in 1895. His grave is on the hill above the Lamb Island jetty, and is the only one on the island.
Timbergetters had begun logging the islands, especially Russell, Lamb and Karragarra. They were versatile. Many also collected oysters either to burn the shells for lime or as a food source.
Land on the Bay Islands was advertised for sale for cotton growing. However, the sale was cancelled because of the approaching separation of NSW and soon to be Queensland.
Karragarra Island - Former convict Thomas Lucas set up as an oyster getter on the island. He became a major landowner on Lamb Island in the late 1880s.
Lamb and Karragarra Islands - Lamb and Karragarra Islands attracted their first farmer when Queensland’s Premier, RGW Herbert, leased land to grow sugar.
Russell Island - Tinker Campbell became one of the earliest major European landowners on the island. He grew sugar for a year and possibly built the saltworks at Canaipa Point in 1865 before building new saltworks on Macleay Island. The Russell Island land may have been used for a rum distillery rather than saltworks or sugar refinery. In 1870, Campbell tried growing cotton.
Macleay Island - Tinker Campbell’s son Robert Perkins Campbell took up land on the island to grow sugar. At one stage the Campbell family owned the whole island.
Macleay Island - Tinker Campbell built a salt works on the island. He and his family lived there for many years, mainly by oystering, fishing and hunting dugongs. Over the years, they also tried sponge fishing, castor oil trees and angora goats.
Russell Island - The first sale of agricultural land on Russell Island attracted farmers to the area. Previously the island had been used for cotton and sugar growing.
Macleay Island - By this stage sugar was the main crop grown on the islands as well as mainland areas of the district. The 1871 census shows 15 people, thought to be South Sea Islanders, working on sugar plantations on Macleay Island. Kanakas also supposed to have built Campbell’s saltworks at Pininpinin and the wharf at Thompson’s Point.
Russell Island - One of the first major land sales took place on the Island in December. Most lots were 80 acres. There were few buyers.
Lamb Island - The first private subdivision took place on the island in October.
Russell Island - There were 30 kilns on Russell Island operated by Aborigines collecting coral for lime.
Russell Island - A ship loaded with sugar was wrecked near Russell Island and Mrs Katherine Victoria Willes began lighting a lamp on a high post near her house, Canaipa House, on the north east end of the island. She became known as the lady of the lamp for the next 38 years. The Willeses had lived on the island since the late 1860s.
Karragarra Island - The northern shore of the island was subdivided into 11 allotments four to 12 acres each and classed as town lots.
Bay Islands - In the 1890s the Acclimatisation Society introduced new plant species on the islands, including mango trees, some of which are still there.
Lamb Island - One of the Island’s earliest white settlers, ticket of leave convict Thomas Lucas, died. His grave is on the hill above the jetty. He lived on Corroboree Point from at least 1853 until he died.
Pineapples were introduced to the Bay Islands from Hawaii.
The oyster industry was at its peak and every available spot in Moreton Bay that would support an oyster was under lease. By this stage there were 849 oyster leases in Moreton Bay, covering 10,100 ha. Many oystermen still lived in rough camps on the Bay Islands, as they had been doing for the previous 40-50 years.
The Routledge brothers, grandsons of island oysterman Edward Routledge, began the first passenger boat service around the Bay Islands.
Russell Island - The Russell Island State School opened in a building relocated from Pine Ridge. It moved to its present location in 1926.
Russell Island - The Russell Island Methodist Church was opened in December.
Over the years, boat trips around Moreton Bay had become popular forms of entertainment. By the 1930s, special facilities were being provided and the Southern Moreton Bay Islands in particular capitalised on their fresh fruit and produce. Karragarra Island was a popular spot for Hayles Cruises as a lunch spot. Some farms set up fruit salad stalls and sold other produce such as pineapples, strawberries, passionfruit, chokos and poultry.
Karragarra Island - During 1930s Karragarra was popular spot for Hayles Cruises as a lunch spot. Bannister farm had a fruit salad stall and produced pineapples, strawberries, passionfruit, chokos and poultry.
60 students were enrolled at the Russell Island State School.
Mains electricity reached Russell Island, which sparked a debate in Redland Shire Council about incorporating the Bay Islands – Russell, Macleay, Lamb and Karragarra – into the Shire.
The picture theatre on Russell Island burnt down.
On 12 May, the Southern Moreton Bay Islands of Russell, Karragarra, Lamb, Perulpa and Macleay became part of the Redland Shire. This was in line with moves throughout Queensland to bring the islands off the coast under the control of local authorities.
There were 41 pupils enrolled at Russell Island State School.
Lamb Island’s Pioneer Hall opened on 13 May.
In December a surveyor who had surveyed land on Russell Island was found to be unprofessional and incompetent by the Surveyors’ Disciplinary Committee. He was fined.
A move for a redistribution of the Shire’s divisional boundaries based on population was defeated by Redland Shire Council. Those for the move said representation based on population was fairer but those against the move argued areas such as the Bay Islands, which had a very small population but contributed 26 per cent of Shire revenue, would be severely disadvantaged if it was included in a division with mainland areas.
The Russell Island community hall opened in September.
Redland Shire Council opened a new library on Russell Island in October.
The South East Queensland Electricity Board began work to provide electricity to Karragarra, Lamb and Macleay Islands.
The Shire’s population was about 52,000. North Stradbroke and Bay Islands had a combined population of 3,525.
Russell Island had 78 pupils enrolled.
The Russell Island fraud conspiracy trial ended in March without a verdict. Eight people had been accused of conspiring to defraud the public by deceitfully inducing people to buy land on Russell Island between 1968 and 1979. It was the longest fraud trial in the history of British justice.
The MV Islander was launched. The boat was bought by the Bay Islands Ferry Cooperative.
Electricity was switched on on Macleay Island for the first time on 5 October.
Redland Shire Council began planning for bringing water from the North Stradbroke Island to the mainland via a pipeline to the Southern Moreton Bay Islands and on to the mainland.
In January, State Cabinet announced a proposed Stradbroke Island bridge would go via Russell Island. Island residents opposing the bridge were joined by conservationists. Shire Chairman Merv Genrich said the route was the best option if the bridge had to go ahead. Five tenders were received by the State Government for the bridge and in June Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen said the bridge would go ahead provided the successful tenderer could ensure there was no financial risk for the State Government.
Bay Islanders lobbied Redland Shire Council to introduce tree protection legislation after they became concerned at the number of real estate agents and developers clearing blocks on the islands.
The new jetty at Russell Island was completed.
Macleay Island state school opened.
The Licensing Court granted a resort licence to the proposed $1.5 million Perulpa Bay Resort Village on Macleay Island.
Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen announced in February that the bridge would not proceed for the foreseeable future because it was not commercially viable. However, the debate continued for many years.
Redlands Australia Day Citizen of the Year was Lyn Garner of Macleay Island.
The year began with the bridge again: while waiting for a State Government decision on whether or not the bridge would go ahead, Premier Mike Ahern said the bridge was not the only issue; something would also have to be done about the small blocks and drainage problem land.
Redland Shire Council received an application for consent to develop a 32 hectare resort on the corner of Centre and Glendale Rds, Russell Island. Meanwhile, the Perulpa Resort plan on Macleay Island was abandoned.
The State Government announced it planned to pass a development Act for Russell Island to ensure orderly development. Deputy Premier Bill Gunn said the Act was a firm indication the bridge would be built but before then the planning mess had to be cleared up. Redland Shire Council announced a massive resumption of drainage problem land from developers as preparation for the new Act. This raised fears among the landowners that resumptions would be at the Valuer-General’s valuation rather than the higher market value. By November the State Government had turned its focus from the bridge to solving the problems associated with drainage problem land, stating that the latter had to be solved before a bridge was built.
Stage one of the RSL and Services Club on Russell Island officially opened.
Telephone subscribers on Moreton, North Stradbroke and Macleay Islands were issued new telephone numbers.
Bay Islands Cooperative formed to establish suitable water transport between the Bay Islands and the mainland.
The ‘Giant’s Grave’, a knoll which rises from a 13ha saltwater swamp on Russell Island, was saved from resumption.
Russell Island was connected to the town water supply.
Redland Shire Council resumed 10 blocks of land on Russell Island for a proposed water tower.
Russell Island Girl Guides and Brownies was established.
The Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron bought a tract of waterfront land at Canaipa Point, Russell Island.
Lamb Island Hall committee was formed under the chairmanship of Cr Peter Robinson.
The Macleay Island resort development plan was revoked by Redland Shire Council.
Enrolments at Macleay Island School increased to 89 students.
Lamb Island Residents and Ratepayers Association was formed.
Russell Island Progress Association fought SEQEB over plans to build another high voltage overhead power-line across the island. The proposed line would run from Russell to North Stradbroke Island and supply 2000 customers.
Bay Island Taxi Service commenced operations, with ‘Commander 1’ the water-bus.
Macleay Island Pre-school was opened by Education Minister Paul Braddy.
Queensland Transport Minister David Hamill rejected proposals by the Russell Island Development Association to establish a bridge, causeway or a vehicular ferry to the island.
The bridge saga resurrected: Redland Shire Council opposed new redevelopment proposals for Russell Island which included a low level bridge to the mainland and the resumption of land for a canal development. Later in the year, the Queensland Government rejected a plea from Russell Island residents to call a referendum on the island seceding from Redland Shire.
The Karragarra Island Community Park opened.
Russell Island got a permanent home for the ambulance service.
Macleay Island got a new jetty funded by Redland Shire Council.
Another plan to link Russell Island to the mainland, this time via a causeway road and roll-on roll-off ferry was put to the Federal Government, along with a request for a contribution to the estimated $4 million needed.
The official opening of a new art gallery on Macleay Island coincided with the 15th annual art exhibition.
Macleay Island residents formed the first Neighbourhood Watch scheme for the Bay Islands.
Work began on providing piped town water to the rest of the Bay Islands.
Moreton Bay was nominated for the Shorebird Reserve Network by the Ramsar Convention Conference.
Macleay, Perulpa, Karragarra and Lamb Islands were connected to the town water supply.
A new ferry service started between the Bay Islands and Cleveland.
Bay Islands ferry Seaway was launched on 24 December.
Bay Islands residents were outraged over Redland Shire Council’s decision to impose a special $140 a year levy on them for the next 25 years to pay for roadworks and drainage. Later in the year the Ombudsman was called in to investigate and as a result the levy was dropped.
The $140 a year Bay Islands levy was suspended following an Ombudsman’s inquiry which found Redland Shire Council had not followed the correct lawful procedure when imposing the levy.
Plans for a 30-unit aged care hostel on Karragarra Island were announced. Opponents claimed 84 per cent of Karragarra residents opposed the proposal.
A fire destroyed the Bay Islands Community Services Centre on Russell Island.
And the bridge again: the Russell Island Development Association said Redland Shire ratepayers should each pay a $100 per year levy to fund a bridge to Russell and North Stradbroke islands.