Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Capital idea with muddy beginnings (Gov Gibbs Landing)

In the 1840's the people of Brisbane insisted that their town should be the capital. Many of the squatters, objected to Brisbane being the capital on the grounds that it was some distance from Moreton Bay and that wool and other produce would have to be shipped down the Brisbane river at considerable cost.

By this time the squatters had established their own newspaper, the "Moreton Bay Free Press" at Ipswich which they considered to be the capital. They also attempted to build a rival port at Cleveland on Moreton Bay.

From Ipswich they built a road direct to Cleveland, but in March 1842 Sir George Gibbs, Governor of New South Wales, visited Moreton Bay on the ship "Shamrock" in order to settle the question of where the capital should be.

It is said that there was some official prejudice against Brisbane because of its penal associations and its remoteness from the sea, so the Colonial Secretary in Sydney directed that a new site should be chosen.

Gov. George landed at Cleveland when the tide was out and had the misfortune to sink deep into muddy ooze as he stepped ashore. This unfortunate accident, which apparently annoyed the pompous Governor somewhat marked the end of any thoughts that Cleveland would be the site of a port.

Gibbs chose Brisbane instead. Pastoralists weren't discouraged in the least by this and persisted in their attempts to develop Cleveland, by building a sawmill, a wool store, and a shipbuilding yard.

For a time the town was the social and political centre of the squatters and their supporters. However in 1854 Cleveland became unpopular as a port following the wreck of a ship nearby and the loss of another by fire.

Bibliography - Carina State School's 75th Jubilee Book 1917-1992

The above is a little background on my next watercolour pencil piece, which I painted last Sunday from a park at Cleveland on Moreton Bay. It is the actual site of Gov Gibbs landing.

As you can probably make out, not much has changed today there's still plenty of mud at low tide. Also it wasn't a particularly clear day, lots of ominious looking grey cloud, with the sun trying to peer through on occasion. It was indeed amazing to watch colours change as I drew. The little muddy island of trees to the right, went from dark forest green to almost lime green as the clouds moved around whilst here and there bits of silver grey sea turned to sparkling turquoise.

Closer to the shore are a few mangroves where the mud takes on a reddish tinge, the soil around many of Moreton Bays communities is a brilliant red, very fertile and still supporting vegetable and flower farms.

ED: Forgot to mention that the rising landmass in the background is North Stradbroke Island which is 32 kilometres long, 11 kilometres at its widest cross-section. The island has become a great tourist destination and is probably the most accessible island in Moreton Bay.

Point Lookout, Amity and Dunwich are the three main settlements on 'Straddie' as it is colloquially known. It has a total permanent population of more than 3,500.
Point Lookout is also the major tourist centre and was named by Captain James Cook on his discovery voyage to the east coast of Australia in 1770.

At "Straddie" visitors can enjoy world class beaches, famous for fishing and surfing, watch humpback whales on their Northern migration, scuba dive nearby rocky reefs or simply soak up the laid back island lifestyle. It also has some wonderful beach camping sites that are dog friendly.

To get to "Straddie" you can either catch a water taxi or the car ferry from Cleveland.

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