Caboolture township history

Beachmere | Bongaree | Bribie Island | Burpengary | Caboolture | D'Aguilar | Deception Bay | Donnybrook | Elimbah | Morayfield | Mount Mee | Narangba | Pumicestone Passage | Solander | Toorbul | Wamuran | Woodford | Woorim


Beachmere is located just south of Bribie Island on the mainland with the waters of Deception Bay lapping its foreshores and the mouth of the Caboolture River opening into these waters. The perfect location for the boating enthusiasts having access to both river and a sheltered bay for a spot of fishing or canoeing or just enjoying the pleasant sensation of the water.

It is said that a Mr Bonney who settled in the area around 1870 called it Beachmere because of the strip of sandy beach set amidst a marshy countryside. William Goodwin Geddes was the first person to hold freehold title for the area between King John Creek and the beach. About 1887 Millman moved from Oaklands to start dairying there and in the Millmans' time it started to be used by picnicking parties.


Much has been said about European expansion in Australia being at the cost of Aboriginals as it undoubtedly was, but what is not always recognised is that white exploration would not have progressed as rapidly and successfully as it did without the assistance of Aboriginal people. Many of the explorers took with them a native Australian to assist in establishing contact with tribes they might meet along the way.

Way back near the beginning of European settlement, Matthew Flinders took with him on his travels an Aboriginal man by the name of Bongaree (or Bong-ree as some called him) from the Broken Bay area near Sydney. So this man was with Flinders and his boatload of sailors when the naval captain landed on the northern shores of what he, following James Cook, called Glass House Bay. Flinders did not realise that he was stepping ashore on an island - Bribie Island. He though it was part of the mainland.

Things seemed to be going well in their encounter with the local Aboriginal people, until 16 July 1799, when Flinders thought his newfound acquaintances were taking too many liberties and he fired buckshot at one of them. Three other shots were fired. The point where this happened he marked on his chart as Point Skirmish. The name is still used of a point on Bribie Island, but now it refers to a different part of the island. What he called Point Skirmish is now South Point.

Bongaree, the man, was later given a military uniform by the governor of NSW and a seemingly endless supply of cocked hats. He cut a strange figure ceremoniously welcoming new arrivals in Sydney Town with a flourish of his hat and a deep, respectful bow. He wore a crescent-shaped brass plate suspended around his neck proclaiming him to be "Bungaree, King of the blacks". He died November 1830.

After the jetty was built in 1912 for the Koopa and Doomba bringing visitors over from Brisbane and Redcliffe, a township was surveyed, and this township was given the name of Bongaree, now a popular seaside resort on the western side of Bribie Island.

Bribie Island

There are not many place names which perpetuate the names of convicts, but Bribie Island is one of them, according to Thomas Welby. Bribie may have been the man's nickname, although some give his name at Brieby. Some have suggested that he got his name from the way he bought privileges from the authorities. It seems he supplied them with fish.

He was a basket maker and fish-trapper, and these skills seem to have made him a valued member of both white and Aboriginal societies. He took up with an Aboriginal woman, and when his term of sentence was about to expire ran away to live permanently with her and her tribe on the island. Other convicts found sanctuary there as well. When a convict went missing, it was common to hear it said around Brisbane Town that he was, 'Down with Bribie.' This became' 'Down at Bribie,' and so the island got its name.

"Bribie" was not the first white person to live with the natives on this island. John Oxley found Thomas Pamphlett and John Finnegan there in 1823 when he came looking for a site for a new convict settlement. They were two of a four-man crew who had sailed out of Sydney Heads to get cedar logs from the Illawarra district, but were blown way off course by a storm. One died at sea, but the three that were left eventually came ashore on Moreton Island. The Aboriginal people befriended them. In the following year, Oxley found the other member of their crew, Richard Parsons, also on Bribie Island.


The name comes from Burpen-gar, meaning the place of the green wattle tree. This tree, sometimes also called the early black wattle, grows in open forest country. South East Queensland is about as far north as it grows, but it is to be found in all the southern states. Its bark is dark grey, almost black and its scientific name is Acacia decurrens. Hoop pine plantations were successfully established 60 years ago particularly in the vicinity of the Bruce Highway and the old Bruce Highway. These riparian vegetation stands throughout this suburb have been instrumental in encouraging the presence of honeyeaters, rosellas and eastern whipbirds whistling in the native stands of acacia and in fact has more bird varieties than Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory.

One of the shire's fastest growing residential areas, the development is an example of utilising the latest technology in providing estates incorporating the best environmental practises.


Caboolture is the seat of local government for the shire and is located some 45 minutes from downtown Brisbane, just off the Bruce Highway. The area was first settled in 1842 when the land around the Moreton Bay penal colony was opened up to free settlers.

The area around the Caboolture River was called Kabul-tur by the Brisbane Aborigines, meaning the place of the carpet snakes because these reptiles were plentiful in the region. The river was important for the opening up of the country to white settlement. Timber getters floated red cedar logs down the river, settlers arrived and ferried their supplies in by the same means.

By the mid 1860's the local pastoralists were experimenting with sugar cane and cotton. In 1867 a tiny settlement was established as a supply and trading centre for the settlers in the area and to service the needs of miners trekking from Brisbane to the goldfields near Gympie. The local shire was constituted in 1879 and in 1888 the railway line from Brisbane was opened.

The major components of the local economy are construction, property & business services, retail trade and agriculture. In fact Caboolture is possibly the largest producer of strawberries in Queensland.


In 1827, Sir Thomas Mitchell, the Surveyor-General for the Colony of New South Wales, named the D'Aguilar Range after Sir George D'Aguilar, a military officer who wrote the army textbook in use at the time, Regulations and Punishments of the British Army . He was probably known personally to the Governor, Lieutenant General Ralph Darling; the Moreton Bay Commandant, Captain Patrick Logan; as well as to Major Mitchell, for they all served in the Peninsula Wars under the Duke of Wellington. It is not clear which of these three originally suggested the name.

Deception Bay

Deception Bay was so named by Lt John Oxley in 1823 who thought the bay was a river and because of his mistake and the shallowness, named it Deception Bay. Dr Joseph Bancroft was a pioneer in experimenting in native plants for their health properties and through his meatworks, the preservation of meat, fish and vegetables. His son Thomas carried on the tradition with some work in cultivating cotton and castor oil. A rough-hewn pyramidal block of granite stands today on the foreshore highlighting the towering biological achievements of these two doctors.

The area was once large parcels of land supporting dairying and farming and while some large blocks remain today, most have been subdivided in line with providing housing for a growing community.


At one time the township was known as Little Caloundra. It appears on some old maps as Toorbul Township. Some say that it got its present name from the brawling that used to go on among the crews of the boats which serviced the Moreton Bay Oyster Company and who used to camp there. Bribie Passage oysters had a reputation for being the finest in the world, but the industry was wiped out in 1909 by a worm infestation. The southeastern suburb of Dublin from which it gets its name was actually named after a saint. Its original name meant the church of St Broc. Donnybrook is another village known for its activity around the jetty and the boats. Good catches of estuary fish, whiting, bream and flathead and of course crabs, are common scenes in this area.


The area was known to the Kabi people as the place of the grey water snake, Elimbah. The teamsters knew it as The Six Mile, a place to camp and rest their horses or bullocks. But when the railway came through, 1890, the rail stop was simply known as '36miles 68chains'. It was officially named Elimbah, 20 September 1902, at the urging of local residents.


George Raff of Brisbane bought some of the land held by the failed Caboolture Cotton Company and called it Moray Field although it was often written as Morayfields . Eventually, from 1881, it became Morayfield . The ex-military man, Captain Whish, owned the neighbouring property. Morayfield was derived from Raff's native Morayshire in Scotland. Raff employed South Sea Islanders and grew sugar here. The Rev. J.D. Lang commended him on his humane treatment of the Islanders. For nearly twenty years rum was produced on the property.

Today Morayfield is the retail hub for the shire's growing population and where national companies are establishing their chains.

Mount Mee

Dahmongah meaning 'flying squirrel' was the local aboriginal name for Mt Mee. The name Mt Mee was possibly derived from the aboriginal word 'mia-mia' meaning view or lookout, but did not come into use until 1899 with the advent of a school in the area.

Red cedar was the timber most highly prized by the early timber getters and its abundance at Mt Mee ensured that the timber of the area would be used, along with hoop pine, crows ash and flooded gum. Bullock teams were brought in to haul the logs to the local sawmills at Caboolture, Woodford and D'Aguilar. Later a sawmill was built at Mt Mee itself and this structure still stands today on the area known as the Gantry Day Use area.

Over time, dairying and banana growing became other viable industries and a small settlement soon sprung up along the ridges which are part of the D'Aguilar Range.


Narangba in its Aboriginal origin meant small ridge, and that describes the area where the railway station with its associated township was situated. Earlier it was part of an area referred to as Stoney Creek. The railway station was first called Sideling Creek Station. Only later was it changed to Narangba.

An award winning Development Control Plan has resulted in major residential interest in the areas of Narangba and Burpengary with infrastructure matching the growth. An industrial estate which provides all services required by manufacturing and general industry, takes full advantage of the shire's transport links, with sites on both sides of the Bruce Highway.

Pumicestone Passage

Matthew Flinders did not realise that what we now call Bribie Island was an island. On 16 July, 1799, he proceeded up the opening which he called a river, leading towards the Glass House Peaks and found a quantity of pumicestone lying along the high water mark on the eastern shore of the 'river', but was not able to proceed further upstream because of the rush of water with the ebb tide. He called the passage Pumice Stone River because of this find.

In 1822 both John Bingle in the Sally and William Edwardson in the Snapper sailed separately into the passage. Mangroves, sandbanks and mudflats prevented them from travelling right through it, but Bingle believed it was not a river while Edwardson thought that it was. John Oxley in the following year also visited the area and spoke of Pumice Stone River.

Pumicestone Passage is a remarkable waterway teeming with dugongs, turtles, and dolphins and supporting more than 350 species of migratory and resident birds. The dugong is a protected gentle mammal which feeds on the rich seagrass on the bottom of the channel.


The name of Joseph Banks has gone down in history as that of a great botanist and adventurer, but his companion for many years was the Swedish naturalist, Dr Daniel Carl Solander, who was working at the British Museum at the time of Banks' invitation to join the Endeavour expedition. Much of their work was done in collaboration. For many years after their great around-the-world journey with Captain Cook, he lived in the Banks' household with Sir Joseph, Lady Banks and Sir Joseph's sister.

This area today is the subject of award winning development both for architecture and environmental practises which is attracting the type of lifestyle traditionally associated with the established upmarket names of Noosa and Double Bay.


Turrbal was the name for the local Aboriginal dialect. In its modern form, it has been given to a town on Pumicestone Passage and to the point from which travellers now cross over to Bribie Island by bridge. According to Tom Petrie the Aboriginal people called the Toorbul Point area Ningi Ningi. Ningi ningi are what English-speaking people call oysters. The name of Ningi has been retained for the township on the Bribie Road near Toorbul Point.

Today Toorbul is still a fishing village with the added attraction of peace and tranquillity. Whiting, bream and flathead can be caught from the shore while those with a boat can add crabs to the catch.


Travellers north on the old northern road after leaving the Caboolture River at what is now called Upper Caboolture had as their next stop a store operated by Joseph Bell at Wararba. When a banana plantation was established there and the railway went through it gained the name of Wamuran after a local Aboriginal leader Menvil Wanmaurn, known by the whites also as Jackie Delaney. Delaney's Creek is a nearby district to this day.

Unfortunately the railway line is no longer used but the town lies on the D'Aguilar Highway only a short distance from Caboolture. The soil is perfect for small crop farming with roadside stalls selling the local produce fresh from the farms.


Woodford lies to the west of Caboolture on the D'Aguilar Highway which is the inland route often preferred by those from the southern states. First settled back in 1841, it has traditionally been a dairy farming and timber town and still is one of the few towns where there are weekly cattle sales held in the yards in the main street.

When it came time for naming the new town to be developed here several possibilities were canvassed and the names of several local settlers were advocated, but out of the bitter controversy the name of H.C.Wood won out. To his name was added the word for a river crossing and so the name of Woodford was proclaimed in 1885.

Durundur, meaning 'witchetty grub', was the name of the Archer Brothers station and was the first run selected in the Woodford area. The house at Durundur burnt down in 1893 when in a dispute between two domestics the housemaid set fire to the cook's room. From there it spread to the whole house.

The turn of the century architecture has been retained in the shopping precinct and has been complimented with a streetscape which creates an atmosphere of welcome and friendliness. Woodford is home to the famous national and international Woodford Folk Festival, which is held every year from 26 - 31 December.


Woorim, an Aboriginal word for kangaroo, was chosen as the name for the settlement on the surfside of Bribie Island. The open beach here is patrolled during the peak seasons making it a great swimming destination for families. 4WD is a favourite pastime on this beach and ideal for recreational fishermen to cast a line.

back to top