Camp Strathpine | Cook & Flinders | Early Surveying | Local Government
RAF Spitfire Squadrons | Samsonvale Run | Selections | Convict Settlement | Timber
From July 1943 until February 1944, 15,000 servicemen attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, United States Army, camped in an extensive area to the west of Strathpine. The Divisional camp, generically referred to as Camp Strathpine, stretched from Kremzow Road, Warner, to the North Pine River at Youngs Crossing, then north-east across Dayboro Road into what is now the Frenchs Forest estate in Petrie.
Although the 1st Cavalry Division had traditionally been a mounted unit with its origins extending back to the early years of the American frontier, the changing nature of modern warfare dictated the need for a sudden transition to a dismounted unit utilising tanks, jeeps, gun carriers, etc. Following manoeuvres and training in the south-west of the United States, the men of the 1st Cavalry Division, under the command of Major General Innis P. Swift, departed from their home base at Fort Bliss, Texas, in mid June 1943. On 3 July, they left Camp Stoneman in California and headed towards the South Pacific aboard the troopships George Washington and Monterey. After a three week voyage, they landed in Brisbane on 26 July and boarded trucks for the short journey to their new home at Strathpine.
Camp Strathpine, constructed by the troopers with assistance from Australian workmen, quickly became a showcase military facility. Although a large number of huts were constructed for use as storage sheds, kitchens, mess halls, recreation huts, etc., the majority of the men were accommodated under canvas in tented areas joined by gravel pathways. For administrative purposes, Camp Strathpine was divided into six main areas and the Divisional Headquarters area, identified as Area 1, was established in bushland west of One Mile Creek, near what is now Ribblesdale Court, off Forgan Road, Joyner.
Although the Pine Rivers region bore few similarities to the desert terrain of the American south-west, it soon gave the troopers a strong sense of the skills and stealth required for jungle fighting. At Camp Strathpine, a strong emphasis was placed on continued intensive battle training to reinforce the transition to an unmounted unit. A Divisional reorganisation also facilitated the change to a new style of warfare involving the use of heavy artillery and bombardment rather than the traditional charge of the infantry. The Division's artillery units carried out live firing on a range near Clear Mountain and there were several mortar and grenade ranges located in Cashmere. Amphibious training with repeated beach landings took place at Port Stephens (New South Wales) and at nearby Moreton Bay. All through this period, a steady stream of official visitors came to inspect the activities of the soldiers and the facilities at Camp Strathpine.
Beginning in December 1943 and extending into early 1944, sections of the 1st Cavalry Division progressively left Australian shores to reassemble at Oro Bay in New Guinea. The Division subsequently took part in many actions in New Guinea and the Philippines before the end of the Pacific War. Several of the Division's Regiments also remained on active service in Japan throughout 1946.
Following the deployment of the Americans to the frontline, Camp Strathpine was used by various units of the Australian 7th Division (2nd A.I.F.) before they, too, were posted northwards. Other units rested on return from combat areas while unit members proceeded on home leave. These units then reformed at the completion of these periods of rest, were reinforced back to combat strength, conducted limited training and then moved back to the war zone. After the end of World War II, most of the buildings were sold at auction for removal and, today, little tangible evidence remains to indicate the former existence of the large camp.
Cook & Flinders
Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook, on his voyage around the world in H.M.S. Endeavour, named Point Lookout on Stradbroke Island, Cape Morton (now Moreton) and Morton (Moreton) Bay on 17 May 1770. Cook applied the latter name to the bight between the two capes (not the present Moreton Bay). From a position north-east of Cape Moreton, he also observed and named the Glass Houses (now the Glass House Mountains).
Lieutenant (later Captain) Matthew Flinders, on an exploring expedition in H.M. Sloop Norfolk, reached Cape Moreton on 14 July 1799. During the next two weeks, he explored the Moreton Bay region naming Point Skirmish, Pumice Stone River and Red Cliff Point (now South Point, Pumicestone Channel and Woody Point respectively). Although he examined Bramble Bay and Hays Inlet, he narrowly missed discovering the Pine River.
Flinders was so fascinated by the Glass House Mountains that he set out on foot and climbed Mount Beerburrum to observe the surrounding countryside. He noted the existence of a range of mountains stretching far to the south (now known as the D'Aguilar Range).
The first civilian surveyors, Robert Dixon, James Warner and Granville Stapylton, arrived at the Moreton Bay settlement on 8 May 1839. The convict period was winding down and, as part of a strategy to prepare the district for free settlement, they were sent to conduct a trigonometrical survey of the region. Although there had been considerable exploration of the region, no proper survey had been made and the existing maps were based on compass bearings, many of which were uncorrected for magnetic variation.
Under the leadership of Dixon, a base line was set up which was linked by observations to all the natural features of Moreton Bay. This triangulation marked the start of the accurate mapping of Queensland.
Stapylton was killed by Aborigines later that year and Dixon was dismissed in 1841 after a disagreement with the Commandant, Lieutenant Owen Gorman. Following his return to Sydney, Dixon privately published a map of Moreton Bay which showed the Pine River as the Eden River, a name which had been suggested by Andrew Petrie in memory of a Scottish river in his native Fifeshire, but this name was never officially sanctioned.
Warner conducted numerous surveys, some of which were in areas now part of the Pine Rivers Shire, and remained in Queensland until his death in 1891. His name has been perpetuated in the Shire by the Parish of Warner, the locality of Warner and Warner Road.
A proclamation closing the penal settlement at Moreton Bay was issued on 10 February 1842. The restricted area of 50 miles (80 kilometres) surrounding the settlement was officially opened up to free settlement.
Shortly after this proclamation was issued, the Archer Brothers, with the assistance of Evan Mackenzie from Kilcoy, opened up a new direct route through the Pine Rivers area to their sheep station at Durundur (near Woodford) by keeping to the east of the D'Aguilar Range. Their route still appears on some maps today as the Old North Road. In 1985, it was designated the Old Northern Road.
The Pine Rivers area was originally part of the Caboolture Divisional Board. Divisional Boards were an early form of local government which was established in Queensland in 1879. On 16 January 1888, the Pine Divisional Board was the first to be gazetted within the boundaries of the large Caboolture area. On 5 April of that year, the area to the east of Sideling Creek was included in the newly proclaimed Redcliffe Divisional Board's area.
The Pine Divisional Board's initial boundaries enclosed an area substantially less than the Pine Rivers Shire of today with the region north of the North Pine River and west of Sideling Creek being retained as part of the Caboolture Divisional Board's area. The first meeting of the Pine Divisional Board was held at the Albany Creek residence of Henry Thomas Ireland on 7 March 1888. Mr. Ireland was unanimously elected as Chairman for the ensuing year. The Board held its first meetings in rented premises at Bald Hills until the following year when a meeting hall and office building, now known as the Old Shire Hall, was constructed in Strathpine. On 27 January 1897, the Divisional Board's boundaries were redrawn to include sections of the parishes of Samsonvale, Pine and Whiteside to the north of Laceys Creek and the North Pine River.
As a result of public pressure to increase the power of local government, the Local Authorities Act came into force on 1 April 1903 and the Board became known as the Pine Shire Council. On 19 November 1921, the area from Sideling Creek to Hays Inlet was removed from the Redcliffe Shire to be incorporated in the Pine Shire. Following a suggestion by the Shire Chairman, John Sanders Bray, the Council's name was changed to Pine Rivers Shire Council on 23 May 1959.
Many people from all walks of life were elected as councillors during the Pine Rivers Shire Council's first century. It was most fitting that the centenary of local government in the Pine Rivers area was also celebrated during the 1988 Australian Bicentennial year. Under a new Local Government Act assented to on 7 December 1993, the heads of all Queensland councils received the title of mayor in place of the former title of chairman. The following year, having been elected under the newly adopted preferential voting system, Councillor Yvonne Chapman thus became the first Pine Rivers Shire Mayor. Under the new Act, which granted greater powers and autonomy to Queensland's local authorities, councils no longer concentrated on simple issues categorised as 'roads, rates and rubbish', but became responsible for the total management of their communities involving such things as planning for rural and urban growth, infrastructure development, community service provision and environmental protection.
RAF Spitfire squadrons
The formation of the 548 and 549 Spitfire Squadrons at the Lawnton and Strathpine A1 and A2 airstrips was one of the most important events that took place in the Pine Rivers region during World War II. These squadrons were formed on 15 December 1943 under an agreement between the Australian and British Governments with the aim of increasing the fighter units that were able to defend the coastline of Australia. The squadrons, which became operational in April 1944, had a mix of Australian and British personnel (RAF aircrew and RAAF ground staff), with approximately 180 men in each.
While camped at Strathpine, 548 Squadron lost two men in a terrible Spitfire crash. On 19 April 1944, three Mark VIII Spitfires of 548 Squadron took off in formation from the Strathpine A2 airstrip on a training flight. A short time later, a fourth single Spitfire also took off from the strip. At approximately 8.50 a.m., two of these aircraft were involved in a mid-air collision near Youngs Crossing and the two British pilots involved, Squadron Leader Henry Wright and Sergeant Alan Chandler, sustained fatal injuries. Both men were buried in Lutwyche Cemetery and, largely due to the efforts of Pine Rivers Shire Councillor David Dwyer, a memorial has been placed near the site of the crash.
In June 1944, both squadrons were posted to Darwin to commence taking a more active role in the aerial defence of Australia. Although the focus of the war had moved further to the north and Darwin was no longer being directly threatened by the Japanese, the squadrons were involved in a number of successful operations in the islands to the north of Australia. Both squadrons were disbanded at Darwin on 9 October 1945.
In 1844, two Darling Downs squatters, James Sibley and Joseph King, selected the Samsonvale run south of the North Pine River. The run was so named because of its proximity to Mount Samson, a high peak in the D'Aguilar Range.
On 18 June of the following year, the run was sold to William Joyner in Sydney. Joyner's managing partner, William Mason, took possession of the property, which included 470 head of cattle. Joyner thereafter made frequent trips between Samsonvale and Sydney where he lived with his wife, Isabella, and their infant son, William Charles. His enjoyment of the run was short lived, however, because during one of these trips in 1847, he lost his life when the paddle wheeler Sovereign was wrecked on the South Passage Bar.
By this time, the run, which had originally extended from the coast to the watershed of the Range, was reduced to 20 square miles of grazing land stocked with mixed breeds of cattle. After William's untimely death, his widow, Isabella (nee Penson, ca. 1811-1888), moved onto the property retaining Mason as a partner. In 1852, she married John Griffin, one of the sons of Captain George Griffin of Whiteside.
Before closer settlement forced major changes in the late 1860s, Isabella Joyner was able to obtain freehold title of a small section of the run as a homestead block. A fine two story home, named Aust House, was built on this portion of the property in 1865. After this time, Isabella's son by her previous marriage, William Charles Joyner, who had been educated in Brisbane and Sydney, returned to the property and began to assume more responsibility for its affairs.
Despite having to surrender much of the leasehold land, William was eventually granted freehold title for about a quarter of the original run. In this way, Samsonvale retained its integrity as a beef and dairy property and was held by the family until the Second World War.
Samsonvale, along with neighbouring farms, was subsequently resumed by the Government to permit the inundation of the area following the construction of the North Pine Dam in the 1970s. It is most fitting that the water body so formed has been named Lake Samsonvale. The name of the run has also been perpetuated by such names as Samsonvale Road and the Parish and locality of Samsonvale. The name of the pioneering Joyner family has been commemorated by the locality of Joyner.
The selections varied greatly in size but were usually areas of from 20 to 160 acres, depending on the quality of the land. Annual rents, from as little as 2/6 per acre for pastoral land and 3/9 per acre for agricultural land, were paid over a five to ten year period. A residential clause in the sale agreement, which required the selector to live on the property for at least six months of the year, deterred land speculators and the restless. After the initial period of occupation, if all outstanding rent had been paid and basic improvements had been completed, a land title was issued to the selector.
This liberal land legislation permitted many of the pioneering families of the Pine Rivers Shire, even those with very limited financial resources, to commence farming. Although the first land-holders were predominantly English, Scottish and Irish immigrant families, there was a large influx of German immigrants from the mid 1860s to the 1890s.
Initially, conditions on the selections were harsh and primitive as most selectors lived in humpies and relied on the unpaid labour of their families to keep going. The selectors found at least two answers to the problem of how to survive on their new possessions. The first was to exploit the plentiful timbers growing on their land and on the ranges above; the other lay in farming. While there was some farming of crops such as sugar, corn, bananas, pineapples, fodder plants and various vegetables, dairy production eventually emerged as the principal production of the Shire.
Under the direction of the newly appointed Commandant, Lieutenant Henry Miller, an advance party of fourteen soldiers and about thirty convicts left Sydney in the Government brig 'Amity' on 1 September 1824 to establish a convict settlement in Moreton Bay. The Surveyor-General of New South Wales, John Oxley, was in command of the ship and was also responsible for selecting and charting suitable sites for settlement.
Settlement officially commenced in Queensland on 14 September 1824 when Lieutenant Miller's party of convicts and guards were set down at Redcliffe. During the next few months, because of a shortage of softwoods near the settlement, parties were sometimes sent to the Pine Rivers area to cut Hoop Pine and Silky Oak for use in cabinet-making and interior fittings for the prefabricated buildings.
About the middle of December, a group of Aborigines stole an axe from a party of convicts and soldiers cutting timber at Yebri Creek near the present site of Petrie. The Aborigines were fired upon and one was killed. This over-reaction brought about a serious deterioration in race relations and led to retaliatory attacks on the convict settlement.
The settlement was moved to the present site of the central business district of Brisbane during May of the following year. A restricted area of 50 miles (80 kilometres) surrounding the settlement was subsequently declared off limits to free settlers. The whole of the area currently occupied by the Pine Rivers Shire was included within this restricted zone.
As the population of convicts, soldiers and civil servants grew, substantial buildings of stone or brick were erected to replace the first timber buildings. By 1831, when the population reached a maximum of about 1,200, agriculture was well established and the settlement was largely self-supporting. After this time, as the convicts' sentences expired and they returned to Sydney, few were replaced.
Andrew Petrie, newly appointed as the first civilian public servant, the Superintendent of Government Works, arrived at the Moreton Bay settlement on 28 August 1837. He and his descendants were to make an enormous impact upon the history of the Pine Rivers Shire. Andrew made a number of private journeys through the Pine Rivers area and he was the first European to climb Mount Beerwah, one of the Glass House Mountains. He was also the first person to bring back samples of the Bunya Pine.
Between 1839 and 1842, maps and town plans were prepared with a view to selling the land and the proclamation closing the Moreton Bay convict settlement was finally issued on 10 February 1842.
The Pine River, first known variously as the Deception, Blind or Eden River, was eventually named after the Hoop Pine (Araucaria cunninghamii) which was found to be prevalent along its banks. The region's timber industry, which had commenced with the visit of Oxley and Cunningham in 1824, slowly gained impetus during the time of the Moreton Bay convict settlement.
During the brief period when the settlement was located at Redcliffe, parties were sent to the Pine Rivers area in search of softwoods. Edmund Lockyer, who visited the settlement in 1825 not long after it had been moved to the present site of Brisbane, commented that "from what is known of the Brisbane, the Blind [Pine] River and the Pumice Stone, they abound with the finest timber that has hitherto been found in New South Wales". He also noted that "several ships in this last year have been principally loaded with it on their home voyage".
After the establishment of free settlement in the 1840s, the timber industry gathered further momentum. Evidence suggests that the Griffin and Joyner families, who held most of the area now occupied by the Pine Rivers Shire as squatting runs obtained through pasturage licences, commenced exploiting the local timber resources as soon as they took up their runs.
Although their activities have escaped close historical scrutiny, it is also evident that sawyers and timber-getters were active throughout the region from the late 1840s. In 1847, two sawyers working on the Griffin's Whiteside run were murdered by Aborigines. In the same year, the Selina, the first sailing vessel built in Brisbane, loaded cedar logs at the Pine River then sank en route to Sydney. Tragically, all lives were lost, but the valuable cargo was later recovered.
Although the first timber-getters were attracted to the valuable softwoods such as Hoop Pine, beech and cedar, hardwoods later became sought after for building infrastructure such as railways, wharves and bridges. Teams of up to twenty bullocks were yoked to a timber jinker to transport logs. Where the terrain allowed, these teams continued into Brisbane, but in the northern and western areas, logs were taken to rafting grounds on the North and South Pine Rivers.
The logs were then loaded onto punts or lashed together and towed by steamers out of the Pine estuary, past Sandgate and up the Brisbane River to the sawmills. The Hoop Pine constituted three quarters of all timber used in Brisbane buildings during the mid to late nineteenth century. Vast quantities of timber, especially cedar logs, were also rafted to Dunwich, on Stradbroke Island, for export to overseas ports via Sydney. During later periods, sawmills operated at various locations throughout the Pine Rivers region.
The timber industry flourished during the 1860s when closer settlement became associated with the building of homesteads (initially slab huts with shingle roofs), stockyards and miles of post and rail fences. As no restrictions were placed on the cutting of timber on freehold land, the clearing of land for agriculture provided vast quantities of logs. Early settlers also supplemented their incomes by procuring timber from Crown land.
Prior to 1864, licences had been issued which permitted holders to access any vacant Crown lands and take their choice of timber, but this system created ill-feeling amongst the timber-getters as some would go to considerable trouble to construct tracks into forest areas only to have others come after them and take advantage of the tracks to cut timber in the same vicinity. After 1864, a more restrictive system involving special timber licences came into operation.
In the early 1890s, the Dohle family, who had established a boat building business at Breakfast Creek, began exploiting timber from the area now known as Dohles Rocks. Some years later, in 1902, they purchased land in the area, commenced farming and established a sawmill and boat building enterprise on the banks of the North Pine River using timber cut from their land.
The Dohles ingeniously developed a method of cutting timber using a saw driven by a wooden windmill. The Spurwing, a champion sailing boat built by the family, later towed barges laden with timber used in the construction of the original Hornibrook Bridge.
This bridge, which linked Brisbane with Redcliffe by spanning the Pine estuary, was built of timber from the Mount Mee and Mount Glorious areas.