Cleveland was originally the port for Ipswich, and when I visited this seaside resort in the early 1880s, it was much the same as it was 20 years afterwards. It is one of the prettiest parts of Moreton Bay with the long peninsula and the lighthouse at the Point.
The original pier was built right on the point facing Peel Island, and was open to any fresh breeze. The present pier was built facing the northwest in Raby Bay. Mr. Robert Kerr ran a coach between Brisbane and Cleveland and left Dexter’s tobacconist shop in Queen Street opposite the post office. Mr. Pooran Dabee Singh also drove a coach to Cleveland, and was a large property holder in the district. He had later on the hotel near the railway station.
I used to go down to Cleveland with some of my schoolmates and we would always stay at Cassim’s Cleveland Hotel. Cassim was a most interesting little man to talk to and his was the most popular hotel at the time. The bathing enclosures at Cleveland were very small, and you could not get a good swim in them; they were all erected at the end of the long jetties.
The Troy family were in charge of the lighthouse for years and the Fogarty family carried on a general store keeping business. Peter Tasker was the fisherman, and used to sail parties to the favourite fishing grounds and over to Peel Island.
Mr. Honeyman of the Customs Department, had a house near the pier, and Mr. Finnucane of the Police Department, lived near Cassim’s Hotel. His house was, I understand, built by Mr. Bigge, a squatter, of Mount Brisbane.
Cleveland was connected by road with Ipswich, the road branching off at Capalaba Creek. The Rev. Mr. R. Creyke was rector of the Church of England at Cleveland and also conducted the services at the Ormiston church.
He was one of the older Church of England clergymen, and unfortunately, lost the use of one eye. He always wore a dark glass over the injured eye, which gave him a peculiar appearance. Mrs. Creyke lived for many years after her husband and was the first lady I remember with short hair- a wonderful crop of white hair.
Mr. John Cameron, auctioneer, had a house at Ormiston overlooking Raby Bay, and was a keen fisherman.
Cleveland district was always noted for its fruit gardens, and today tourists are taken there to see the crops of pineapples, custard apples, and strawberries. After the railway was completed, the town did not progress as was anticipated although it had many attractions.
Wellington Point was a favourite resort for sailing and King Island off the Point, always had a number of sailing craft for the weekend.
Mr. Gilbert Burnett had a sawmill at Wellington Point and a steamer called the Eucalyptus conveyed the timber to and from the mill. Gilbert Burnett was a very prominent man in those days and pioneered the timber industry in that part of the colony.
He was subsequently in charge of the Forestry branch, Public Lands department. Mr. W. B. O’Connell, a Minister for Lands, lived at Wellington Point in a beautiful house surrounded by a garden and fruit trees. On the death of Mr. O’Connell, it was occupied by Mr. Parnell, a member of the Upper House.
Edward Kelk, of Foster and Kelk, ironmongers, Queen Street, had a house at Wellington Point, and Mr. J. Davidson also resided there. Mr. Davidson was manager of Westbrook station, Darling Downs, when owned by Sir Patrick Jennings.
In later years, Mr. James Pink, who had been Curator of the Botanical Gardens and the Acclimatisation Gardens, took up a fruit farm between Birkdale and Wellington Point. He produced a well known and favourite strawberry, called Pink’s Perfection.
Mr. W. French, who had a nursery near Mr. Pink’s old property, was also employed in the Botanical Gardens. Mr. Nightingale, formerly of the Government Savings Bank, retired to this district.
In 1905, I resided at Birkdale in the house now occupied by Mr. Peter Airey, a former Cabinet Minister, and M.L.A. The property belonged to Mr. James Barron, who lived on the Wellington Point and Birkdale Road. He had a vineyard and made all sorts of wines for which he took prizes at various shows.
I remember one Saturday afternoon when I took a bank manager to see Mr. Barron, who had a most entertaining personality. We adjourned to the cellar to sample the various vintages.
They began by calling one and another Mr. Barron and Mr. R. , then it got to Barron and R- shortly christian names only were used, and then unfortunately politics were introduced - the South Sea Island labour traffic- when the two pals nearly came to blows, and old Mr. Barron said, “Look here, R. you don’t know anything about growing sugar cane, but we will have another.” We often laughed over the afternoon.
Mr. Brentnall, M.L.C., owned the land between our house at Birkdale and the sea, and Mr. William Thorne, at one time the Mayor of Brisbane, owned the land from Birkdale to Tingalpa Creek known as Thornelands. Mr. Thorne often came down there for weekends and holidays.
Mr. George Randall, a former Queensland immigration agent and lecturer, lived at Birkdale in a picturesque house and grounds. He was father of the late Richard Randall, the Queensland artists whose works are preserved in the Randall Art Gallery.
Another son, George, took a keen interest in local affairs, but he too has passed away. The Willards, on Capalaba Road, were an old and respected family. When at Birkdale, I was honorary secretary at the Wellington Point Agricultural Association.
While living at Birkdale, I was requisitioned to contest the Cleveland Shire election, No. 1 division, but was unsuccessful. Next year, 1906, I contested No 2 division- Wellington Point and Birkdale, and was returned. At the first meeting of councilors for the election of chairman, I was proposed, and Councillor Cross, of Cleveland, was also nominated.
Both polled equal number of votes, and as neither side would give way, the position was referred to the then Home Secretary, Mr. Peter Airey, who appointed me chairman. Other members then on the council were Messrs T. Cross, W. Thorn, John Currie, H. Eichenloff, and Mr. Lewis.
It was during my term as chairman of the Cleveland Shire Council that I suggested to Mr. Badger, general manager of the Brisbane Tramways, who was a great personal friend of mine, a scheme whereby he should take over the Cleveland railway from a point near Morningside, and connect Morningside with Brisbane by way of Norman Creek bridge, Shafston Road, Main Street, Kangaroo Point, and ferry across the river to the corner of Eagle and Elizabeth Streets, near the Fig Trees.
We had a talk over this proposal and he showed me drawings of a ferry steamer that could be used. The Brisbane Press supported the idea, but the Government would not consider the proposal, although we pointed out that the scheme would relieve the Railway Department from the losses occasioned by running the line, and would not interfere with the railway traffic to Coorparoo.
Had Mr. Badger succeeded with the scheme, there would have been electric trams running to Cleveland for the past 30 years. He would have extended the line to Redland Bay, and one can imagine the development that would have taken place in those districts.
An important gathering was held in Cleveland during my term as chairman, when the Premier, Mr. W. Kidston, entertained the Premiers of the Commonwealth who were attending the Premiers Conference, at a dinner at the Pier Hotel, then kept by Mrs. Firth. Among the party was Sir John Forrest of Western Australia, afterwards Lord Forrest. The premiers went down to Cleveland by the Lucinda, and returned to Brisbane by special train that evening.