History of the Logan & Albert Areas by Roger Hart 1959
With reference to part of the history of Canungra and the Albert districts a I knew it, Canungra in the early days was like many other settlements opened up by the timber-getters and horse and cattle breedeers. Cedar was the chief timber sought for and in the early days was plentiful but was soon worked out and owing to the distance to market, Beech was the only other timber payable to work but was scarce in the Canungra district, but was more plentiful on Tamborine Mountain. One of the first Cedar getters in the Canungra district was a Mr H Mahoney, who later selected land near Wonglepong and went in for tobacco growing and manufactured tobacco for market where he employed South Sea Islanders to work on the farm. Later the property was taken over by his three sons, Hugh, John and Thomas who carried on other farming, horse and cattle breeding and owned a few racehorses which they ran at the local race meetings.
Another of the old Cedar getters was the late Mr J Daniels, an early settler of Cedar Creek. I can well remember as a boy long before my school days, seeing Mr. Daniels’ bullock team drawing a number of first class Cedar logs (which was worked by the late Mr. T. Mahoney ) to what was known as the rafting reserve at Luscombe Bridge. Ater collecting what number of logs which were required for a raft, they were rolled into the river and floated down about a mile past two shallow places which were only passable at the high spring tides. After getting all the logs through to the rafting place they were built into a raft by the late Mr. BArney Toohey, whose son later became teacher of the Canungra School. After putting the raft together it was floated down the river, across the Bay and up the Brisbane River where the logs were shipped to England.
I the early days of the first settlement of the Canungra district the Canungra Valley as far down as Bromfleet was occupied by a Mr.J.Duncan as a small cattle station, but was later selected in 7 smaller holdings and was still used for horse and cattle raising with a mixture of farming. Some of the land is still occupied by descendants of the first settlers. All the country in the lower part of the Albert and along the coast as far as Nerang district and may have been as far as the border of New South Wales was occupied by a man named White, as a cattle station and the remains of some of the old stockyards could be seen for many years after. The remains of one yard which was on the road side on what was known as the Red Hill in the Ormeau district, where a large Moreton Bay fig stood, was still there until the taking over of the roads by the Main Roads Commission.
With reference to my knowledge of the early settlement of the lower Albert distict, I can remember all the happening and the lives and movements of the settlers since the latter end of the 1870’s and can remember hearing of the many hardships that my people and others had to endure. There were no roads trafficable for a vehicle above what was known as Dunn’s Falls and the only means of transport was on the river by rowing boat. It was about the year 1875 or ’76 when the first Luscombe Bridge was built by a Mr. Webber, and later other small bridges were built and the road opened up. All road works at that time were conducted by the Government who gave the people pound for pound for all rates collected by them and first-class work done which stood for many years. It was not trouble to follow the old Government work which was far superior to the work of later years. All roads works was done by day labour, under the supervision of the late Mr. J. Barnes of Flagstone, who was Ganger and my father was one of the gang.
After the opening up of the roads a mail service began. A horse mail service began from Beenleigh to Kerry which ran twice a week, commencing somewhere about the latter end of the 1870’s and was conducted by two brothers of Beenleigh, Rober and Charles Johnson, and for one short tem by a Mr. Tim Maloney. Johnson taking over again held the service until the opening of the railway to Beaudesert when all the Kerry mail came via Beaudesert. At the latter end of 1887 tenders were called for a mail coach service from Beenleigh to Flagstone and the successful tender was a Mr. Isaac Shaw who ran a service three times a week commencing on the first day of January 1888. Then at the latter end of 1889 tenders were again called for a daily coach service from Beenleigh to Tamborine and the late Mr. H. Welch who kept the Tamborine Hotel and had a butchering business, was the next contractor who started on the first of January 1890, and held the service until the end of 1897. Mr. C. JOhnson was the next contractor who held it for one term of three years only. Mr. T. Wolff was the next contractor until the end on 1907. Mr. B. Armstrong was the last contractor who carried on until the opening of the railway to Canungra in 1915.
It was on a Saturday the 25th of July 1885 that the railway was officially opened to Beenleigh. A large crowd gathered at Beenleigh for the occasion and were given a free ride to Loganlea and back. It was my first ride in a train and my first sight of one. In the afternoon in honour of the opening, an old fellow who went by the name of Tommy Minnipy stood out in th street and gave an exhibition of boomerang throwing which glided over the tops of buildings and came back almost to his feet.
Beenleigh at that time had a daily 2 Coach mail service. Cobb & Co. coach ran daily from Southport to Brisbane. another coach owned by a man named Black ran daily from Beenleigh to Brisbane. All goods, stores and all requirements coame by John Burke’s steamboat the “Louisa”, up the Albert River, which ran a service once a week and collected an loading for the Brisbane Markets such as sugar, sawn timber and farm produce.
Beenleigh at the time was a busy and prosperous little town, but sorry to say as the time went on it was on the decline. Sugar was the chief industry and there were a dozen or more sugar mills in the Albert River and around the Beenleigh district. Each sugar farmer had a mill of his own. There were 4 mills on the Albert River on adjoining farms. But one, and that was the Beenleigh mill, which at the time was nearing collapse, but by better management by a Mr. Albert Kleinschmidt, the Rum Distillery and the building of a small Saw Mill, brought success for some few years. Mr. Kleinschmidt, with his brothers purchased the mill and in about the years 1910-11 they removed it to Baffle Creek in the Bundaberg district.
In the years of 1884-85 another Sugar mill was built at Luscombe by a Mr. F. Shaw. It took over 12 months to build, worked one season and closed down. Like all the small farmers Mr. Shaw mortgaged his property, which was a nice property, also lost it. Another sugar mill was built in 1893 at what is known as Dunn’s Falls, by a Mr. Krebbs, who removed it from Eagleby, crushed two seasons and removed it back again. A number of farmers had planted a crop of cane and were left with it on their hands, but mad arrangements with Mr. Kleinschmidt to take it and had to punt it down the river to the Beenleigh mill. After two seasons they let it die out, and went into the dairying industry. One farmer turned to arrowroot growing and manufactured arrowroot for some years.
Turning back to the first days of the early settlements where I have omitted to mention the opening up of the road form Luscombe to Cedar Creek. The road that passed along the bank of the Albert River a short distance below the Cedar Creek School was first made by one of the old pioneers and early selectors of Cedar Creek, Mr. W. Ferguson and his sons and obtained no assistance from the other settlers who refused to give any help. This I believe was before any surveyed road but I have heard that after the Government took over Mr. Ferguson was allowed the sum of 25 pounds. Before the opening up of that part of the road, the road crossed the river at two places. One at what was known as flash Jack’s (John Barnards) Crossing and the other a little higher up at what was known as Chardons Crossing which served the people for a number of years, being their road to Logan Village. In the year of 1888 a high bridge was built by a Mr. R. Wallam, and was washed away during the flood of 1893 leaving all the piles except one, and in 1894 was lowered six feet and rebuilt by the late Alexander Skene. During a flood in June of 1903 it was again washed away and in 1904 a low present bridge now stands, which I believe has relaced the old one. Luscombe Bridge which was well built withstood many high floods for upwards of 50 years, but was eventually washed away and a new bridge was built by a Mr. Peter Blondell after the taking over of the main roads baord.
Some few years after the first roads were made the Government handed them over to the Local Government who formed what was called Divisional Boards. There were three in the Albert, Logan, and Beaudesert districts. One took the name of Beenleigh which took the district from Cedar Dreek on the southern side of the Albert River taking in the Town fo Beenleigh and extended as far a Ormeau where it joined up with the Coomera board.The northern side of the river and onto the Logan district was known as the Waterford Division. From Cedar Creed and beyond Beaudesert was known as Tabragalba Divisional Board which was rater a large division. In the year of 1888 or 89 Tabragalba was divided and half was called Tamborine and the remainder Beaudesert. About the year 1902, the name Divisional Board was changed to Shire Council.
After the opeing up of the district the people all found employment. With what they could produce on their farms and casual work they managed to make a living, some building, some road making, some scrub falling and any job that came along. Some were occupied pit sawing and most of the dwelling houses were built from pit sawn timber with shingle roofs and some of the split slabs with stringy bark roofs. Roofing iron and tanks were out of the question and no doubt the people could not afford them. Anyone who owned a harness horse drew their water supply from the river and creeks in wooden casks on a slide or trolley, and some had to carry it up in buckets or kerosene tins.
Timber became one of the biggest industries, which was mostly pine timber and was drawn to the rafting reserve by bullock team. In the early days the wheels of the wagons were not made by a wheelwright but were blocks sawn from logs which were known as block wheels. All the pine logs were rolled in the river and rafted to their destination, this was at times rather an unpleasant job as owing to the two shallow places mentioned earlier the men had to turn out, in the winter, at night to catch the spring tide, which only occurred at night time at new moon. Much of the pine timber went to a small saw mill at a place known as Tygum on the Logan River opposite to the Waterford Railway Station which was owned by the late Lahey Bros. where they made their first start in the timber business and later built a saw mill at Canungra. After the pine timber was worked out the timber-getters turned to hardwood, which had to be taken a few miles lower down the river and loaded into steamboats and shipped to the Brisbane saw mills.
In the early days living was hard. There were no luxuries but the people made the best of what they could get and were quite satisfied and everyone seemed to get enough. The first sugar that I saw was in the latter end of the 1870’s and was of a dark brown colour which served the people for a number of years. Later a much lighter coloured sugar came on the market which could be obtained from all the small sugar mills. Treacle was that time a luxury, jam was not too plentiful. There was only one brand on the market and that came from Tasmania, manufactured by a firm of Peacock and Sons. Butter was scarce in many homes. Some of the farmers kept a few cows and made enough for their own use. A few settlers kept a small herd and supplied butter to the local stores. This was the only butter procurable. There were no butter factories in those days and no separators. The people set the milk in broad shallow dishes which were let to stand for 24 hours and skimmed off with a small skimmer make for the purpose. Cheese was another article that was not too plentiful and came mostly form overseas, chiefly Dutch cheese. There were a few farmers that made cheese. A Mr. Joshua Waldron, late of Tamborine made a fairly good class of cheese, and a Mr. McCreedy of Ormeau made a very good cheese for some years but later gave it up.
In the days of the running of the mail service up the Albert there were three Post Offices on the run which I have omitted, one at Wolfdene, one at Cedar Creek School, and one at the residence of the late Thomas Plunkett who lived by the road side at the bottom of the hill near where the present Plunkett home now stands. He also kept a small store. There was no school at Tamborine until many years later. School was held in the Roman Catholic Church, and close by the Hotel stood. This was removed up to the Tamborine Village in the year of 1913, just at the commencement of the building of the railway, but was later burned to the ground. Near the Church and the old Hotel stood the first Shire Hall, which was built for entertainment purposes and served the tow. It was built in 1891 by I think Mr. H. Ball, and later sold and removed to Waterford.
It was in the year of 1886 when the first Canungra Saw Mill was opened by the Lahey Bros. Another Saw Mill oned by the late Jesse Daniels at Cedar Creek commenced working at the same time and the year of 1896 was removed to Canungra. Both mills after starting delivered the sawn timber to Logan Village railway station by horse and bullock teams where it was loaded on the train and consigned to Brisbane. During the big flood of the 21st and 22nd of January 1887, which was the highest flood ever known, the railway bridge over the Logan River was swept away. The timber then all went down the Albert River to what was known as Watt’s Wharf where it was picked up by Burkes steamer “Louisa” for Brisbane, until the railway bridge was re-erected. The 1887 flood was the greatest disaster ever known on the Albert and may farms were almost ruined having just been freshly ploughed. The top soil was all washed away and nut grass spread all along the banks andlow lands. Buildings and fences were completely swept away and nothing could be seen but the holes where posts of buildings stood. Six families were driven out of their homes near the Luscombe district, some in the middle of the night and had to wald some distance to find shelter in pouring rain. Some found shelter in other homes, and some had to find shelter their cow bails. One home was completely swept away. The traffic bridge at Yatala was washed away. A saw mill which stood just below the bridge was washed completely away too. A small hut which was occupied by a Mr Brown went and the owner was drowned. Chardons Hotel which stood near the bridge was washed clean away and landed on a farm at Alberton, practically undamaged and was later brought back by a bullock team and re-erected on higher ground. A few minutes before the hotel went a number of people collected on teh roof but luckily Burke’s Steamer was in the river and just rescued them in time. Another family living a little lower down of six people were all drowned and the house swept away. A man named Muir and his son were also drowned at Staplyton.
It was in the year of 1893 that I made my first visit to Canungra when I rode on horseback from Luscombe to play in a cricket match. The first half of 1893 was a very wet season and it was a very wet road and not a very pleasant ride. The latter falf of the year and up to February of 1894 was a rather bad drought. Canungra at that time in and around consisted of six dwelling houses, a sawmill and a school of arts which was built just after the sawmill by a man named Louis Howells and stood on the top of the hill just approaching Canungra and was later pulled down and re-erected by A. & W. Curtis near where the present hall now stands. I have no knowledge of when the first school was built, but I think a school was built at Wangalpong ( now spelt Wonglepong ) before Canungra, which went by the name of Coburg. This school I can remember in the early years of 1880’s and one of the teachers was the late Mrs. Burke of Beaudesert who rode on horseback from Tamborine to take in school in the morning and returned home in the evening. There was another small school at Sarabah a few miles further up the Canungra Valley. Another schoold existed at Flagstone and I know of pupils riding all the way from Wangalpong to attend, and afterwards lived with the teachers at Cedar Creek and went to school there. I made my first visit to Canungra in 1896, and the place had not changed much. There was a small store where you could buy a few things in the way of foods, and was owned by a Mr. J. Love who afterwards started the first store and butchering business at Canungra. Another small store and butchering business started later by Mr. R. Veivers and J. Scarboro, but lasted but a short time.
During my second visit to Canungra I was engaged in pine cutting at Back Creek where I camped in a tent and was awakened one night by a most weird and horrible noise which I thought was some night bird. It wasn’t until some 20 years more later when I realised that it was a fox that I had heard. It must have found an opening in the border fence and strayed in from New South Wales as they were unknown here at that time.
As time went on the people began to turn to the dairying industry and all installed a separator. The first separator that came into the district was before the days of the butter factories. It was in 1886 that a separator was installed on a farm a few miles out from Beenleigh by tow men by the names of Sherrington and Wickam but I can’t say if it was very successful and the people stayed only a short time. The next separator was installed by Mr . Joshua Waldron in the year of about 1889 and was a rater large separator and was worked by horse power. On a farm at Tamborine some years later another separator was put in by a man named Tucker who purchased milk form a few of the farmers, but only carried on for a few months. Another large separator was erected at Logan Village and treated the milk form a number of farmers around, and must have been running out of order as many mornings when the air was clear and calm I heard it at Luscombe Bridge some six or seven miles away. During the years of the 1890’s many of the dairymen installed their own separators and sent their cream to various places where there were agents acting for the private butter factories. There were four factories collecting cream from the lower Logan and Albert districts, the South Brisbane, Moreton, Silverwood and Lowood, which also had a factory in the Beaudesert Railway Station Yard. After the building of the Co-Op factories the private factories all closed down.
The big drought of 1901 and 1902 was another heavy blow to the district and in the Luscombe and Beenleigh districts lasted from September 1901 to November 1902, and was then only a temporary break. There were many losses of stock and all the dairies had to close down, and it was a chance if you could buy a pound of butter. Some of the people saved most of their stock by shifting them to the coast where there was some relief, but was almost exhausted when the drought broke. Many of the farmers who never shifted their stock had only a few left, some lost all but a few which they sold for 5 shillings a head. After the breaking of the drought and the land getting a spell, with the country not being over stocked, the dairy production improved 100 percent but, butter prices were very low and was sold by the quantity of cream which for some time was 2 3/4 pence per pound. As the years went on it gradually improved and people began to up their herds. The tick plague was the next problem which appeared on the Albert River about the latter of 1903 and the early part of 1904. The ticks which started in the North gradually worked South and the Stock Department kept striking quarantine lines, and the last line was the Logan River. A Stock Inspector was stationed at Beenleigh and the farmers were not allowed to remove stock without a permit. Shortly after the appearance of the ticks they spread rapidly. Dips were built, which kept them in check, but there were losses when the fever and red water came. The first case appeared at Mr. R. Veivers farm at Shaw’s Pocket in the Luscombe district in 1905 and caused many losses in stock which had the people very worried, then the people had all their stock inoculated which overcame the trouble but the ticks remained and are here for all the time.
From here there is no further need to carry on as the readers of today are in possession of any further information that I can supply. Here ends my story which may or may not be of much interest but contains all the facts.
Written By :- Arthur Hart in 1959