Saving Bribie’s History

In the last 15 years, many memorials have been constructed to commemorate Bribie’s short, yet very interesting history. Our rich and diverse history contributes to our culture, but do we celebrate the past enough in our community? There are some plaques that recognise our history at Brennan Park, First Avenue and even at Oxley Park but a mere mention on a plaque is not enough. How can we better educate the community and acknowledge this history as we move forward?

We only need to look towards the Matthew Flinders ‘talking’ monument and we can see that it has been neglected; it currently is a statue with a button that does nothing. Our history needs to be more than plaques and statues; we need to do something about it. A perfect opportunity to recognise our history would be the tale of the Avon, a shipwreck in the middle of the passage, just off the shore of Banksia Beach. The Avon was a coal carrier, turned into a transporter for the South Sea Islanders from their native homelands to the cane fields of northern Queensland. In 1915, James Clark (a local oyster farmer), had it scuttled in its present-day location, to protect an alluvial oyster bank on the leeward side of the vessel. Despite its remarkable history, no memorial is present, no mention of its story anywhere.

Another important part of Bribie Island’s history is Bribie’s Second World War fortifications. On Bribie there are multiple types of fortifications- from air raid shelters to gun emplacements, RAAF Radar Stations to repeater stations; Bribie has it all. This includes a little known, yet very important structure located in Rotary Park. These mementos that were once lookout posts, were removed from their original locations and placed at Rotary Park. To understand their importance, you must first understand Bribie’s Second World War history. Bribie formed what was part of the ‘Brisbane Line’- a line of defences designed to defend Brisbane. Although the invasion never came, it was dangerously close to happening.

On the 14th of May 1943, the hospital ship Centaur was torpedoed off the coast of North Stradbroke Island. The observatory post was taken down after the war, and its foundations were moved to Rotary Park. However, the only reminder is a sign, placed in order to mark the significance of this location in Bribie’s history. I propose that we improve this and invite the students attending the schools in the Bribie area to help. If we can inspire young children to learn about the past, we are readying ourselves for unity in the future.

Much of Bribie’s history needs to be visually accessible and celebrated, recognised at community events and taught at schools. An urgent solution is needed to save some hugely important areas in our island’s history and for this reason local and state governments should collaborate to fund the development of Bribie’s huge, and little known history. Recognise our history: build our community.

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