Do you think every now and then, where did it all start. I’m not talking about evolution or the “Big Bang Theory”, what I am reflecting on is the history of a particular region and how it all began especially if this is a locality that tweaks the imagination.
I’ve travelled to the Redcliffe area previously and posted some amazing day trips, where we discovered Gun Boat Shipwrecks and a rocked a few hours away at “Bee Gees Way.” What I didn’t know was that Redcliffe was the site of the first European settlement in Queensland, Australia. My intriguing journey of discovery is about to unfold. (You’ll also find a link “Shipwrecked But Stayin’ Alive In Redcliffe” at the end of the post).
The Redcliffe Peninsular or simply Redcliffe as it became known, was the site of the first European settlement in Queensland. Before the arrival of the European’s, the area was occupied by the indigenous Ningy Ningy people with the first European visitors arriving on the 17th of July 1799 aboard the British colonial sloop Norfolk commanded by Matthew Flinders. He spent 15 days exploring Moreton Bay before landing and naming Red Cliff Point on the 17th of July. The name came about after observing the red hills in the area but over time eventually simply became known as Redcliffe.
The Governor of New South Wales, Thomas Brisbane, in 1823 instructed John Oxley to further explore the Moreton Bay region for a new suitable penal settlement. Oxley recommended Red Cliff Point for the new colony. This was a relatively short lived proposition and it soon became apparent that due to a lack of a reliable water supply, ill health, attacks by Aboriginal people, large mosquito numbers and a shortage of safe anchorages the settlement needed to shift.
After eight months, then in 1824, the settlement relocated to the banks of the Brisbane River at North Quay. The municipality of Brisbane was declared in 1859, a city with its own local government, and named after the 6th Governor of New South Wales, Brisbane is now the capital city of Queensland.
Today, Redcliffe is a vibrant seaside province famous for its delicious mixture of fish & chip shops, cafes and restaurants. This is a great place to visit, with modern Shopping Centres, stunning Parks and Gardens, Beaches, Lagoons, Playgrounds, complete with all the facilities that the modern traveler has come to expect. This destination is becoming an ever-increasing popular day trip location for Brisbanites and locals alike, but Redcliffe has not forgotten it’s rich Colonial History.
What better way to discover the Peninsula’s humble beginnings than to spend some time where the past does meet the future. The Peninsular has its very own Redcliffe Museum, situated in the magnificent parkland of Corscadden Park by Humpybong Creek.
The Redcliffe Museum offers a plethora of displays and collections to visit, videos to watch and a kid’s section that will keep the younger ones entertained for ages. The Museum offers a truly unique perspective about Redcliffe’s past and its surrounds. The original backyard shed or “Man Cave” is here, I spent ages fossicking through all the bits and pieces that are on display.
Can you imagine in those early days going on holiday with a big heavy canvas tent, fishing rods and accessories packed into your creel and all that camping gear. If you had the money, many boarding houses offered alternative accommodation but well before you arrived at your holiday location you had to cross the bridge, pay the toll fee and then be on your way. Tolls were around even back then, they are nothing new, just a lot more of them today. Even in this present moment some things never change, “What is Old is New Again.”
We’ve spent some time walking around the Museum, totally enthralled in the area’s history. We also discovered some information at the Museum on the Redcliffe Convict Trail and needed to get the low-down on this historic walk.
Our next call was to the Redcliffe Central Visitor Information Centre. Staffed by some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable locals, I found all the information I needed including maps, brochures, and regional history advice. Located at the Redcliffe Jetty on Redcliffe Parade this is the place to discuss your travel plans or make a booking for many of the local tours and events that are available throughout the year.
Soldiers, convicts and government officials were sent to the Redcliffe Peninsular in 1824 to establish Queensland’s first penal colony. The year preceding their arrival, under orders from Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, Surveyor-General of NSW John Oxley aboard the sailing vessel “Amity” set sail to Redcliffe to find a suitable location for European settlement in Moreton Bay.
Arriving on the peninsular, the settlers spent the next few months, constructing several buildings at Red Cliff Point, Oxley’s favoured location.
Amongst all the distractions of a new settlement the building of a few structures were undertaken including the Commandant’s House, Jail, Soldiers Barracks and several smaller buildings and houses. Although this was a short lived endeavour as a move to what is now Brisbane was necessary, it forms the basis of Redcliffe’s colonial past.
We’ll take a walk in the shoes of those early settlers who arrived at the Redcliffe peninsular in1824, turning back the clock as we go exploring the Redcliffe Convict Trail. I have also included a link highlighting each stop along the way complete with an ON-LINE audio tracks for you to listen to Redcliffe Settlement stories. Click on the link: The Redcliffe Convict Trail – AUDIO TRACK: Listen to the Convict Trail audio stories detailing why each site it was so vital to the settlement’s survival.
The Redcliffe Convict Trail starts from the Redcliffe Jetty. It then heads north past Rotary Park, then south-west following Humpybong Creek toward the Redcliffe Museum before turning eastwards, back towards the waterside finishing off the Trail in Sutton Street. Length: 1.7km – Stops: 8 – Time: Approximately 1 hour
Stop 1: Landing Site
The settlements landing site by the Redcliffe’s Jetty is the beginning of our walking tour. The “Amity” sailed into Moreton Bay on the 12th September 1824. The landing party set foot on terra-firma near this site and the beginning of European settlement in Queensland had begun.
You just can’t miss the Redcliffe Jetty as it juts out like a long thin finger into the beautiful waters of Moreton Bay. First built in 1885, the jetty was the place to dock for all those arriving at Redcliffe by sea.
Redcliffe is forever changing but the Jetty is an enduring link to the past. After you have gathered all your brochures from the centre, follow the pathway and take the easy walkway out along the pier to take in the stunning views of the Marina and Moreton Bay.
Stop for a while, in the middle of the jetty is a classic style rotunda offering plenty of seating with beautiful views back onto the Redcliffe Peninsular. What a great spot to have a coffee and take some marvellous photos while reading the major highlights in the life of the jetty from the information boards nearby.
Stop 2: First Settlement Wall
Built with 50 tonnes of bluestone, representing the sails of the Amity the Memorial Wall commemorates the first settlement in Redcliffe. It also honours the first inhabitants the Ningy Ningy clan of the Undambi Tribe. You’ll also find a list of the first colonists and convicts who arrived on the peninsular are listed here.
Stop 3 marks the former site of the Commissariat Store. The first store was built by convicts and soldiers and acted as the receiving and distribution point for the colony’s food, clothing, equipment, and other miscellaneous goods. It was decommissioned and relocated when the settlement moved to its new location in Brisbane.
Stop 4: Fresh Water – Travelling for over a week from Sydney, on arrival in Moreton Bay all on board were keen to step ashore. On that day in 1824 only a few chosen men were allowed to take that trip, tasked with finding a reliable fresh water supply. A few days later, water was found at Humpybong Creek allowing the rest of the ships cargo and all onboard to disembark and set up camp just south of the present day jetty.
Stop 5: Brick Kiln and Weir – This where the settlers discovered a rich source of quality clay besides the creek in Corscadden Park. Queensland’s first bricks were made here and were extensively used in the construction of the soldiers barracks and many other buildings in the new settlement.
🔥 Tip: If you haven’t already toured the Redcliffe Museum this is good opportunity at this stop to head inside for a while and investigate the remainder of Redcliffe’s history.
Stop 6: Soldier’s Barracks – The Soldiers’ Barracks were located near here, at the lower (northern) section of John Street. Troopers rather than dedicated guards, carrying loaded guns were utilised in the management of the prisoners. They were hard disciplinarians often using intimidating practices to keep each and everyone under control.
Stop 7: Commandant’s Cottage & Whipping Post – The residence of the Commander of the Moreton Bay penal settlement was located here. The building was dismantled and then re-built in early 1825 when the settlement moved to the new site on the Brisbane River.
As was the nature of the settlement, every colony had a whipping post and Redcliffe was no different. Standing 3 metres tall, this structure was used to brutally flog transgressors for sometimes some of the most minor wrong doings.
Stop 8: Convict’s Barracks – On the site of the Ambassador Hotel is where the Convict Barracks were thought to be originally built. Earlier history has revealed that a brick floor from the original convict barracks kitchen was identified as part of the flooring in the Ambassador Hotel. Other bricks probably from the clay from the banks of Humpybong Creek were also thought to have been used in the construction of the hotel.
Redcliffe is not all about Colonial History. It was early afternoon when we had finished exploring the Convict Trail, and at the end of the trail we found this glorious beach right on our doorstep. Time for a paddle and something to eat.
Suttons Beach is one of the best swimming beaches on the Peninsular. This is a great spot for a swim with small waves perfect for the younger crowd and beach showers to wash away all that fun at the end of the day. Swimming and paddling are not the only activities at Suttons Beach, pack your walking shoes or simply take a bike ride along the many foreshore pathways with stunning Moreton Bay and its islands as your backdrop.
This is a place just made to while away a couple of lazy hours, keep it simple and enjoy a BYO picnic basket, cook up a feast on one of the BBQ’s or wander up to the nearby take-away food shops for some of the tastiest fish and chips.
The Redcliffe Peninsular is a family friendly adventure destination for a road trip. Safe swimming, History, Museums, Food Lovers Paradise, Stunning Parks and Playgrounds, Bikeways and Walking Trails and Shopping. You can easily pack this escapade all into one day and it’s only a short drive from the Brisbane CBD.
Want to add some more exploits to your ROAD TRIP and discover a “Gun Boat Shipwreck” or relive the music of the Bee Gees, at the “Bee Gees Way” click on the link: Shipwrecked But Stayin’ Alive In Redcliffe