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Macleay Island - Southern Moreton Bay Islands

Macleay Island is an island located in Moreton Bay, South East Queensland. It is in the Redland City Council Local Government Area and has the postcode 4184. Perulpa Island is a small attached to Macleay Island by a causeway.

For some time the island was called Tim Shea’s Island after a convict who lived on the island for more than a decade. The current name was given by Surveyor Warner who named the island after Alexander Macleay who was the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales from 1825 to 1837.

The permanent population was 1,958 in the 2006 Census. However, the population includes a high number of owners who visit the island at weekends. Nearly a third of the 1,259 dwellings were listed as unoccupied at the time of the Tuesday night census.

The island as a part of the southern Bay Islands can be accessed by passenger or vehicular ferry from Redland Bay. It is the fourth largest island in Moreton Bay afterNorth Stradbroke Island, Moreton Island and Russell Island.

Macleay Island has sandy beaches and mangrove foreshores. These are popular spots for fishing, swimming, sailing, picnicking and barbecues. A popular launch spot is the new Dalpura Ramp towards the north of the island. Other recreational facilities include boat, bowling and golfing clubs. Macleay has a reasonable range of shops including cafes, restaurants and supermarkets. It has a lively Progress Association which runs the island’s well-stocked library.

In 2007, after a short segment on the Nine television network’s nationally broadcast A Current Affair based on the comments made by real estate watcher John Edwards ofResidex said that Macleay Island was a “boom suburb” and worth watching by first home buyers. All the SMBI Islands received a considerable amount of interest from buyers for a short time.

A surge in building followed which forced the Redland City Council to do a review of the official census figures. It estimated 2,319 permanent residents on Macleay in 2008. However with a count of 1,479 dwellings, the peak number of people on the islands during holidays and weekends the total population is thought to have been 3,254.

During the 2006 state election, the Queensland Government prioritised construction of a single-officer police station for on the island because some locals claimed crime was getting out of hand. The station started operation in June, 2008.


Ron Field Marine FacilityRon Field Marine Facility - Macleay IslandRon Field and his wife, Leila, retired to Macleay Island in the early 1970s. Ron became active in the community, working for the island’s sporting and service clubs. He served as divisional councillor for the Bay Islands on the Redland Shire Council and was very involved in improving transport around the islands. In 1994 this facility was named after him. Ron Field died in 1995.


Progress Hall – Russell Terrace

The Progress Hall was built in 1960 on land given to the MacKarraLamb Sports Club by Bernie Berry. The verandah was added later through a ‘work for the dole’ scheme. In 2006 an old house nearby was relocated to the site and the community library moved from its small room at the back of the hall into the extension. A Heritage Room was also included, providing public access to the RKLM (Russell Karragarra Lamb Macleay) Heritage Group’s collection during library hours. Near the hall is the site of the first trigonometric point on the Bay Islands. It was erected in September 1840 by Moreton Bay surveyor Robert Dixon.

At the end of Russell Terrace is one of two fish traps that have been found on the island. The Russell Terrace trap comprises a half-circle wall constructed of local stone. The other fish trap is at the end of Cross Street on the north west end of the island. Both are only visible at low tide. Evidence suggests the fish traps were built by John ‘Tinker’ Campbell using South Sea Island (Kanaka) labour. Other fish traps around Moreton Bay also have disputed origins. At the end of Russell Terrace there is also one of the island’s oldest remaining houses, the original section having been built in the 1890s using timber cut and milled locally.

Tim Shea’s waterhole

This waterhole has been an important fresh water source for millennia. After the island was settled, it remained one of the main sources of fresh water, especially during drought. It no longer served this purpose when town water became available in 1996. It is named after Timothy Shea, an Irish convict transported on the Boyne to the colonies in 1826, aged 19 years. He was transported to the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement in July 1827. After escaping from the Dunwich settlement, he lived mainly on Macleay Island for about 14 years, seemingly unaware that he had been granted his ticket of leave in 1835 and certificate of freedom in 1836.

The waterhole and surrounds have been considerably altered over the years. The water tank built in the 1970s was filled from the waterhole by an electric pump.


Thompson’s PointSandpiper Beach / Thompsons Point

This point was originally used as an indigenous campsite and evidence suggests it was a lookout for spotting turtles. The site also includes the remains of a stone wharf at the end of the aptly named Wharf Street. The wharf was built by Tinker Campbell in 1865 by South Sea Island (Kanaka) labour, and is believed to be the oldest example of a Kanaka-built structure still surviving in Queensland. It is made from local ferruginous sandstone with timber logs. The point and the wharf were used as a rafting ground for many years. Logs from all the islands were tied into rafts and floated to the mainland from this point. Thompson’s Point was named after loner George Campbell Thompson, a Boer War veteran, who lived on an old punt by the wharf in the mid-20th century.

Pat’s Park

This park was the site of one of the island’s two main oyster camps. While the first oystermen and lime burners set up camp anywhere, by the late 1880s they were encouraged to camp in various reserves that were set up around the bay. Some reserves, such as that at Currigee on Stradbroke Island, grew into mini townships, but most were modest affairs that have long since disappeared.

Pat’s Park should perhaps be more correctly known as Pott’s Park as it was the camp of oysterman J Potts in the 1890s. Today it is the site of dawn services on Anzac Day. It is also a popular picnicking and swimming place as it has the only netted swimming enclosure on the island.

Lovell’s house

The original section of this typical Island farmhouse was built from timber cut and milled on the island. The Lovells first arrived on Macleay Island c.1912-15. They farmed an area near Corroboree Place, close to the house. The property had a gold mine near Boathaven Place. About 1914 the Lovells sent the first shipment of pineapples from the bay islands to the mainland. Over the years, the Lovell family became well known, with members of the extended family living on Lamb Island. St Peter’s Church Hall on Russell Island was built by Joe Lovell and his son, Bill, in the early 1920s.

The mango tree in the garden is believed to have been planted by the Acclimatization Society about 1890.

Corroboree Place and Lions Park

This site is highly significant for Nunukul people, whose ancestors used it for millennia. The remnants of a midden are under the soil cover at the northern end of the park. The midden, dated at 4,000 years old, has been severely damaged by subsequent development of the island. The waterhole 50 m west of the park (now the Cotton Tree bushcare site) was formed during the past 6,500 years after the sea level fell about one metre to its present level. The waterhole would have been used by the Aboriginal people and, later, by white settlers. These settlers modified the waterhole to create the dam now seen.

In the slope above Boat Harbour Avenue was a cave the Nunukul people mined for quartz and ochre. In the 1980s the cave was filled in after subsidence.

About 20 metres north of the end of Boat Harbour Avenue is a scar tree. The shape of the scar indicates that the bark of the tree could have been used by Aborigines to make a canoe. The tree is now subject to a tree protection order.

A ticket-of-leave (paroled) convict, Thomas Lucas, was the first known non-indigenous person to live at Corroboree Place. He arrived on the island in the 1850s as an oysterman, and set up his camp at Corroboree Place. He later moved to Lamb Island, where his grave remains. Lucas Passage is named after Thomas Lucas.

In the early 1940s Joe Laverty cut cypress pine around Corroboree Place and shipped it to Jackson’s mill on Russell Island. Later, the area was used to grow melons for the Brisbane market.

Photos courtesy of Bay Islands Photography