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Building the Road to Woorim


A sandy walking track was the only way to go for a surf until 1924.

On 31st March 1914, G.P. (George Peter) Campbell of the Brisbane Tug & Steamship Company obtained a lease over three portions of land for the purposes of a tramway from the Bongaree jetty to Ocean Beach (Woorim). The land selected was three miles long and covered over 58 acres but World War 1 intervened and the tramway was never built.

In 1922 it was decided that the project would recommence but later in 1923, G.P. Campbell realised that his 10-year quest to have a tramway built across Bribie Island was not going to happen, primarily because railway material was proving expensive and road vehicles seemed to offer a less costly and more flexible alternative, considering the small distance of three miles to be traversed. So, a change of the purpose of the lease from a tramway to a macadamized roadway was approved.

In 1923 Bill Shirley was employed to supervise the building of a road which was initially called Campbell Road, but was later changed to First Avenue.

A rail track was built on a temporary wooden jetty along-side the Bongaree jetty to move gravel from ship to shore and then to the truck for the construction of the macadamized roadway.

As gravel for the road was unavailable on sandy Bribie, Blake Brothers of Windsor in Brisbane were engaged to deliver the gravel and porphyry stone from a quarry at Windsor to a riverside wharf in Brisbane from where it was taken by ship to Bongaree.

Bullocks were used to clear the two-chain wide road then trucks and men commenced the construction work. Owing to the nature of the sandy soil, the workmen cut saplings to be laid across the track in corduroy fashion so that trucks and gravel didn’t sink into the sand.

The road was finished in 1924 and the toll gate was set up and continued until the 1950s. Although free for pedestrians, only the Tug company’s buses could pass without paying a toll.

The first four buses, owned by the Tug Company,  to carry passengers across the island were T-model Fords. Later Bill Shirley added an International truck, converted to carry passengers, and the first bus drivers on the run across the island were Bill Shirley, Nobby Meelham, Reg Campbell and J. Green.

Some local residents were displeased at this arrangement and made their own bush track across the island from what is now Cotterill Avenue joining up with Eighth Avenue at Woorim.

Written by Lynne Hooper from information sourced from the BIHS Database.

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