The discovery of the Moreton bay area first began in 1770 as Captain James Cook sailed up the east coast of Australia on his voyage of discovery. Captain Cook however failed to notice the mouth of what later became Brisbane River. Cook also believed the Islands surrounding Moreton Bay including Stradbroke, Moreton and Bribie Islands to be part of the mainland. This lack of correct chartering meant that it was a further thirty years before the area was re-explored.
The next to enter the area were the crew of the naval sloop 'Norfolk' under the command of Lieutenant Mathew Flinders. Flinders sailed north from Sydney, entering Moreton bay in 1799. Flinders however also failed no notice the mouth of the river. After sailing along a coastline which many believe was the present site of Wynnum, Manly and Lota, with some arguing that it may have been Cleveland, Flinders gave up hope of finding a large river which opened up into the mainland. Flinders then returned northwards, passing between Moreton and Bribie Islands then continuing his circumnavigation of the continent, completing his journey in 1802.
After the failure of two seasoned explorers to discover the existence of the Brisbane River it seems understandable that it was eventually discovered by accident. Twenty years after Flinders abandoned his search three men Pamphlett, Parson and Finnegan were blown off course while looking for timber in the Illiwarra District south of Sydney. After drifting northwards the men eventually became shipwrecked on Moreton Island. The discovery that the were not connected to the mainland caused the men to cross over to Stradbroke Island then on to the mainland, it is presumed they landed somewhere near Wellington Point.
The woodcutters from New South Wales became the first to view the Brisbane River as they explored the new region, eventually settling at Bribie Island with the local Indigenes. It was not until Lieutenant John Oxley sailed into the Bay in 1823 and found Pamphlett and Finnegan still living on Bribie Island with the natives that the region had a chance of becoming a settlement. The two men showed the river to Oxley and after exploring its length it was named Brisbane, after Governor Thomas Brisbane of New South Wales.
After 1842 free settlers were allowed into Moreton bay.
Settlement came relatively late to the Wynnum and Manly District. Separation from NSW had already occurred and Queensland had become an independent colony before settlers arrived in the area.
Wynnum, originally named Oyster Point was named in 1859 after the area spanning the waterfront from Lytton to Lota was surveyed that year. The first land sales took place in 1960 and were registered to Thomas Jones and William Duckett-White for land roughly bounded by what is now Gordon Parage, Whites Road and Lota Creek. The first settler, Mr Thomas Jones had a mansion built on the heights above Waterloo Bay with views of the Bay and Islands. He called this home Wyvernleigh, changing it at a later date to Tingalpa House. In these early days Wyvernleigh plantation employed Kanaka servants both in the house and field.
Many of the first purchasers of land were farmers with vineyards, including John Richardson whose vineyard and farm was situated on the present site of the Wynnum Railway station. As more settlers arrived in the region it was inevitable that the area begin to develop rapidly. The attention to the building of roads and the railway into Brisbane City created more interest in the area and it was not long before local authorities administering the area developed.
The principal crop grown by the early settlers was sugar cane. Extensive cane fields stretched from Hemmant through Wynnum and Manly and into the Redlands area. A number of sugar mills were established throughout the area. These mills included the 'Walrus' a stern wheel paddle steamer that worked along the banks of Bulimba Creek and the Brisbane River Crushing Cane for local farmers. The Walrus was a stern wheel steamer and was built at Cleveland as a schooner of 64 tonnes by Captain Taylor Winship. Sugar production declined in the late 1880's due to competition from the more productive fields to the north. The Walrus became established as a distillery, with Walrus Rum well known in those days. During the early years of settlement the Bay and its creeks and rivers provided the most reliable avenues of transport. Boats and barges were used to carry stores, building materials and passengers to the many landings built on the banks of creeks flowing into Moreton Bay.
The beginnings of closer settlement commenced in the 1880's. Developers began to sub-divide some of the large blocks of land on the eastern side of the yet to be built railway line. When built in 1889, the train line from Brisbane, passing through Wynnum and Manly to Cleveland provided a significant incentive for settlement in the area.
The train line also provided an easy means of access to the area for day trips. The area became increasingly popular for campers, especially at Christmas and Easter. Extra train services were provided on weekends bringing crowds from as far away as Ipswich. Before the sea wall along the esplanade was built a strip of sandy beach existed along much of the foreshore. Crowds would swim in the open water as well as in the tidal baths at the end of the Wynnum and Manly jetties.
At this time there were many forms of entertainment for the younger settlers. Groups of children on horseback would hunt possums and native bears in the bushland behind Manly.
Sports were also popular, with a local cricket team composed of boys who made periodic visits to Wellington Point, Hemmant and the Lytton Reformatory where they would play against the prison children. There was also a Minstrel show, under the tuition of Harry Jarman, which was used to raise funds for the Cricket team.
The Bay provided an opportunity for sailing, a pastime that became very popular with the new settlers. Among the pioneer sailing clubs was the Wynnum and Manly Sailing Squad, later becoming the Darling Point Sailing Squadron. The club prospered right from its beginnings in 1909, gaining many members and supporters. In 1915 the club was responsible for the commencement of a plan to build a pleasure resort on Green Island. Volunteer workers built gardens, bathing boxes, shelter sheds and a jetty. The resort however was not meant to be, with the passing of time and vandalism putting an end to the ambitious plan.
Significantly adding to the areas accessibility was the birth in August 1925 of a Motor Bus Service to the City of Brisbane. This service was the 'Pioneer' Bus service, the proprietor being Mr W.S. Argaet. Three return journeys were provided each day to the city, at the cost of 22 cents return. It took 1 � hours to reach Brisbane City.
March 1926 saw the Black and White Bus service commence from Lota. This service commenced in Lota, proceeded through Manly then on to North Quay via Wondall Road. Both of these services were later amalgamated into the Bayside Bus Company.
Sources of information:Armstrong, H.W. (1971) The History and Development of the Wynnum District, Brisbane.
Beitz, M.N. (1982) Mangroves to Moorings: The Past 100 Years of Manly, Queensland, Manly centenary Committee to Commemorate 100 Years of Closer Settlement, Brisbane.
Rotary Club of Wynnum and Manly, Quandamooka Wynnum Jetty Art Project: A Celebration of Moreton Bay and its People, Brisbane.