Historical Mapping of Moreton Bay

Many maps of and including Moreton Bay represent the many meanings and values attributed to the Bay.

The Last Glacial Palaeo –topography of Moreton Bay 17 000 years ago indicate low sea levelsand eroded fresh water stream valleys from the ancient Brisbane River.

1 000,000 years ago fluctuating glacial sea levels, deposits of silica and heavy mineral sand, formed two vast barrier islands Mulgumpin (Moreton) and Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) homelands to their Aboriginal inhabitants for at least 40 000 years.

Norman Tindale’s 1940 map of Australia’s Aboriginal attempts to attempt to represent all the language, tribal or nation groups of the Aboriginal people of Australia goes some way to recognise the cultural history of the lands and seas of Australia. 

In 1799 Matthew Flinders sailed into the Bay. His chart of Moreton Bay : “A voyage to Terra Australia’. London: G. & W. Nichol, 1814 is here included as is Joshua Peter Bell’s navigation map from his 1950 publication The Yachtsman’s Guide, Moreton Bay and How to Fathom It.

The past 6500 years of theof the Halocene “stillstand” period have seen relatively stable sea levels in the Bay, a subsequent proliferation of life and in the last 50 years a proliferation of mapping.

Local, state and federal governments map electoral, environmental, marine park zonings, storm and flood waters. International conventions such as Ramsar have mapped the Bay and the journey of migrating birds have been mapped by environmental groups.

Lyrical Writings of Cassim and Sandy Islands

Islands of Moreton Bay written by Helen Horton published by Brisbane Boolarong Publications in 1983 include this precious narrative of the two islands Cassim and Sandy which are so close to Nandeebie’s (Cleveland) foreshore and Toondah Harbour. Writings such as this are testament to their contemporary cultural value.

Art and Aboriginal Place Names

Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman and artist. Her artwork explores the reclamation of Australia’s geographical place names.

An artists talk is scheduled for Saturday 2-3pm at the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane.

Pictured here is an image of at 2014 exhibition YUNGGULBA (FLOODTIDE) at the Redland Art Gallery.

Yunggulba is an extension of the Megan Cope’s After the Flood series which explores geomorphology, raising questions about climate change and vulnerability of residents along the coastline of Australia. Cope combines military topographical maps (circa 1930-45) with basic cartographic symbology to reveal a multilayered landscape, dual histories, dual identities and the cultural legacy of colonialism. Aboriginal people at the time these maps were made were largely invisible in the social landscape and heavily affected by current government policies”.

Retrieved from http://artgallery.redland.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/past-exhibitions-2014/yunggulba-floodtide-megan-cope/ June 19, 2017

Cassim a History

THomas Welsby states in his Recollections of the Natives of Moreton Bay. Together with some of their names and Customs of Living delivered before the University Historical Society in 1967 that

“At that time, i.e., about 1879, there were many natives at Amity, some of the real dark old-day men, and as the moon was at its full, an improvised cor- roboree was given by the men and their gins. One comical native—and one, I daresay, well remembered by many boating men—was living there at the time, his gunyah being very close to tlie beach, not far from where the present test-house stands. He liad a deformed arm and leg, and could not take part in the more active games and dances of his comrades. He was a born actor and a wonderfully clever mimic, and as cunning as the verit- able rat. His name was Cassim, or, as he himself would ever put it, John William Cassim, Esquire. He was not the Cassim who kept the hotel at Cleveland’. (p.115)

“Billy Cassim, who sang a fairly decent song, English and black words intermingled, as he deemed it necessary,, was also the author of many Amity Point corroborees. His native name was “Nyoryo” supposed to mean “ropehauler.” How often have I heard him sing, “We won’t go home till morning,” and “Rule Britannia.” It hasbeen said that Billy was the composer of two comedies, “The Chinaman Corroboree” and “The South Passage Corroboree.” (p.116)

“Billy Cassim died in 1890, and lies asleep not far from his namesake, Cassim of Cleveland, the burial being made in the native quarter in the Dunwich cemetery,” (p.117)

An Indian national Johnny Cassim was transported to the Island of Mauritius for the term of  his natural life in 1828.  After transport again to Moreton Bay hee obtained a Ticket of Leave in 1843, Cassim went onto own boarding houses and died in Cleveland in 1884 a property owner and respected business man.

An Aboriginal man John William Cassim Esquire (Billy) was one of the men who rescued survivors of the Sovereign in 1844. It is assumed he took his name after 1855 when Johnny Cassim came into contact with local people. Patrick J Tynan in his book Johnny Cassim Coolie – Convict – Catchumen – Colonial Entrepereur 1814-1884 suggest that Billy Cassim would have “taken on Cassims’ name” as “It often happened that Aboriginal people took the name of one of the non-aboriginal arrivals in their area, out of admiration” p.71.

Cassim Island was named after one or perhaps the other of these gentleman.

Of the Cassim Island wreck A. J. Pixley in a 1970 reading Shipwrecks ev Queensland and Adjacent Waters to The Society says

“At the time I thought it may have belonged to the steamer Toondah, the remains of which ship lie on Cassim Island just off Cleveland. This is the ship in which Cecil Fison’s grandfather surveyed and beaconed the channels of Moreton Bay. My assumption that this boiler came from the Toondah proved to be wrong. CecU Fison told me that the boiler and engine had been removed at the Port Office. How or why the hull finished up at Cassim Island I am unable to say”. (p.154)

Image taken from Tynan, P. J. (2005). Johnny Cassim Coolie – Convict – Catchumen – Colonial Entrepeneur 1814-1884


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnki-t9cIY4 Retrieved June 15, 2017

Pixley, A. J. (1970) iShipwrecks ev Queensland and Adjacent Waters. Reading to The Society.

Tynan, P. J. (2005). Johnny Cassim Coolie – Convict – Catchumen – Colonial Entrepeneur 1814-1884. Church Archivist’s Press.

Welsby, T. H. O. S. (1917). Recollections of the natives of Moreton Bay. Historical Society of Queensland Journal1, 110-129.


There are 500 000 migrating birds leaving Australian shores every year. The Australasian Flyway encompaces 22 countries, and is a 25 000 km round trip. But many birds spend most of their time here. There are 35 different species and their survival is dependent on habitat preservation. Moreton Bay shore lines are under threat from the Toondah Harbour redevelopment and critical bird habitats will be built on or polluted.

“FLYWAY investigates the enchanting nature of migratory birds and the annual epic, threatened journeys they make across a shifting globe in search of rest, food and a nest. Wearing headphones and binoculars audiences are enveloped in a lush soundscape and led on a birdwatching tour through urban spaces to encounter special moments dotted along the path – birds framed by screens, lenses and the city itself. Using video, sound and performance FLYWAY merges foreground and background and points to our mediated experience of ‘nature’.

The richly layered audiovisual work is drawn from a partnership with Birdlife Australia and their volunteer networks. Elizabeth Dunn undertook an extensive, month-long field research trip along the coast between Melbourne and Maryborough (QLD) to meet with local birders, visit bird sites and collect field recordings. Inspired by colossal migrations, Flyway’s sonic character suggests thick clusters of bird flocks and dense clouds of sound, shifting up and down along the coasts of nations as it creates an auditory envelope around its participants”.

Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/58687327 June 11, 2017

[vimeo 58687327 w=480 h=270]


I Matai (The Dead)

“Nandeebie Screen is a film and screen journey through the world of First Peoples, from locally produced to works from our brothers and sisters in the Pacific, to the Americas, the Artic circle and the deserts of the Sahara.  We are listening to the voices which beat alongside our own rhythms, seeking to share knowledges which illuminate our sovereign place in the world”.

Retrieved from http://nandeebiescreen.net/about/ June 6, 2017

“Short films include I Matai (The Dead), which is an experimental take on the ancient Chamoru death ceremony told through the prayers of a man grieving over the death of his brother”.

An extraordinary short  film involving fire, ritual offerings, water and sound,.


Screen Shot 2018-12-23 at 2.13.18 pm


Cassim and Sandy Island Geography

Gold Cats Flyer exits Toondah Harbour approximately hourly every day between 5am and 8pm. Cassim Island is less than one kilometre from the harbour and Sandy two.

Tides were extremely low Saturday afternoon May 27. It revealed the eastern reach of Cassim all the way to Sandy Island and the otherwise underwater geologies and their interconnectedness.