Legend has it that Cleveland might have been capital of Queensland. Many thought that the sandbank-clogged entrance to the Brisbane River, together with the long journey upstream to reach the port of Brisbane, was too difficult for vessels to undertake. Cleveland, situated on a point in Moreton Bay, had a far easier approach and so it operated as a port with its own customs house for a time. The legend claims that the reason that Cleveland was not declared the capital was because as Governor Sir George Gipps disembarked from his boat when he came to inspect the place he sank up to his waist in mud, which caused him to suggest that Ipswich would be better.
One of the earliest settlers in the area was Francis Bigge. As the younger of two pioneering and enterprising brothers he was known as "Little Bigge". Older brother Frederick established Bigge's Camp west of Ipswich, which later was joined to Ipswich by Queensland's first railway line. Francis "Little" Bigge was a staunch supporter of the Cleveland area and a proponent of its claims to be Queensland's main port. He built a hotel and workers' accommodations in a bid to establish the area. When he built a house on what is now Shore St around 1863, he planted a couple of Norfolk Island pine trees that still stand today.
In the background of the image above (taken in 1871), one of the tall pines can be seen. And below, in 1906, is a view of Shore St, and the pines are towering over buildings and other tree species.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #48207)
I am very pleased to report that subsequent generations have not felt the need to do away with the trees. Despite the area now being developed, the trees have been accommodated and continue to stand tall in Cleveland.
My recent photograph shows the Norfolk Island pines in the background. I took the picture from outside the old courthouse, and the rock in the foreground of the image bears a plaque that says "Site of Cleveland Jetty 1948-1991".
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