The Heritage Society turned 21 in '21!

The Coochiemudlo Island Heritage Society (originally 'Historical Society') held its first meeting on April 15 2000. In this our 21st year, we've celebrated our 'coming of age' with a variety of events and workshops. We've recalled our past, made plans for our future, and done our best to support our island community through the present uncertainties that continue to affect us all.

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The Society held it's Annual General Meeting on the 22nd August. A new management committee was elected to guide us through the year ahead.

Office bearers


President: Jan MacIntyre

Vice-President: Carolyn Brammer

Secretary: Jo Comerford

Treasurer: Yvonne Syme


 Kate Barker, Kevin Childs, Peter Wear

President, Jan MacIntyre, delivered her report on the past 12 months.


"I shall give an outline of the considerable accomplishments and significant and pleasurable events that have been part of our year despite dancing with COVID regulations. The Society’s functions have been interesting, friendly and well supported by members and the wider community.

Many people are concerned and anxious about the effects of COVID and I have been delighted and touched by those who volunteered to help as we planned activities and addressed changes in the management of the Society. Volunteers make an organisation, and our volunteers are indeed special.


It's a joy to share the heritage of Coochiemudlo with visitors, members and friends. Towards the end of 2020 Annette Drennan, Keith Stebbins and I walked small groups of children, grades 3 & 4, of Calvary Christian College, Springwood, around Coochiemudlo, greatly enjoying the interaction.

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Another visit brought to the Island volunteers of Redlands Museum who enjoyed the walk around, visited the History Room and lunched at the Curlew Café. They were ably informed by David Paxton and Keith, with Margaret Rolfe-Paxton touring a less able Museum member around in her car. Many of the Redland Museum volunteers shared their past connections with the Island. Our maps help individual visitors explore for themselves. We thank Carolyn Brammer, and now Joe Alahaby, for selling the maps as we also thank them for presenting the Heritage banners at the Curlew Café.

The Society was able to hold one Open Day, in November. Thirty people attended an explanation of the heritage listing of the Emerald Fringe by Rae Wear, and a presentation by Keith Slack of the maps of Coochiemudlo from the 1885 survey onwards

March - An Historic Afternoon Tea

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We were joined by fifty people for an historic Afternoon Tea to begin our '21 in 21' Celebration Year. Walking into the 'tearoom' one was caught up in the 50s by the scene and music. Much tasty food was skilfully distributed by the attentive wait-staff in line with COVID regulations. Of course, the food included tea and scones to honour our pioneering tourist operators and farmers, the Mortons. We were delighted to welcome Reverend Paul Bland, our guest and a grandson of the Mortons, who was kind enough to share stories.


Margaret Rolfe-Paxton’s pocket history of the Mortons found resonance in the poem performed by Kate Barker. The enjoyment of those present was a tribute to the enormous effort of Margaret, Daveen O’Pray, David Paxton and their hard-working team.

July - Reception in the Wake of the Norfolk


Forty-eight people enjoyed Jane Virtue’s stories of Coochiemudlo Island, Coochiemudlo Sailing Club and Jane’s wider life as aviator, sailor and more. Jane responded with more stories to the questions asked of her and we learned she had taught a member of the Society to fly. All those present enjoyed the tales of the Coochiemudlo Sailing club and beyond.


Leslie MacLean and her team, Annette Drennan, Jo Comerford and Jane Caldwell worked in various ways, in the kitchen, on the door, serving the delicious platters. Graham Roberts-Thomson and John Pickford did sterling service on the bar. Graeme showed he has great skill as he auctioned the excess drinks. I am always impressed how the Coochiemudlo community helps at the end of any function: chairs away, tables cleared, helping with washing up and such.

July - Flinders' Day Re-enactment

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Working with the COVID regulations, we were able to hold the Re-enactment of Flinders’ landing on Coochiemudlo with the blessing of perfect weather. 
The Bay sparkled as a back drop along with the flotilla off shore. We were delighted to welcome back the TS Norfolk Australian Navy Cadets who formed a guard of honour as our Flinders set foot on Norfolk Beach. Graeme Roberts-Thomson coordinated the event and again was an excellent MC with David Paxton updating the script and taking care of the sextant.


Trim’s team, Steve Shelley, our new Flinders, MacIntyre Newton, an old hand at crew, and Reef Bowden, our new crew member, were ideal in their roles.
National Historical Days The Society respects the nation’s historical days, and a wreath was laid with due respect for each of Remembrance Day 2020 and Anzac Day 2021.

The Emerald Fringe - a busy year


Community discussion at the Open Day, mentioned above, dealt with the Redland City Council's proposal for a city-wide Land Management Plan to allow temporary commercial activity on the Main Beach foreshore. This gave the Management Committee of the Heritage Society useful feedback as did activity on the Island’s Facebook page. A submission opposing 
commercial activity was  produced by Peter Wear, Heritage Secretary, supported by the Heritage Management Committee and submitted to RCC.


It was good news indeed, that at a meeting of RCC in June the Society learned that no new business activity will be permitted on Main Beach. The Foreshore West has been removed from the Land Management Plan and the Foreshore East restricted to only permitting the existing boat hire business.

Emerald Fringe Workshop May 2021

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The Workshop was another step in protecting the heritage listed Emerald Fringe and fifty community members came together to listen and discuss ideas. The principal goal of the workshop was to discuss what we as a community can do to protect and enhance the Emerald Fringe. A further goal was to collaboratively engage with RCC in caring for the Emerald Fringe. We learned from RCC officers, Dean Butcher, Strategic Planner, and Rory House, Senior Conservation Officer, that Coochiemudlo Island is categorised by the RCC as a T1 tourist destination.


We also learned that impact assessable developments (such as a water park) would go to the community for comment but operational work in the Emerald Fringe, such as maintenance and repairing structures do not, as these works are assessed against RCC's planning regulations. We learned from Catherine Brouwer, Landscape Architect, that it is possible to design change for tourist use but retain heritage values. The Workshop was an important first step in what will be an ongoing process. We have begun to implement some of the recommendations from the report of the Workshop.

One recommendation was to establish small group heritage walks for members of the local community. David Paxton agreed to lead these, and fifteen participants walked and talked, and stopped and listened, enthralled by David's account of the history and significance of many places on the walk. David invited participants to take his words 'with a grain of salt' but all were convinced of the veracity of his stories.

July - The Inaugural Mangrove Festival


So much preparation over 12 months went into planning for the inaugural Mangrove Festival by the Mangrove Festival sub-committee, very ably led by Rae Wear. Mangrove walks, art shows, boat trips and cultural events were prepared. Many of the members of the Coochiemudlo Artisans Collective created a showing with a mangrove theme and Narelle Renn lent her exhibition of mangroves. The Society thanks those who donated items for the raffle and supported the event in so many ways.

The Festival was to be launched by Emeritus Professor John Pearn, a writer and publisher on Coochiemudlo of 30 years, Dr Norm Duke a mangrove ecologist of 40 years, was to deliver the mangrove festival address and to be joined by Coochiemudlo residents, Dr Mark Pillsworth and Ms Toni Cannard for a Q&A session.

A host of volunteers were helping on the day and the members of the Men's Shed started offering their wonderful BBQ and by 10:00am over 100 people had arrived to see the sites.


Then drama, but not quite trauma, with the news that a sudden Covid lockdown had been declared by the Queensland Government. Only a few hours were allowed for all SE Queenslanders to get to their homes. Peter Wear contacted local member Kim Richards who strongly advised an immediate closing of the Festival. A call from the council to Rae Wear confirmed we must immediately vacate the Community Hall, the event's HQ.The Festival was brought to a close just after 10am.


The interest from members and friends of the Heritage Society and from people far beyond the Redlands convinced all that the Mangrove Festival was a good idea. The Sub-committee has not dissolved in tears but resolved to recommend to the Heritage Management Committee that another Mangrove Festival be held.

Settler History

David Paxton and Keith Stebbins interviewed Denise Foley about the establishment of the Golf Course and this is now in the Society's records along with Keith's booklet. David has quite a collection of histories of the Island and is gathering that knowledge together so it can be digitised.

The cricket bat carved for his son by Norm Pullen who settled on the Island in 1948, was held by the Heritage Society from 2015 to 2021, and returned this year to John (Croc) Clark, the original donor. Croc will construct a presentation box for the bat and give it to the Coochiemudlo Island Recreation Club.


Margaret Saunders, who had been garaging our boat ’Trim’, is no longer able to care for herself at home. For her 90th birthday in June David and Margaret Rolfe- Paxton visited her and presented a card from the Heritage Society. The Society thanks Margaret for the ongoing storage of Trim and Annette Drennan for taking Trim into her care.

Year Books

I am pleased to report that Margaret Paxton-Rolfe took on the Year Book project and thank Denise Preston for compiling the Year Books over many years.

Governance and Management

The newly elected members of the Management Committee began their year of service with a special meeting to plan 2020 - 2021 and to discuss our governance practices, noting that we wear the twin hats of governance and management. Subcommittees focusing on single issues have continued with the Emerald Fringe, Care of Trim and the Mangrove Festival Sub-committees. The practice of creating 'Flying Minutes' has proved a boon. This is where decisions which require committee approval but need to be resolved before the committee's next scheduled meeting can be made. Jo Comerford took on the role of notetaker to allow Peter to concentrate on giving input to the meetings.

Communication changes

The excellent collection of digital records, documents, images, video and audio on the inaugural Heritage website, was entirely the work of our previous secretary, Christine Leonard. These have been transferred to the new site that Peter Wear has restyled. Peter has digitised Emeritus Professor John Pearn's two books, Chronicles of Coochiemudlo and Characters, Cloves and Cliffs. More such work will follow.

The website has become a useful place to join the Society, pay fees to keep membership up to date, register for events and find interesting information. Peter has worked with the portal to enable PayPal and credit cards to be used.


Mailchimp, instigated by Peter, allows us to personalise mailouts, tag mailouts specifically and provide a current membership list. Peter has ensured there is a Square card reader that can be used at events. The Society has its own government QR code for any events held in the Hall.


This past year has led to a surge of interest in the Society to the extent we now have 86 members. We have reached out to include our members and the wider community so managing succession in a positive way. The year has seen the organisation move along the continuum of development to stay relevant to its members and the community it serves.


The Management Committee has endeavoured to position the Society as an up-to-date organisation that cares about its stewardship of heritage, advocates as necessary and educates where it can. This continues the reputation of the previous focus of the Heritage Society as a trusted lead organisation in the Coochiemudlo community.

Plans for Coming Year

Eight people have nominated for the 2021 - 2022 Management Committee, with only three of those people on the current committee. It is encouraging to know that all members will be enthusiastic and bring new and exciting ideas for the Society whilst understanding that 'heritage contributes to our sense of place' and the aim is to reflect our mission that encompasses indigenous, settler, and environmental heritage.

The Society will continue to advocate for the Emerald Fringe and for a designated Redland City Heritage Officer and use the Report of the Emerald Fringe Workshop as a guide. The Mangrove Festival is unfinished business and deserves to continue as until its early closure it was a resounding success. With a taste for ongoing settler history within the community, more of that history will appear on the website and be gathered from those who can tell the stories as will our relationship with the Quandamooka people.

The administrative changes we have made will be consolidated. Perhaps that new constitution will come to light. We hope and plan to have social activities, Open Days, and Flinders' Re-enactment. We look forward to collaborating with the Redland Museum in their 50th anniversary in 2022.


As always, the Heritage Society has much to be thankful for. The Society has held events whilst dancing with COVID and for this ability I thank all our volunteers who persevered not knowing if the event was going to happen and just which regulation applied. I thank those volunteers who stepped in at last minute to help with an event or in some other way. The Society thanks the members and friends who registered for events not knowing if they were to happen but confident that the Society would monitor the COVID regulations and act appropriately.

We thank Kim Richards, State Member for Redlands for her interest and the ready advice and help with the COVID regulations from her office. We thank Lance Hewlett, RCC Councillor for Division 4 for his support, attending and addressing the Emerald Fringe Workshop, ensuring the officers who attended understood the Emerald Fringe, his support for our application for a grant for the Mangrove Festival and the help and advice from his office.

We thank Catherine Brouwer, Landscape Architect for her sustained help with the Emerald Fringe Workshop and the constant support she gives the Society.

The Society thanks the Coochiemudlo community members for their responses to our Facebook posts and support of our activities. Community organisations and businesses have always been supportive, and we thank the Men's Shed, the Artisans Collective, Coochiemudlo Boat Hire and Curlew Cafe for their support of the Mangrove Festival and Coochiemudlo Island Beach Bar for its support of the Reception in the Wake of the Norfolk. We thank Rachael Krinks for including Heritage news and events in the widely read Coochie Island News.

I give my personal thanks to those who have served on the Management Committee this year. You have responded well to our dance with COVID, and the administrative changes made. We have all learned together and I have valued the advice given personally to me. Thank you. I thank Peter, who is stepping down as Secretary but has nominated to stay on the Management Committee, giving him scope to manage the IT. I thank Leslie who is retiring this year, for her work as Treasurer, I will miss her ideas and her reports. I thank Annette who has given loyal service and who I cannot believe packs in so much work for the Society when she is home, may her travels continue to bring her joy.

I have kept the last thank you for David Paxton. David has held every position on the Management Committee over 18 years - a remarkable service that David has decided to relinquish to give the organisation scope to bring along new people so broadening ideas at management meetings. This action is another service to Heritage.


We, especially I, could not allow David to 'waltz off into the sunset' and let that immense knowledge of the history of the Island and all that corporate knowledge of the organisation to wander away. Yes, as he has told me often, it can all be found in the files, but only bones are in the files, David has the stories that don't make the files!!!


So, to retain those stories, the reasons for past actions by the Management Committee, and much more, the Management Committee has created a uniquely singular role only for David. That role is one of 'Advisor' and I am sure all members of the Society will agree it signals a special ongoing relationship.

I wish the new committee success in the coming year."


The Heritage Society warmly thanks our sponsors and partners