“The Way we went to Wivenhoe by way of Australia.”
Paul and Maggie Brown
When on duty as Town
Crier at the 2004 June Market, Town Mayor Cllr Peter Hill said, “When
you’re off to Australia, Paul, go to Brisbane to find the Wivenhoe
“Oh, yes, “I
thought, “small chance of that! Doesn’t
he realise Australia is the size of Europe?”
Anyway, we did arrive
in Brisbane from Singapore, hired a car and made our first adventure the
hunt for the infamous dam. “You
can’t miss it,” they said. “It’s
the one next to Lake Somerset.”
It didn’t have too
much of a reputation amongst Brisbane locals including the girl at the
Queen Street Tourist Information office.
“What do you want to go there for?
It’s so boring! My
grandfather does there every year for his holidays.
He grew up there. I’ll
ring him to ask who named the dam Wivenhoe.”
But no luck!
Cheryl, of the
Queensland Museum, was more positive.
“Every time I come round that bend and spot the lake my breath
gets taken away! That big
expanse of water. I just love
driving across the dam.”
So, off we set,
frequently asking directions from Aussies who did say, “Gday” but not
“streuth”. Rapidly we
understood that they call it Wyvenhoe.
Interesting as that’s the way we pronounced it in Victorian
times. We changed, they
Thirty miles later,
Lake Wivenhoe appeared. It’s
a whopping great place; beats the boating lake at Brightlingsea any day. More like Lake Conniston!
After standing on a sort of viewing platform which
gives you a funny feeling somewhere in your body…… we went for a
photo’ on the dam. Road
repairs everywhere, screaming diggers and trucks with enough yellow sand
to make you wonder what it would be like when they bring the cement.
Anyway, we asked a nice “stop the traffic lady” if she would
take our photo. She got her
make to hold up the traffic while she took a shot.
The queues of motorists were only too happy to be late for lunch!
Later we found there was an historic Bellevue
Homestead moved piece by piece when they dammed the Brisbane River in
1973. Just like our Wivenhoe
Dam, designed to make another place free from floods, this time Brisbane
and not Colchester. Bellevue
Homestead was on the Wivenhoe stock run, funny that.
Just who had been there all those years ago, 120 years, I reckon?
Does anybody have the answer or was it just
coincidence? Nobody out there
knows. Ferritt and Uhr were
the original settling pastoralists. Not
Wivenhoe names that I know of.
A good chap showed us round the Bellevue
Homestead; took an hour over it. He
was off to the pub to meet his mates but delayed for us.
That’s one unusual Aussie! The
homestead had been owned by the National Trust of Australia but sold on
with this “gent” custodian/caretaker.
In a dark outhouse he warned us of “Joe Blakes” while
expressing his dislike of the “blue-rinse mob” who visit on their
He refused my five dollars for a beer but I told
him he was a “little bottler” – a hero – and that the people of
Wivenhoe would think him a “half-tidy sort of chap”.
Paul and Maggie Brown
|Above: The Wivenhoe Dam, near Brisbane Australia
Below: Paul Brown enjoying the view across Lake
|Above: Wivenhoe bear from Essex at Lake Wivenhoe,
Below: Belle Vue Homestead, Wivenhoe, Queensland
Note: Ray Harvey, a descendant of John
Harvey, and who lives in Brisbane, researched the following for me.
Wivenhoe, the property was named after a maritime town in Essex,
England, on the River Colne, near Colchester. It had been taken up
by the Uhr brothers, one of whom was killed by the Aboriginals while
working sheep in a yard near the present Lake Manchester (near
Ipswich). The surviving brother, together with a retired naval man,
J.S.Ferriter, held the property for some time. It was bought by the
North family in 1849. Wivenhoe Inn nearby became a popular stopping
place. The name has been given to the dam built to augment
Brisbane's water supply. Peter Hill