Grand old lady who helped build a colony

She carried away much of the great forests of the Sunshine Coast, transporting thousands of logs of the best quality timber to Brisbane for milling or onward to the rest of Australia or overseas.

But the Gneering is now an historic shipwreck on Goat Island near the mouth of the Maroochy River at Maroochydore.

The hulk and a heap of steel cable and massive timber beams were exposed in 1997 but have not been seen since. Some reports state that the Gneering was lost in the great flood of 1893 but the end came before that.
In 1892, she was beached, abandoned, dismantled and left on the opposite bank of the river to William Pettigrew’s Maroochydore mill.

John Williams had launched Gneering in the mid 1850s as the John.

Three new owners - William Pettigrew the sawmiller, William Grigor the timber overseer and James Low the ship’s captain - bought and outfitted her for the timber trade under the name of Granite City.

In 1862 they sailed from Brisbane to assess the Maroochy and Mooloolah River entrances and later that year the Granite City was delivering timber-getters and a large quantity of supplies.

The following year they crossed the Noosa Bar to examine the timber resources along the Noosa River.
But the efforts of the Granite City were not enough to feed the colony’s appetite for timber and a larger ship was needed. In 1863 the schooner was transformed to a paddle steamer and given a new name, Gneering, the Aboriginal word for wild duck.

So many ships sought the valuable timbers such as cedar it could have been described as a red goldrush.
The Gneering played an important part in development. She would carry goods to and from ships anchored in Moreton Bay. Casks of tallow and bales of wool were delivered for export. The young colony was dependent on imports such as manufactured foods, clothing and farm machinery.

She carried miners to the Mooloolah River or the Caboolture River from where they mainly walked to the goldfields of Gympie or Jimna.

She provided transport for passengers and selectors when waterways were our highways.

She delivered farmers’ produce back to Brisbane and from Caboolture, she carried sugar cake and rum.

In 1883, the Gneering was fitted with twin screws to better negotiate the shallow river entrances.

Remarkably, she survived for almost another 10 years and was always fondly recalled by residents, who relied on her for transport and provisions, as a familiar sight.

A new era began with the opening of the rail link in 1891, sealing her fate.

Image: 1880s, the sternwheel paddle steamer Gneering, left, and the Tarshaw at William Pettigrew’s wharf, Brisbane.