The Sunshine Coast gets to work

Two fish canneries were set up on the northern tip of Bribie Island, one was owned by James Clark and the other by Thomas Maloney & Sons.

It was said that in about 1900, mullet, snapper and tailor were so thick in Pumicestone Passage you could almost walk across the water.

But by 1913 both canneries had closed. The reason given is that they could not compete with cheaper imports.
The Maloneys owned boats and operated a cargo service bringing much-needed supplies to Caloundra and delivering oysters to the city until the mid 1920s.

From the 1920s to the 1940s they collected shell grit which was needed for the poultry industry, to avoid soft shelled eggs.

Leases were held at Shelly, Dicky and Golden Beach and the grit was shovelled by hand into bags.
Horses were used to snig the bags up the beach to their truck where the grit was dried out, re-bagged and delivered by boat to produce agents in Brisbane.

In the 1920s, oyster shells were taken from Aboriginal middens in Pumicestone Passage and crushed for lime to be used in the Brisbane building industry. The empty boats returned with supplies and were more economical and efficient than carting by wagons overland. Bli Bli and Pumicestone passage were noted for oysters and oyster cutters carried away the rich bounty to Brisbane.

Passengers also travelled on the oyster cutters but some took the long route and, after 1890, came by train to Landsborough and travelled over a very rough track by horse and buggy to Caloundra.

As early as 1917, pineapple canneries were set up at Woombye and Palmwoods. Farms in this area were renowned for their citrus orchards and pineapple farms.

Strawberries and gooseberries for jam making were also in demand.

Moxey, Smith & Dawson owned the MSD cannery. It was one of the biggest ventures and was able to can about 400 cases of pineapples a day.

From 1921 there were three good seasons before bigger companies undercut them. Some smaller canneries were Mr Renouf and Mr. Fitzgerald at Palmwoods and Mr McClintock at Woombye.

The Blanch Brothers of Bli Bli operated a sawmill making cases for pineapples and when timber ran short they decided to start a pineapple cannery.  They grew their own pineapples and collected them in a German wagon. After eight years, production was too costly so that cannery closed as well.

Sources: Brothers of Bribie Heritage, Brisbane, c. 1999; The Chronicle & North Coast Advertiser; Interview Lex Mackay.

Image: A Lighthouse Brand label from the Maloney Brothers whose fresh sea mullet sold for less than five cents a can.