When buying a property it is a natural instinct to try to find out a bit of history about the previous owners, or the area. Sometimes that is readily available, sometimes not, but as a family historian, that instinct becomes the focal point with any research, and often the results provide answers to the many questions that are raised when unravelling the family jigsaws, or in this case, the "suburb" jigsaw.
By now it was becoming clear to me that there were some very strong connections between all the original owners of land, and to satisfy my theory about what that connection was, I decided to follow the lives of several more landholders, both in Sandgate and Brackenridge location.
Hobbs, William (1822–1890)
Accompanied by his aged mother, he arrived at Moreton Bay on 1 May 1849 as surgeon of the Chaseley, the second of John Dunmore Lang's migrant ships. After a brief period at Drayton on the Darling Downs, he commenced practice in Brisbane in September. Apart from a few months in 1850 when he relieved as resident surgeon of the Brisbane Hospital on the death of David Ballow, he remained in private practice in Brisbane throughout his professional life.
At various times he held appointments on the honorary staffs of the Brisbane Hospital, the Lying-in Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. He was for many years medical officer to the immigration depot and the gaol. He was health officer for Brisbane in 1854-88 and a member of the Medical Board of Queensland in 1860-88. Professionally he was well regarded and is credited with having administered in 1854 the first chloroform anaesthetic in Brisbane.
Like some other colonial medicos he had an inquiring mind and an interest in experiment. He became a protagonist of the medicinal use of dugong oil, a form of therapy for which he coined the name 'Elaiopathy'; samples of his oil were sent to the Paris Exhibition in 1855 but he failed in an attempt to produce and market it commercially. At his property at Humpybong (Redcliffe) he discovered a spring with alleged anti-anaemic virtues. He grew cotton and is said to have sent samples to the editor of the Economist but again lost money through backing the Caboolture Cotton Co.
His later years were clouded by the findings of the 1876 royal commission on lunatic asylums which reported evidence of neglect in the reception house at Petrie Terrace where he was visiting surgeon. T
William and Elizabeth Hobbs between them owned 9 parcels of land.
Elizabeth Hobbs Lot 116 94.3 acres 1 June 1854
Elizabeth Hobbs Lot 120 94.3 acres 1 June 1854
William Hobbs Lot 59 104.5 acres 15 March 1855
William Hobbs Lot 60 104.5 acres 15 March 1855
William Hobbs Lot 61 104.5 acres 15 March 1855
William Hobbs Lot 99 199 acres 2nd April 1855
William Hobbs Lot 100 199 acres 2nd April 1855
William Hobbs Lot 101 199 acres 2nd April 1855
William Hobbs Lot 102 199 acres 2nd April 1855
Well Dr Hobbs was a rather important figure in the life of early Queensland. What would have been his interest in the lands?
Fancy experimenting with the "dugong oil", I am glad that idea wasn't popular.
He was a cotton grower at Humpybong,
This extract is from an old document from the Queensland Museum.
As early as the Paris event of 1855, Queensland's dugong (or sea Cow) was featured at exhibitions. Prized for its oil ("a superior" medicine to cod liver oil), its flesh (for bacon and lard), its skin (for glue and "tough leather") and even its bones and tusks (for "good second-rate ivory), colonists soon found that "every part" of the dugong could be turned to profit.
So intensively was the dugong "fished" off southern Queensland that by the early 1860's its fate was already "sealed". Queensland's pioneer exhibitor of dugong oil was the Brisbane medical practitioner Dr William Hobbs, proprietor of the St Helena dugong oil factory and a commissioner for the exhibitions of 1862 and 1867.
At the succeeding Philadelphia and Paris events John Lionel Ching of the Hervey Bay fishery showed not only dozens of bottles of dugong oil, but also dugong skeletons, tusks, teeth, and even a dugong calf in spirits.
Thankfully times have changed, and Hervey Bay is the "home" of many dugongs, who come to feed on the sea grass. One day when walking the dogs on Scarness beach, a group of us were intrigued by the dorsal fin swimming close to the shore. "it's a shark, no it's a porpoise" said some, but until it raised its head, none of us knew that it was in fact a baby dugong!
Not the prettiest of sea creatures, but certainly very cute!