Deception Bay Heritage Trail


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Deception Bay has a rich history, from The Gubbi Gubbi – the traditional owners of the area to the establishment of a Moreton Bay penal colony.

Easy history walk on early settlement history

The Deception Bay Heritage Trail covers about four kilometres and can be completed in a 90-minute stroll. Over 10 unique sculptural markers, made from brushed and painted aluminium on structural aluminium pipe, identify each heritage location. These markers were created by artist partners and Deception Bay residents, Paul D Johnson and Gail Mason, who have sculptural works in the public domain from Darwin to Melbourne.

The abstract forms of the markers were inspired by mangrove leaves in various states of growth and decay, mangrove root systems and the foreshore rock formations that can be seen at the northern end of the Bay at low tide.

Deception Bay Heritage Tail markers

  1. Bathing Pool
  2. An Inquiring Mind
  3. Matchbox Mozzies
  4. Mrs Bancroft's Bath
  5. Tinned Meat
  6. Mistaken Identity
  7. Deception Bay Defence
  8. "Next, Please."
  9. Building Community
  10. Eking out a Living
  11. Tradition and Change
  12. Growing up in Deception BAy
  13. From Across the Seas
  14. Boondar
  15. Fishing Traditional Style
  16. Hidden Midden

Getting started

The Heritage Trail begins at the intersection of Beach Road and Joseph Crescent, following Captain Cook Parade, down to the Southern end of Esplanade.

If visitors are seeking further information about Deception Bay’s heritage, they can enquire at the Deception Bay Library adjacent to Captain Cook Parade between Bayview Terrace and Endeavour Street.

Indigenous history of Deception Bay

Take a moment to step back in time to experience some of the stories and events that have taken place in Deception Bay.

Indigenous Australians have long had a deep association with this region. Their ancient stories and history have been handed down in pictorial representations and by word of mouth, and in recent years these have been verified by archaeologists through the dating of cultural heritage sites nearby.

The melting of the ice 10,000 years ago altered the landscape in this area, creating what you see today. Prior to that event, there were no Bribie, Moreton or Stradbroke islands. Instead, the Brisbane River meandered across countryside that is now Moreton Bay and emptied into the ocean between what are now Moreton and Bribie islands.

The arrival of the British in Deception Bay occurred as the result of an “accident”.

In 1823, Thomas Pamphlett, John Thompson and Richard Parsons, ex-convicts who had served their sentences, and John Finnegan a convict who was still to do so, were ordered to travel from Sydney by boat to Illawarra, south of Sydney, to collect cedar wood.

Instead, Pamphlett, Finnegan and Parsons ended up on Moreton Island (Thompson died en-route) and were rescued by Gubbi Gubbi people who nursed them back to health. The men’s explanation for the ultimate result of their journey was that they were “washed northwards in a cyclone”.

The Gubbi Gubbi – the traditional owners of the area – showed the castaways their tribal land, including Deception Bay.

In September 1823, explorer John Oxley, who had been searching the coast for a suitable site for a new convict settlement, “rescued” Pamphlett and Finnegan. (Parsons was found further north about a year later). Pamphlett and Finnegan showed Oxley the area. As a consequence, the first penal colony in what was to become the State of Queensland was established in Redcliffe in 1824.

In 1825, the colony was moved to Brisbane and put under the charge of Captain Patrick Logan.

The push by Europeans for pastures and farmland began in earnest a few decades later. In the Deception Bay area, the British indulged in activities such as beekeeping, fishing and other rural pursuits.

For the Gubbi Gubbi and the Turrbal people south of the Pine River, this marked the end of days of living off nature on fresh seafood and fruits of the forests.

Content from Moreton Bay Regional Council, Deception Bay Heritage Trail Brochure, contribution by Dr Eve Fesl, Gubbi Gubbi Traditional Owner.

Discover more Moreton Bay Penal Colony information:


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