When John Oxley visited the Moreton Bay Region in December 1823 he was tasked with finding a suitable site for a convict settlement in the hope that eventually settlers could begin occupying the land stretching northwards into Papua New Guinea. His suggestion was ‘Red Cliff Point’, the cliffs off Scarborough point, which had been named by Matthew Flinders during his 1799 voyage.
On 12th September, 1824 the Amity arrived with the first party of Redcoats and convicts to inspect Woody Point, but after searching the mainland and the island of St Helena for drinkable water, they eventually settled near the present day town of Redcliffe.
John Oxley and Lieutenant Henry Miller surveyed the entire peninsula, before deciding to establish the settlement about 200 metres from the beach. Over the next 8 months the convicts constructed the Commandant's House and store (prefabricated in Sydney), the soldiers barracks, a jail and a range of smaller buildings and huts. By this time the conditions on the peninsula were becoming a major concern - food and water were becoming ever scarcer - and so they relocated to Brisbane city in 1825.
100 years later the Redcliffe peninsula was in full swing, preparing to celebrate the centenary of Oxley’s landing.
On 24th September, 1924 the Union Jack was unfurled at the rocks near Sutton’s Beach, replicating the actions of John Oxley when he identified the peninsula as Queensland’s first settlement site. The full account of Oxley’s voyage was recounted before an enraptured collection of 300 children who were all bestowed with a medal specially struck for the occasion.
A full program of luncheons, dinners and sporting events were conducted before a full gala ball was held inside the Redcliffe picture theatre. By this time Redcliffe had become the most attractive holiday destination outside of Brisbane!