Exploring the Attractiveness of Moreton Bay to Free Settlers

Moreton Bay, located on the east coast of Australia, 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from the center of Brisbane, Queensland, is one of Queensland's most important coastal resources. Following Bigge's recommendations, in 1823 Governor Thomas Brisbane instructed surveyor General John Oxley to explore Moreton Bay to investigate a suitable site for a penal settlement. The remoteness of the bay — from Sydney and other European communities — made it an ideal place as a place of exile for the “worst” convicts. The waters of Moreton Bay are a popular destination for recreational anglers and are used by commercial operators who offer seafood to the market. On February 11, 1842, Moreton Bay was officially declared open to free settlement.

Those convicted of the second and third offences, for which the criminal agreement was established, were returned to Sydney. Instead, 55 “ordinary Crown prisoners” were sent to Brisbane to help establish free settlement. Twenty-two were assigned to the surveyors, three to work at the hospital, one to the pilot's crew at Amity Point, four as ship crew members for the settlement, and the rest were assigned as needed. After visiting Moreton Bay in 1845, he returned to England trying to obtain government support to establish a system of Protestant emigration to Australia (Moreton Bay and Philip Bay in Victoria). Car ferries began crossing the bay to reach North Stradbroke Island in 1947, leading to an increase in tourism on the island.

On February 12 of this year, a notice appeared in the Gazette about the establishment of a Supreme Court circuit for Moreton Bay; and the following May 13, it was inaugurated by the late Sr. Hamilton Ramsay (who was recently the guardian of the northern gold fields), who had traveled overland from Canoona with a hundred ounces of gold, surprised people with his usual decorum and proposed a meeting to arrange measures to establish a regular line of communication between Rockhampton and Moreton Bay, starting with a steamboat and at least two schooners. The bay is home to many other water sports and activities, such as canoeing, jet skiing, windsurfing and water skiing. Of the fifty horses captured in Moreton Bay, nine had died from various causes, and many were so weak that they fell to the ground and had to be picked up before they could be fed. This includes the populated Russell, Macleay, Lamb and Karragarra Islands, known collectively as the Southern Moreton Bay Islands. Bigge, who had left the Wide Bay, Burnett and Maranoa electoral districts without representation, a nomination meeting was called to be held in Ipswich, and on the appointed day, the returning officer and three voters attended, who were assisted by two lawyers.

Whether Moreton Bay was a Crown colony or a representative colony, it was clear that if convicts were sent there, it would arouse great and widespread discontent across Australia. In 1993, large areas of Moreton Bay - with an area of more than 113 000 hectares (28 000 acres) - were recognized as wetlands of international importance under the 1971 Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. In elections that followed its enactment, Moreton Bay - together with Macquarie and Upper Hunter electoral districts - had a very negligible influence on electing Mr Grundy. The doctor sent a characteristic letter to Chaselys addressed by Post Office to inhabitants of Moreton Bay. The engineer employed sent two reports; one on obstructions between Brisbane & Ipswich & another on necessary works between Brisbane & bay. As result of this exploration process transport of convicts was sent directly from Great Britain to Moreton Bay but this change in policy proved short-lived. Delays in final adjustment of Constitution for separation of Supreme Court branch in Moreton Bay; transfer of Judge Milford; appointment of Judge Lutwyche; elections under new Electoral Act; Evaluation Act & opposition; formation of municipalities; Mr Hamilton Ramsay's proposal for regular line communication between Rockhampton & Moreton Bay - all these factors made this bay attractive for free settlers. Within Moreton Bay are smaller bays like Waterloo Bay; Redland Bay; Raby Bay; Deception Bay & Bramble Bay - all adding up to its attractiveness as an ideal destination for free settlers.