Tabby Tabby Island is located in the southern part of Moreton Bay. Around 1877, William Gibson settled on the island with his wife Isobel and young son, Jack. The family built a slab house, grew sugar cane, watermelons, bananas and vegetables.
When the ship, the Cambus Wallace was wrecked off nearby Stradbroke Island, the Customs officials from Brisbane hired local people like William Gibson to collect some of the cargo and to keep it safe from theft. There was cases of whiskey, barrels of beer and a large amount of dynamite scattered on the beach.
William Gibson took the family by boat to see the wreck. At low tide it was possible to walk all around the wrecked ship. One of Mr Gibson's children recalled many years after the wreck, ‘My mother was walking along the beach one moonlight night carrying her new baby. Suddenly she came across what appeared to be a body of a women on the sand. Presuming her to be one of the passengers of the Cambus Wallace, she fainted with fright. Later she discovered the ‘body’ was the ship's wooden figurehead. It was transported by boat over to Southport and placed as an attraction outside the Railway Hotel in Scarborough Street.
After the breakthrough of the ocean into Moreton Bay at Jumpinpin, Stradbroke Island was suddenly divided into two separate islands - North and South Stradbroke. Four horses from the settlement of Dunwich to the north, were left stranded on the newly formed South Stradbroke Island. Mr Gibson's teenage sons were fishermen and used to take water to the stranded horses every day to keep them alive. One day on a particularly low out tide, the horses were able to be walked across to North Stradbroke and returned home to Dunwich.
Extracted with permission of the author, Peter Ludlow, from Moreton Bay People: The Complete Collection, (2000), PO Box 3, STONES CORNER QLD 4120.