All About Adder

Notes Compiled by Elisabeth Gondwe April 2017

According to Aunty Margaret Iselin the, name of what we now call ‘Adder Rock’ is Mulmakul.  Mulmakul means place of the Death Adder.

Adder Rock is a recent name.  It is thought to date from the 1930’s and refers to the abundance of death adders.  Death Adders hide in the midjimberry bushes to catch birds feeding on the ripe berries. The also burrow into the sand leaving their tail sticking up and looking like a worm to attract birds.  

In the 1930’s there was a scheme during the Great Depression for the ‘muscular unemployed’ called Public Estate Improvement, or PEI.  One such project on North Stradbroke Island in 1936 involved building a road between Amity point and Point Lookout.  A PEI camp was set up near Adder Rock by the Lands Department, housing the workers and their families including 23 children.  Desmond Fitzgerald the teacher in 1937 recalls: “The PEI was involved in improving the road from Amity Point to Point Lookout.  To be eligible to work on the road the men had to have been unemployed for three years and have at least three children. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that little money was spent on the school building.  It was built on low stumps, had a wooden floor, timber framework, iron roof and hessian walls.  Provision was made for the north wall to be rolled up but we got buy with a couple of kerosene lamps.  The wives of the road workers tried boiling water, kerosene, etc, to control the sandflies but had to give up in the end.  As the school provided a still, shaded area it was ideal for sand flies or biting midges and at all times there was a cloud of them in the building.  It was a case of become immune to them or leave.  Several children had to be sent away to relatives.  Some 80 Death Adders were killed in and around the camp.”

The school lasted just over 12 months.  The camp and the school were disbanded overnight.   

Cairns Post (Qld: 1909 – 1954) Fri 4 Jun 1926 Page 5 


Brisbane, June 1,

About 7.30 o’clock last Thursday morning, Mr. B. Port, of Manly, who with a party, was fishing off Stradbroke Island discovered a whale about 20 feet in length, stranded on the beach near First Point Rock. On investigation, it was found that the whale was still breathing. It appeared to have a stick jammed across its mouth.

The Quandamooka People called Point Lookout ‘Mooloomba’.

There was no name for the whole island; each part had a name of its own. The south end was known as “Minjerriba,” Point Lookout as Mooloomba,” and Amity Point as “Brempa.” The dialects at Dunwich and Amity had different names for each locality. The Morton Islanders spoke a dialect totally different from both……… Death adders are numerous especially on the east coast, and a very deadly copperhead snake called “Coorallbong,” of which the blacks are much afraid.  The adder was “Manoolcoon” on Stradbroke, and “Moonoom” on Morton. (

Early Europeans called Adder Rock, first Rock. 

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) Sat 25 Aug 1923 Page 18

POINT LOOKOUT. Named by Matthew Flinders.

Some Interesting Folk Lore.


…….It is not an easy place to journey to and reach, for even getting over the difficulty of arriving at Amity there is, at the very least, an eight or nine mile walk or ride to accomplish the Point proper. And this riding or walking can only be managed when the tide is convenient, that is, low water, for high water means loose, heavy sand and thereby heavy progress. But once the First Rock is reached, the task is well paid. Some of the old-time inhabitants give the name of the first rock as Adder Rock, others name the second rock under the latter cognomen. To my mind, the first rock is the real Adder Rock, for it is on the shore terminus of the long reedy, marshy swamp that runs past Fern Gully, in the inland country, and is also the commencement of the high rocky ridges that terminate at Point Lookout itself. Although I have never seen adders directly on the rock, I have killed them on the near back country, the sloping hills, with their tufty grasses, tending more at the habitat of this deadly reptile than the rock on the northern side of Frenchman’s Beach. …….


This Adder Rock is at times well back from the ocean beach, and during the greater part of the year is easily skirted even at high water. Occasionally heavy winds cause the sand to be washed away right up to its base; then, again, comes a change on the part of nature, and the low tide sand boundary is two hundred or three hundred yards away. From this part of the island to the second rock there runs a beautiful horseshoe beach not unlike the one at Peel Island on its southern side, named by the fishermen as Soapy Beach. Its length is, say, about a third of a mile; it is well protected from south east winds, and at the back, at no great distance, the beautifully timbered country runs down in gentle incline to the dry sandy approaches to high water mark. In appearance, when seen from a distance, it much resembles one side of the Barron Gorge when looking oceanwards. Out in the Pacific Ocean and almost directly opposite, lies, within half a mile or so, Shag Rock, and further

oceanward can be seen the famous Flat Rock.


I have already written that almost opposite Adder Rock can be seen, at no great distance Shag Rock. Four days from leaving Wreck Reef, Flinders reached Point Lookout. “On rowing to Point Lookout, to continue the voyage, I found the wind so fresh from the southward, that the greatest fatigue at the oars could advance us little; we, therefore, ran to the leeward of two rocks lying a mile and a half north-west from the extremity of the point. But on the previous day, August 30, the necessity for a supply of fresh water had become urgent, so in-shore from Shag Rock, and near to Second Rock, the Hope was steered. On shore, some 20 Indians (natives) were seen, and, on signs being made of wanting water, they pointed to a small rill running into the sea. Two sailors then swam ashore with the end of a lead line. On the other end was slung an empty cask, which being pulled ashore was filled at the rill mentioned. On the return to the cutter this hogshead was then received

on board.” 


But of this First or Adder Rock, as well as the little Shag Rock under which Flinders anchored for the night, there remains another and yet an unwritten story. It came to my knowledge within the last few months only, and whilst there seems to me a certain portion of unreality in it, it is, I think, worth the telling. Living comfortably within the precincts of Dunwich there remains an Amity Point native woman, nigh on 80 years of age, possessing a fairly keen memory of earlier times and a knowledge of some of the mysterious rites of the Noon-nuckle race. The Governments of many years have been kind to her, the kindness still remaining, as I trust it will remain, until she seeks the happy hunting grounds. For many years I have known her, and it is always with pride when she refers to the time when she was a “maid” at Government House, in the time of Sir George and Lady Bowen, and that time was in 1859. She has many stories of those pleasant to her days, not necessary for me here to repeat. She tells me that she was born at Amity Point, as was her mother before her, and has dim recollections of the wreck of the Sovereign on the 11th March, 1847. On one occasion, hearing that I intended going out over the South Passage bar in my motor launch for the purpose of fishing for snapper round and about Shag Rock, she told me the following story. Her voice is yet a gentle voice, with the soft expression of the earlier native; her English and vocabulary are excellent. She said that in the very early days the habits and ways of her people were different when compared with now.


Adder Rock was a sacred rock in many ways, and at times all the elderly men and women would gather there performing many rites at its base, the rock giving out certain possessions in the nature of charms that would cure all sicknesses. Were one afflicted with pains in the bones of the body, on bathing in the surf nigh at head at the tides of the full moon, and then resting the body in its complete nakedness on the bare and barren rock, all pains would cease and depart. There was one spot, however, sacred alone to her mother, which spot contained all charm for all illnesses. At the time, so she said, the rock was much nearer the ocean than now, and that I can well believe. She also said that Shag Rock was closer to the beach.

This rock was regarded as the property of her mother, and when severe colds and coughing attacked her, the dame would proceed to Adder Rock, there perform certain rites to a portion that was said to resemble a human face, then swam out to Shag Rock, perform other ceremonies there, and return ashore completely recovered. The peculiar part of the story was that her mother never permitted any one to accompany her on her health missions, and that no one was allowed to see her performing her request for restored health at the hands of the ocean rock.


When I told her I doubted the safety of the long swim through the breakers ocean-wards she replied that Gurragurragan, the shark, would never harm a dark-skinned person. Whether this be so or not, I cannot vouch, although I must say that, during my long experience of Moreton Bay, I have never known one single instance of a native having been attacked by a shark. The natives rarely bathe alone; it is generally in much company, and thereby I imagine lies their immunity from attack. She has told me, too, many a time, of the plant from which flour was made – dingowie, or bungwall, it is called-and of the fishing nets they made from the bark of the wild cotton tree, the dilburpin. Her fingers are even yet skilled in the making of fancy baskets of many shapes from the long, thin reeds of the swamps. From her lips I have heard many old-time legends, for such I may call them, and customs of earlier days. …..

Home Beach was also called soapy breach.  

The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) Sat 14 Jul 1923 Page 18 

On my first visit to Stradbroke, in 1870, there must have been at least 500 blacks on the island. A Nerang Creek black of the Talgiburri tribe and myself were ferried over to the south end of Stradbroke by a man named Gardiner, finally killed in a dynamite explosion at Southport, and we walked north along the coast to Amity Point. We met a party of blacks at what is now called “Jumpinpin,” which they called “Joombimbim,” a big swamp, and they came with us to Point Lookout, a beautiful spot which will one day be a favourite resort. A party of about 60 blacks were camped there fishing, and that morning they had got a big turtle, two red wallabies, and some magnificent fish I had never seen before and did not see again for 30 years on my next visit. They called it “gnarrim-choora-gnan,” which grows up to about 50lb., a handsome fish with terrible teeth, and tastes like a giant mackerel. Two days with that crowd of happy, healthy, hospitable people, and we resumed our walk to Amity Point, which had a very different appearance to that of the present day. (To be continued.)

J.J. Knight writing in The Brisbane Courier in 1894 recounts the following conversation with an old convict or croppy as they were called in the past.


The mention of Chief-constable McIntosh’s name reminds the writer a few of incidents related to him by an “old hand.” This is what he said :-

“What did I think of Dunwich?’ said the old convict in reply to my query. “Well we used to think we were well off if we could get down there, for as a rule we got better treatment and easier times The blacks, too were a very civil lot on Stradbroke, and would do lots of things for us for a few rations. There were two kings there, I remember- one at each end of the island. The king at our end (Amity) was a bit independent but would do no harm to anybody unless molested. Somehow- I think it must have been because he would not receive food or gifts from them- the soldiers got frightened of him. 

One day some of the soldiers made it up to go fishing on Moreton Island, and persuaded the king to go with them. They had not gone very far, however when one of the soldiers drew a pistol and shot the blackfellow. The hutkeeper, who was one of the party, cut off the poor fellow’s head, and this was sent on to Brisbane to prove to the Commandant that they had been successful in “shooting a desperate black.” 

Well, the blacks were not long before they heard all about it, and they watched the hutkeeper very closely, I can tell you. They seized the first opportunity that presented itself to attack this man, and after killing him they cut off his head. The soldiers of course were mad and searched for the niggers [sic] , but were unable to find them. 

One night, shortly after, they formed an expedition, and going over to Moreton Island they shot every black they came across.” “How many did they come across?” “Well, as neat as I can remember, they killed about twenty. Nothing further was heard for awhile, but the blacks vowed they would kill every ‘diamond’- that was the name they gave the soldier, you know. Some time afterwards Chief constable MacIntosh- oh, he was a regular caution I can tell you- and two men were sent out to hunt for runaway prisoners. They were not successful in their search, and were returning along the beach, when a mob of blackfellows attacked the chief constable and murdered him and his men. By Jove, there were ructions over this. 

A detachment of military were sent out to Point Lookout, which was the chief fishing ground of the aboriginals, with instructions to shoot every black that could be met with. But the blacks somehow got wind of this, and some of them come to us one night at the Pilot Station and told us not to go with the ‘diamonds’ in the pilot boat because they intended fighting, and did not want to hurt the ‘ croppies’- that was what we were called. But you know some of us had to go, and I am glad to say I was not one of those chosen for the job, for it was a terrible slaughter, and the soldiers got the worst of it. Three of our men were among those killed. 

After things had quietened down a bit the blacks came about again, and I can’t tell you how sorrowful they were when they were told they had killed some of the ‘croppies.’ It’s all rot to say that the blacks were treacherous. It was the other way about; if the soldiers had done the right thing by them, as the majority of the convicts did, there would have been very little trouble with them.” This story to my mind coincides very closely with that of Mr. Campbell. 

-I am, sir, &c., 

Brisbane, 27th June. J. J. KNIGHT.

The names of the boomerang in Moreton Bay dialects were barrann, bargann, and barragan, the shield, gool-marring. Nundah was the mouth, and Nambour was the teatree. The forest oak was buranda, and the swamp oak was billarr. Water was goong, tabbil, and capemm, and fire was wy burra. 

The first European to live at Point Lookout was Mr William (Billy) Roger North. After retiring as Member for Lockyer in 1893, he lived at Amity, dugong fishing for 6 or 7 months, then moved 250 head of cattle onto the island in November 1893. After which he took out a 10 square mile grazing lease over all of Point Lookout.  “First rock” is now called Adder Rock.

During his time on Point Lookout he built their family house on the hill east of Yerrol Creek near Dunwich and built various store and accommodation huts at Point Lookout.  He also built a cattle dip on the slope behind Adder Rock and dug a well nearby. Nearby this dip he dug a well, at the foot of the hill near the swamp, as his water source.

Billy North ran cattle and horses on the island and was a keen fisherman. He died in 1936 and is buried in the Dunwich Cemetery.  Bill North’s cattle dip near Adder Rock, built in the late 1890’s is the oldest European structure at Point Lookout.

Again this Beach was apparently originally called First Beach. In the 1960’s we knew it as Adder Beach but more recently it has been called Flinders’ possibly due to the recent small settlement of Flinders that is behind this beach, toward the Amity end. Being the beach that is most protected from the south east swell the surf at this beach is usually the least of all the beaches. This reduced swell and the lagoons that regularly form on this beach make it one of the best spots to launch boats and for young families to swim.

Home Rocks and Adder Rock have always been key features to those traveling to the Point in the early days. Adder Rock was often called First Rock in the days of beach travel between Amity and Point Lookout and horse travel between Dunwich and the Point because it was the first rock encountered. With still the length of the next beach to travel the next rocks were called second rocks or Home Rocks as most thought that, on reaching this point, they were almost home. With the development of roads on the island the names First and Second Rocks was dropped but the names Adder and Home remain.

Adder Rock squatters’ Huts from the Forties

The ‘Thankful Rest’ hut was built and first resided in by permanent settler, Fred Martin in the late forties. It was situated on the spur from Adder Rock and about fifty meters from the rock.

Named after the hut, the area directly around Adder Rock was known as ‘Thankful Rest’. The Redland Shire Council during the late 1970s established a caravan park and camping ground 600 meters to the East of Adder Rock, and titled the park ‘Thankful Rest’. This may confuse one as to the original whereabouts of the area known as ‘Thankful Rest’.

Jockey, Bertie Smith, once owned the ‘Thankful Rest’ hut and in turn sold it to Donald Clarey for £20.00.00 in the early sixties. Donald’s parents also lived there for a short time after their hut had burnt down.

Norm was an avid nature lover and enjoyed sketching and painting. Norm used the hut for camping. Later it was used for storing gunpowder when Adder Rock was being used as a quarry. Scars from the quarrying may be seen on the Eastern side of the headland.

Shortly after Norm’s hut was built, nearby another hut was constructed and referred to as “Preston’s Hut’. Like the majority of others, Preston decided to come to the area to make a living from fishing. 

In the 1950s well known Dunwich identity, Fraser Brown built a hut upon the beach dunes opposite the present public hall. Fraser sited the hut on the frontal dunes to avoid the bush fires.

Another character, Ian Fraser, also known as ‘swamp fox’, built a hut at Thankful Rest. Well known locals, Herb and Sunny Clarey purchased the hut for £10.00.00 and lived in the hut until it burnt down in 1962 or 1963 as a result of a leak from a kerosene stove. 

Anderson or George’s Hut 1950s to 1970s

Jack Anderson’s hut, later known as George’s Hut was built prior to 1959 and was situated 100 meters SSW from Adder Rock Headland. Jack, an employee of the Brisbane City Council transport department and his ‘Trammie’ mates built the hut as a holiday shack. 

Herb and Sunny Clarey lived here when they first decided to live on the island. In 1962 after Herb resigned from the Brisbane City Council as a bus driver. Herb and Sunny recall Anderson’s as the biggest and most comfortable of all the huts. George Summers moved into Anderson’s hut in 1964 and his history there is a classic example of beating the system. George paid no rent or camping fees and on receiving a letter of eviction from the Redland Shire Council (see this letter on display) he beat the authorities in destroying the hut in June 1976. George dozed down the hut the hut with his ‘power wagon’, pushed it into a heap and set it on fire. George put on a five gallon keg for the wake. Beforehand locals had souvenired items of use or value. During George’s 12 years at Adder, there were only 3 remaining squatters’ huts with George’s being the last to disappear in 1976. George was the longest residing squatter of adder rock. The local children of the time remember sitting in George’s hut watching the carpet snakes and possums in the rafters.

Materials used in constructing the squatters’ huts included wooden packing cases, concrete consisting of beach sand and bottles, hessian plastered with cement wash made satisfactory walls, malthoid and corrugated iron for roofing or walls. Dirt floors were common place. Ice chests, kerosene refrigerators and wood stoves and coppers were essential equipment.

Adder Rock in the 1930s

Roadmaking gangs worked on the island as a result of the Government funded employment schemes to create work during the depression years of the 30s.

The roadmaking gangs and their families constructed camps at Adder Rock, where the present visitors’ camping ground is now. As a result a school was established at Adder Rock in the same vicinity as the camp. It is believed that this school was referred to as a tent school. Some remaining evidence of the road makers of the 30s at Adder Rock are the 2 bridge planks of a dray road which span a freshwater hole. These planks in the dry weather may be seen directly behind the roadhouse lying across the swamp. This spot is also where the camp residents obtained their supplies of fresh water. 

Early roads had to be constructed by hand due to no roadmaking machinery. Some of the earliest roads made on the island are the PEI road from Amity to Blue Lake, the road from Blue Lake to Dunwich, and the Amity to Point Lookout road via the top of the northernmost ridge which runs parallel to Clayton’s road. PEI stands for the Government sponsored Public Environmental Improvement Scheme.

Complied by Lance Blemmings (10.88)

Acknew: Tony Durbridge (personal contact)

Ellie Durbridge (personal contact)

Photographs: N Stradbroke Island Book

Lance Blemmings

Adder Rock Subdivision

The squatter’s era of the 1940s to the 1960s had peaked and then came the first land subdivision at Adder Rock, released by the Lands Department. The auction was held on 27th August, 1965 at the Lands office, Brisbane. Twenty allotments were offered at upset (reserve) prices from £200. Some fetched £650. The allotments are situated along both sides of the Amity Pt – Pt Lookout road, 150 metres south east of Adder Rock. 

The first permanent residents of the new subdivision were ex squatters, Herb and Sunny Clarey. They built their home in September,1968,built by Bill Lawlor, however John Martin of Toowoomba was the first land owner to build a cottage (built by Bill Powell), followed by Donald Clarey (son of Herb and Sunny) in 1967 who built his own hut These first homes were on three adjoining allotments along the beach side of the road. 

Opposite these cottages, Vic and Adrienne Carey built their home followed by Ridley Brett-Young in 1969 and Jean miller in 1971. The latter three homes were used as permanent residences by their owners. The exterior of all the first six homes were clad in asbestos cement (fibrolite).

Electricity was connected to Adder Rock in November, 1967 after SEA (Southern Electric Authority) installed the electricity supply to Point Lookout in December, 1966.

The end of an Era

Norm Deering was the last squatter of adder Rock. He and his Papuan wife, Sally, squatted in two caravans by the beach, 150 metres to the west of Adder Rock. They first moved to Adder from Amity in early 1975.

A controversial character in some quarters, Norm had taken out a miner’s right to prospect for gold at Adder Rock. Norm claims to have suffered considerable losses over the years from campers and in particular the bush fire of 1984. Sally left, however Norm stayed om until the council health surveyor, accompanied by the local constable served an eviction on him in 1987. 

Norm gives some information on another squatter ;-

‘That fellow in his late thirties lived near me, ‘til 1978, when the council bulldozed the hut. The fellow moved 50 metres farther on, built another hut and was consequently burnt out in 1980.’

The hut ruins are approximately 400metres west of Adder Rock and within 100 metres of the beach. The ice chest, wood stove and bed etc are still discernible in 1988.

Laser Station 

Reichelt Holdings Pty Ltd around 1969 obtained from the Queensland Government a special lease over an area of one acre on Adder Rock Headland for the purpose of establishing a laser station for marine biology research. It remained a mystery to the local people as to what results were achieved during its short lifetime, It was disbanded before the 1974 January cyclone washed most of it into the ocean. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *