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Photographs supplied by Russell Byers

A plaque commemorates the "Queen of the Colonies" shipwreck.

In April 1863 when the "Queen of Colonies" arrived in Moreton Bay among torrential rain, Captain Robert Cairncross sent a party ashore to bury Dr Barnsfield`s wife according to her express wish not to be consigned to the sea.

While returning to the brig the 13 men were blown away in a sudden squall and after 18 hours were tossed up on Moffat Beach in Caloundra. They survived on shellfish and fresh water, trying twice unsuccessfully to walk to Brisbane through the flooded country. On the eighth day the rain ceased and they attempted to row to Brisbane. The fourth wave smashed their boat and all reached the beach except for Dr Barnsfield.

The men were ill with dysentery and starving. A trim schooner veered away within a mile of the beach mistaking their blackened bodies for those of Aborigines. On the sixteenth day they were found by Police Inspector John McDonald.

The original Pandanus tree trunk on which the name of the ship was carved by the survivors is in Newstead House, Brisbane.

Ewen Maddock of Mooloolah claims that he carved the boat's name on the tree after his teacher told him this story on the beach using a brand new axe given to him as a birthday present. As it has been argued that the crew would not have had an implement suitable far such a carving, and number of people believe Maddock's story.


Address:Queen of Colonies Parade , Moffatt Beach, Caloundra, 4551
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -26.790315
Long: 153.144327
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event STart Date:08-April-1863
Actual Event End Date:08-April-1863


Front Inscription

"Queen of the Colonies"

On 8th April, 1863, the ship `Queen of the Colonies`` sailed into Moreton Bay. A woman passenger had died and it was decided to take the body to Cape Moreton for burial.

While returning a storm arose, the ship was lost to sight, and the small boat was driven to the rocks below this spot.

The survivors were marooned for 14 days, living on shell-fish and berries until rescued by a search party from Brisbane. One of the sailors carved the name `Queen of the Colonies` on the Pandanus tree. This led to their rescue.

This plaque was presented by the descendants of Capt. Robert Cairncross

Source: NRUM, MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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