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Book Review: Reflections on a Lost Island

Book Review: Reflections on a Lost Island

Book Author: Lindy Salter

ReflectionsonaLostIsland_gold coast

Reviewed by: Patrick Molnar

Back in the early days, the area covering Jacobs Well, Calypso Bay, Cabbage Tree Point, Norwell, Woongoolba, and Steiglitz was once considered an island. It was called the ‘Pimpama Island’, bordered by the Pimpama River to the south, Moreton Bay to the east, the Logan and Albert Rivers to the north, and many creeks and swamps to the west.

Many explorers crossed the area, but they left it behind because of its difficult access, until a Scottish Presbyterian travelled to Germany and Britain to look for possible settlers into the area. As a result, many German families migrated to Australia and started their new life down under, settling on the Pimpama Island.

Lindy Salter, a local historian, wrote the book Reflections on a Lost Island that provides the reader a peek into the time of first settlement in the area in the mid 1800’s. The book contains 28 chapters, featuring individual family stories mainly from the settlers’ great-grandchildren, who are mostly in their 80’s today. This extremely well researched piece puts you in a time machine and takes you among the first European families in the area who built their new life from scratch on the Pimpama Island.

Most of these families were from Germany. However, some chapters include stories of English families and also people who moved to the area more recently.

Lindy Salter’s unique writing style and original photographs from that time enables you to place yourself to the era when people had no access to electricity, when there were no roads, and when children had to walk hours to get to school, just to name a few.

Each story is different. Most of these families were starting their own businesses in agriculture, growing sugar cane, corn, sweet potatoes, and arrowroot. While coping with the new environment, some also started fishing, crabbing, and livestock farming. One example of a thriving business is the Rocky Point Mill in Woongoolba, which has been operating for more than 130 years, and is one of the oldest sugar mills in Australia, established by the Heck family in the late 1800’s.

Through the chapters, you can read about the hardness of processing raw material by hand at the beginning, and also the mechanisation of farming.

With each story, the reader can get an insight into the private life of these big families – having 10 children was common at that time – discovering their daily routine at work, their leisure activities, and how they formed a very strong community with their neighbours, helping each other in any way they could.

According to most of the reminiscences, the interviewees remember back then as the happiest time of their lives, growing up on the Pimpama Island, despite any hardships they encountered.

Thanks to the very detailed description of scenes, I am convinced that after reading this book, you will hop into your car and start discovering the streets where it all started, considering that many of the fields and houses are still there.

Reflections on a Lost Island is a must-read to get a hint on how the life was at the beginning of the settlement and how the area formed and evolved as the time passed by.



‘Reflections on a Lost Island’ is available for $25.00 from many local shops in Jacobs Well and Cabbage Tree Point; from Karen Lewis on 5546 1520 or 0405 177 713; or from Lindy Salter on 0407 695 340.




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