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Where is The Well at Jacobs Well?

Where is The Well at Jacobs Well?

When you head off north by boat, through the Broadwater towards Moreton Bay, your first port is the small town of Jacobs Well, a suburb positioned on the delta of the Pimpama River with a small population of a few thousand people.

The origins of the naming of the area are possibly biblical, after Jacob, the son of Isaac in the Bible. Another theory claims that it was named after the eldest son of Johann Gottlieb Gross, an early settler of Pimpama Island way back in the 1860s. The story goes that the son and his friends found the well on a hunting and fishing trip, and named it after himself. This later account was acknowledged by an Albert Shire councillor in the 1970s, so it must be true!

The oldest documented story of the well was a newspaper article in 1873, when a visitor described the Jacobs Well as a round waterhole surrounded by ferns – an indication that the name was being widely used at this time.


On 15 February 2016, Chas Watt sat in the Jacobs Well Tavern, sipping a beer and musing on the state of things, and in particular, how the town of Jacobs Well got its name and wondered where the actual Jacobs Well was located. He then quickly threw the idea out on his Facebook groups with a message: “Jacobs Well Gateway to Moreton Bay: I’ll bet London to a brick none of you know where the well is and fat chance finding the geezer that stole the gate. LOL”

Surprisingly, his message attracted 90 comments. Enormous grass roots interest emerged, while a lot of historical information was uncovered, particularly among the traditional families from the area.

Dave Mayo, a local identity and Special Projects Officer of the Jacobs Well Progress Association, added his own comments to the FB thread: “If as a result of your comment, someone can identify the actual place, I’m all in favour of marking, recreating, highlighting the location as it has great tourism value.”

At this point, Chas and Dave were total strangers. However, three years on they have made some remarkable progress.


While surfing the internet for clues about the location of Jacobs Well, Chas stumbled across a map dated 1874, which showed boundaries and properties of the area, and a spot marked “Jacobs Well”, with an arrow pointing to a location. It also gave a bearing and a distance off a prominent post.

That was enough for these two sleuths to call in the surveyor, one Brian Gassman from Gassman and Associates, of Yatala. In a short time, they had an approximate location pegged out, which was challenging given the rather difficult nature of the work with early map survey techniques. With the help of ground penetrating radar (GPR), they were able to find a filled-in area that was clearly an old well site, very close to the spot where the old map said it should be located. The surveyed site which was marked out using the old map, corresponded closely with the GPR results, there being only four or five metres between both methods of detection.

For months following this potentially great discovery, the two men and many other locals, discussed how best to celebrate the finding of the Jacobs Well and to preserve the history surrounding it, all of which proved to be a challenge with many hurdles ahead. Instantly confronted with many differences of opinion and bureaucracy, they often considered just walking away and forgetting about it or even the possibility of handing over the information of the find to someone else.

Dave says of this time, “My view was that it was an extremely worthwhile project that has the potential to create a landmark that will significantly boost visitor numbers to our town, which, in turn, will give great help to local businesses.” Dave’s vision is to develop a public space around the landmark that will provide locals and visitors with a very useful venue for events in the park, at the same time documenting and preserving the history of the area.

It was decided by the group to try pushing for an acknowledgement of the site as the well location. They have since developed a concept drawing, which includes an artistic architectural representation of a well positioned in the original location. Described in the design is an art piece that will be interactive and be a highly visible central element of the rejuvenation proposal. With or without architecturally designed replica of a well as the centerpiece, the immediate area could also incorporate an amphitheatre with terraced seating, surrounded by native gardens. The newly appointed Jacobs Well tourist site will overlook the beautiful vista of the Jacobs Well foreshore.

“Imagine, with the sun setting behind you, live music playing, children frolicking in the water fountains, paying homage to the early settlers and traditional owners of the land, all in pleasant harmony with nature,” says Dave.

The idea is supported by local Councillor Donna Gates who has opened the concept for public discussion and comment. Dave has suggested, “It could be funded locally. Without the problem of who will pay for it, the project might be fast tracked.”

Do you have any ideas? Follow the group on Well & Districts Progress Association.

By Andy Kancachian


Jacobs Well is a boaters’ village, with a rough and untrimmed landscape. There is a wonderful maritime history in the area, and to this day, a thriving boat- building history, using traditional techniques to some of the latest practices. The main attraction to the area is the recreational fishing, enjoyed by locals and visitors. There is also a small commercial fishing industry. Unlike the central Gold Coast area, the waters of Jacobs Well are natural rather than artificially created, although developers have successfully transformed wetlands into canal estates without interrupting the ecosystem.