Wednesday, 30 November 2011

About Dr May's Island

At the mouth of the Elliott River lies Dr May's Island (sometimes erroneously referred to as “Rock Island”). Once part of the mainland, it was the site of the May's house and farm. One part of the property was an old bus which was used for casual accommodation for their visitors.

In the fifties, the land joining the “island” to the mainland started to get washed away. This was accelerated by some fishermen carving a channel for them to get access to some fishing spot or other. Then cyclonic seas and stormy weather eventually saw the island become permanently separated and the bus and other farm infrastructure became victims to the sandy seas.

Recently, while walking on the beach, south of the Elliott Heads river mouth, I discovered that nature had given us back that bus - the chassis and tyres are clearly visible above the receding sands. Some 400m further south, the chassis of a smaller motor vehicle can also be found. In this area are several large pieces of concrete and steel - identity as yet unknown.

I had walked the 3km to the site now only accessible by this walk or by boat. But unfortunately time and tide didn't wait for this man - I should have checked before I left home. Still it was a beautiful afternoon, the herds of hordes had left, leaving the beach to me and my lengthening shadows from the setting sun.  The real bus photos will have to wait for another day, however here is a phone camera of the site with Dr May's Island in the background.

Dr May's Island in the background, from the southern head of the Elliott River - 19th Nov 2011  ©2011 WoJo12
Earlier I made mention of a rusting wreck of a smaller vehicle - it is currently disappearing again beneath the ever-changing sands of time. Well, for what it is worth, here it is!!!! Unfortunately for record purposes, there is a large immovable log lying diagonally across the chassis. The cross-bracing, normally behind the front seats, is clearly seen. The front is in the foreground and I recall that it had drum brakes at the rear.

Rusting vehicle chassis on Coonarr Beach - 20/11/2011                                           ©2011 WoJo12

Here is another piece of Dr May's Island history, barely above the sands of Coonarr Beach. I only took one photo of the concrete pit which has been totalled exposed in the past, but currently it is all but buried.


Concrete pit semi-submerged under the sands of Coonarr Beach - 20 Nov 2011                                                                                                                                              ©2011WoJo12

Earlier, I have referred to my discovery of various objects currently emerging out of the sand at Dr May's Point. Well, now the low tide has been at a better time to again walk the 6km round trip from Coonarr Beach.

With an easterly wind blowing, it was amazing what was on the normally quite clean beach - among the leaves littering the shoreline, were quite a few jellyfish, commonly known as bluebottles (or Portuguese man-o'-war, Pacific man-o'-war). This species is a partially beautiful blue, but that is where the beauty finishes - contact with them can be quite dangerous. Just for variety, there were also half a dozen or so dead fish, believed to have been rejects from a trawler operating off the coast this week.

As I arrived at Dr May's Point, I could see that this time I had timed the tides correctly and the bus chassis was clearly visible. I removed various sticks that had been caught in the wreck. I did not attempt to move the 100mm diameter steel pipe lying diagonally across the chassis. The front tyre as well as the two rear tyres are now quite visible.

The bus chassis at low tide - 25 Nov 2011
Now on further exploration of the area I found several concrete objects as well as a very vertical post. In one of Neville Rackemann's several good books on Bundaberg, I found reference to a sighting of the steps to Dr May's house as well as part of the septic tank. The book, "A Century of Progress", published by the then Woongarra Shire Council, talks about an inspection in 1985 of the erosion around the mouth of the Elliott River where the two relics of the former house were then found.

Believed to be the upside-down steps from Dr May's house - 25 Nov 2011

A very vertical post, possibly stump from Dr May's home - 25 Nov 2011

Another concrete relic in the sands - 25 Nov 2011
Here endeth the story, but who knows what history remains under the sands at Dr May's Point. Thanks to Barry B from Elliott Heads for the history of the bus.
One last note - for more on Coonarr Beach, look for a another post


  1. I'm doing research for the family tree, my husband is related to the May family through marrage...

  2. This is so cool. Its like a mini version of Atlantis beneath the sand you can see tiny glimpses of. Love the pics.