Bell’s Bridge Kholo

Mr Chair

I rise to speak in support of Item E – the petition supporting the re-naming of the bridge at Kholo in the western part of the Pullenvale Ward, in honour of the Bell family.

I never cease to be amazed by the number of new stories I hear about the history of the area.

This is one such story which I first heard about quite by chance, during a mobile office at Bellbowrie a few months ago.

I was approached by a local resident, Kay Zanow, a descendant of the Bell family who said she had been trying without luck for years to have her family’s contribution to Kholo recognised through the re-naming of this crossing.

After hearing what she had to say, it was a no-brainer, and today’s petition is the result of that meeting.

Local historian, Col Hester tells it better than me, so this is his story:

If you are an old enough local to remember petrol at the price of 40 cents per gallon or trousers wider at the bottom than the top, you might also remember a swim at Bell’s Property, Kholo, for something like twenty cents a dip.

That a swim could be had at Bell’s was a generous fact known to most – and one reason was its location – it was easy to reach from North Ipswich and almost the first farm on the river upstream of the water board’s resumed land.

The original Bells hailed from Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, where George worked from the age of 11 at hewing coal in the old country.  At 24, he married a farmer’s daughter and with a view to bettering their prospects, they sailed to Australia in 1869.

At first, the Bells resided in North Ipswich, and George worked at the Tivoli Mine.  

In 1881, George purchased a farm on the north bank of the river at Kholo after its owner, Reginald Davidson, accidentally drowned.  This is what became known as Bell’s Farm. 

At Kholo, George and Mrs Bell made farming pay a little, mainly through growing cotton and selling hand-made butter – neither of which was particularly easy or profitable.

But it was as a swimming location that this property became popular, and the Bell family is to be commended for opening it up for the public for their enjoyment over many decades.

And when the Brisbane River flooded in those days, members of the Bell family were the first on the scene to help those in the distress.

The Queensland Times, Ipswich Herald and General Advertising in August 1887 describes how two members “gallantly rescued a man named Chillingworth who was washed off the bridge”.

Bell’s Farm remains a local landmark with the surviving farmhouse a testament to how tough life was late in the 19th century.

Mr. Chair, the river forms a boundary of my Ward and this bridge is a link between the cities of Brisbane and Ipswich.

As a courtesy, I spoke to the Ipswich City Councillor who represents the other side of the river, Cr. Kate Kunzelmann, and I’m pleased to advise that she is also supportive of this petition.

So while its days as a swimming location are but just a memory, I believe there is a very compelling case why the Bell family’s contribution to the Kholo community over more than 140 years deserves to be recognised through the naming of this crossing.

Thank you.