THIS PROJECT IS PART OF THE Deception Bay Historical Study, an initiative of the Caboolture Shire Council. The purpose of this archaeological project is to document and assess three sites associated with Joseph Bancroft and his family.

Joseph Bancroft was a leading Queensland medical practitioner in the nineteenth century and a pioneer researcher. He had varied interests and in 1880 purchased 60 ha on Burpengary Creek at Deception Bay. He progressively acquired more land and by 1890 owned more than 1500 hectares in the Deception Bay district. Joseph’s main residence was at Wickham Terrace, Brisbane and the Deception Bay property was used for a combination of business, research and pleasure.

The three sites associated with the Bancroft family nominated for investigation were:

  • Sea bath near the DPI Southern Fisheries Centre (Bath 1).
  • Sea bath near board-walk below Captain Cook Parade at the intersection with Seymour Street (Bath 2).
  • Site of meat canning works in and about Apex


 Sea Baths

 Considerable debate and controversy has surrounded what has become known as ‘Mrs Bancroft’s Bath’. In 1997 a plaque was erected adjacent to the ‘broadwalk’ bath by the Caboolture Historical Society. This plaque was erected following discussions held in 1991 at the Bancroft Memorial monument about other ways of identifying the Bancroft presence in Deception Bay. Oral tradition indicated that Joseph Bancroft had a bath excavated in the foreshore for his wife, Anne. Documentary evidence is meagre, the only reference being in the Bancroft oration of 1959 by Dr Edward Ford. In describing what evidence survived of the Bancrofts at Deception Bay in the late 1950s, he noted that ‘on the shore are the remains of a fish trap and a rock pool bath’1.

From this evidence and the fact that the excavated rock formation below Caption Cook Parade appeared to be a sea bath, it was presumed that this bath was the one constructed by Joseph Bancroft.

The erection of the plaque in 1997 had the effect of bestowing a degree of certainty on the history of this rock formation. Some local residents, however, disputed the interpretation, suggesting there were at least one another bath at Deception Bay (some suggested there were even two more).2

In 2002 the Caboolture Shire Council commissioned an heritage assessment of the southern bath, and in particular, on the impact of the construction of a board-walk immediately adjacent. This assessment was undertaken by Charles Oliver and in his report he noted a number of inaccuracies in the wording of the plaque. Morever, he discussed in some detail the possibility of another bat within a sandstone platform adjacent to the DPI Fisheries complex. Oliver recorded the surface elements of this feature. As to the purpose he concluded:

This construction may be a remnant of the CSIRO Prawn Research Station of the 1970s, but research in the Australian Archives has not produced any evidence to support this possibility. It many also have been built as an ablution block for Bancroft employees (a possibility suggested by local historian Mr Vivian Tucker).

A senior Burpengary resident, Mr Len Moore, recalls steps constructed within the bath.3

Subsequent to Oliver’s report, a photograph was provided to the Caboolture Shire Council by Mrs Evelyn Bancroft, Eidsvold (see Fig. 12). This photograph depicted a rectangular pool enclosed by a brick surrounds, and a timber shelter shed. This photograph clearly suggests that the pool was adjacent to the Fisheries complex and below the headland where the Bancroft house stood.

The purpose of this archaeological investigation is to attempt to resolve some of the issues surrounding ‘Mrs Bancroft’s Bath’ and the excavated rock formation at Deception Bay.

  • Is the Fisheries excavated rock formation the original Mrs Bancroft’s bath?
  • If so, what was the purpose of the southern excavated rock formation? Was is also a bath and why was a second bath constructed? By whom?

For the purposes of the this report, the Fisheries excavated formation is referred to as Bancroft Bath No. 1, and the southern formation as Bancroft Bath No. 2.

Meat canning works site

 The existence of a substantial meat canning works at Deception Bay is well documented, particularly in a series of photographs. These photographs, most likely taken by Thomas Bancroft, depict the canning works from various perspectives and reveal it comprised a large main building and several ancillary structures.

No surface evidence survives of the canning works. Some remnants of equipment was observed in 1959 but no longer remain. As the canning works was dismantled in 1904, no oral tradition exists as to its precise location. The approximate location can be ascertained from the photographic evidence but changes in vegetation and the topography make determining the footprint of the canning works a challenge.

The purpose of this part of the project was twofold.

  • To ascertain whether any subsurface evidence survives of the meat canning works? If so, does the evidence provide an indication of how the canning works functioned?
  • What is the footprint of the meat canning works?


This archaeological survey was undertaken by Dr Richard Robins of Everick Heritage Consultants and Dr Thom Blake. The survey was undertaken in August 2004.

This historic archaeological study was undertaken under permit no CHST00098704 issued by the Environmental Protection Agency under section 44 of the Queensland Heritage Act 1992.

The Fisheries bath is located with the Deception Bay Fish Habitat Area. Permission to remove marine plants and perform works was granted under Marine plant permit 04SODB0240 issued under the Queensland Fisheries Act 1994.


1 Foch Street

Ashgrove Qld 4060

Ph 33661177 Fax 33663178



47 Arthur Terrace Red Hill, Qld 4059

Ph 3368-2660 Fax 3368-2440



Bancroft Bath No. 1

Bancroft Bath No. 2

Former Bancroft Meat Canning Works

Further Research