Joseph Daniel Graham was born on Cabbage Tree Island 5 February 1882 and died 7 June 1965 aged 83 years.1 He lived on the island all of his life following in the family tradition of working as a boatbuilder, oyster farmer, fisherman and farmer. He married Emily Schubert 31 December 19192 and together they raised six children, Emily (died aged 13 in 1934), Thelma (Townsend), Agnes (Barlin), Mavis (Cook), Daniel and Ellen (Unger).
Joseph’s father James was a shipwright on Cabbage Tree Island and built many boats including some of the first steam-powered boats, namely “Pioneer” in 1890, “Favourite” in 1891 and “Iris” in 1892.3 His sons Patrick and Joseph became well-known boat builders.
Around 1930 Joseph built the last boat on Cabbage Tree Island for Wallace “Mud” Bishop. It was called “The Dinghy”.
Mud Bishop was a retired policeman who built a hut at Old Bar on what is now called “Mud Bishop’s Reserve”.4 Mud had a worn-out punt which he used for fishing so he asked Joseph if he would build him a small boat.
Joseph secured beech timber from the mill at Lansdowne and transported it to his place by steamer. While Joseph was building the boat, the country went into recession; banks closed up and customers lost their money. Mud was one of these unfortunate customers so when the boat was finished he had no money to pay. Joseph insisted on Mud taking the boat.
When Mud passed away in 19445 the dinghy was returned to Joseph. George Townsend Jnr fibreglassed, repaired and painted the dinghy over the years and the family continued to use this boat until 2012.
Author: Ellen Unger nee Graham
1 NSW BDM, Birth index Joseph Graham No. 18278/1882, Death index No. 23303/1965.
2 NSW BDM, Marriage index for Joseph Graham and Emily E Schubert No. 4581/1920 (note New Year’s Eve 1919).
5 NSW BDM, Death index for Wallace James Bishop, No. 21150/1944.