Our place, Moggill Haven, is situated in the Brisbane suburb of Moggill. Brisbane City Council has chosen an Aboriginal source for the meaning of Moggill as this sign at Booker Place Park in Birkin Rd Bellbowrie explains.
It is certainly true that when we are gardening down on the riverside we have seen some Eastern Water Dragons. They show no signs of fear but appear to watch us intently.
However in the archives of the Moggill Creek Catchment Group I discovered there was another possible explanation for the name Moggill. On page 7 of the 2008 Autumn Newsletter of MCCG the editor, Graeme Wilson, included this snippet of information.
Following the formation of MCCG we decided that we needed a logo. Someone told us that the origin of the name Moggill was that the Aboriginal name for the water dragon was magill. And so our logo became that animal, in spite of an opinion that our information was wrong: that originally there was a Moggs Hill.
In a work entitled ‘OPALS AND AGATES; OR SCENES UNDER THE SOUTHERN CROSS AND THE MAGELHANS: being memories of fifty years of Australia and Polynesia’, by NEHEMIAH BARTLEY, pub. Brisbane, Melb etc. 1892, Gordon and Gotch, Bartley gives this account:
On a trip up river to Ipswich, about 1855, on the steamer “Swallow” , we called at a place which some people then spelt ‘Moghill’ and I thought what a strange name ‘Mog’ was for a hill.
Moreover a friend of the editor provided him with a supporting account:
The elderly locals informed us when we came in 1968 that a Mr Mogg had lived here in the 1840s, and the postal or delivery address became Moggs Hill. There are still people named Mog or Mogg in Ipswich.
The editor of the article Moggs Hill or a Water Dragon? in the
We may have been misled but a water dragon looks a great deal better than Moggs Hill as a logo!
If you are interested in reading more on the history of Moggill here are a couple of websites that might be of assistance. It is interesting that these websites have followed the Brisbane City Council nomination of Water Dragon as the meaning of Moggill. http://www.jocelynfrost.com/mogill.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moggill,_Queensland
But on the website http://moggillhistorical.org.au/History.html there is mention of ‘Moghill‘ where the spelling does seem to indicate the idea of Mog’s hill –
1849 March 31: Morteon Bay Courier advises that land near “Moghill Creek” may be soon put up for sale, with settlers who arrived on The Fortitude given some assstance to help with a purchase. (Moreton Bay Courier)
Both Moggill State School (established in 1866) and the Moggill Uniting Church (http://moggillhistorical.org.au/Transcripts/MoggillUnitingChurchHistory.html ) stand upon a high area that could most definitely constitute Moggs Hill. The hill was once the site of a large pineapple farm but now the Council has created 2 lovely parks for the recent housing developments on this high point.
http://moggillhistorical.org.au/DescendantsOfMoggillPioneers.html gives a fascinating account of pioneering families living and working in the Moggill area. But it does not add any clarity about the original name and spelling of this area as the current spelling of Moggill is used throughout this booklet in line with its publication in 1988.
A Green and Pleasant Land by Ian Cameron lends weight to the claim that ‘Moggill’ comes from the Aboriginal word because ‘the surveyor James Warner referred to the Parish of Moggill in a letter he wrote to the Surveyor-General in 1849.’ He further writes that the Moggs family did not come to live in the district until after 1849. (Appendix E)
If you wish to learn more about the Eastern Water Dragon, Physignathus lesueurii, (and how it differs from the Eastern Bearded Dragon, Pogona barbata) the Queensland Museum has a fact sheet online.There can be some confusion between these two lizards as the following example shows.
The Moggill State School website states that: The Moggill State School badge was designed by Mrs Ann Tracey in 1981-82. It portrays the bearded dragon which is still common around the Moggill District. However the book published on the 125th anniversary of Moggill State School (Country Ways to Modern Days) says: The word Magill is believed to mean ‘Bearded Water Dragon.’
So even though it is difficult to tell from the school logo whether the image is of a Water Dragon or a Bearded Dragon, if the book published for the 125th anniversary of the school is correct (which links the name ‘Moggill’ with the Aboriginal word ‘Magill’) then the image on the badge is not a bearded dragon or a Bearded Water Dragon (there is no such lizard!) but rather the Eastern Water Dragon. We have seen both types of lizard at our place. The Eastern Bearded Dragons live on the top side of our property whereas the Eastern Water Dragons are found on the riverbank side.
Whatever the derivation for Moggill may be, we will continue to be enchanted by our encounters with Eastern Water Dragons.
Note: I have used the various spellings according to the quotes from the different texts – Magil, Maggil, Magill, Moggs Hill, Moghill, Moggill