Once the rival to Brisbane as south-east Queensland’s chief port, the Redland Bay township of Cleveland was at the heart of the argument over the importation of Kanakas to work as virtual slave cane-cutters.
One of the original Cleveland squattocracy and father of the sugar industry, Captain Louis Hope was the first to bring Kanakas into the colony and, despite influential opposition, planters throughout the colony embraced the slave trade.
By the time blackbirding was stamped out in 1904, an estimated 57,000 Melanesians had been shipped to the canefields. Hope, however, also left Ormiston House. Built by Scottish brickies, Ormiston is one of the finest examples of colonial mansions.
Cleveland is a major commercial centre in the Moreton Bay local government area of the Redland Shire which is rich in both mangrove stands and koalas. The local koalas, in fact, make up one of Australia's major populations and the bear-like marsupials are regular visitors to suburban gardens and parks. The shire is continually buying environmentally significant land to extend the koala habitat.