Other than the occasional encounter with an explorer or the inclusion into Aboriginal society of shipwrecked persons such as the timber-getters Finnegan, Pamphlet and Parsons, prior to the arrival of the convicts arrived in Moreton Bay in 1824 the Aboriginal clans of the region had had little contact with white people
The first convict settlement of Moreton Bay commenced with the arrival of the brig Amity at Redcliffe Peninsula on 13 September 1824. While the surrounding Ningy-Ningy people were driven off this section of their lands, they would claim it back after May 1825 when the convict settlement was moved to the north bank of the Brisbane River, a location occupied by the Turrbal people. The Turrbal were one of a number of clan groups in the 5,000 population of Aboriginal people estimated to be occupying the Moreton Bay district in the 1820s.
According to historian Raymond Evans, the Turrbal people initially kept away from the new settlement being established on the ridge above Queen’s Wharf. Conflict arose over raids on maize crops grown by the convict workers, the first recorded raid taking place in May 1827 when a guard was speared and the raiders fired upon. These raids continued, more or less annually into the 1830s, subsiding as the convicts were withdrawn. In November 1837, when there were just over 300 convicts in the settlement, Commandant Cotton believed that with the Turrbal and other clans a good understanding prevailed through a balance of conciliation and control.
With the withdrawal of the last of the convict inmates and the removal of the 50 mile (80 kilometer) exclusion zone around the penal colony, south-east Queensland was opened to free settlers and Brisbane became an increasingly busy point of entry for white immigrants looking for land. As in the convict period, restrictions kept the Turrbal and members of other clan members beyond the boundary streets after sunset.
Beyond the town’s northern Boundary Street, one of the camps of the Turrbal, known as York’s Hollow, was in a section of the gully that runs between Normanby and Herston. Another camp was located downstream at Breakfast Creek, a good fishing place. This was referred to as Yowoggerra, a word meaning Corroboree Place. Queen’s Wharf was given no special acknowledgement by the Turrbal, other than it being part of the newcomer’s umpie korumba – place of many buildings.
York’s Hollow was the main camp of the Turrubal into the 1850s. This location took its name from a Turrbal leader known as the Duke of York, possibly the Turrubal man Daki Yakka. As more immigrants arrived, the clan was dispersed gradually from their York’s Hollow gully and the fringes of Separation society. Repression of any resistance to unlawful activity was heavy-handed after the arrival of the Native Police in 1852. Introduced diseases led to a steady decline in clan sizes, bringing about a gradual cultural decay.