Many years ago, just after the end of that war to end all wars came the great depression. It was a tough time for the people of Mt. Gravatt and so the city council of the day decided they and the people of the city of Brisbane needed something to lift their spirits. And one of the greatest ways to do so was to provide a view the growing city of Brisbane from the highest mountain offering the best of views, I refer not to Mt. Coottha, which while technically higher but offers a far inferior view) but that of Mt. Gravatt mountain.
And so work began on the creation of the road up Mt Gravatt Mountain. It was envisaged that by taking a tram ride to Mount Gravatt Central (also known as the Terminus but more on that later) the people could have a nice day out taking in the sights along the way as well. The ensuing construction givingthe underemployed something to do to benefit the people of Brisbane as well as fill their bellies from the fruits of an honest days work. It was tough work, but many of those men, returned from war and knew the value of hard-work and danger.
For danger there was, as lurking on the mountain was a wolf that had terrorised the people of Mt. Gravatt for many years, with rumours of its existence also striking fear into the hearts of many about Brisbane in general. It is a little known fact that once the road was finally constructed many people didn’t go to the lookout for fear of the wolf. Mt Gravatt central also become known as the Terminus, for not only was it the end of the tram line, but potentially where one might meet ones fate as well. And so it is to this day, sadly, that Mt. Coottha is where more people go to take in the air and views of Brisbane instead of Mt. Gravatt mountain, and the tram lines were eventually removed.
Over time, many about the town, thought that there wasn’t really a wolf at all, but it was instead the local graziers, who hit upon with hard times were using this as an opportunity to steal livestock from each other for the dinner table. Such was the suspicion that many in the Mt. Gravatt township would comment to each other “He’s the wolf, but in shepherds clothing”…which eventually became that saying commonly used today ‘a wolf in sheeps clothing’
By and by the scouts of what is now the Toohey forest district took it upon themselves to find out more about this wolf. Unbeknownst to the leaders the older scouts would dare the younger scouts to venture out onto the foothills of Mount Gravatt mountain in search of the old grey wolf. This was an initiatio, a kind of test of bravery to see if they were worthy to join the scout group. Of course we don’t do these things today, because as any scout leader will tell you, there is too much paperwork and the risk assessment is a bit challenging.
Incidentally the only recorded sighting of the Wolf from this time was by a young lad Charles Victor from the Greenslopes Scout Group. He went on to become quite a well known scout in Australia, with the group Victor scouts on Victor street in Ho;land Park being named in his honour.
In the years that followed legend of the Grey Wolf (because he must have been very old by then) became ritual in all the Toohey forest scout groups, as a rite of passage for the young cubs. Cubs being the name for those wanting to join the local group but hadn’t paid their subs yet.
Now like all good organisations, when management hears of something popular it is essential it is claimed as their own idea. And so Scouts Queensland hearing about this, told Scouts Australia all about it. After 6 committee meeting, 2 special resolutions, a special funding round and a letter to the Queen the ‘search for the grey wolf’ became an official part of the scouting movement, by turning it into a badge……and who doesn’t love a badge…am I right?
So cubs, if you missed out on the search for the Bulimba Creek Bunyip and if you want to find out more about the real Grey Wolf Award join Matthew on his Grey Wolf Award hike as he sets out, like the scouts of old did, to find the secret of Grey Wolf and maybe even his lair. Details TBA
PS We got our friend Scotty from Marketing to help write this, so you know its all true 😉 No animals were harmed in this recounting of the aural history of Mt. Gravatt
Further reading and image credits