When Captain Cook, in 1770, sailed into the wide opening at Moreton Bay, severl of his friends on board observed the sea to be paler than usual and formed the opinion that, if careful search were made alon the shores, it would be found that a large river fell into the sea somewhere in the neighbourhood.Cook attached so little weight to ths idea that he did not stay to make any examination ; and when, about twenty years later, Captain Flinders surveyed the same bay, he saw no trace of a river.
But reports of both these travellers were subsequently found the be wrong; for, in 1823, when Governor Brisbane sent the discoverer Oxley, in the Mermaid, to select a place for a new convict station in the northern district of New South Wales, Moreton Bay was found to receive the waters of a large and important river. Oxley left his little vessel in the bay and with a boat entered upon the broad current of the stream. Before sunset he had ascended about twenty miles, and had been delighted by the richness of the scenery and the magnificence of the timber. On the following day he proceeded thirty miles further up and throughout the whole distance found the stream to be broad and of sufficient depth to be navigable for vessels of considerable size.
Oxley was justly proud of his discovery and wished to penetrate still further into the forests that lay beyond ; but his boat's crew had been so exhausted by their long row under a burning sun that he could go no further and found it necessary to turn and glide with the current down to his vessel, which he reached late on the fourth night. To the stream he had thus discovered he gave the name of the Brisbane River.