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Bribie Island Historical Society - how it started.

2008 - present

Founding President, Barry Clark, remembers how the Historical Society commenced.

After a long career as a Civil Engineer and Project Management Consultant, my wife Faye and I, while travelling around Australia in a camper trailer, visited friends on Bribie Island. After just one day, we experienced the great sense of community on Bribie and decided to drive home, sell our Sydney house and retire here.

When we came to Bribie in 2003, I had no real interest in history, despite having lived in some of the world’s most historical places. There were few books written about Bribie in those days, and no visible signage or information about its unique past, but I did read a quote in the Caboolture Centenary book “Spear & Musket” which said.

Bribie Island has more history, written and unwritten, than any other place in Queensland.

This remarkable statement sparked my interest and within a few months I was amazed by what I found. The year we arrived happened to be the 40-year anniversary of the Bribie Island Bridge opening. Because I had done similar things as a Rotary charity fundraiser in the past, I quickly organised a fundraising event for the Bribie Bridge. Putting an article in the local newspaper attracted much attention and many people turned out and the event raised money by walking 400 kms over the bridge.

This experience led to me meet many long-term residents who had been at the original bridge opening in 1963. One special lady was Stella Ray who had made cakes for the official opening celebrations. She had lived on Bribie for over 60 years. We were such totally different people, but her stories and memories of the people and events of Bribie in the 1940s inspired me. Together, we spent a couple of days a week visiting hundreds of long-term residents, to identify those few who had lived here for 50 years or more. We found 12 such people and I arranged for a sign to be erected in Brennan Park to honour them.

This exercise led me to meet other people interested in Bribie history, including Warwick Outram, who had retired to Bribie in 1974 to run the Caravan Park. He had a passionate interest in Bribie history and had written newspaper articles and one small book. In the following years he compiled more than 30 books of photos and memorable stories of Bribie history. As a businessman, commercial fisherman and President of the Chamber of Commerce he had tried hard to get the then Caboolture Shire Council to recognise the commercial and long-term value of Bribie’s unique history.

It was Warwick who encouraged me to become the Tutor in local History at U3A in 2005.

In 2005 I initiated replacement of the missing bronze plaque in Fairweather park, attended by a large crowd, many of whom spoke about knowing him personally. International artist and recluse Ian Fairweather was Bribie’s most famous resident, living alone in grass hut for 21 years, creating world famous works on scrap material. This unique aspect of Bribie had not been recognised or promoted, and my plaque unveiling event had an amazing outcome. A documentary film production company asked to attend and interviewed me and several old timers. Over the next two-years an ABC documentary film was produced telling his remarkable life story.

Warwick and I designed and printed Brochures of heritage walks around key sites in Bongaree and with the help of my U3A Bribie History class we installed 16 bronze plaques along the Bongaree foreshore in 2009 with a grant from Queensland 150-year anniversary celebrations.

I was encouraged to establish a Bribie Island Historical Society to preserve and maintain key aspects of Bribie history, but also to have an independent voice and focus for important things to preserve and promote. With a wonderfully supportive Committee, initially made up of members of my U3A class, we established and launched the Bribie Historical Society at the Bribie Library in December 2008. There were over 100 people at the launch, including many politicians, councillors, VIPs, and many long-term Bribie residents.

The Society applied for and received Regional Arts Development Fund grants to begin the work of identifying, gathering and documenting aspects of Bribie History. We knew there would be lots of photos, maps, documents, letters, newspapers, and all sorts of items of personal memorabilia that might come to light. 

In  May 2012 we celebrated the Jetty's 100th anniversary by dressing in period clothing and a plaque was placed on a boulder near the Jetty to celebrate the event.

We had no idea that many years later we would still be finding more and more fascinating items, and that there is really no end to the amazing items and interest in local history.

Barry Clark

Founding President

Bribie Island Historical Society


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