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Hector & Sibyl Holthouse


Many remarkable people have made Bribie their home and Hector and Sibyl Holthouse fit that bill.

Until recently, Hector Holthouse was commemorated at the Bribie Library with a meeting room named for him. In 2016, when the Library was renovated, the sign was taken down as the room was incorporated into the children’s section.

Hector, was born in Toowoomba in 1915 and started work as a Brisbane Telegraph journalist just prior to WW2. He was the author of over 30 historical books and short stories. From the early 1960s Hector was a regular visitor to Bribie Island and moved to Bribie permanently in 1976 when he married Sibyl Shiach.

His first book, River of Gold, was written in 1967 and told the story of the Palmer River Gold Rush in North Queensland and it was so popular it ran through several editions. As a journalist, Hector wrote to engage as well as to inform and his books covered life as it was in the wild and untamed Queensland frontier. No subject was off-limits and his easy style made colonial history an enjoyable read. He continued his Queensland theme with Cannibal Cargoes, the story of the Kanakas, followed by Up Rode the Squatter, Cyclone, Gympie Gold, White Head Hunter and his celebrated book, Suppose I die, the story of Evelyn Maunsell was also serialised in the Australian Women’s Weekly. Set in 1912, Hector told the true story of a young English bride who, with her new husband, travelled to the Mitchell River country in North Queensland, to set up home on a pastoral station.

In the late 1970s Hector commenced writing his very well-regarded “Illustrated Histories” commencing with Illustrated History of Queensland, followed by Illustrated Histories of Brisbane, and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.  A keen photographer, Hector also produced a number of photographic books of Queensland.

Hector’s second wife, Sibyl Shiach, was the instigator of why they moved to Bribie Island. Sibyl, in 1959, bought a block in a new land release in Bongaree, buying later the adjoining block. Sibyl met Hector while working at the Brisbane Telegraph newspaper where she had been the Editor-in-Chief’s secretary for over 10 years, before becoming a journalist herself.

After Hector’s death in 1991 Sibyl donated the books he had written to the Bribie Library.  Sibyl was active in the Bribie community volunteering at the Abbey and the Community Arts Centre and joining BIEPA. She kept a bush garden and knew every bird. Even into her 80’s she would keep a collection of sticks on the patio which she threw as spears to scare away the introduced birds.

After being diagnosed with dementia, Sibyl lived at the Foley Street Nursing Home, passing away at the age of 91 in July this year. Sibyl had been an excellent dressmaker and kept a fabulous collection of fashion throughout the eras. She elected to be buried in a fabulous silver and rainbow lurex gown from the 1970’s.

The Bribie Island Historical Society was invited to choose books from the Holthouse’s extensive research library and the Society hopes one day these and other books will be form the nucleus of its own library.

Written by Lynne Hooper from information sourced from the public domain and by Holly Shiach.

Further Reading.

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