November 30th 1999
Historic Island site ransacked
He fought and won against the Bjelkie Petersen government to stop oil drilling on the Great Barrier Reef. He also lobbied hard for the establishment of James Cook University. He kept immaculate records of his observations of the tides, currents, weather conditions and many other details of the sea around his beloved White Lady Bay (part of Horseshoe Bay). He pioneered fish retailing and fishing techniques and devoted much of his life to researching the life of the oysters found in local waters. Oh, and he was also wounded by shrapnel in New Guinea while serving in World War II. He died late last year but last week the tiny shack where Keith Bryson lived for so many decades and which still contained his possessions, was ransacked by vandals and some Magnetic Islanders are livid.
“I was distraught,” says close friend of Keith's, Jan Phillips who cared for him before he passed on.
“It’s so totally disrespectful,” she said after having discovered the mess last Thursday and contacting police. Jan had been travelling out to Keith’s old shack at White Lady Bay each week to keep an eye on his possessions which were being sorted for donation to the Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre.
“Keith kept a log of tides, currents, wind and more, every day. He was very methodical.”
Dr Rick Braley, a marine biologist who volunteers his time at The Magnetic Island History and Craft Centre and has also spent considerable time recording Keith’s stories and observations was very disappointed to hear the news. “It’s terrible! I’ve got some of his (older) logs. They’re not all in good shape but at least we have them. The man had vision - very forward thinking - and he watched the seasons and changes in the seasons over the years to predict things. He wrote a lot in his logs and it’s just so bad that people are ripping apart a deceased person’s goods.
Jan Phillips wants to do her best, not just to see Keith’s legacy preserved and shared for future generations, but that the culprits, who she thinks are very likely to be locals, are found out and named.
To help she has listed a number of identifiable items she hopes will help identify the thieves. They include: a yellow portable jump-start generator (with headlights); a white electric, outboard, trolling motor and a yellow metal car fridge. So if anybody knows where these items might be or who might have them you can call Crimestoppers now on 1800 333 000.
None of the other hideaway dwellings at White Lady Bay were vandalised.
For a detailed insight into the amazing life and profoundly important work done by Keith Bryson (click here) and (here)
Story: George Hirst
Photo of Keith Bryson George Hirst
Photos of vandalised goods: Jan Phillips