History – Welcome to Bribie

By Barry Clark, Bribie Island, Historical Society

History. Historical buildings. Bribie Island. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australian.-1

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Tags: History. Bribie Island. Historical. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australia

There has been some community discussion in recent weeks about replacement of the large “WELCOME to BRIBIE” mural, seen as you reach the island. This is one of the longstanding iconic images of Bribie, along with the parade of Pelicans on the Bridge lights.

The community expresses strong views about such things being removed or changed without appropriate discussion and understanding. This week’s History Page tells the full story about the “Welcome” Poster mural that may not be known to many.


This was conceived as a Community Project in 1988, the Bicentenary year of Australia, to mark the 25th anniversary of the 1963 opening of the Bribie Island Bridge. That was the same year that Rotary International chartered the Rotary Club of Bribie Island in March 1988, and initiated by a few local Rotarians residents led by Roy Pierce. To mark the Bicentenary, residents had approached the Chamber of Commerce, who then played a very active role in commercial aspects of the island.

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Bribie Bridge Postcard 1970’s

The idea was to erect something “Typically Bribie” to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Bridge. At that time there was a rather ugly metal framework beside the road in Bellara, that held a variety of advertising signs for local businesses. A plan was developed by the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary to replace the unsightly advertising hoarding with a large and unique painting.

Advertisers were contacted and they agreed to forego the remainder of their display contracts in favour of a large and original “Welcome Mural Painting” in the same location. Local artist Dale Marsh was contacted and agreed on a voluntary basis to paint an original mural. He prepared a small modern colour composite drawing for approval, showing typical Bribie faces, and Council agreed for a large version to be created on the Council ground on which the old hoarding stood.

The new Rotary Club of Bribie Island raised the remarkable sum of $6000 to have the old billboard dismantled, de-rusted, zinc coated, re-erected and strengthened to withstand cyclonic winds. Many volunteers became involved with this significant Bribie project and the artist Dale Marsh later wrote;

“The tireless and hard selling head of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr David Goode, managed to secure the services of a Brisbane based sign writer to work with me on the project. Dig Maher turned out to be just the man needed. He was experienced in mural work and had just completed some large projects for Brisbane’s World Expo 88. We got on well together” Dig Maher working in the studio, went about scaling up my detailed drawing using the grid system; scaling up by means of squares, and an overhead projector to produce a full-sized cartoon of the original on large overlapping sheets of white poster paper numbered in sequence.

The lines of the drawing were then pricked using a spur wheel. When the paper was in position on the mural surface, we only had to rub lightly with a cloth bag of dry pigment or draw over it with soft charcoal to transfer the drawing onto the panel. It’s an old technique; Michelangelo and Leonardo used it, Working on a plank up in the sky, you cannot step back and see what you are doing and working on heads that size you need to. There is only one way: … climb all the way down the scaffold, walk across the road, spot the errors, climb back up again, fix them, go back down for another look and so on”.

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Dale Marsh Original poster painting(above)

Welcome Mural painted in 1989(below)

History. Bribie Island. Historical. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australia (3)FIRST MURAL UNVEILED

Although slightly later than the actual 25th Anniversary of the Bridge in October 1988, the finished work was unveiled on 28th January 1989 and a plaque on a stone plinth reads;

This Plaque unveiled by Shire Chairman Stan Muldoon commemorates the official unveiling of the Dale Marsh Mural depicting Bribie Islands lifestyle. A Place of Peace in a troubled world 28-1-89

The “Canvas” on which the artists painted the mural is 13.5 metres long and 6 metres high. Artists’ oil paints were used for the entire project and when completed, Dale said: “Bribie Island has a public mural, which I expect will last a long time – well at least until the Queensland afternoon sun fades it – and I suppose I will have to touch it up!”

Regrettably, its longevity was underestimated, and with continual heating of the metal “canvas”, cooling at night, salt-air and weather, all combined to cause fading and deterioration. A couple of other things had been added to the Bridge since its original construction in 1963. The 13 lights on which the Pelicans have until recently been able to perch as another

“Welcome” to Bribie were a later addition, as is the light blue painted guard rail between the footpath and road, which was added after a young boy slipped and was fatally run over by a car. After only five years the magnificent oil painting mural was at the end of its useful life and by 1994 it was evident that the much-loved mural would need to be replaced.


There was a strong community commitment to replace the mural and Dale Marsh very graciously offered to provide the community with another new one. His suggestion this time was for a classic scene of family fun on a Bribie beach, which he prepared as another small original painting for consideration.

The skills of the artist and modern computerised technology were then combined to reproduce Dale’s new oil painting as a large print on canvas that was erected on the existing structure. The replacement mural showing three children playing on the beach was unveiled on 11th October 1995. The small boy pictured with the two girls playing in the sand dunes was a young Timothy Gould who was featured on the front page of the last edition of this magazine.

Dale Marsh new Mural 1995

This inspiring young man, now a 27-year-old former local resident, went on to become a Gold and multiple Medal winner for tennis and swimming at several special Olympics. Another Plaque was unveiled below the new mural with the almost identical words…

This Plaque unveiled by MAYOR JOHN WHITE commemorates the official unveiling of the Dale Marsh Mural depicting Bribie Islands lifestyle. A Place of Peace in a troubled world 11-10-95

The original small oil paintings for both of the murals can be viewed at the Bribie Island Community Arts Centre where they are on permanent display.


The much-admired replacement “printed” mural continued to be the “Welcome” image to Bribie for a further 15 years, until 2010 when the Mural was temporarily replaced to advertise and promote a new Bribie attraction. The Seaside Museum at Bongaree opened in 2010 and the Welcome Poster was replaced with a Moreton Bay Regional Council poster, showing an Ian Fairweather abstract painting and details about the new Bribie Seaside Museum.

This came as a surprise to Bribie residents and visitors, many of whom had no real knowledge or appreciation of this remarkable if not unusual man. Ian Fairweather was undoubtedly the most Internationally famous person ever to live on Bribie, albeit as a recluse hermit in a grass hut, for 21 years from 1953 to 1974. If you did not know or appreciate his artistic style, the Mural was a sharp contrast to the Bribie Island Lifestyle that had become an iconic image for residents and visitors.

I certainly knew nothing of Ian Fairweather, or his life on Bribie Island, when I came to live here in 2004. However, it was one of my first Projects with Bribie Rotary when I found out that the original memorial plaque, at the site of his grass hut in Fairweather Park, had long since been vandalised. There was no signage or information to inform people about this historic site.

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Fairweather Museum Mural 2010/11(above)

Ian Fairweather Plaque(below)

History. Bribie Island. Historical. Moreton Bay. Brisbane. Queensland. Australia (3)In 2005, to mark the Centenary of Rotary International, I proposed the installation of a Bronze replacement plaque. I arranged to have a new plaque made and organised an unveiling ceremony attended by a large crowd including the Mayor and Councillor, and many Bribie old-timers who had known Ian Fairweather personally. This was my first real exposure to Bribie History because before that I certainly had no knowledge or interest. At that time there was little documented information about local history, but I was amazed to discover how Bribie Island had played such an important role in the development of Australia and Queensland.

Replacing the Ian Fairweather memorial plaque seemed to be a trigger for the growing interest in the man, which led to a Documentary film about his life and work to be made for the ABC. I was delighted to be involved in this project, selecting filming locations and conducting interviews with many long term Bribie characters. When the new Seaside Museum opened in 2010 it includes a permanent display of Ian Fairweather’s international travels and unique artworks, and several of his original and personal items passed to me, on permanent loan.

The 60-minute documentary film (Fairweather Man) took several years to make and can be viewed at any time in the Seaside Museum Theatre. My knowledge and interest in Bribie History continued to expand and I soon became a Tutor at U3A and in 2008 formed the Bribie Island Historical Society. It seems that the Welcome mural will soon need replacement. It is certainly an integral part of the great feeling people have when they reach Bribie Island. With today’s technology and techniques, there may be opportunities for the community to be involved in creating the next lasting image.


The Historical Society has monthly public meetings at the RSL Club on the second Wednesday of each month commencing at 6:30 pm. with interesting guest speakers on a wide range of topics, and you can see many more photos and articles on our Blog Site at http://bribieislandhistory.blogspot.com or contact us on [email protected]

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