In it’s early days – before the bridge was built – Bribie was a haven from the rat race of civilization. Its lifestyle was simple and close to Nature, where people could be themselves without undue interference. Personalities flourished and eccentrics were accepted as the norm. Bribie’s best-known eccentric was the reclusive artist, Ian Fairweather. At age 60 he went to Bribie and took up residence in a grass hut in the bush at Bongaree so that he could paint undisturbed.
It paid dividends and his art flourished to the point where he started winning prizes and he gained national attention from the galleries, from the newspapers, and from the general public. His grass hut became a bit of a tourist attraction and he was constantly visited by curious onlookers. Paradoxically, his success destroyed the very reason why he went to Bribie – to find a bit of peace and quiet!
Of course, when they built the bridge, that was the beginning of the end for his Eden. People visited the island in droves and neighbours began to encroach on his hut in the bush. There were complaints about rats and the Caboolture Shire Council was forced to intervene.
Eventually, Fairweather was forced to build a fibro hut on a cement base next door to his grass hut that he had occupied for so long. It was harsh and cold. He missed the sand between his toes, the smell of the thatching and the warmth of his kerosene lanterns. His art production all but stopped.
When he died, the grass hut was demolished amongst much controversy, and the fibro house was moved. Today the cement slab still remains in the pine grove where he once lived and worked. A large stone has been placed on the slab and an inscription reminding us that Ian Fairweather once lived there.