Lunch with Mayor Allan Sutherland in Redcliffe

Bill Dennison ·
28 February 2011
Queensland Floods | 

The mayor of Moreton Bay Regional Council, Councillor Allan Sutherland, invited me and Eva Abal, the scientific coordinator for several Brisbane based organizations, Healthy Waterways, International Water Centre, Great Barrier Reef Foundation (and my first PhD student) for lunch in Redcliffe. Allan was Deputy Mayor of Redcliffe City Council when I first met him. Redcliffe City Council amalgamated with Caboolture And Pine Shire Councils and Allan was elected inaugural Mayor of the newly formed Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2008.

When we were writing the book "Discover the Waterways of South East Queensland", Professor Stuart Bunn and I would travel to various vantage points around Southeast Queensland, like piers and mountain tops and describe what we could observe that was relevant to waterways. We recorded and transcribed our observations and then augmented this text with photographs and conceptual diagrams. One of our vantage points was the Redcliffe pier, which extends out into western Moreton Bay. Allan heard about this project and brought along a photograph of him as a boy, standing on the pier with his fishing rod. It was a great photo, so we organized for a photographer to take another photo in the same spot, thirty years later. We used these two photos in the book, as Allan had been a great champion for Moreton Bay.

Sutherland on pier
Allan Sutherland on the Redcliffe pier as a boy and thirty years later

When Eva and I arrived at Moreton Bay Council building in Redcliffe, we saw the paintings of various previous mayors of Redcliffe, and Allan's painting was the only one that was not in a formal pose. Just as in the book, the painting was of Allan standing on the Redcliffe pier.

Bill and Allan portrait
Bill Dennison and Allan Sutherland with Allan's mayoral portrait

On our way to lunch, Allan invited another Councilor, James Houghton, to come along. James detoured by the beach to show me a large piece of the concrete Riverwalk that had washed up during the flood. This floating concrete piece broke off somewhere on the Brisbane River, floated under several bridges, all the way down the river and out the mouth, and then floated across Bramble Bay to end up on the beach in Redcliffe. Its journey was on the order of 40 km (25 mi).

Bill concrete block
Bill with the concrete block from the Riverwalk

We had fish and chips outside and Allan told us about a proposed development on the Caboolture River that he was opposing, still a champion for Moreton Bay. One of the reasons that Allan is so passionate about the Bay is that he lives in a house directly on the Bay, and he has a boat that he regularly uses to travel over to Moreton Island. He designed a very clever boat with a New Zealand boat builder. New Zealand boat builders are world renowned for their fast aluminum boats and ferries. Allan designed a cross between a rigid inflatable and a cruiser. His boat has air chambers and a deep vee hull, so it can handle the Moreton Bay waves and is very seaworthy.

It was reassuring to see that the Moreton Bay champions still have the passion and commitment to the Bay. I have been away for nearly nine years, and I worried that the enthusiasm and excitement of developing the Healthy Waterways Partnership may have waned. But after an afternoon with Allan, James and Eva, I know that the enthusiasm is still alive and well.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.



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