MOOLOOLAH recently lost one of its most colourful characters – 61-year-old Bryan Harris, affectionately known as the Mayor of Mooloolah – following a stoic battle with cancer.
Bryan was fortunate to live his entire life in Diamond Valley, attending Mooloolah Primary School, which entailed a 5km walk, accompanied by his brother Peter, at a time when most of the road was rough gravel and unsealed.
By today’s standards, a young Bryan would be considered a bush kid. The family home was at the end of the road (now called Harris Road), nestled in a towering gum tree forest that gave way to subtropical rainforest.
Bryan and his mates would take long bush walks up the creek, often toting a .22 rifle, exploring the forest and learning the intricacies of nature as they went.
Sometimes, parents Bill and Joan would accompany them. Both parents had been bush kids and had a wealth of knowledge to pass on to their offspring.
Bryan was intelligent, loquacious and gregarious. This meant that if you bumped into him in the street, you had better be ready for a long discussion or debate about something, be it politics, the state of the nation, the evils of red meat, Panama disease, or even aliens and crop circles!
The fact that he took time to converse with anyone endeared him to many and Bryan was well known by hundreds.
It has been stated by lots of people that “Bryan was the first local to talk to us when we were new to town”.
He gave freely of his time to assist those in need and was a jack-of-all-trades. Any community with a Bryan Harris is a lucky community!
Bryan’s gift was that his empathy for others spanned the generations and he brought out the best in people. Whether you were young or old, hippie or establishment, a newbie or a long-time resident; Bryan had time for you. If you asked him for help in any way and it was in his power to do so, he would turn up and help get the job done.
This had the effect of uniting his community, strengthening the bonds between all and sundry.
It has been said that the definition of a good man is “the type of bloke that you would like to come along and help if your mother and sister were stuck in a broken-down car on a dark, lonely road”. Bryan was that bloke.
A handmade wooden bench was unveiled at a recent community hall gathering in his honour and will soon be installed as a permanent memorial to honour Bryan’s contribution to his town.